Thursday, April 13, 2017
ASK A MUSLIM: WHAT OF NEANDERTHALS AND ALIENS?
In the Islamic conception, Adam’s the first Prophet chosen to preach to humanity, but he and his wife Eve are also the first in a new species, chosen to be God’s Caliphs—like “representatives”—on Earth.
But if we believe that, how do we deal with Neanderthals—was Adam their ancestor, too? Do Adam and Eve fit somewhere differently on the family tree? Or are modern humans somehow distinct from species we’re clearly so similar to?
When I’ve raised such questions, I’ve gotten different responses. Some Muslims argue that if the Qur’an doesn’t go into detail about the origins of the world, or human life, then that’s because God wants us to focus on the moral meaning. The science was left for us mere mortals to divine.
Others have proposed that Adam was an archetype for humankind, not a person; that huge chunks of time passed between the forbidden fruit and their Earthly exile; that the Adam in heaven wasn’t quite the Adam on Earth; or that while Adam was created out of the same genetic stuff as life on this planet—how else could we survive?—that genetic similarity doesn’t imply direct ancestry.