The Problem of the Origin of Life (Part 1)
Ordinarily, when (theistic) thinkers want to relate the matter of life to God and Divine will, they bring up the problem of origin of life on the earth and the question regarding the cause of the first emergence of life. Conclusive scientific evidence indicates that life had a definite beginning on the surface of the earth, that none of the various types of living creatures, including animals and plants, have always existed since eternity. This is because the earth itself has a limited age. Moreover, it was not in its estimated life of several million years always fit for life. We observe that each individual of a species is always born from another individual belonging to that species. Wheat comes from wheat, barley from barley, horse from horse, camel from camel, and man from man. It is not the practice of nature that an animal or plant, for instance, should come into existence from a mass of sheer dust. Always, the origin of a living creature is traceable to another living creature from which it separates in the form of a seed or sperm and grows in a suitable location.
Now, how did life start in the beginning and through what means? Does every one of these innumerable species end in an individual living creature that is the source of its particular species? If that is the case, how did that first creature come into existence, for nature seems to disallow the emergence of a living creature without a speed, sperm or something that should have separated from a living creature? Hence, (they point out), we must admit that an exception to the rule must have occurred. In other words, a miracle had occurred and the Divine hand had emerged from the hidden to create that first living creature.
Or is it possible that all these species. have had a single source and root, and are members of a family of species? On the basis of this hypothesis, too, we confront the same problem. That is, even if we suppose all the species to have been derived from a single unicellular organism, the same question emerges as to how that first living creature came into existence. Isn't it the case that science has proved that a living creature cannot come into existence except from another living creature? Hence, was there an exception to the rule and a miracle, in that the will of God interfered to create instantaneously a living cell?
It is here that the adherents of the materialist outlook are forced to put forward certain hypotheses which are incredible to themselves. The theists, on the contrary, consider it as an evidence for the existence of a creator and state that a supernatural power did interfere to create the first living creature, and that it was the will of God that led to its emergence. Such was the view of Darwin, who was personally a theist. After having solved the problem of the branching out of species for himself, he arrives at one or several living creatures who first emerged on the earth's surface without having been reproduced by another living creature. He says regarding them: `As for these, they came to life through the Divine breath.'
Crissy Morrisen, in the book "The Secret of Man's Creation", says in this regard:
Some say that the corpuscles of life escaped from one of the planets and after wandering in the atmosphere for ages and consecutive centuries descended on the earth's surface. Such a belief is not acceptable, because it is impossible that they should have survived the space's absolute cold, and even if, supposedly, they could survive that danger, the cosmic rays that are scattered in space would have destroyed them. Even if they could pass through this stage, they must have come down accidentally in a very favourable point such as oceanic depths, where several conditions existed simulÂtaneously and a suitable environment was created for them. After all these problems, the question still arises about the origin of life and as to how it did emerge in other planets. Today it has been proved for certain that no environment however favourable and conducive to life can create it. Similarly, no kind of chemical synthesis or combination can create a life corpuscle. The problem of life still remains one of the unsolved problems of science.
Some say that a miniscule particle of matter, of a microscopic size, coagulating with a large number of particles of atomic size, disturbed their equilibrium and assumed the form of life through their inclusion and exclusion. NonetheÂless, no one has claimed until now that he has produced life with the means of chemical action and reaction.
By this discussion Crissy Morrisen intends to prove that the hand of a creator is involved in the origin and beginning of life, because it cannot be explained by material or natural causes. Concerning the origins of man and the great metamorphosis that resulted in the emergence of an intelligent creature with an extraordinary capacity for discursive thought and a power that could create the sciences, he says: "The emergence of man as an intelligent and thoughtful creature is too profound to be considered an effect of material changes in which a creator's hand was not involved." This was a sample of the mode of thought and argument of this group in relation to life and the Divine will.
There is no need to cite more or less similar statements of others that do not differ essentially from the passage quoted.
As we know, till now man has not been able, despite all his efforts, to produce with scientific means the substance that makes up the living creatures. For instance, he has been unable to produce with chemical substances an artificial wheat grain possessing the properties of a living grain, which may grow into a plant when sown and develop ears. Nor has he been able to produce artificially the sperm of an animal or man with the capacity to develop into an animal or man. Nevertheless, scientists have not ceased in their efforts, and as yet it has not become conclusively clear for them whether they would be able to do so in the future or if this matter lies beyond man's scientific and technical capacities.
This topic too, which relates to the future has, like the problem of the origin of life, created a controversy throughout the world. Inevitably, that group of theists who, with their above”‘mentioned approach and logic, say that the creation of life is in the hands of God, are of the opinion that, in this question too, man's efforts in the field are bound to be fruitless. Since man has no control over life, which is exclusively subject to the Divine will, man cannot create life anytime at his will with the scientific and technical means at his disposal. The prophets who raised the dead were able to do so with the leave of God. It is not possible for anyone to perform such an act without the perÂmission of God. And should anyone wan: to do such a thing with the leave of God, it would mean that such a man has joined the ranks of the prophets and performed a miracle, and, of course, God does not carry out a miracle except at the hands of His prophets and awliya.
This group of theists consider man's present incapacity in this regard as the proof of their claim. When they observe that man has produced wheat grains that do not differ in any way in their chemical composition from natural wheat but are devoid of the characteristics of life, they point out that that is because life depends exclusively on the will of God and the creation of life requires God's permission, which He does not give to anyone except His apostles.
Taken from: The Qur’an and the Nature of Life by Murtada Mutahhari
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Fingertips, one of Allah’s signs in His creation
How a man be so ignorant and ungrateful!
The Sun, a Brilliant Lamp in the Sky