EVOLUTION AND INTELLIGENT DESIGN AS REVEALED IN MEDICINE
It upsets many of us that God has been displaced by ‘Mother Nature’ in almost all scientific discussions of the present time. Pick up any book, written by any decent writer, and in the majority of cases, you will see no entertainment of the idea of God whatsoever. Everything has come out through blind chance. There is nothing ‘divine’ about the world.
The importance of an understanding of the theory of evolution for every medical professional, and indeed everyone, cannot be overestimated. If, as Martin Gardner stated, “the dichotomy between those who believe in a creator God and those who do not is the deepest, most fundamental of all divisions among the attitudes one can take toward the mystery of being”, then the theory of evolution, which has led many people to discard the idea of God, and led many men and women to feel as ‘intellectually fulfilled atheists’, thanks to a very angry man, is the single most important theory that one needs to pay attention to.
For my part, I do not know if evolution happened, although I am as yet not convinced entirely of its ‘scientific element’. I do not have any problem with the theory itself, and will be willing to accept it straight away if the evidence for it is complete and irrefutable. The problem though with any theory relating to the past, is that like history, it is extremely difficult to prove that it happened. But it may have happened. God only knows.
However what I am opposed to are a few misconceptions relating to the theory.
MISCONCEPTIONS OF EVOLUTION
Perhaps the most important misconception to me is the conception that it is a neutral scientific idea. Far from it. The theory of evolution as it stands today is as tainted by the ugliness of irrationality and mythology as it was when it first evolved and throughout the first half of the 20th century.
A neutral scientific idea should be borne out of a neutral mind. When Isaac Newton described his laws of motion, or Maxwell described the laws of electromagnetics, or Einstein made predictions regarding the theory of relativity, or Francis Crick and James Watson the structure of DNA, they did not publish their findings in a state of anger or bitterness or resentment. They all worked in an atmosphere of calm thought and reflection.
When Darwin was working on his theory, he was troubled not just by ill health, the nature of which has been a matter of speculation for many (although it is likely to have been myocarditis and resultant cardiac failure, as I suggest in my essay on cardiac failure). He was troubled by the death of his father and two of his children, who died very young. He was extremely angry about this, and as explained by none other than the ‘Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine’, he developed his theory of evolution as a reaction against God:
“For the next 23 centuries, typhoid fever carried on killing, teaching us nothing much, until noon on 23rd of April 1851, when a little known girl was quietly expiring in Malvern. Her name was Annie Darwin, her father’s, Charles. Annie was his favourite fun-loving daughter, and with her lingering enteric death Darwin gave up all belief in a just and moral universe. Thus unimpeded, his mind was able to frame and compellingly justify the most devastating answer to the oldest question; that we are here by accident, thanks to natural selection, the survival of the fittest, and the “wasteful blundering, low and horridly cruel works of nature””.
Those who believe in the theory of evolution as it stands who are theists are missing the entire point of the theory. Darwin designed his theory with the aim of supporting his agnostic stance; he, in the words of Richard Dawkins “made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist”.
Only those who look at it superficially would regard the theory of evolution as it stands, as an idea compatible with a faith in God, the designer, the originator and great Architect of the heavens and the earth and all that is in between. I believe people like Pope John Paul II, who “sent out a letter endorsing not just evolution per se, but modern theories of organic change”, to be as superficial as Keith Ward, Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, who spoke of natural selection as a “simple and extremely fruitful theory…that that there is every reason to think that a scientific evolutionary account and a religious belief in a guiding creative force are not just compatible, but mutually reinforcing”.
No - that is not the message of the theory of evolution as it stands. We can deceive ourselves into believing otherwise, but that is not the truth. The message of the theory of neo-Darwinism has been clarified by so many people.
Michael Ruse, a professor of philosophy at Florida State University, put it clearly in the chapter entitled, ‘Belief in God in a Darwinian age’ in ‘The Cambridge Companion to Darwin’:
“The defining mark of Darwinism today is the commitment to explain apparent design as the product of natural law operating blindly. If you are a Darwinian, then above all you believe that the abundant design-like features of the world are due to natural selection. For some scientists, this commitment is the ultimate issue.”
In an essay entitled ‘Darwin’s Revolution’, Francisco Ayala of the University of California remarked that, “natural selection excludes God as the explanation accounting for the obvious design of organisms”. Daniel Dennett, the American philosopher praised Darwinism as a “universal acid that corrodes traditional spiritual and moral beliefs”. Cornell biologist William Provine stated in one televised debate that, “Consistent Darwinism implies no life after death, no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning for life, no free will”.
Harun Yahya, the Turkish philosopher and Islamic thinker, is therefore not mistaken when he remarks, as he does in so many of his works, that “the real target of Darwinism is religion”, although I think he does exaggerate a bit when he says that:
“Darwinism provides the sole so-called scientific ground for all anti-religionist ideologies that cause misery for mankind, such as fascism, communism, and imperialism, and legitimized the merciless practices of those who adopted these philosophies”.
He is however, arguably the world’s biggest opponent of this theory, and it is worthwhile listening to what he has to say on the subject, or reading his widely available works (available online free on his website).
He remarks that, “evolutionists do not believe in God, for they have made a deity out of chance and totally oppose the fact of creation” and that “Darwinism is not a scientific thesis; rather, it is a system of thought designed to lead people to deny God”. He believes that, while it lacks sufficient scientific evidence:
“Muslims must understand that it is totally mistaken to believe that Allah created the universe and yet support the theory of evolution despite the lack of hard scientific evidence. Furthermore, it is just as mistaken to claim that evolution is compatible with the Qur'an by ignoring all the warnings in the Holy Book itself. Muslims who adopt such a position must realize that they are supporting an idea designed to help materialist philosophy and that, given this fact, they must withdraw their support at once”.
He quotes extensively from the works of the great astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, who felt that belief in random chance and blind evolution is largely psychological, saying “such a theory (that life was assembled by an intelligence) is so obvious that one wonders why it is not widely accepted as being self evident. The reasons are psychological rather than scientific”.
I cannot help but agree with Yahya in all that he says here. Because the theory of evolution as it stands, has entered the realm of the metaphysical, aiming to provide an answer to the question of the existence, or non-existence of God, it has emancipated itself from the world of science. Those who believe that science can answer all questions of life, and give as an example how the theory of evolution explains the origin of life either do not understand what science is, what the theory of evolution is about, or both. Martin Gardner, an evolutionist himself (who believes in God) put it clearly:
“It is the nature of the scientific enterprise that it cannot in principle ever answer the ultimate question of why there is something rather than nothing, or even the lesser question of why the something that is our universe has the basic structure it has. The statement that science can in principle discover everything is defensible only when reduced to the trivial tautology that science can discover everything science is capable of discovering”.
Science cannot prove or disprove the existence of God, or any absolute truth for that matter. It cannot tell us what is good and what is bad. It, as Einstein put it, “can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain value judgments of all kinds remain necessary”. To quote another of my favourite statements by him:
“The scientific method can teach us nothing else beyond how facts are related to, and conditioned by, each other. The aspiration toward such objective knowledge belongs to the highest of which man is capabIe, and you will certainly not suspect me of wishing to belittle the achievements and the heroic efforts of man in this sphere. Yet it is equally clear that knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be. One can have the clearest and most complete knowledge of what is, and yet not be able to deduct from that what should be the goal of our human aspirations. Objective knowledge provides us with powerful instruments for the achievements of certain ends, but the ultimate goal itself and the longing to reach it must come from another source.”
It simply cannot venture into the metaphysical world, where God, and the higher truths of life, lies. And if it does, it would lose credence, and those who believe it can, have little insight into the very nature of the scientific method.
The neo-Darwinists, such as Dawkins and Dennett need to realize that it was not Darwin who demolished the argument from design, which was utilized by many as an argument for the existence of God, particularly after the emergence of the great William Palley, the founder of ‘natural theology’, who described God as a great watchmaker. Palley’s arguments were destroyed way before Darwin, by Hume and Kant. Indeed, that is the Quranic stance too. The existence of God cannot be proved; it is simply inferred through intuition and insight. It is a matter of faith – science cannot prove to anyone that, if we have a computer in the middle of an empty desert that there is someone behind it, but one’s own faith tells me so. The sand of the desert could have collected itself, formed itself into new silicon sheets (after all, sand is silicon dioxide and computers are full of silicon wafers); after Hume, we learnt that one cannot logically derive an ‘is’ from an ‘ought’. Science cannot prove to me that my seeing the sun rise from the East everyday will mean it will arise from there tomorrow. Science is based on induction, and as such carries room for uncertainty. Faith in God ought to be certain, unshaken, unmovable, and as such can only be fideistic. The great Ibn Arabi, one of the greatest mystics of history remarked, “God is the evidence for the Creation, and we ought never to think that the Creation can be a proof for God, precisely like we say that light demonstrates the day. We can never say that day proves the existence of light”. Dr. Mustafa Mahmoud, the great Egyptian thinker explained the Hadith Qudsi, “I am the proof for everything, and there is no proof for me”:
“God is the self evident truth that is apparent in everything, in the organization, precision, beauty and mastery of the tree leaf, in the feathers of the , in the wings of the butterfly, in the scent of the rose, in the singing of the morning bird, in the heavens and the earth, in this glorious symphony which we call the Universe”.
He is so self evident, that He needs no proof. And things which have no proof by definition, are articles of faith. Bertrand Russell once defined faith as follows:
“We may define faith as a firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. When there is evidence, no one speaks of faith. We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence.”
What Russell is talking about clearly is scientific evidence. And as such he is absolutely right. God cannot be known by means of science, and I find it very dishonest that men such as Russell, who I admire in so many ways would be so superficial as to reply to the question, ‘What kind of evidence could convince you that God exists?’ by saying:
“I think that if I heard a voice from the sky predicting all that was going to happen to me during the next twenty-four hours, including events that would have seemed highly improbable, and if all these events then produced to happen, I might perhaps be convinced at least of the existence of some superhuman intelligence. I can imagine other evidence of the same sort which might convince me, but so far as I know, no such evidence exists.”
For I am sure he would find another explanation for it; the laws of probability allow for the possibility that that one could predict all the actions of another human being completely. So I do not know what ‘superhuman’ intelligence Russell is asking for here.
The truth of the matter is that the atheist and agnostic have already made their mind up. No amount of evidence will convince them. I am here reminded of the quite beautiful verses from the second chapter of the Quran, where God describes those who deny the truth of His existence and Unity:
“Behold, as for those who are bent on denying the truth - it is all one to them whether thou warnest them or dost not warn them: they will not believe. (2: 7) God; has sealed their hearts and their hearing, and over their eyes is a veil; and awesome suffering awaits them” (2:7-8).
Atheists and agnostics existed way before Darwin. Those who claim Darwin made them feel “intellectually fulfilled atheists” are fooling themselves. Evolution cannot make someone atheist. This is evidenced for by the fact that Alfred Russell Wallace, the cofounder of the theory (and actually the first scientist to propose the theory and substantiate it with collected research and thoughts, in a paper he sent to none other than Charles Darwin himself, which triggered the latter to publish his most famous book, ‘The Origin of Species’) was a deep spiritualist all his life. According to John Gribbin’s short biography of him, “His spiritualist views also coloured his ideas about human beings, which he saw as specially touched by God, and not subject to the same evolutionary laws as other species”. Another biographer states:
“Wallace the evolutionist…felt that the human spirit—even the mind, the faculty of speech, and the “marvelous beauty and symmetry of his whole external form”—had attained a level far beyond that needed for mere survival and reproduction, and that, therefore, human evolution was no longer within the realm of natural selection. In ‘The World of Life: A Manifestation of Creative Power, Directive Mind, and Ultimate Purpose’, published three years before his death in 1913, Wallace the teleological theist invokes God as the great instigator and director of life, and places the world at the center of the universe to act as the stage for the evolution of man, the crowning glory of creation.”
Finally, Pastor Scott, in a short internet piece entitled ‘Wallace, Darwin and God’, argued:
“Simply stated, the more Alfred Russell Wallace pondered his theory of evolution, the closer it brought him to God! He determined that evolution and its study would not bring about the end of religious inquiry, but spur it on. As Jonathan Rosen stated in an article from USA Today (7 July 2008), "[Wallace] saw evolution as part of a larger plan and felt that human beings were too complex morally, emotionally and intellectually to be accounted for by mere biology."”
If evolution per se were atheist, or excluded “God as the explanation accounting for the obvious design of organisms”, or was a “universal acid that corrodes traditional spiritual and moral beliefs” or implied “no life after death, no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning for life, no free will”, then how come was its very cofounder was a very spiritual man? How come, prior to the arrival of the atheist neo-Darwinists such as Dawkins, Stephen-Jay Gould, Dennett and others, did we have many great thinkers and accomplished men who believed in both ideas? Men like Martin Gardner, the American writer and, in the words of Douglas Hofstdter, “One of the great intellects produced in this country in this century," a man who “reigns supreme as the leading light of the modern skeptical movement”, who makes it clear in all his philosophical works of his belief in God and evolution.
Or Alexis Carrel, the great French vascular surgeon and Nobel laureate, who remarked, “Darwin, Claude Bernard, and Pasteur, whose discoveries could not be described in algebraic formulas, were as great scientists as Newton and Einstein”. Or the equally great Sir John Eccles, the neurophysiologist and Nobel Laureate who believed that:
“Evolution is driven by random genetic mutations followed by the weeding out of unfavorable variations by natural selection, but he also believes that "there is a Divine Providence operating over and above the materialist happenings of biological evolution."”
Or Martin Seymour-Smith, the English poet who died in 1998, who remarked in the chapter devoted to Darwin’s ‘The Origin of Species’ in his last book:
“[The theory of evolution] was not…a challenge to Christianity, or to any other religion at all; but it did correct the Biblical accounts of the creation if those were to be taken literally. It would not, allowing for the passing of several eras, have worried Maimonides unduly...The ‘Origin’ admits of obstacles and deals with them fairly; it opposed the older concept of God as benevolent watchmaker with courage, courtesy and firmness. As for “disposing of God”; it did not do that, but it did dismantle a singularly deficient notion of God”.
What those men realized is that science can only asks the question ‘how’, and can never be a root to faith, which deals with a completely separate realm, the question ‘why’.
The misconception that there is a clash between belief in God, faith and evolution is reinforced by at least three things.
Firstly, the opinions of neo-Darwinist themselves, who do not seem to spare a moment, even times of sheer distress, without insulting religion and God. Everyone knows of Richard Dawkins’ continuous malicious attacks on them over the years, most recently in his book, ‘The God Delusion’. But less so of Daniel Dennett’s ones, a man who having recovered from one of the most serious surgical operations, aortic dissection repair wrote an article where he refuses to thank God, saying “you can thank God—but the very idea of repaying God is ludicrous”. Can anyone think of anything less grateful?
Secondly, the way the Western world and Christian church treated the ailing Charles Darwin after he published his book, just like it treated the great ailing old Italian verging on blindness, Galileo two centuries before him, forcing him to spend “the last years of his life under house arrest on orders of the Inquisition”, simply because he rejected the geocentric model of the universe.
Darwin on the other hand was ridiculed everywhere, and drawings, such as the one on the left, were published everywhere. He provoked the famous statement by Benjamin Disraeli, “The question now placed before society is this, ‘Is man an ape or an angel. I am on the side of the angels.” Churchmen, at the time of Darwin and for many years afterward “rallied to the angels’ defense, carried the attack to Darwin”.
One can only feel sorry for Darwin, but this is no justification to accept his ideas blindly. What the Church did was the censorship of modern thought, and I think the wide acceptance of his theory came, at least partly, due to a subconscious abhorrence of this censorship, not as a consequence of deep reflection over the theory itself. Nothing is more detestable to the free man than the censorship of thought and attempts at the conquest of truth.
But Galileo is not Darwin. Galileo was a scientist in the truest sense of the term; he started off with a neutral perspective, observing, forming hypotheses, experimenting to prove and disprove them, quantifying his data and publishing them without fear. Darwin on the other hand had already formed his opinion regarding God and creation way prior to the publication of his work. As explained by William Dembski:
“Darwin for instance thought that there was just “too much misery in the world” to accept design: “I cannot perceive myself that a beneficient and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice”…”or ants makings slaves” and “the young cuckoo ejecting its fosterbrother””
And of course, as we saw the impact of the death of his two daughters and father on him above. He had preconceived ideas, and he moulded his theory and ideas into that shell, which is hardly a scientific attitude. His theory of evolution deals with the past, and with events that supposedly happen over millions of years, and as such, is untestable. It is also an un-mathematical theory – there are no equations in it and it makes no quantifiable predictions. And it is mathematics that gives the sciences objectivity, force, power and rigour. It is because of this that the great philosopher of science Karl Popper put the ideas of Darwin together in the same class as the ideas of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, as belonging to the realm of ‘pseudoscience’. He described Darwinism as “a metaphysical research programme” stating in his autobiography, ‘Unending Quest’:
“I regard Darwinism as metaphysical because it is not testable…I believe I have taken the theory almost at its best – almost in its most testable form…there is hardly any possibility of testing a theory as feeble as this”.
Popper contrasted Darwin’s (as well as Freud's and Marx 's theories with Einstein's theory of general relativity. As explained by Samir Okasha in his ‘Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction’:
“Einstein's theory made a very definite prediction: that light rays from distant stars would be deflected by the gravitational field of the sun. Normally this effect would be impossible to observe - except during a solar eclipse. In 1919 the English astrophysicist Sir Arthur Eddington organized two expeditions to observe the solar eclipse of that year, one to Brazil and one to the island of Principe off the Atlantic coast of Africa, with the aim of testing Einstein's prediction. The expeditions found that starlight was indeed deflected by the sun, by almost exactly the amount Einstein had predicted.P opper was as very impressed by this. Einstein's theory had made a definite, precise prediction, which was confirmed by observations. Had it turned out that staright was not deflected by the sun, this would have showed that Einstein was wrong. So Einstein's theory satisfies the criterion of falsifiability.”
L.C. Birch and P.R. Ehrlich extended Popper’s arguments as follows:
“Our theory of evolution has become, as Popper described, one which cannot be refuted by any possible observations. Every conceivable observation can be fitted into it. It is thus "outside of empirical science" but not necessarily false. No one can think of ways in which to test it. Ideas, either without basis or based on a few laboratory experiments carried out in extremely simplified systems, have attained currency far beyond their validity. They have become part of an evolutionary dogma accepted by most of us as part of our training.”
And the great immunologist and Nobel Laureate, Sir Peter Medawar also made similar comments:
“Then, there are philosophical or methodological objections to evolutionary theory. They have been very well voiced by Professor Karl Popper--that the current neo-Darwinian Theory has the methodological defect of explaining too much. It is too difficult to imagine or envisage an evolutionary episode which could not be explained by the formulae of neo-Darwinism.”
Finally, the fact of the matter is that Darwin feared the publication of his ideas, I presume because of his intentions. He feared the reaction of the community, and especially his closer family (who intended him to become a theologian in his youth) and very Christian wife, Emma. Thus he delayed and delayed the publication of his ideas, and he was only spurned into publishing them by the desire for ‘scientific recognition’, and the fear that his thoughts on the theory of evolution would be eclipsed by the publication of Wallace’s work. Unlike Darwin, Isaac Asimov explains:
“Wallace did not spend fourteen years writing his conclusions. Once the idea was clear in his mind, he sat down and wrote a paper on it in two days…When Darwin received the manuscript, he was thunderstruck. It expressed his own thoughts in almost his own terms. At once he passed Wallace’s paper to other important scientists and offered to collaborate with Wallace on reports summarizing their joint conclusions.”
A scientist should always speak and declare the truth, and be free of all preconceptions. Once a scientist has placed a personal censorship on his own ideas, for fear of hurting others, and would only publish his ideas for fear of not having a share of the cake of ‘scientific credit’, he has failed with regards to this most noble of goals. And this is why I believe Darwin does not deserve all the heaps of praise he has received since he died.
But in any case, what the Church did was wrong. By doing what they did, they reinforced the notion that religion is opposed to science, that man cannot deal with question regarding his origin, when it is not. No one analyzed the situation better than John Dewey, who writing in an essay on ‘The Influence of Darwinism on Philosophy’ says:
“Religious considerations lent fervor to the controversy, but they did not provoke it. Intellectually, religious emotions are not creative but conservative. They attach themselves readily to the current view of the world and consecrate it. They steep and dye intellectual fabrics in the seething vat of emotions; they do not form their warp and woof. There is not, I think, an instance of any large idea about the world being independently generated by religion. Although the ideas that rose up like armed men against Darwinism owed their intensity to religious associations, their origin and meaning are to be sought in science and philosophy, not in religion.”
That is why one does not find the same rejection of Darwinism among the Muslims, and why many Muslims in the past and present, rightly or wrongly, accept the theory of evolution (not neo-Darwinism however). Indeed, there are many Muslims who reject the theory of evolution outright, who believe, like the Creationists that the ‘Creation’ is a matter that one cannot speculate, let alone talk about. Foremost among those men at the present moment is Zaghlool Al-Najjar, who we talked about in a previous section, who in a recent televised debate with Professor Abdel Saboor Shahin, told him to stop talking and writing about the creation because, “It is a matter of the unseen. As God says, “I did not make them witnesses of the creation of the heavens and the earth, nor of the creation of their own selves, and neither do I [have any need to] take as My helpers those [beings] that lead [men] astray" (18:51). He hereby ignores the commands of another verse, “See they not how Allah originates creation, then repeats it: truly that is easy for Allah. Say: "Travel through the earth and see how Allah did originate creation; so will Allah produce a later creation: for Allah has power over all things”” (29:19-20) and the fact that he, the geologian, spends half his life dealing with the Creation of the heavens and the earth.
Among those thinkers that I know well to believe in the theory is Mustafa Mahmood, the Egyptian thinker I so admire, who writing in an essay on the subject in his book, ‘What is Islam’ remarked:
“No one can dismiss the theory of evolution outright, for it is very likely to have occurred; the different species have similar genetic structures, and vertebrates and bones, and by the details of fossils – it does seem to have occurred. The evolutionary scientist and paleontologist may lie or may interpret his information incorrectly – but the fossils and rocks do not lie nor misguide – since they act accordingly to God’s laws and commands”
And in another book, ‘The Quran: An Attempt at Modern Reading’ states:
“Now to sum up, the Quran neither supports nor denies the theory of evolution: Quranic verses are capable of more than one interpretation and the subject is therefore a mystery which cannot be decided one way or the other. Indeed, science itself has not reached a final conclusion on this question.”
Others who believe the theory are Muhammad Shahroor, the contemporary and quite brilliant Syrian thinker, and the translators of the Quran, Muhammad Asad and Muhammad Ali. In his commentary on the verses (29:19-20) Asad remarks that it alludes “to man’s coming into existence out of the most primitive elements, and gradually evolving into a highly complex being endowed not only with a physical body but also with a mind, with feelings and instincts”. Muhammad Ali on the other hand, expresses his belief in his commentary on another verse (2:117) saying:
“Kun fa-yakonu is the oft-recurring phrase in which Allåh’s act of the creation and annihilation of things is spoken of in the Holy Qur’ån. It is not meant by this that there is no gradual process in the creation of things; evolution in creation is in fact plainly spoken of in the very first words of the Qur’ån, where God is spoken of as Rabb (Evolver) of words, the Fosterer of a thing in such a manner as to make it attain one condition after another until it reaches its goal of completion (R). It is, in fact, an answer to those who think that the creation of things by God is dependent on the previous existence of matter and soul and the adaptability of their attributes. The argument given here in the word badß‘ is that man, who stands in need of matter to make things, also stands in need of a pattern after which to make them, but God stands in need of neither. The verse seems particularly to refer here, however, to the revolution that was to be brought about by the Prophet. It seemed an impossibility to men, but Allåh had decreed it. And, in fact, the revolution brought about in Arabia by the Prophet was so wonderful that the old heaven and earth of the peninsula may be said to have been changed into new ones.”
As the beliefs of those great thinkers indicate, there is no opposition to evolution as a theory from the side of Islam, for Islam endorses all truth, and all things for which there is substantial evidence. In Islam, the opinions of ‘religious leaders’ do not matter like they do to the Church. And therein lies one of its greatest attractions – there is no oppression of thought in Islam.
Of course, if evolution were to be abused, in the manner of its early followers, who utilized it to justify the crimes of eugenics and what is known as social Darwinism, or its late followers, as a basis for atheism and being “an intellectually fulfilled atheist”, then evolution simply cannot be accepted – for it has then transgressed its realm of science, entered the world of metaphysics, and become a ‘scientific’ basis for inhumanity, then anyone who believes in God and all that that belief stands for cannot endorse such a theory. If it is believed without sufficient evidence, becoming a religion with its own icons and rituals (which it has become, with Darwin, Thomas Huxley (‘Darwin’s bulldog’), Herbert Spencer, Stephen-Jay Gould, Richard Dawkins and others among its idols; and the bullying of religion and insulting of God being its main ritual) then it is incompatible with belief in God, which stands for truth. A Muslim believes there is no vote or democracy regarding truth; if everyone believed a lie, that does not make it a truth. Listen to how Henry Adams writing in his autobiography in the third person:
“Darwin hunted for the vestiges of Natural Selection, and Adams followed him, although he cared nothing about Selection, unless for the indirect amusement of upsetting curates. He felt, like nine men in ten, an instinctive belief in Evolution, but he felt no more concern in Natural Selection than in unnatural Selection.”
And John Wallar’s commentary on it in his book, ‘Fabulous Science: Fact and Fiction in the History of Scientific Discovery’:
“This passage beautifully conveys one of the most important facets of the reception of Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Within a decade most scientists, a large proportion of laymen, even many senior churchmen, had gladly embraced the essential ‘truth’ of human evolution. Even though the fossil record was uncomfortably patchy, Darwin’s ideas enjoyed too much high-level scientific support and resolved too many outstanding scientific problems, to be as casually dismissed as had the evolutionary theories of Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, and Chambers.”
As Muslims, we welcome evolution as a contribution to truth, but not as a basis for atheist dogmatism, which is what the neo-Darwinists have turned it into. I find no better critique of their perspective than that of Martin Seymour-Smith:
“Nowadays, the orthodoxy, which is frequently challenged from the periphery, is known as neo-Darwinism; it of course, takes into account the advances made in genetics since Darwin’s times. The notion of life as an accidental excrescence, a by product of ‘selfish’ DNA, leads nowhere, and although propounded in popular books by modish dunces makes no sense (as it is presented), philosophically or otherwise. For the notion of life on earth as a senseless product of blind chance one must turn not to pseudoscientists, but to imaginative writers”.
As a medical doctor and neuroscience graduate, I also oppose the tendency for certain neo Darwinists to spread their ideas, very often in a quasi-religious format and tone, in the books and journals we use to help us in the care of our patients, something completely dissociated from any belief in evolution. To see the words “(Darwin’s) mind was able to frame and compellingly justify the most devastating answer to the oldest question, that we are here by accident, thanks to natural selection, the survival of the fittest, and the ‘wasteful, blundering, low and horridly cruel works of nature” buried right in the heart of the ‘Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine’ (precisely, the middle of page 415 of an 841 page book!) is hardly respectful (or necessary). To see ‘Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine’ discuss evolution, or ideas relating to it, in so many varied places, from the discussion of drug metabolism (where the authors state, “From an evolutionary point of view, drug metabolism probably developed as a defense against noxious xenobiotics (foreign substances, e.g., from plants) to which our ancestors inadvertently exposed themselves”) to the discussion on cancers saying:
“A mutation can be defined as any change in the primary nucleotide sequence of DNA regardless of its functional consequences. Some mutations may be lethal, others are less deleterious, and some may confer an evolutionary advantage....Nearly all cancers originate from a single cell; this clonal origin is a critical discriminating feature between neoplasia and hyperplasia. Multiple cumulative mutational events are invariably required for the progression from normal to fully malignant phenotype. The process can be seen as Darwinian microevolution in which, at each successive step, the mutated cells gain a growth advantage resulting in an increased representation relative to their neighbors”
This is as disrespectful. Even an innocent medical textbook like Kumar and Clark’s ‘Clinical Medicine’, has ‘evolutionary messages’ (e.g. in the section on the physiology of aging), and an innocent surgical textbook like ‘Bailey and Love’s Short Practice of Surgery’ does not spare us this unnecessary indoctrination, saying for instance in the section on ‘The Ear’:
“The evolution of the middle ear is interesting. Fish do not have one, whereas amphibians (e.g. salamanders) have a single strut for an ossicle. At an air-water interface there is a 30 decibels loss of sound energy. The mammalian middle ear overcomes virtually all of this potential loss of sound energy”.
Neither does the postgraduate textbook, ‘Clinical Surgery in General’, where in the section on blood transfusion we are told:
“With a haemoglobin of 14 g dl-1, evolution has equipped us with spare capacity as far as oxygen-carrying capacity is concerned. Indeed, as haematocrit falls, the decrease in oxygen carrying is compensated by better tissue perfusion due to reduced blood viscosity”.
A quote from the world’s best selling ‘Textbook of Medical Physiology’ by the late Arthur C Guyton and John Hall, who mention evolution in a number of places, such as:
“In the human being, the renal–body fluid system for arterial pressure control, just as in the hagfish, is the fundamental basis for long-term arterial pressure control. However, through the stages of evolution, multiple refinements have been added to make this system much more exact in its control in the human being. An especially important refinement, as we shall see, has been addition of the renin-angiotensin mechanism”
“The human nervous system has inherited special functional capabilities from each stage of human evolutionary development”
All those authors do so out of subscription to a belief in a certain myth – that, “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”, a myth first perpetuated by Theodosius Dobzhansky in 1973. They believe that since medicine is a branch of biology, that they ought to inculcate its teachings into its pupils by every means, that, “A medical education that neglects evolutionary biology is concerning”. They believe, as a recent editorial in the prestigious journal ‘Science’ attempted to show (24th February 2006), that there is,
“(A) strong case for recognizing evolution as a basic science for medicine. What actions would bring the full power of evolutionary biology to bear on human disease? We suggest three. First, include questions about evolution in medical licensing examinations; this will motivate curriculum committees to incorporate relevant basic science education. Second, ensure evolutionary expertise in agencies that fund biomedical research. Third, incorporate evolution into every relevant high school, undergraduate, and graduate course. These three changes will help clinicians and biomedical researchers understand that both the human body and its pathogens are not perfectly designed machines but evolving biological systems shaped by selection under the constraints of tradeoffs that produce specific compromises and vulnerabilities. Powerful insights from evolutionary biology generate new questions whose answers will help improve human health.”
They believe, as Daniel Racey and Stuart West stated in a recent student BMJ article (published April 2008) entitled, ‘Evolution and the Cirriculum’ and subheaded, “Given the importance of evolution in explaining disease, Daniel Racey and Stuart West believe it merits more teaching time”:
“Exposure to evolutionary ideas is important for three reasons. Firstly, a diverse array of clinical decisions requires an understanding of evolution. Secondly, there exists a common misunderstanding—that traits evolve for the good of the species. It is more appropriate to consider the gene as the fundamental unit of natural selection. This is important because selection acting at the level of the gene may be detrimental to the species or even the individual. And thirdly, a knowledge of evolutionary principles leads to insights about the nature of disease”.
I really do not understand, despite their explanations, how following Darwin, who talked about events that happened millions to thousands of years ago, can help me in sorting out my patients’ problems. In the same article, West and Racey offer the following table. How it helps I do not know. To me, things do make sense without the need to resort to Darwin. The tactics of the neo-Darwinists are very akin to those of the oppressive Church, who believed that the Bible explained everything, and there is no need for any further enlightenment.
The similarity also extends so far as their oppression of those who do not agree with them. There are quite a few neo-Darwinists, who, like the Christian Church, insult, humiliate, ridicule, mock, punish and discriminate against you if you do not share their beliefs. This is how a not unrecent article in the ‘Student BMJ’, entitled, ‘Student denied letter of recommendation for not believing in evolution’ by Oveys Mansuri reports an instance of the latter (2003;11:43-86) by an American biology professor:
“A student should be prepared to answer the question, "How do you think the human species originated?" when making an appointment with (Professor Michael Dini). Dini further states, "If you cannot truthfully and forthrightly affirm a scientific answer to this question, then you should not seek my recommendation for admittance to further education in the biomedical sciences." Dini defends his policy, "How can someone who does not accept the most important theory in biology expect to properly practice in a field that is so heavily based on biology?"
I repeat, I do not oppose evolution if it is a neutral science, but if it is going to spread itself and contaminate everything in life, including medicine, with no scientific back up – then I am afraid it will not receive any welcome from those who believe in God and truth.
I remain unconvinced as to the truth of the theory. The reason for this lies in two things – one emotional, the other scientific.
The emotional power of the argument from design is far too great. I do not aim to argue here that God exists through the argument of design – the existence of God, as I said before, cannot be proved by means of all these arguments. His existence is inferred through a ‘leap of faith’, the like of which was described by the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. The argument from design, while philosophically invalid, is extremely powerful and provokes great intellectual delight in the believer. Nevertheless, it ought to serve the believer not as a proof for the existence of God, but merely as a way of strengthening already existing belief.
However my more valid critique of evolution as it stands, lies not in its many claimed scientific deficiencies – the poverty of the fossil record, which was described by T. Neville George, a professor of paleontology of Glasgow University, in the following words:
“There is no need to apologise any longer for the poverty of the fossil record. In some ways, it has become almost unmanageably rich and discovery is outpacing integration... The fossil record nevertheless continues to be composed mainly of gaps”
And Mark Czarnecki, a prominent evolutionary paleontologist writing in an article, ‘The Revival of the Creationist Crusade’:
“A major problem in proving the theory has been the fossil record; the imprints of vanished species preserved in the Earth's geological formations. This record has never revealed traces of Darwin's hypothetical intermediate variants – instead species appear and disappear abruptly, and this anomaly has fueled the creationist argument that each species was created by God”
Or other details which I do not profess to understand. My main opposition to it stems from the power of the ideas of the intelligent design movement. As a doctor, I have seen a much greater, and far more awe inspiring effect that any I could possible envisage the evolutionary perspective to inspire. Instead of blind chance, error and randomness, we have design, organization, and sheer beauty and genius.
THE INTELLIGENT DESIGN MOVEMENT
The anti-evolution intelligent design movement was established only in the last fifteen years, and has been trying to show that the nature and structure of the material world and all living things show evidence of being ‘intelligently designed’, according to some well thought out pattern. Professor William Dembski, one of the pioneers of the movement, defined ID most comprehensively as follows:
“Intelligent design is three things: a scientific research program that investigates the effect of intelligent causes, an intellectual movement that challenges Darwinism and its naturalistic legacy, and a way of understanding divine action. Intelligent design therefore intersects science and theology”
One of the many attractions of intelligent design is that it is not a philosophical or theological movement biased to any faith, but is scientific and critically dependent on evidence found in nature. All it says is that there is intelligent design (as opposed to apparent design which is in fact a consequence of natural laws (such as the lattice structure of diamonds or a salt crystal)) in nature, leaving out the identity of the designer. As stated on one intelligent design website, “the scientific theory of intelligent design simply cannot identity the designer because it is not a question which can be addressed through the methods of science”. Thus the theory of intelligent design appeals to theists of all faiths. Another website gave a list of “persons with the following beliefs who could embrace ID”, to include monotheists, duotheists (e.g. Zoroastrians who believe in two deities), Trinitarians, henotheists (e.g. a Hindu who believes in many Gods and Goddesses who are aspects of a single deity, Brahman), polytheists (e.g. followers of many of the Aboriginal religions in the world who believe in many Gods and Goddess as discrete entities.), deists who believes that God created the universe, set it in motion, left, and has not been seen since and atheists, agnostics, humanists, or anyone else who might hold open the possibility of a very advanced species of intelligent beings existing in the universe.
One of the central pillars of the intelligent design movement is the concept of irreducible complexity, which was first defined by Professor Michael Behe of Lehigh University in his book, ‘Darwin’s Black Box’, as follows:
“By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional. An irreducibly complex biological system, if there is such a thing, would be a powerful challenge to Darwinian evolution. Since natural selection can only choose systems that are already working, then if a biological system cannot be produced gradually it would have to arise as an integrated unit, in one fell swoop, for natural selection to have any thing to act on”
The concept of irreducible complexity, which argues that biological systems are an all-or-none phenomenon, i.e. their functional capacities are only attained when all the components are in place at the same time, delivers a most incisive blow to the theory of evolution and its advocates, because the theory of evolution is based on the premise that it occurs primarily by “numerous successive slight modifications”. As Darwin himself confessed, “if it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down."
Of course, one can argue that a gradual process can account for irreducible complexity. For instance, the classic example of irreducible complexity that Behe cites, the mousetrap, can be designed by bringing the platform, hammer, spring, catch and holding bar at gradual intervals (figure 1). As stated by Dembski, “Given a prespecified goal, selection has no difficulty producing irreducibly complex systems”. However the selection process that the evolutionists believe in “operates without goals, has neither plan nor purpose, and is wholly undirected”. It is blind, and they call nature the ‘blind watchmaker’ in reference to the English theologian, William Paley’s famous design argument for the existence of God.
Figure 1 – The Mousetrap. Some scientists use the mousetrap as an example of an irreducibly complex machine. The mousetrap has 5 essential parts: a hammer, a spring, a catch, a platform, and a holding bar. If any parts are missing, the trap will be unable to perform its function: catching mice!
The concept of irreducible complexity is not actually new, although the term certainly is. A similar idea was upheld by many thinkers since the time of Aristotle, as Bertrand Russell shows in his chapter on ‘Biological Evolution’ in ‘Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits’, published in 1948:
“There are some who hold that the fundamental concept should be that of ‘organism’; and that, on this account, biology can never be reduced…This view is derived from Aristotle and was encouraged by Hegelian philosophy, though Hegel himself does not use the word ‘organism’…Let us try to state the logical essence of the theory. It holds that the body of an animal or plant is a unity, in the sense that the laws governing the behaviour of the parts can only be stated by considering the place of the parts in the whole. An amputated limb, or an eye removed from its socket no longer serves the purposes that it served when joined to a body: the limb cannot walk, and the eye cannot see”.
Thus, in the ideas of the intelligent design movement, we have a valid alternative to the theory of evolution, which is extremely powerful and scientific. And because of its sheer conceptual power and versatility, the idea of irreducible complexity should be more widely known among theists. Over the years, members of the intelligent design movement have given us hundreds of examples of irreducible complexity in all fields of scientific endeavour, including biology, biochemistry, astrophysics and chemistry. It is time to disclose the Hand Of God in one more field, which was referred to once by the famous Nobel Prize winning surgeon Alexis Carrel, as the “most comprehensive of all the sciences concerning man” - medicine. It is this that I propose to do in the remainder of this work.
CRITICISM OF IRREDUCIBLE COMPLEXITY
Like any the theory of evolution, irreducible complexity has had its critics. The evolutionists see it as a threat to their cherished doctrine, and so have devised many different ways of criticizing it.
It is probably worthwhile pointing out that I do not believe anyone can justify their belief in God, or otherwise on a belief in the theory of evolution or irreducible complexity. Both are ‘scientific’ theories (or so we are told) and are thus marred by the underlying fundamental weakness of science that David Hume so brilliantly exposed – that it is based on induction. I do not understand how many men of a supposedly high intelligence can use a belief in evolution to justify disbelief in God, and vice versa. Belief in God, as I have tried to show time and time again, is based on faith, not compelled belief. It arises from conviction of the heart and mind, and not one or the other.
To those who criticize proponents of intelligent design for having too much faith, I ask them – are you not the ones who have utmost faith that organisms evolved from one another when you have not seen it, and will not be able to see it once (to give the examples of the development of antibiotics resistance bacteria or the peppered moth as examples of evolution is nonsense – this is natural selection; the bacteria did not become worms, and the moth is still a moth). Are they not the ones who have the utmost faith when they claim:
“There are few, if any, complex processes which show no traces of their evolutionary past. Furthermore, to assume that something is essential now is not to say that it was always essential or that there was no other, now eliminated, precursor process which performed some other task in the past.”
when no one has seen any such ‘pleitropic’ functions. This is not science.
What I also find abhorrent about many evolutionists is that they love to turn the argument from design into the argument from evil, as the authors of the ‘Cambridge Companion to Darwin’ do:
“In any case, critics argue, a position such as Behe’s leaves itself open to major theological problems. If God (or an intelligent designer) is needed to produce the very complex, why then did God not prevent the dreadfully bad but very simple? Some horrendous ailments start with a small change in one molecule. Why was this not prevented surely a task within the range of a being who created the blood-clotting cascade?”
I am not even going to waste my time arguing against this cunning, dishonest thinking. Going back to ‘scientific arguments’, a few were given by Richard Dawkins in his best selling book, ‘The God Delusion’:
“Creationists who attempt to deploy the argument from improbability in their favour always assume that biological adaptation is a question of the jackpot or nothing. Another name for the 'jackpot or nothing' fallacy is 'irreducible complexity' (IC). Either the eye sees or it doesn't. Either the wing flies or it doesn't. There are assumed to be no useful intermediates. But this is simply wrong. Such intermediates abound in practice - which is exactly what we should expect in theory. The combination lock of life is a 'getting warmer, getting cooler, getting warmer' Hunt the Slipper device. Real life seeks the gentle slopes at the back of Mount Improbable, while creationists are blind to all but the daunting precipice at the front….
'What is the use of half an eye?' and 'What is the use of half a wing?' are both instances of the argument from 'irreducible complexity'. A functioning unit is said to be irreducibly complex if the removal of one of its parts causes the whole to cease functioning. This has been assumed to be self-evident for both eyes and wings.
But as soon as we give these assumptions a moment's thought, we immediately see the fallacy. A cataract patient with the lens of her eye surgically removed can't see clear images without glasses, but can see enough not to bump into a tree or fall over a cliff. Half a wing is indeed not as good as a whole wing, but it is certainly better than no wing at all. Half a wing could save your life by easing your fall from a tree of a certain height. And 51 per cent of a wing could save you if you fall from a slightly taller tree. Whatever fraction of a wing you have, there is a fall from which it will save your life where a slightly smaller winglet would not. The thought experiment of trees of different height, from which one might fall, is just one way to see, in theory, that there must be a smooth gradient of advantage all the way from 1 per cent of a wing to 100 per cent.
By analogy with the trees of different height, it is easy to imagine situations in which half an eye would save the life of an animal where 49 per cent of an eye would not.
Smooth gradients are provided by variations in lighting conditions, variations in the distance at which you catch sight of your prey - or your predators. And, as with wings and flight surfaces, plausible intermediates are not only easy to imagine: they are abundant all around the animal kingdom. A flatworm has an eye that, by any sensible measure, is less than half a human eye. Nautilus (and perhaps its extinct ammonitecousins who dominated Paleozoic and Mesozoic seas) has an eye that is intermediate in quality between flatworm and human. Unlike the flatworm eye, which can detect light and shade but see no image, the Nautilus 'pinhole camera' eye makes a real image; but it is a blurred and dim image compared to ours. It would be spurious precision to put numbers on the improvement, but nobody could sanely deny that these invertebrate eyes, and many others, are all better than no eye at all, and all lie on a continuous and shallow slope up Mount Improbable, with our eyes near a peak - not the
highest peak but a high one.”
Note once again the faith Dawkins has in ‘useful intermediaries’. He also gives examples of the patient who has had cataract removal surgery and “half a wing…is certainly better than no wing at all” as example of things to disprove the theory of irreducible complexity. In this, he is being of the greatest foolishness, and in reading these remarks I actually believe Dawkins is doing the theory of evolution a great disservice. He ought to stop writing if he cannot argue sensibly.
It is obvious to everyone that there are certain things that are not essential to their relevant organs. The human being can still hear without a pinna, can still smell without a nasal septum, can still feel without an epidermis (which is dead skin), can still see without a lens or its extraocular muscles. All these are examples of nonessential, albeit helpful accessories. Why, I wonder did Dawkins not mention a human eye without a retina, or without aqueous humour, or with excessive aqueous humour (owing to a lack of a drainage system (the trabecular meshwork or canal of Schlemm), or with no blood supply or innervation. It is probably because he has never seen or heard of a case of acute glaucoma, ocular hypotony, retinal detachment, or retinal artery occlusion.
As for half a wing – he forgets the constitution of a wing, a very complicated organ too – like the eye. The same principles apply. A wing, of whatever size, remains irreducible complex, with nerves, blood vessels, and the material they are made from. This is so obvious!
Dawkins arguments are cunning, and he draws them with the most cunning of them all:
“In any case, even though genuinely irreducible complexity would wreck Darwin's theory if it were ever found, who is to say that it wouldn't wreck the intelligent design theory as well? Indeed, it already has wrecked the intelligent design theory, for, as I keep saying and will say again, however little we know about God, the one thing we can be sure of is that he would have to be very very complex and presumably irreducibly so!”
Is he that foolish, as to completely forget the fact that God is supernatural being, to whom the laws of nature do not apply!
The great faith of evolutionists is illustrated brilliantly by the current ones in all their writings, but even their predecessors expressed such great faith. For instance Bertrand Russell himself:
“The mechanistic view holds that, if an eye is separated from its body, but preserves its structure and chemical constitution, and is provided with artificial nerves to drain away the impulses received from incident light, it will behave as it would if it were still in its proper place. The experiment is one which cannot be fully carried out, because an isolated eye will soon decay, and because owing to our lack of skill, artificial substitutes for nerves cannot have quite the same properties as actual nerves.”
Despite the fact that “the experiment is one which cannot be fully carried out”, Russell believes what he is saying is science. Is he not deceiving himself, and fallen back into the world of dogmatic belief. Was he not the one who defined science by saying, “All definite knowledge-so I should contend- belongs to science; all dogma as to what surpasses definite knowledge belongs to theology”. Indeed, it seems to me that one of the hallmarks of the atheist or agnostic is a degree of inconsistency, of self-contradiction. They dismiss faith, when they are full of faith.
I conclude this essay with one final remark. One of the evolutionists’ favourite arguments against the idea of intelligent design movement is that it is opposed to scientific progress. Listen to Dawkins again:
“The creationist ploy undermines the scientist's natural - indeed necessary - rejoicing in (temporary) uncertainty. For purely political reasons, today's scientist might hesitate before saying: 'Hm, interesting point. I wonder how the weasel frog's ancestors did evolve their elbow joint. I'm not a specialist in weasel frogs, I'll have to go to the University Library and take a look. Might make an interesting project for a graduate student.' The moment a scientist said something like that - and long before the student began the project - the default conclusion would become a headline in a creationist pamphlet: 'Weasel frog could only have been designed by God.'…
Mystics exult in mystery and want it to stay mysterious. Scientists exult in mystery for a different reason: it gives them something to do. More generally, as I shall repeat in Chapter 8, one of the truly bad effects of religion is that it teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.”
This is absolutely false, and the evidence for this lies in the many great thinkers and scientists throughout history who studied nature to ‘know the Creator’ so to speak. Men of the greatness of Louis Pasteur, who famously remarked, “The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator”, Isaac Newton, James Clerk Maxwell, Thomas Paine, Leonhard Euler, and thousands of other men of the greatest genius. Had their belief in God and religion been detrimental to their intellectual dreams, would they have kept it. I think not.
The Quran is full of injunctions to study nature, and so do several other religious books. Albert Einstein put it well, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind”. Dawkins, in everyday terms, does not know what he is talking about. He is both lame and blind, and as such he ought to be ignored; there are certainly better writers on evolution than him.
Indeed, while I do not know if the theory of evolution is correct or not, and indeed, think it extremely unlikely that we will ever ‘know’ if it is true or not, I can see why it is regarded by some as “a beautiful theory”. It give the biological world a unity, a common stem, that I think could well be interpreted as an argument for monotheism – that the designer is ‘One’. It would also add scientific support of the verse:
“And surely We have honoured the children of Adam, and We carry them in the land and the sea, and We provide them with good things, and We have made them to excel highly most of those whom We have created” (17:70).
Evolution is believed to be progressive by many of its proponents, and indeed, in previous times was used to justify ‘optimistic’ philosophies like Marxism. As explained by Bertrand Russell:
“There is, however, another aspect of liberalism which was greatly strengthened by the doctrine of evolution, namely the belief in progress. So long as the state of the world allowed optimism, evolution was welcomed by liberals, both on this ground and because it gave new arguments against orthodox theology. Marx himself, though his. doctrines are in some respects pre-Darwinian, wished to dedicate his book to Darwin.
The prestige of biology caused men whose thinking was influenced by science to apply biological rather than mechanistic categories to the world. Everything was supposed to be evolving, and it was easy to imagine an immanent goal. In spite of Darwin, many men considered that evolution justified a belief in cosmic purpose.”
Though nowadays, most of its supporters oppose the idea of progress in it and take the same stance as the late Stephen Jay Gould, who stated, “There is no progress in evolution. The fact of evolutionary change through time doesn't represent progress as we know it. Progress isn't inevitable. Much of evolution is downward in terms of morphological complexity, rather than upward. We're not marching toward some greater thing”, there remain some optimistic evolutionists. Religion goes hand in hand with optimism and human progress, or evolution.
But so far, as is stands, the theory of evolution does not stack up for me. And I find intelligent design a far more powerful and justifiable position to take up. Neither, of course, will affect my belief in God, and it shouldn’t affect anyone’s belief, for this world is based on faith. I conclude this essay with one of my favourite extracts from Martin Gardner’s great reflections on physics (the most fundamental of sciences) and science in general:
“A still deeper limitation of science is built into the nature of all formal systems. At any stage of the game one may ask: why this particular system. Obviously there is no way to answer if the question is asked about the ultimate system. The only way science can explain a law is to subsume it under a more general law. Suppose that physicists eventually discover one monstrous equation that describes how space-time gets itself tied into all those fantastic little knots called particles. We could then ask: why that equation. Clearly physics, regardless of how close it gets to bedrock axioms, has to accept the ultimate structure of the universe as something given. It is the nature of the scientific enterprise that it cannot in principle ever answer the superultimate question of why there is something rather than nothing, or even the lesser question of why the something that is our universe has the basic structure it has. The statement that science can in principle discover everything is defensible only when reduced to the trivial tautology that science can discover everything science is capable of discovering…there are truths totally beyond the reach of science and reason, even assuming an infinite time for the human mind to evolve”.
 I think Muhammad Asad’s interpretation of the verse is most invaluable, so I quote it in full,“In contrast with the frequently occurring term al-kafiran ("those who deny the truth"), the use of the past tense in alladhina kafaru indicates conscious intent, and is, therefore, appropriately rendered as "those who are bent on denying the truth". This interpretation is supported by many commentators, especially Zamakhshari (who, in his commentary on this verse, uses the expression, "those who have deliberately resolved upon their kufr"). Elsewhere in the Qur'an such people are spoken of as having "hearts with which they fail to grasp the truth, and eyes with which they fail to see, and ears with which they fail to hear" (7 : 179). - For an explanation of the terms kufr ("denial of the truth"), kafir ("one who denies the truth"), etc., see note 4 on 74: 10, where this concept appears for the first time in Qur'anic revelation”…This verse is a “reference to the natural law instituted by God, whereby a person who persistently adheres to false beliefs and refuses to listen to the voice of truth gradually loses the ability to perceive the truth, "so that finally, as it were, a seal is set upon his heart" (Raghib). Since it is God who has instituted all laws of nature -which, in their aggregate, are called sunnnat Allah (“the way of God") -this "sealing" is attributed to Him: but it is obviously a consequence of man's free choice and not an act of "predestination". Similarly, the suffering which, in the life to come, is in store for those who during their life in this world have wilfully remained deaf and blind to the truth, is a natural consequence of their free choice -just as happiness in the life to come is the natural consequence of man's endeavour to attain to righteousness and inner illumination. It is in this sense . that the Quc'anic references to God's "reward" and "punishment" must be understood”
 Come to think of it, I do not know of a single neo-Darwinist today who is not basically an agnostic or atheist.
 People talk about the peppered moth and the bacterial resistance to antibiotics as forms of evolution. This is rhetorical nonsense. These are examples of natural selection, which cannot be denied, for it happens before our eyes. Evolution is something that occurs over millions of years. It does not happen overnight. To quote Darwin himself, “In living bodies, variation will cause the slight alteration, generation will multiply them almost infinitely, and natural selection will pick out with unerring skill each improvement. Let this process go on for millions of years; and during each year on millions of individuals of many kinds; and may we not believe that a living optical instrument might thus be formed as superior to one of glass, as the works of the Creator are to those of man?”
 Least of all, I believe he ought never have displaced the far more brilliant Charles Dickens from the back of the £10 note.
 Even Darwin himself is guilty of the abuse of his theory. He remarked, “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes … will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.” He claimed that “it was necessary for the inferior races to disappear and that there was no need for developed peoples to try to protect them and keep them alive”, and compared the situation to that of people who raised breeding animals, saying, “With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man.” Listen to what he says about the Turkish people (which to the European man of the 19th century, was synonymous with ‘Muslim’, “I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit. Remember what risk the nations of Europe ran, not so many centuries ago of being overwhelmed by the Turks, and how ridiculous such an idea now is! The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world”. What is indisputably atheist however in Wells’ philosophy is his staunch Darwinism taken to its natural conclusion, is eugenics, and it is interesting to know that the word was coined by Sir Francis Galton, the cousin of Charles Darwin, to “denote scientific endeavors to increase the proportion of persons with better than average genetic endowment through selective mating of marriage partners”.
What Darwin did was to give a ‘scientific justification’, if you like, of racism, one which has been endlessly used since he popularized his ideas in the ‘Origin of The Species’. This is highlighted by many authors. For instance, Robert Wright, in the book ‘The Moral Animal’ stated, “Evolutionary theory, after all, has a long and largely sordid history of application to human affairs. After being mingled with political philosophy around the turn of the century to form the vague ideology known as "social Darwinism," it played into the hands of racists, fascists, and the most heartless sort of capitalists”. The late American palaeontologist Stephen Jay Gould states that following the publication of Darwin’s book, "subsequent arguments for slavery, colonialism, racial differences, class struggles, and sex roles would go forth primarily under the banner of science." French historian Jacques Barzun argued stated that, “in every European country between 1870 and 1914 there was a war party demanding armaments, an individualist party demanding ruthless competition, an imperialist party demanding a free hand over backward peoples, a socialist party demanding the conquest of power, and a racialist party demanding internal purges against aliens, all of them, when appeals to greed and glory failed, or even before, invoked Spencer and Darwin, which was to say, science incarnate. Race was biological, it was sociological, it was Darwinian.” Professor Adam Sedgwick, soon after reading Darwin’s work commented “if this book were to find general public acceptance, it would bring with it a brutalisation of the human race such as it had never seen before." The message is clear.
 I am totally in agreement with Micah Spradling who remarked, "I really don't see how believing in the evolution of humanity has anything to do with patient care or studying science."
 Evolution is said to occur over millions of years.
 A much rarer condition than glaucoma, described by one expert as a condition that, “can cause serious changes inside the eye that can destroy vision. Hypotony often develops after eye surgery but typically resolves once healing is completed. Severe trauma, inflammation and infection can abnormally lower the IOP. Chronic hypotony can lead to blindness”.