Evolution: The elephant in the room, for both Christianity and Islam

An 8-ton African elephant named Henry, in the National Museum of Natural History, located on the National Mall, in Washington DC

An 11-ton African elephant named Henry, in the National Museum of Natural History, located on the National Mall, in Washington DC, also reflecting the metaphorical elephant in the room of religion, both Christianity and Islam

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

An 11-ton African elephant has graced the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History’s Rotunda since 1959. Sometimes called the Fénykövi elephant, after the Hungarian game hunter who donated the hide, it’s more often called by its affectionate nickname: Henry.

In 2015 Henry was carefully cleaned and patched with special hand-colored beeswax, and his platform was redesigned for the Washington DC museum on the national mall.

The Smithsonian did not intend any sarcasm, but the first time I visited the museum, I realized it is also a metaphorical ‘elephant in the room’ of the world of traditional Islam and Christianity.

Majority of the Muslims still do not believe in evolution and even those who believe in evolution seldom pause to ponder over the ramifications of all the facts of evolution. The foremost being that they can no longer believe in a literal Satan, as no physical meeting took place between the first Adam, God and Satan. The story mentioned in the Quran, in several places, has to be taken metaphorically in the age of Darwin, science and information. So, a large part of the Muslim theology and literature needs to be revisited in the light of psychology and biology. But, the Muslim masses and the scholars seldom seem flexible or ready. Suggested reading in this regard: Surah Al Baqara (The Cow): Section 4: Adam and Eve, Exposing Creationism of Zakir Naik, Tahir ul Qadari, Yusuf Estes and Harun Yahya and Meeting the Quranic Adam with Charles Darwin.

Majority of the Evangelical Christians still do not believe in evolution.  Almost 75% of the Catholic Christians believe in evolution, but even they or the atheists coming from the Catholic tradition, who otherwise obsess over science and evolution, do not realize that the facts of evolution shake the very foundation of the Christian dogma. It takes away the premise that the first Adam committed the Original Sin from which Jesus had to redeem the humanity, by vicarious atonement. Suggested reading in this regard: Charles Darwin: An Epiphany for the Muslims, A Catastrophe for the Christians.

Addtional suggested reading for science and religion

Biology of Our Human Family: Who are We Related To?

Are the Scientists the Better Teachers for Several of the Attributes of God?

Science in the Service of the Scriptures

Science: The Only Present Day Arbiter Between Religions?

Science and religion: A bittersweet relationship

Did Noah Take Kangaroos with Him in the Ark?


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