By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
17 September 2019
The story of creation of Adam and Eve in the Quran is covered in my article:
Was Allah Unjust in Creating Adam and Favouring His Progeny Over All His Creation?
Allah says in the Qur’an verse 10:37, “This Qur´an is not such as can be produced by other than Allah; on the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelations) that went before it, and a fuller explanation of the Book - wherein there is no doubt - from the Lord of the worlds.”
It is in the fuller explanation or in the detailing that the story of creation in the Qur’an is different from the story in the Bible, a fact that is not known to many Muslims who have never read the Quran, but know the story from the Bible from their exposure to Western education and from English films. Islam also spread among the Christians and Jews and they have carried their traditions into Islam and many Muslims who have read the Qur’an in Arabic also pay less attention to the detail, and take the Biblical version as correct. For example, both in the Bible and the Qur’an, Allah says that He created the Universe in 6 days. In the Qur’an a further detail is added that the heavenly bodies including the earth were created in two days, and then the earth was made habitable and provided with all that is necessary to sustain life over the next 4 days. There are several verses that say that a day that Allah speaks of is a thousand years by our reckoning in one context and fifty thousand years in another context. In the context of creation, we are not told what is meant by a day. Suffice it is for us to understand however, that a day means a very long period of time by our reckoning, and therefore 6 days refers to 6 phases. However, this is not recognized by many commentators and exegetes, who take it as our day consisting of 24 hours, just as the readers of the Bible do.
Now what would those brought up on stories from the Bible make of the verse 76:1 which says: “Has there not been over Man a long period of Time, when he was nothing - (not even) mentioned?” The Arabic word “dahr” means a very long period of time greater than fifty thousand years. Now if the Theory of Evolution is correct in saying that beings of the genus Homo made their appearance 2.5 million years ago, but their existence was undistinguished from every other organism for much of this period except for the last 70,000 years or so, this could be exactly what the verse is saying. The meaning of the verse becomes clear, when faced with facts from Science that make it clear, but if one reads it with the belief that Adam and Eve were the first human beings, it makes no sense at all, and indeed every commentator and exegete has struggled to explain it.
Also consider the verse 2:30 Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vicegerent on earth." They said: "Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?" He said: "I know what ye know not."
Commentators and exegetes have struggled to provide a satisfactory explanation as to how the Angels knew that this new creation will make mischief and shed blood. It ceases to be a mystery when we know and accept, that humans pre-existed the creation of Adam, and were given to make mischief and shed blood, and therefore the Angels were apprehensive of this new creation of the same genus Homo. Now for what is different about this new creation and its correspondence with what we learn from the history of mankind, read the article cited above.
The Concept of the Mitochondrial Eve from Biology
In 1987, a worldwide survey of human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) made the astounding discovery that "all mitochondrial DNAs stem from one woman" and that she probably lived around 200,000 years ago in Africa.
The DNA located in the cytoplasm, organelles called mitochondria comes only from the mother and therefore our mitochondrial DNA is identical to that of our mother and if the same is identical to what is found in every living human being, it establishes that all the living human beings today, trace back their lineage to a single woman whom we may call the “Mitochondrial Eve”.
The Age of the Mitochondrial Eve
The age of the Mitochondrial Eve is calculated based on the assumption that the common ancestor of chimps and humans lived 5 million years ago and that both nuclear DNA and mitochondrial DNA mutate at a constant rate. For example, if in a certain mitochondrial gene, there are 70 differences in the genetic code between a human and a chimpanzee, then the mutation rate is assumed to be 70/5,000,000 mutations per year and if in the human population today, an average of three mutations is found, then the calculated age of the Mitochondrial Eve is 3*5/70 million years = 214,000 years. However, if we did not evolve from the ancestors of the chimps, then the difference between the genetic code between the human and chimpanzee has remained a constant and this does not give us the mutation rate at all. The correct mutation rate must therefore be based on a study of human beings over the ages.
In 1991, an interesting study was conducted by the Russians who exhumed a mass grave site that was thought to have the last Russian Tsar who was killed in the revolution. They compared the mitochondrial DNA of living relatives with the DNA in the bones of the nine skeletons found in the grave site. The DNA matched but a mutation had occurred which was unexpected, as a mutation based on the calculated rate described above, is unexpected and highly improbable.
Another study covered 357 individuals from 134 different but related families. In this study, they were "stunned" to find that there were 10 different mutations. This gave a rate of change of mutation that is roughly twenty-fold higher than based on the assumption that we evolved from the common ancestor with the Chimpanzee over 5 million years.
In yet another study of the genetic history of an Australian family, the D-loop region of the mitochondrial DNA was sequenced for 45 members of a large maternally linked group. In this study, the rate of change was found to be 1 mutation in every 25 to 40 generations.
Using this much faster mutation rate from the two studies as a basis for a new mitochondrial clock speed, the “Mitochondrial Eve” can be calculated to have lived a mere 10,000 to 50,000 years ago, rather than 200,000 years ago. This may also disprove the theory of evolution from the apes.
The age of the "Mitochondrial Eve" and the "Y-chromosomal Adam" (The most recent male ancestor from whom all living beings today have descended) is subject to revisions based on further studies, and is likely to be much less than the estimate of 200,000 years, but what is clearly established is that every human being living today, traces his lineage to a single "Mitochondrial Eve" and the "Y-chromosomal Adam".
How Does The “Mitochondrial Eve” Move Forward In Time?
Let us call the woman who occupies the position of the present day “Mitochondrial Eve" Martha, and the "Y-chromosomal Adam”, Jonas. Let us also assume that Martha had only one daughter who in turn had only one daughter and who in turn had two daughters named Sara and Para. Then all of the 7 billion people today, trace their ancestry to one of these two great, great, granddaughters of Martha. Now if Sara is to become the “Mitochondrial Eve", then the lineage Para must become extinct. What chance that a lineage that is nearly as old as the age of the "Mitochondrial Eve" estimated to be between 50 thousand to 200,00 years old becomes extinct? Although theoretically, this is possible, it is extremely improbable. Lineages that run deep also spread wide and have the least probability of going extinct. There is therefore little chance based on probability that the position of the "Mitochondrial Eve" and "Y-chromosomal Adam" will move forward unless……. this is discussed later
Why Is It More Likely That The Mitochondrial Eve And The Y-Chromosome Adam Were A New Species Superior To The Rest?
Studies of the nuclear DNA indicate that the size of the ancient human population never dropped below tens of thousands. Martha and Jonas therefore had at least 10,000 brothers and 10,000 sisters. Then what explains that the lineage represented by the approximately 10,000 or more sisters/female cousins of Martha, have gone extinct but the lineage of Martha has grown to 7 billion? The only explanation is that Martha enjoyed some great genetic superiority not shared by her remaining sisters/cousins, or to speak plainly, the fact that Martha, the "Mitochondrial Eve" was of a different species. The progeny of this superior species then wiped out every other inferior species making them extinct over a period. This is true even if inter breeding produced fertile children. In such a case, it means that only children from the lineage of both Martha and Jonas had superior survival skills and no other lineages including the mixed ones. Biology favours interbreeding over inbreeding and if all the human beings living today are a result of inbreeding within a single lineage, it is further proof of this lineage being a different species from every other lineage.
Why The Mitochondrial Eve And The Y-Chromosome Adam Can Move Forward In Time Only With The Creation Of A New Species Starting With A Single Pair And Propagating Downward And Not Through Gradual And Widespread Evolution.
Let us imagine that today, one couple produce a male and a female that is genetically superior to all other humans and a new species. This new species cannot produce offspring with other humans except between themselves although they are alike physically and in many other ways. The siblings who we call Beth and John mate and multiply and their progeny co-exist with other humans for say 30,000 years, after which their population grows large enough to control the entire population of humans. At this point, they carry out a systematic genocide over the next 10,000 years to completely wipe out every lineage except their own. Beth and John now become the new "Mitochondrial Eve" and "Y-chromosomal Adam" of the entire population displacing the earlier one over a short period of 10,000 years of genocide.
However, if we assume a slow, uniform and spread out process of evolution, then every lineage of Martha and Jonas evolve simultaneously, and therefore Martha and Jonas remain the "Mitochondrial Eve" and "Y-chromosomal Adam" of every human being even after this new phase of evolution that makes every human being much superior to any man that exists today.
Weakness in the Theory of Evolution
The very fact that the "Mitochondrial Eve" and the "Y-chromosomal Adam" do not go as far back as the common ancestors we share with the chimpanzees 5 million years ago or even to the first appearance of the species of the genus Homo 2.5 million years ago or even to the first appearance of Homo Sapiens 300,000 years ago, is therefore proof of they being a new species and the story of slow, gradual, spread out evolution over thousands of years, simply hogwash. This does not preclude the possibility that the “Mitochondrial Eve" and the "Y-chromosomal Adam" themselves trace back their ancestry to the very first human being 2.5 million years ago, or to a common ancestor with Chimpanzees 5 million years ago. What it does prove however, is that only one lineage has survived which strongly suggests that evolution consisted of only one evolved pair propagating its own kind downwards and other members of the previous species have gone extinct. There is no reason why if the apes still exist, other tens of thousands of lineages should not have survived. They would have survived if our species had not destroyed all other species because they were inferior to us but competed with us for common resources such as land and food. Genetic memory of such genocide is still carried by us which is why genocides are still common and why racism and casteism still exists.
Now if we did evolve from the apes, then why did the evolved humans and their progeny not wipe out the apes to extinction as the progeny of the "Mitochondrial Eve" and the "Y-chromosomal Adam" have done to every other lineage of the more than ten thousand sisters of the "Mitochondrial Eve"? Our genetic memory also does not make us either more hostile or more compassionate towards the apes in comparison with other animals which belie the theory of evolution from the ape. The very clear and categorical verses of the Quran which say that some rebellious people were transformed into apes and swine make more sense. The fact that apes and swine genetically resemble us the most may therefore not be either mere coincidence or because we evolved from either of these animals.
Mutations within a species go on continuously without producing a new species. A new species is a quantum leap in genetic mutation which starts with just one couple. It does not matter whether you say this is as a result of the evolutionary process or creation by God. The very idea of just one pair starting a new species is anathema to the theory of evolution as it fails to explain why the remaining stock from which this pair evolved failed to evolve likewise, or why there are apes even today while some evolved into human beings, or why there are no human beings from the lineages of the more than ten thousand sisters of the “Mitochondrial Eve” if they were of the same species as the “Mitochondrial Eve”?
Does Creation Take Place Only In Heaven?
Creation of Allah can and does take place on this earth and not necessarily in Heaven. The Qur’an likens the birth of Jesus Christ with the creation of Adam and it took place on this earth and he was born to an earthly woman but without an earthly father. Jesus Christ was therefore not from the lineage of the Y-Chromosome Adam. If he had children and his lineage survived, then we would have had two populations – one tracing their ancestry to the Y-Chromosome Adam who lived 50,000 to 200,000 years ago, and another to Jesus Christ 2000 years ago. Was Jesus another species? Possibly, because he had powers that no man or prophet possessed before or after him. If Jesus was a single person of a distinct species but born to a daughter of Adam and Eve, it means an evolved species can come from an existing one and therefore, the theory of evolution does not contradict the Quran.
A comparison between different species is a measure of how similar the species are in their physiology and their molecular biology but not necessarily a proof of evolution from these species while the same cannot be ruled out either, except through a more detailed analysis as carried out in the article.
The story of creation in the Qur’an is consistent with the confirmed findings of science and history. There is neither a need to reject the story from the Qur’an or reject the Theory of Evolution. The stories converge as they should, if both are true.
Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to NewAgeIslam.com
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