Qur’an and Modern Science: Conflict or Conciliation?

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This is a response to Dr. Zakir Naik's comments concerning the theory of evolution during the ‘Qur’an and Modern Science – Conflict or Conciliation?’ question and answer session.

This article is an essay/op-ed by THHuxley. Pen-icon2.png
Essays/op-eds do not necessarily reflect the views of WikiIslam. See the disclaimer for details.


A rising star in the field of Muslim apologetics is Dr. Zakir Naik of India. Many Muslims, especially the younger generation, refer to this apologist, who believes apostates should be executed,[1] as an expert in the “scientific miracles” of the Qur'an.

He once attempted to refute the theory of evolution during the ‘Qur’an and Modern Science – Conflict or Conciliation?’ question and answer session.[2] Here we present Dr. Naik’s transcript, annotated to identify each of his factual errors. His demonstrable errors will each be numbered.


The Origin of Species

”The Origin of Species” – It says that Charles Darwin went on an island by the name of Keletropist on a ship named as HMS Beagel, and there he found birds pecking at niches.

1. There is no such Island named “Keletropist.”

2. Birds do not “peck at niches.”

Darwin did spend several years sailing around the entire world as ship’s naturalist in the HMS Beagle. One of his stops was the Galapagos Islands, where he found a number of finches (birds) that lived (not “pecked”) in different ecological niches.

Dr. Naik apparently is dimly aware of this story, but his description shows that his recollection is fuzzy at best, hardly of the caliber expected of a serious debater.

Darwin’s Finch

Depending on the ecological niches they peck, the beaks kept on becoming long and short. This observation was made in the same species, not in different species.

3. There are actually fourteen different species of Darwin’s finch. Not one.

Darwin’s observations on the different finches were not made until after the Beagle’s voyage was ended. So he cannot have made this observation “in the same species” as Darwin did not even realize they were all finches until he brought his specimens back to England where they were classified by a professional ornithologist. Within each of the species, beak length was not variable. The comparison of different beak lengths can only have been made between different species.

4. The differences were more than just beak length. They included color, size, mating behavior, songs, and preferred food. In fact they were so different that Darwin did not even realize they were all finches.

Thomas Thromtan

Charles Darwin wrote a letter to his friend, Thomas Thromtan, in 1861 saying, “I do not believe in ‘natural selection.’ The word that you use, I don’t believe in “Theory of Evolution” because I haven’t got any proof. I only believe in it because it helps me in classification of embryology, in morphology, in rudimentary organs.

5. An internet search fails to find that anybody named “Thomas Thromtan,” or in fact that anybody with that surname exists. A search of Darwin’s published correspondence (which includes his notebooks, diaries, letters and autobiography) fail to uncover anyone with that name. Such a letter does not exist.

6. Darwin published the “Origin of Species” in 1859. Two years before Naik claims this letter was written. The book is recognized primarily for doing two different things. First it was a vast compendium of evidence for the factual occurrence of evolution. Secondly, it announced a theory to explain the fact of evolution, “Natural Selection.” Scientists immediately concluded that he had succeeded in demonstrating that evolution had occurred, but it took many years before they accepted that his theory to explain it was correct.

Darwin could not have used the words, “I don’t believe in the theory of evolution because I haven’t got any proof,” since that is exactly what his book was immediately and universally recognized to have provided

Missing Links

Charles Darwin himself said that there were missing links. He did not agree with it. He himself said that there were missing links.

7. Darwin’s admission that there were “missing links” does not mean that he disagreed with it. He did not disagree with it. In fact, he even predicted where the human “missing links” would be found (Africa) and he was right.

Galileo's Sentence

The reason is because that if you analyze the church. The church was against science previously. And you know the incident that they sentenced Galileo to death.

8. Galileo was never sentenced to death. Galileo was sentenced to life imprisonment on June 22, 1633 and then that sentence was commuted to house arrest. He died more than eight years later on the evening of January 8, 1642 of old age.

Naik goes on to make the same false statement two more times, but we only count it as one factual error.

"Enemy of My Enemy"

They sentenced Galileo to death. Why? Because he said certain statements in the astronomy, etc., which went against the Bible. So they sentenced him to death, for which the Pope apologized now. So when Charles Darwin came up with a theory which goes against the Bible, they did not… they did not want any sufficient proof. An enemy of my enemy is my friend. So all the scientists… most of them… they supported the theory because it went against the Bible, not because it was true.

9. As already mentioned, most scientists did not support Darwin’s theory for many years after he published his book.

10. Most of these same scientists were religious people who did not consider the church “their enemy.”

11. The only thing they accepted was the fact that evolution had occurred, precisely and solely because Darwin’s “proof” was overwhelming.

Basically, this account by Dr. Naik is a total fabrication. A review of the published work and private letters of the scientists of Darwin’s day do not even hint at it. There is not the tiniest shred of historical evidence that would lead anyone to believe that scientists accepted evolution because they were enemies of the church.

The Four “Homonites”

All the stages… “Lucy.” There were four “homonites.” Science tells us today that there were four “homonites.”

First is “Lucy” along with its guy Dosnopytichest, which died about 3 and ½ million years. The Ice Age.

Then next came the Homo sapiens who dies out about 5 hundred thousand years ago.

Then came the “Neanderthal Man,” who dies a hundred to forty thousand years ago.

Then came the fourth stage, “CroMagnon.”

Everything Dr. Naik says here is wrong.

12. There is no such word as “homonites.” We suspect he means “hominids,” but he is not competent enough to know the right words.

13. There are not a mere “four” hominids, there are at least fourteen.

14. There is no such hominid as “dosnopytchest.” Lucy was an Australopithecus afarensis.

15. The ice age was not 3 ½ million years ago. It was between 1.6 million years to 10,000 years ago.

16. Homo sapiens did not die out 500 thousand years ago. Humans are Homo sapiens, and they are still very much alive.

17. Neanderthal man was not on the direct line to modern man. He was an ice age offshoot and went extinct 30 thousand (not “hundred to forty thousand”) years ago.

18. Cro-Magnon man is the same thing as Homo Sapiens.

Link Between Stages

There is no link at all between these stages.

19. There are many links between these stages. Between Australopithecus afarensis and Homo sapiens there are at least three. Homo habilis, Homo ergaster, and Homo heidelbergensis.

P.P. Grasse

According to P.P. Grasse in 1971, who held the Chair of Evolutionary Studies in Paris, in Sorbonne University, he said, “It is absurd. We cannot know who were our ancestors based on fossils.”

What P.P. Grasse wrote in 1971 does not matter, given the fact that most fossils of human ancestors have been found since then. Further more, Grasse never said that there was no evidence for evolution, and in fact his research supported evolution completely. He was simply commenting on the fossils that were known at that time.

It is dishonest of Naik to use such old quotes when he knows that more recent quotes from the same scientist would contradict him. But we will not number this as a factual error.

Sir Albert George

Sir Albert George, who got the Nobel Prize for inventing… for inventing the vitamin C. He wrote the book, The Can’t Ape and Man against Darwin's theory.

20. Nobody named “Sir Albert George” ever won a Nobel Prize.

21. If he means Albert Szent-Gyorgyi von Nagyrapolt, he did not invent Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a naturally occurring substance that did not need to be invented.

22. There is no such book as "The Can’t Ape and Man".

Sir Fred Hoyle

Again, Sir Fred Hoyle’s work. He wrote several works against Darwin's Theory.

Fred Hoyle was an astronomer, not a biologist. And his one great contribution to his own field, the steady state theory of the universe, turned out to be false. But this will not be counted as a factual error.

Ruperts Albert

Ruperts Albert. This person wrote a new theory of evolution against Darwin’s theory.

Who is Ruperts Albert? We can find no trace of anybody with that name. But, to give Naik the benefit of the doubt, this will not be counted as a factual error.

It is worth noting that if “he wrote a new theory of evolution,” then he must have believed that evolution was true.

Created from Apes

It’s unthinkable. You cannot think that we are created from the apes.

23. The idea is not that humans “are created from the apes.” Biologically, humans are apes still. The idea is that humans share a common ancestor with the living apes.

24. As a statement, this one is very easy to demonstrate as false. It is apparently very thinkable, because most competent scientists do think it.

Sir Frank Salosbury

If you know of Sir Frank Salosbury, he was a biologist. He said, “It is illogical to believe in Darwin’s theory.”

25. Evidently Naik is referring to Prof. Frank B. Salisbury, the one time head of Plant Science at Utah State University. There is no evidence that he ever received a knighthood from any of the world's extant monarchies.

Sir Whitemeat

Sir Whitemeat, he wrote a book against Darwin’s theory. He was also a biologist.

Who is Sir Whitemeat? For the third time, we can find no trace of anybody with that name.

Ignoring the fact that the “appeal to authority” is not a very strong rhetorical position, one would assume that Naik was familiar enough with the authorities he is referencing to actually know their names. However, of all the men he references as opposing evolution, he knows the names of only half of them.

Amoeba and Parameshia

An amoeba at the lower species level… amoeba can change to parameshia. Qur'an does not say, “Amoeba cannot change to parameshia.” Qur’an does not say.

26. There is no such thing as a “paremishia.” Perhaps he means paramecium. But the evolutionary change of an amoeba to a paramecium is about the same amount of evolutionary change as required for a clam to change into a human being.

No proof

If they have got proof, it cannot be possible. It is not against the Qur’an. But there is no proof at all.

27. There are vast amounts of direct evidence for evolution. It is “proven” to the same level of confidence that gravitation has been proven.

Henses Crake

people talk about molecular biology theory. They talk about genetic coding. According to Henses Crake who is an authority in this field, he said, “It is unimaginable.” Again, if you do the ration, the probability of one DNA forming, from ape to human being, is again zero.

28. There is no such person as “Henses Crake.” Naik probably means Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of DNA. Francis Crick believes 100% in evolution, and in 2003 told the London Telegraph that he did not believe in God at all.


Dr. Zakir Naik may be a very charismatic man, as well as a very dynamic speaker. But if this response is characteristic of the content of his speeches, he is a profoundly incompetent scholar.

His contentions are so error prone as to be embarrassing. He rarely gets a name correct, fails to understand the most basic details of the ideas he is critiquing, and cannot even get simple, well-known facts of history correct, like whether or not Galileo was sentenced to death.

His entire refutation was rather short and received a rapturous applause from his audience. Yet in those few words, Dr. Naik managed to make a total of 28 demonstrable errors of simple fact. This is an astounding level of scientific incompetence.

See Also

  • Zakir Naik - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Zakir Naik
  • Refutations - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Refutations

External Links