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GENESIS AND EVOLUTION: Between science and religion

by Dan Rzvan Popoviciu,

student at the Natural Sciences Faculty of the Ovidius University, Constana, Romania (

How was the Universe formed? How did life appear? What are the origins of the human species? These are questions which mankind always asked. Until about two centuries ago, for most of the people, only religion offered the answers. Then, scientifical progress led to the development of new theories regarding the origins of Universe and life. These theories, apparently, contradict the religious dogmas. This way an ideatic conflict started. It opposes those who regard the rigid interpretations of the religious writings as the only truth, on one side, and those who support the modern scientific theories, on the other side. The best known controversy is that regarding the origins of life and mankind. It took proportions in the last half of the 19th century, after the great British naturalist Charles Darwin published his works. The supporters of Evolutionism say that all lifeforms evolved gradually, from lifeless matter to the actual species, due to natural selection. In the 20th century, the great discoveries in Genetics, Palaeontology, Cytology etc. brought many new arguments in favor of this theory. On the other side, the Creationists, supported by some of the Christian clerics, try to contradict the Evolutionist ideas (with more or less scientifical arguments) and sustain the truth of the Bible. This controversy is not limited only to the Christian world. It also affects the Jewish and Muslim communities. Most people have the image of a total incompatibility between religion and science: the religious belief would mean the denial of science (and, especially, of Evolutionism), while the scientific view would automatically mean Atheism. However, this conflict is an artificial one. One of the greatest scientists that ever lived, Albert Einstein said: Science without religion is lame, while religion without science is blind. Religion and science must not be regarded as irremediably opposed domains, but rather as complementary ones. This is mostly because they have

different objects of study and different methods. Can science establish if God exists or not? Can religion deny that which is scientifically proved? Obviously not. Nowadays, more and more scientists and theologians try to adopt a constructive atitude and to look for common points. On one hand, it should be accepted that the origins of the Universe will, probably, never be completely explained only by scientific means. Scientfical research is based on a cause-effect logic. From this point of view, the formation of matter, energy, space and time from nothing cannot be understood. On the other hand, it is obvious that religious writings are not scientifical books. Their purpose is to transmit theological and ethical ideas. It must be known that these ideas were addressed to certain human communities in certain periods and historical contexts and that they suffered modifications during their reception and interpretation. However, analyzing the sacred texts of Monotheism (the Avesta, the Torah, the New Testament, the Quran, the Adi Granth) can prove that they do not contradict the scientific theories, but, sometimes, even support them.

What does science say?

There are many scientific theories regarding the origins of the Universe. Most scientists accept the idea that, until around fifteen billion years ago, the entire known Universe was concentrated in a particle as small as an atom. Then, a powerful explosion (the Big Bang) expanded the Universe, creating the space, time, matter and energy. This expansion still continues and it can be observed by astronomical means. The causes of the appearance of the Universe and of the Big Bang were not completely elucidated. While the matter expanded, it cooled down, condensed, forming subatomic particles, atoms and, then, light chemical elements. The light elements gave birth to stars, which, by nuclear fusion reactions, produced heavier and heavier elements. The Sun is a relatively young star, with an age of about five billion years. Around the Sun, an accretion disc was formed. It consisted of both light elements (like those in the Sun) and heavier elements (formed by the explosion of some older stars). This disc gave birth to the planets and to the other celestial bodies in our Solar System. Earth ages 4.5 billion years. Initially hot, it cooled down, a process that formed the lithosphere and, then, the oceans. The first lifeforms appeared more than 3.5 billion years ago, by combining the organic compounds in the early ocean. Life suffered a

continuous evolutionary process, due to genetic mutations and natural selection. 2.7 billion years ago, the first photosynthetic organisms appeared. These began to slowly change the atmospheric composition, by consuming carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. The atmosphere reached its current composition less than one billion years ago. More than 700 million years ago, the first multicellular organisms appeared, life becoming more and more diverse. This way, multicellular algae, fungi, plants and animals evolved. Around four million years ago, the first hominides evolved from anthropoid primates. Our species, Homo sapiens, appeared, probably, more than 250,000 years ago (the oldest fossils known date from 160,000-130,000 years ago) in Africa or the Middle East. It evolved from a more primitive hominid, Homo rhodesiensis. This is, briefly, the history of the Universe and life, according to the largely accepted scientific theories.

The Torah (The Old Testament)

The Torah is the holy book of the Jews and it forms most of the Christian Bible. In fact, it is a collection of religious and historical texts written along several centuries. The first texts were mostly written during the Babylonian Captivity (6th century B.C.) and the last ones, in the 1st century A.D. The number of the books included in the Old Testament (and, thus, considered canonical) varies among different Jewish and Christian sects. They have various subjects: historical chronicles, prophecies, religious hymns. Regarding the origins of the world and of mankind, the book that presents interest is the Book of Genesis. It is the first book of the Torah and it is canonical to all Jewish and Christian communities. Regarding the origin of this book, there are some problems. The religious tradition attributes it to Moses. However, historians and philologists, by analyzing the text, established that most of it was written in the 6 th century B.C. Thus, even if the book was based on a revelation of Moses (13th century B.C.), its late writing surely caused a distortion of its message. Furthermore, the Book of Genesis was written during the period known as the Babylonian Captivity, when most of the Jewish political and religious elite was deported in Mesopotamia. So, the first texts of the Torah were written in exile, being influenced by Babylonian beliefs. Some similarities were found between the first part of the Genesis and certain Babylonian writings such as the

Enuma Elish (obviously, the Jewish Genesis was written from a Monotheist point of view). Even if Jewish theologians sustain that those Babylonian writings were influenced by the Jewish beliefs, the age of Enuma Elish (some date it in the 12th century B.C., others, even, during the reign of Hammurabi: 1792-1750 B.C.) makes this hypothesis quite improbable. In fact, the first part of the Genesis, that concerning the origins of the world and of mankind, consists of two different texts. Most of it (verses 1:1-2:3) was written during the 6th century B.C. and forms the so-called priestly tradition. Verses 2:42:15 form the yahwist tradition and were written in Judea, between 848-722 B.C. (or even in the 10th century B.C., according to other specialists), thus, being older. The priestly text has, as mentioned above, similarities to some Babylonian writings. It says that Earth and life were created in six days. This term (the Hebrew word used literally means a 24-hour day) posed many problems. Most Creationists say these were, in fact, six usual days, an idea totally incompatible with the scientifical knowledge about our planet`s past. However, many people, even among Jewish and Christian clergy, contest this interpretation. The utilization of the term day before the creation of the Sun, as well as the fact that various mentions in the Bible suggest that the seventh day (the resting day) is this in which we live (see Hebrews 4:4), support the idea that those days must be understood as very long stages (equal or not). This fact can be used against those who, basing themselves on the Bible, deny evolution. The Book of Genesis does not mention the exact way that life appeared on Earth, whether all species were directly created in their current form or they evolved one from another. But, if the Earth and life had not evolved, why these seven stages were necessary? God, being almighty, could create the entire Universe instantaneously, in its actual form. The Book of Genesis begins simply (King James Bible was used for the English version of this paper): 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Then, the six days follow. For a scientist, the first and the fourth day are the most difficult to explain. Here is the first day: 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. In the fourth day, God created the lights in the firmament: the Sun, the Moon and the stars (verses 1:14-19). The formation of these celestial bodies not only after the creation of Earth, but even after that of the oceans and vegetation is absurd from a scientific point of view. Also, it cannot be explained from where did light come in the first day, in the absence of stars. Some sustain that this episode, concerning the creation of light, might suggest the Big Bang. But the Big Bang could not take place after the creation of Earth. If we admit that, in fact, the Sun was created in the first day (this being the light source), this would contradict the first verses, in which it says that the Earth already existed. It is more reasonable to consider that this episode presents the accretion of the Solar System and of our planet, and the beginning of its spin movement (after all, verse 1:2 says the Earth was without form). However, verse 1:2 remains difficult to explain. Probably, the face of the waters is a metaphora, because, else it would contradict the verses regarding the third day. Regarding the appearance of the Sun, Moon and stars only in the fourth day, there could be a partial explanation, but it will be discussed int the chapter dedicated to the Quran. The second day is much more interesting: 1:6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. Surprisingly, science confirms this version. Earth`s early atmosphere was very different from the actual one. It was 10-20 times denser, it had an average temperature of 85-110C and consisted, mostly, of carbon dioxide. The entire amount of water on Earth (released by volcanic emissions), was concentrated in the atmosphere as water vapor. Then, during hundreds of millions of years, Earth cooled down and the vapor condensed, forming clouds, and then, by massive rains, the Planetary Ocean and the entire hydrosphere, only a small quantity of water remaining in the atmosphere.

In the third day, God drove the land out of the sea and created vegetation. Mentioning some evolved plants (the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit) before the aquatic animals appeared (in the fifth day) contradicts science. However, the idea of the landmass coming out of the ocean is remarcable. Science confirms it, and it is curious how this idea appeared among peoples which had little connection with the sea. The first Hebrews were desert nomads, and the ancient Jewish states had little access to the Mediterranean Sea, because of the Philistenes (also, ancient Jews did not prove any inclination towards navigation). Neither the Babylonians and other Mesopotamians had any special connections with the sea. So, this idea cannot be considered as just folklore. Then, the Torah says that in the fifth day God created aquatic animals and birds and, in the sixth day, land animals and humans. The appearance of aquatic animals before the terrestrial ones is a real fact, the existence of birds (probably, this term refers to all flying creatures) before land animals is impossible to accept. Regarding the creation of the human species, the text says: 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. Verse 1:28 contradicts the idea of the exile from Eden and of the originary sin. About God`s image, the Hebrew word used (tselem) means, literally, shadow and suggests a spiritual feature, rather than a physical one. Then, the resting day, the sixth, follows (2:1-3). The yahwist text presents a different version of the events, focusing on the creation of mankind. It begins like this: 2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, 5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. 6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. At a first lecture, one could understand that man was created before the vegetation and even of the rain, in the same day as the Earth and heavens. Even if we consider that verse 2:5 refers only to cultivated plants, the lack of rain is unexplainable. However there in no clue that the events mentioned in verses 2:5 and 2:6 are contemporary with the creation of humans. Verse 2:7 is used by most of the clergy to reject the Evolutionist theory. Yet, there is no mention wether that man was created from dust directly or in other way. By contrary, by accepting a temporal relation with the first verses (which refer to the early Earth), it could be said that the process of creating man from inert matter (dust) was an extremely long one. Regarding the place where mankind formed, the garden of Eden, the text refers to a well geographically determined place on Earth, located eastward (maybe, eastward from Judea). There are also other informations useful for determining that region: 2:10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. 11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; 12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. 13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Kush. 14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates. It is known that Hiddekel (Tigris) and Euphrates come from the mountains in Northeastern Turkey, but they do not have a common spring (although one can object that the Middle Eastern hydrography suffered many modifications since mankind appeared). The other rivers are difficult to identify (probably, the land of Kush is not Sudan, and Gihon is not the Nile, or else it would be a huge geographical mistake). Yet, the land of Havilah is also mentioned in verse 25:18, regarding Ismael`s descendants:

25:18 And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria: and he died in the presence of all his brethren It is also mentioned in relation to the Amalecite tribes (Samuel 15:7). Thus the region must be located somewhere in Syria, Jordan or Northern Arabia. It is possible that the river Pison is, in fact, Jordan. In this case, Gihon must be one of the great rivers in the Near East (Orontes, or, better, Litani). So, the region called Eden would have encompassed the upper courses of these rivers, being located in modern-day Syria. Another theory says that the Biblical writers made a mistake and, in fact, the four rivers did not came out of the same spring, but they converged to the same point. In this case, Pison was identified as a now dried river that crossed Northern Arabia from the West to the Persian Gulf. Gihon would be, probably, the Karun river, in Western Iran. During ice ages, when the sea level was lower, these rivers would have converged to a common point, located along the Kuweitian shores. So, the garden of Eden would have been situated around the modern state of Kuweit. Other theories tried to locate Eden in Lebanon, or in the Red Sea (when the sea level was low). From the scientific point of view, these facts are difficult to comment, although some of the oldest Homo sapiens fossils were found in Galilea and in the Horn of Africa, and there are theories that place the origins of our species in the Middle East. However, the idea mankind appeared in a paradisiac region, with luxuriant vegetation and plenty of resources. The same belief is found, for example, in the Vedic tradition (Aryan tribes came from the arid Central Asian steppes). These traditions could be explained by placing the human origins in a fertile tropical region (the desertification of the Middle East began only around 4,000 B.C.). The following verses, regarding the creation of the first woman, Adam`s sin and the exile from Eden, are extremely difficult to analyze scientifically. Probably, they should rather be regarded as metaphoric. The next chapters in the Book of Genesis speak about the Jewish history until the entrance in Egypt, including the controversial episode of the Flood.

The Quran
The Quran is the holy book of the Muslims. It is based on the revelations of Prophet Muhammad ibn Abdallah (570?-632 A.D.). According to the Islamic belief, God sent His teachings to the Prophet under a versified form. Revelations took place

during several decades. These verses were grouped in units called suras, having rhythm and rime. The suras form the Quran. During the Prophet`s life there was no written form of the Quran. Instead, the early Muslims memorated the verses. Yet, the collection and writing of the verses took place only a few years after Muhammad`s death, during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr and Omar. This operation was led by Zeid ibn Thabit, a person close to the Prophet. Surely, some of the verses were lost, being forgotten by the believers. Others, probably, suffered small alterations due to the forgetting or negligence of the writers. However, it can be considered that the distortion degree of the Quranic message is very small. The Quran`s suras and verses are not organized thematically, so informations regarding the origins of the Universe and life are found throughout the entire book. The current analysis was done using a Romanian translation of the Quran, written by dr. Silvestru Octavian Isopescu. The English translation was done by correlation with Abdallah Yusuf Ali`s translation of the Quran. First, it should be mentioned that, generally, the Quran does not contradict the Bible, but just some of its interpretations and alterations: 40:56 We did aforetime give Moses the (Book of) Guidance, and We gave the book in inheritance to the Children of Israel,or, refering to Jesus: 5:110 Behold! I taught thee the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel The Bible does not contradict the Quran for the simple reason that it was written before this. There are many references to the origins of the Universe that can be linked to modern physical and astronomical scientifical knowledge. For example, this verse: 21:31 Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe? could suggest the Big Bang, more precisely the concentration of the entire Universe in a small point, prior to its expansion. Here is another interesting verse: 51:47 With power and skill did We construct the Firmament: for it is We Who made it vast. Here, the expression to make vast has, in fact, in Arabic, the sense to expand, thus suggesting the continuous expansion of the Universe. Also, there are verses which,

according to some commentators, refer to the atomic theory and to the existence of subatomic particles (54:3). Other verses speak about the orbits of celestial bodies: 21:32 And We have made the heavens as a canopy well guarded: yet do they turn away from the Signs which these things (point to)! 33 It is He Who created the Night and the Day, and the sun and the moon: all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course This verses are important, besides the fact they say the celestial bodies have rounded orbits (even the Sun has an orbit, around the Galactic core), because of the mention that the Sun and the Moon were created by him (or better it) meaning the heaven (God speaks at the first person), suggesting the evolution of the Cosmos. There are even mentions of black holes (86:1-3). Verse 57:25 shows the celestial origin of iron (and We sent down Iron) where the expression to send down means, more precisely, to send down from the sky, being known that this element could not originate in our Solar System, but it came from a close supernova. Just like in the Old Testament, in Quran is found the idea that the Earth was created in six days. Unlike the Bible, it is clearly specified that these are not ordinary, 24-hour days: 32:3 It is God Who has created the heavens and the earth, and all between them, in six Days, and is firmly established on the Throne (of Authority): ye have none, besides Him, to protect or intercede (for you): will ye not then receive admonition? 4 He rules (all) affairs from the heavens to the earth: in the end will (all affairs) go up to Him, on a Day, the space whereof will be (as) a thousand years of your reckoning. But, another verse says a Divine day equals 50,000 terrestrial years. The conclusion is that both numbers are symbolic, suggesting very long periods of time. So, a day is very long, with an unspecified length. This is why event the most vehement contesters of the Evolutionist theory in the Muslim world accept the Universe`s 15 billion year age. Again, it can be told that, considering the great length of the Universe`s creation, it is much more probable that it was let to evolve by itself, than that God created everything in its actual form (which He could do instantaneously). The best description of Earth`s creation can be found in the 41st sura:

41:8 Say: Is it that ye deny Him Who created the earth in two Days? And do ye join equals with Him? He is the Lord of (all) the Worlds. 9 He set on the (earth), mountains standing firm, high above it, and bestowed blessings on the earth, and measure therein all things to give them nourishment in due proportion, in four Days, in accordance with (the needs of) those who seek (Sustenance). 10 Moreover He comprehended in His design the sky, and it had been (as) smoke: He said to it and to the earth: "Come ye together, willingly or unwillingly." They said: "We do come (together), in willing obedience." 11 So He completed them as seven firmaments in two Days, and He assigned to each heaven its duty and command. And We adorned the lower heaven with lights, and (provided it) with guard. Such is the Decree of (Him) the Exalted in Might, Full of Knowledge. So, in the first two days, Earth was created. More complicated is the problem of the creation of nourishment (i.e. of lifeforms). A traditional interpretation says that life was created in the first two days, together with the Earth, and in two more days. However, this idea is somehow illogical: on what could life develop when Earth was not completely formed? Another interpretation would be that life was created in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth days (the last two being contemporary with the creation of the heavens). Surely, it could be said that life evolved continuously until now. But Earth also evolved until today. Thus, it would be more logical to consider that each stage of two days does not mean the end of Earth`s and life`s creation, but the time passed until the next stage began. This is why another interpretation of verse 41:9 seems more reasonable. According to this, four is the total number of the days during which God created Earth and life, the latter being made in only two days. Even more complicated is the problem of the seven heavens. Certain commentators, knowing the discoveries of modern science, say that this expression signifies, indeed, the creation of the Cosmos, the number seven being, in the ancient Arab tradition, a symbol of infinity, of plurality. In this case, the smoke in verse 41:10 would mean the primary nebulae, from which stellar systems formed. Such a version, in which the extraterrestrial space would have appeared after the Earth`s formation, is not only absurd from the scientific point of view, but it also contradicts the Quran itself. Verses 79:27-33 say:

79:27 What! Are ye the more difficult to create or the heaven (above)? (Allah) hath constructed it: 28. On high hath He raised its canopy, and He hath given it order and perfection. 29. Its night doth He endow with darkness, and its splendour doth He bring out (with light). 30. And the earth, moreover, hath He extended (to a wide expanse); 31. He draweth out therefrom its moisture and its pasture; 32. And the mountains hath He firmly fixed; 33. For use and convenience to you and your cattle. So, the heaven, in the sense of Cosmos, appeared, logically, before our planet. Thus, the events described in the 41st sura refer to something else and it is quite obvious to what: to the formation of the atmosphere. Earth always had an atmosphere. Yet, the current atmosphere, with its specific structure and chemical composition, is the result of photosynthesis and, thus, it formed after life appeared. Earth`s early, reducing atmosphere, due to its chemical composition (mainly carbon dioxide), to its high temperature and to its relative opacity, can be very well suggested by the word smoke in verse 41:10. The explanation for the existence of seven heavens is very simple: atmosphere is stratified, being constituted of concentrical layers, with different physical and chemical properties. Modern science divides Earth`s current atmosphere, according to its thermal characteristics, in seven layers: the troposphere (the lowest), the tropopause, the stratosphere, the stratopause, the mesosphere, the mesopause and the thermosphere. Another problem is the creation of the lights, meaning the stars. The answer can also explain, partially, why, according to the Bible, the Sun, Moon and stars appeared only in the fourth day of the Creation. Obviously, stars formed much before the Earth. Verse 41:11 in the Quran does not mention clearly the creation of stars, instead it says only that God adorned the heaven with stars. This would rather signify the moment in which they become visible on the sky. As shown above, Earth`s early atmosphere was much denser, hotter and contained a huge amount of water vapor. When Earth cooled down, this vapor began to condensate, forming clouds. These clouds, located initially at high altitudes, descended and then, by massive precipitations, gave birth to the Planetary Ocean. However, until the atmosphere was

transformed by photosynthetic organisms, the large carbon dioxide quantity caused it to have high temperatures (due to the greenhouse effect), and, thus, lots of clouds (due to evaporation). The presence of these large clouds, together with the specific chemical composition led to a certain opacity of the atmosphere. So, in that period, stars were not visible from Earth. Another issue is the length of each day. According to certain translators and commentators of the Quran, verse 41:9 says these days are equal. If we accept that these stages represent extremely long physical, chemical, geological and biological proceses, it is clear that they do not have brusque, well determined beginnings and ends. Yet, the Quran suggests they have approximatively equal lenghts. It is known that Earth`s coagulation and individualization as a planet took place more than 4.6 billion years ago. But the beginning of the process should rather be considered the formation of the accretion disc around the Sun, five billion years ago. The oldest traces of lifeforms date from over 3.5 billion years ago. Regarding the formation of the oxygenic atmosphere, the situation is a little more complicated. The first oxygenproducing photosynthetic microorganisms appeared around 2.7 billion years ago. Still, 2.1 billion years ago the oxygen percentage in the atmosphere was only 1%. It reached 10% about 1.4 billion years ago, and the current value of 21%, 800 million years ago. Thus, the beginning of the third stage must be placed somewhere between 2 and 1.5 billion years ago, maybe around 1.8 billion years ago, when the first oxygen-dependent organisms appeared. Of course, these dates are approximative. Considering these dates, 5, 3.5 and, respectively, 1.8 billion years ago, our planet`s history can be divided in three relatively equal stages. This way, a Divine day would measure, on average, around 830 million years. Another interesting verse is 75:12, which says that God created seven heavens and seven earths. There are two possible interpretations. One of them is based on the fact that, as mentioned above, in the Arab tradition (and not only), number seven was a symbol of plurality (this number is also used, with the same meaning, in other parts of the Quran). In this case, the verse would speak about the multitude of heavens (i.e. the vastness of the Universe) and of planets. The latter fact would be remarcable because, although ancient people were able to observe other planets, they had no way to know that these have the same consistence as Earth. Another interpretation is based on the events mentioned in the 41st sura. In this case, verse 75:12 would refer to the stratification of the atmosphere, but also of Earth. It is known that our planet is

composed of different concentrical layers. However, science identifies only five such layers: the internal core, the external core, the internal mantle, the external mantle and the lithosphere. Another important issue regarding Earth`s evolution is the following: 78:6 Have We not made the earth as a wide expanse But what does the expansion of the earth mean? Many modern Muslim theologians connect this verse to Earth`s tectonic activity, more precisely, to the expansion of the oceanic bottom and the continuous generation of the lithosphere. A remarcable idea is that regarding the properties of water: 55:19 He has let free the two bodies of flowing water, meeting together: 20 Between them is a Barrier which they do not transgress: 25:55 It is He Who has let free the two bodies of flowing water: One palatable and sweet, and the other salt and bitter; yet has He made a barrier between them, a partition that is forbidden to be passed. So, between freshwater and saltwater there is an impassable barrier. Until recently, this idea seemed curious. But, according to the Wyville-Thomson law and to recent scientifical discoveries, in the 1990`s (especially the research done by JacquesYves Cousteau in the Strait of Gibraltar), the transition between two water masses with different salinities is quite brusque (due to superficial tension forces), so they do not mix. Regarding the formation of life, the Quran mentions its aquatic origins: 21:31 Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe? 24:44 It is Allah Who alternates the Night and the Day: verily in these things is an instructive example for those who have vision! And Allah has created every animal from water: of them there are some that creep on their bellies; some that walk on two legs; and some that walk on four. Allah creates what He wills for verily Allah has power over all things. 25:56 It is He Who has created man from water: then has He established relationships of lineage and marriage: for thy Lord has power (over all things). These verses admit two interpretations: they can refer either to the appearance of life in the aquatic environment (a fact accepted by most biologists), either to the

chemical composition of all living beings, dominated by water (more than 66% of the human body). Many Muslim theologians reject the Evolutionist theories. At a first lecture, it would seem they are right. There is no clear mention of the evolutionary process and verses regarding human origins seem, using a rigid interpretation, to support direct creation. Yet, the facts presented above raise some questions. Why did the creation of Earth take so long if there was no evolutionary process? Why did life need to be created from water, including land species (when they could be instantaneously created, directly in the terrestrial environment)? What does the Quran say about the appearance of mankind? Different verses mention different origins: water, a soul, a drop, a clot, clay. If in the following verse: 4:1 O mankind! reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single soul, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women;- reverence Allah, through whom ye demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (That bore you): for Allah ever watches over you. the word soul could refer to the first man (Adam), in the next verse, due to the mentions to intrauterine life and to some recent translations of the Quran, this interpretaion does not seem so sure: 39:8 He created you (all) from a single soul: then created, of like nature, his mate; and he sent down for you eight head of cattle in pairs: He makes you, in the wombs of your mothers, in stages, one after another, in three veils of darkness. such is God, your Lord and Cherisher: to Him belongs (all) dominion. There is no god but He: then how are ye turned away (from your true Centre)? But verse 6:98 shows that this interpretation is highly improbable: 6:98 He created you from a single soul and gave you a resting place In fact, the Arabic word used here (nafs) and generally translated as soul has many meanings: living being, person, basic unit, and, in modern Arabic, cell. Some contemporary commentators think it refers to a cell: either the primordial cell, from which all lifeforms evolved, either, more probably, the zygote that gives birth to the human being. Thus, the creation of the soul`s mate would be a metaphora for the first cell division. The cell could be also suggested by the word drop:

16:4 He has created man from a drop; and behold this same (man) becomes an open disputer! In the Quran, there are many mentions of human ontogeny: 71:13 "'Seeing that it is He that has created you in diverse stages? So, the human development has many stages. The American embryologist Keith Moore studied this problem. He used verses like these: 22:5 O mankind! if ye have a doubt about the Resurrection, (consider) that We created you out of dust, then out of a drop, then out of a leech-like clot, then out of a morsel of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed, in order that We may manifest (our power) to you 23:12 Man We did create from a quintessence (of clay); 13 Then We placed him as a drop in a place of rest, firmly fixed; 14 Then We made the drop into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a (foetus) lump; then we made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then we developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best to create! 40:69 It is He Who has created you from dust then from a drop, then from a leech-like clot; then does he get you out (into the light) as a child: then lets you (grow and) reach your age of full strength; then lets you become old,- though of you there are some who die before;- and lets you reach a Term appointed; in order that ye may learn wisdom. So, the word drop means, probably, zygote. The word alaqa means clot, but also, leech, and the expression formed flesh can also mean chewed flesh. Professor Moore photographed embryos in various ontogenetic stages and proved that, indeed, during early stages, the human embryo resembles a leech and then it takes a form similar to a morsel of chewed flesh. Other mentions of intrauterine development in the Quran are, also, quite exact. Yet, the verses mentioned above describe human ontogeny and not its phyllogeny. Muslim Creationists base their theories especially on the verses that describe the creation of man from clay or dust: 15:26 We created man from sounding clay, from mud moulded into shape; 27 And the Jinn race, We had created before, from the fire of a scorching wind.

32:5 Such is He, the Knower of all things, hidden and open, the Exalted (in power), the Merciful;6 He Who has made everything which He has created most good: He began the creation of man with (nothing more than) clay, 7 And made his progeny from a quintessence of the nature of a fluid despised: 8 Then He fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him something of His spirit. And He gave you (the faculties of) hearing and sight and feeling (and understanding): little thanks do ye give! 35:12 And Allah did create you from dust; then from a drop; then He made you in pairs. And no female conceives, or lays down (her load), but with His knowledge. Nor is a man long-lived granted length of days, nor is a part cut off from his life, but is in a Decree (ordained). All this is easy to Allah. There are more possible interpretations. For example, it could be considered, because dust, mud or clay are mentioned before different embryologic phases, that these would be metaphoras of an earlier ontogenetic stage, before the drop (which, in this case would not represent the zygote). However, it is more likely that the first man was created from clay, and then, his progeny formed from sperm, following the known ontogenetic stages. It must be mentioned that the Quran does not say how exactly did God create mankind out of clay (directly or by evolution). In this direction, verses 32:5-8 say an interesting thing. They suggest that at first, man was created, then it had progeny, and then he was fashioned by receiving something of God`s spirit and the faculties of sight and understanding (probably, conscience). Or, the beginning of our species must be considered the fashioning. So, humans originate from another beings that lived and had progeny before them. In these conditions, the dust, clay and mud must be understood as metaphoric names of the primordial inert matter from which life formed. The rigid interpretation (similar to that of Judeo-Christian Creationists) according to which the first man was literally made from clay, and after that he was given life, is simply impossible. If man was formed from clay, how could he be created also from water (verse 25:26)? Regarding the place where mankind appeared, the Quran indicates the same garden of Eden as the Bible. It is somewhere on Earth, but it is not geographically located: 7:9 It is We Who have placed you with authority on earth, and provided you therein with means for the fulfilment of your life: small are the thanks that ye give!

Finally, it is very suggestive that one of God`s attributes, found in the Quran is The Evolver.

Evolutionism and ethics

Some of the contesters of Evolutionism try to use moralist arguments. They say that Darwin`s theories describe a world based on the survival of the fittest, on a violent fight for survival and of cold blooded competition, principles that, according to them are not compatible with religious ethics and with God`s Law. They also suggest that the application of these principles in society and politics had terrible effects. After Darwin published his works, his ideas influenced not only biologists, but also philosophers and politicians. Some of them proposed that, for the mankind to progress, these ideas needed to be applied to the human society. First, such ideas were used to justify Colonialism, Imperialism and the use of force in relation to other states. Then, political Darwinism entered a new stage when the first Fascist movements appeared. In its extreme form, social and political Darwinism were the basis for the most aberrant form of government in human history: the Nazi regime. According to such ideologies, the survival of the fittest was a principle to apply in the relation between individuals of the same society, between different human communities (races, nations, ethnic groups) and between states. Ethic pricniples were suppressed, giving the right to strong leaders to opress entire peoples. These ideas led to war and mass genocide. However, things must not be confused. It is true that the big fish eats the small one, but they rarely belong to the same species. Darwin`s ideas were true, but they were presented in a rather simplist way. Intraspecific relations in the living world are rarely based on confrontation between individuals. The struggle for survival has usually a peaceful meaning. Lifeforms less intelligent than humans, such as dogs, wolves, elephants or apes, live in social groups, develop colaboration relations and often show compassion for their conspecifics. But the most important thing to say is that even if evolution is a real process, and its laws govern the entire vegetal, animal or microbial world, this does not mean that these laws must be applied to human society. Humans are intelligent beings, they are the peak of all Creation, and their society must be governed by ethical laws. Evolutionist theories have to be judged by their scientifical value. They cannot be

condemned becaused they were used by certain ideologists to justify atrocities. Christianity cannot be condemned for the Inquisition, neither Islam for Al Qaida`s actions, nor Socialism for the Stalinist purges.

Many other scientific aspects are present in various religious writings. For example, some Muslim physicists found in the Quran a quite exact value of the light`s speed and possible mentions of wormholes. However these facts have no connection to the current paper`s subject. Nowadays, many clerics, theologians and believers, either Christian (Catholic, Orthodox, but especially members of certain Neoprotestant churches), Muslim or Jewish (especially Orthodox Jews), reject Evolutionist ideas and other largely accepted scientific theories. Of course, the descriptions of the creation of mankind and of the Universe, such as they appear in the Bible, the Quran and other religious writings and traditions, may have many other interpretations, different from those presented above. The purpose of this paper is to show that the Bible and Quran cannot be taken as a basis for contesting Evolutionist theories, because they do not deny, in any way, the evolution of living and not living matter. Creation and evolution can coexist without any problems. The same way, science and religion are not opposed, but rather complementary domains.