Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Monday 12 April |
Saint of the Day: St. Teresa of the Andes
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

The first theory of evolution in history is 600 years older than Darwin’s

Public Domain | Wikimedia

Daniel Esparza - published on 04/07/17

Persian Nasir Al-Din Tusi already explained, in one of his treatises, the mechanisms of hereditary variability.

Born in 1201, Nasir Al-Din Al Tusi was perhaps one of the most prolific Persian intellectuals. He was not only an architect, an astronomer, a chemist, a mathematician, a philosopher, a physicist, a physician, a biologist and a theologian, but was also considered a Marja Taqlid (“one who deserves to be imitated”) among Shia Muslims.

Of his 150 works, covering both religious and non-religious subjects, 25 are written in Farsi and most of the others in Arabic. A few manuscripts contain translations from Farsi to Arabic to Turkish on the same page. Tusi also translated and wrote commentaries on the works of Euclid, Archimedes and Ptolemy, among others.

In one of these 150 treatises, the Akhlaq-i-Nasri, Tusi proposes an interesting theory of evolution which, in more than one way, resembles that of Darwin.

Tusi points out that, at first, the universe was composed of similar elements that were generating internal contradictions that allowed some substances to develop in one way, and others in another. Thus, Tusi explains the natural differentiation that would have caused some elements to form minerals, vegetables, animals, and finally humans, postulating the existence of a mechanism of hereditary variability, as read in this excerpt published in TheVintageNews:

The organisms that can gain the new features faster are more variable. As a result, they gain advantages over other creatures. […] The bodies are changing as a result of the internal and external interactions.

Moreover, Tusi points out the mechanisms that allow organisms to adapt to their environments. In a nutshell, this is precisely Darwin’s argument for the theory of natural selection.

Look at the world of animals and birds. They have all that is necessary for defense, protection and daily life, including strengths, courage and appropriate tools [organs] […] Some of these organs are real weapons, […] For example, horns-spear, teeth and claws-knife and needle, feet and hoofs-cudgel. The thorns and needles of some animals are similar to arrows. […] Animals that have no other means of defense (as the gazelle and fox) protect themselves with the help of flight and cunning. […] Some of them, for example, bees, ants and some bird species, have united in communities in order to protect themselves and help each other.

If you want to read the whole article, as published by The Vintage News, click here.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
11 Interesting facts about the late Prince Philip
Fr Robert McTeigue, SJ
A simple test to see if you really believe Christ is risen
Archbishop Georg Gänswein
I.Media for Aleteia
Gänswein: Benedict XVI expected to live only a few months after r...
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
St. Faustina’s coffee cup and lessons for Divine Mercy Sund...
Here’s how to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday at home
Philip Kosloski
Why you can eat meat on Easter Friday
Sister Bhagya
Saji Thomas-ACN
Catholic nun faces conversion charges in central India
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.