Highly energetic chemistry is believed to have produced a self-replicating molecule around 4 billion years ago and half a billion years later the last common ancestor of all life existed. The current scientific consensus is that the complex biochemistry that makes up life came from simpler chemical reactions. The beginning of life may have included self-replicating molecules such as RNA, and the assembly of simple cells.1, 2
Fig-1: DNA Double Helix Heritable traits are known to be passed from one generation to the next via DNA, a molecule that encodes genetic information. DNA is a long polymer composed of four types of bases. The sequence of bases along a particular DNA molecule specify the genetic information, in a manner similar to a sequence of letters spelling out a sentence. Before a cell divides, the DNA is copied, so that each of the resulting two cells will inherit the DNA sequence. Portions of a DNA molecule that specify a single functional unit are called genes; different genes have different sequences of bases.
Within cells, the long strands of DNA form condensed structures called chromosomes. The specific location of a DNA sequence within a chromosome is known as a locus. If the DNA sequence at a locus varies between individuals, the different forms of this sequence are called alleles. DNA sequences can change through mutations, producing new alleles. If a mutation occurs within a gene, the new allele may affect the trait that the gene controls, altering the phenotype of the organism.3 Genes are the pieces of DNA that carry genetic information. Genes determine an individual’s general appearance and to some extent their behavior. If two organisms are closely related, their DNA will be very similar. On the other hand, the more distantly related two organisms are, the more differences they will have. For example, brothers are closely related and have very similar DNA, while cousins share a more distant relationship and have far more differences in their DNA.
Similarities in DNA are used to determine the relationships between species in much the same manner as they are used to show relationships between individuals. For example, comparing chimpanzees with gorillas and humans shows that there is as much as a 96 percent similarity between the DNA of humans and chimpanzees. Comparisons of DNA indicate that humans and chimpanzees are more closely related to each other than either species is to gorillas.3 The molecular structure of DNA, the code or master blueprint of life looks like a twisted ladder, a double helix. The steps in the ladder are made up from the joining of various pairs of four molecules, namely, adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G), and cytosine (C). Each step of the ladder is always formed by pairing molecules like AT or TA, GC or CG. The order of AT, CG, GC, and TA varies from gene to gene ensuring hereditary traits being passed over to the offspring. The steps of the DNA molecules are the same 2 in all living things. The differences among all living things results from the way the steps are arranged, as well as from the ratio of the number of AT (or TA) to GC (or CG). This order and ratio makes all the differences between a flea and a dog, a rose and cactus, a man and a monkey.4
Fig-2: Molecular Structure of DNA The complex molecular structure of DNA puts an overwhelming problem for its beginning by chance. For example, the DNA of virus contains about two hundred thousand steps and a DNA molecule within a human chromosome is made of at least six billion steps (base pairs). If a step is misplaced a mutation occurs. Thus from various combinations of the steps only one combination has been suitable for human being. According to the Holy Qur’an the soul (blueprint of life – the sequence of base pairs in DNA) is a command from God. “They put questions to you concerning the spirit. Say the spirit is at my Lord’s command. ..and of knowledge only a meager part has been imparted to you.”- (Al-Qur’an, 17:85). 3
The scientific study relating to the soul has involved investigating the soul as an object of human belief, or as a concept that shapes cognition and an understanding of the world, rather than as an entity in and of itself. The phenotypic, genotypic, behavioral and emotional characteristics or states of a human can be identified as bearing physio-chemical cause. Neurochemicals (most famously endorphins) are responsible for what can be described as feelings of well being, love and pain. Similarly, memory can be seen as an atomic reconstruction of an image in the brain at the expense of chemical energy intaken by food. Wilson suggested that biologists need to investigate how human genes predispose people to believe in a soul. The latest study on the living cell and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is suggesting us existence of an invisible soul that the blueprint of life or the sequence of base pairs in DNA is an eternal command from God which is different for different individuals and different species of living organisms.
This eternal command from God for sequence of base pairing in DNA of living organisms was described in the Holy Scriptures as eternal soul. The Christian view of the soul is based upon the teaching of both the Old Testament and New Testament. The Old Testament contains the statements “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it”- (Ecclesiastes 12:7) and “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.”- (Genesis 2:7). A single cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes made of a long DNA in coiled and folded form. Total DNA of a human cell is made up of six billion base pairs, which is about 1.5-2.0 m long in uncoiled straight form. All information about our traits and biological activities are located in the DNA of cell in the form of codes or signals.
This primary framework and blueprint of life or the sequence of base pairs in DNA is an eternal command from God. Without a command for design of base pairs in DNA, life can not originate from inorganic matters. This eternal command from God is independent of matters and will persist forever with its all attributes after death of the body on the Earth. This discovery was first made by the scientists in the 1950s. Yet some thirteen centuries before this, it was clearly mentioned in the Holy Qur’an: He is the One who created you from clay, then predetermined your life span, a life span that is known only to Him. Yet, you continue to doubt. .—(6: 2).
Fig-3: God created you from a single soul and from that soul He created its mate.—(Al-Qur’an, 4: 1). During nuclear division the two strands of DNA
molecule separate and each strand acts as a template and organizes the formation of a new complementary strand from a pool of nucleotides as a result of specific base 5 pairing.4 In this way when the cells are divide, the genetic information are transmitted unchanged to each daughter cell that has been stated in the Holy Qur’an: O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord, Who created you from a single soul and from that soul He created its mate, and through them He bestrewed the earth with countless men and women.—(Al-Qur’an, 4: 1).
The human body as we have studied over the last hundred years is appearing to be a micro cosmos, and the whole universe a macro cosmos. Scientific study and observation of both the cosmos are indicating us existence of an intelligent designer and a creator displaying a very beautiful and wonderful organization, design, and planning, which should make any human being turn towards that intelligent creator in awe and wonder.5 In an astonishing prophecy 1400 years ago, the Holy Qur’an says – We will show them Our signs in the universe and within themselves, until it becomes manifest to them that this message (Qur’an) is truth. – (Al-Qur’an, 41:53).
1. Shaikh Sharafuddin, The notion of evolution through the ages, Islamic Foundation Bangladesh, Dhaka, 1981. 2. Biological Evolution, Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia. 3. Swanson TA, Kim SI & Glucksman MJ, 2007, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 4th edition, Lippincott Williums & Wilkins, Philadelphia, USA. 4. Ingram-Smith C & Smith KS, 2005, Biochemistry and Genetics, 2nd edition, McGraw-Hill Company, New York, USA. 5. Scientific Indications in the Holy Qur’an, Board of Researchers, Islamic Foundation Bangladesh, Dhaka, 1995.