The Evolutionary Model of Religion:
Under the influence of Darwin’s theory of evolution, most social scientists and anthropologists have concluded that religion began with early man’s pantheistic deification of the forces of nature. According to them, early early man was amazed by the more cataclysmic and devastating forces of nature, like lightning, thunder, volcanoes, earthquakes, etc., which they supposedly conceived of as supernatural beings.
Consequently, they sought ways and means of appeasing them, much in the same way that they sought the aid of their leaders or more powerful tribes. In this way, early rites of worship, like prayer and sacrifice, were supposed to have developed. The North American Indians [Native Americans], who believe in spirits of the river, forests, etc., are used as examples of this early state in the evolution of religion known as animism.
At the animistic stage, the evolutionists claim, every individual had a personal set of gods. As families developed, family gods replaced personal gods. The polytheistic situation among the Hindus of India, where every family has its own personal god, is cited as an example of this stage.
Economic necessity and the struggle for survival eventually caused family links to expand, and thus tribes evolved. Tribal gods, in turn, gradually replaced the old family gods, and with each successive generation, tribes became larger and larger, with the result that the number of idols got fewer and fewer.
Eventually ditheism [belief in two gods] emerged in which all of the supernatural powers were confined to two main gods, a god of good and a god of evil. According to evolutionists, an example of this stage can be seen in the religion of the Zoroastrians of Persia. Prior to the appearance of the Persian reformer, Zarathustra [Zoroaster], Persians were thought to have believed in nature spirits, clan gods and family gods. According to the evidence gathered and interpreted by anthropologists, during Zoroaster’s time, tribal gods were reduced to two: Ahura Maza who, according to them, created all good in the world, and Angra Manyu who created all evil.
When tribes gave way to nations, tribal gods in turn gave way to the national God and monotheism was supposedly born. The God of Israel, as portrayed in the Old Testament, is a national entity, fighting on their behalf against their foes. The Israelites in turn are referred to as His chosen children…
Thus, according to social scientists and anthropologists, religion has no divine origin. It is merely a by-product of the evolution of early man’s superstitions based on his lack of scientific knowledge.
Atheists claim that primitive man used to worship everything, from the winds, stars, sun, and moon, to the rest of creation. Slowly, they evolved to totem-worship, then progressed to the worship of celestial bodies, until finally mankind evolved into monotheism. This theory is agreed upon by most non-religious researchers in religion–those specialized in the science of the Anthropology of Religion.
The Degeneration Model of Religion:
The Islamic concept of religion and its development is exactly the opposite of the previous view. It is one of a process degeneration…and not one of evolution. Man began as a monotheist, but in time strayed into various forms of polytheism…
Prophets were sent by God to all the nations and tribes of the earth to guide them back to the straight path of monotheism. But with the passage of time, people went astray and the teachings of the prophets were either changed or lost.
The proof of this reality [i.e. that tawheed (monotheism) preceded shirk (polytheism)] lies in the fact that all the so-called primitive tribes which have been found have the belief in a Supreme Being. No matter what their stage of religious development may have been according to the evolutionary theory, most believe in a Supreme God over all the other gods or spirits.
[Indeed]—from Itzmna, the creator-god of the the Central American Mayans, to Ngewo, creator of the universe and spirits of the Sierra Leone Mende, and from Hinduism’s Brahma, the impersonal Absolute, to Marduk, the ancient city deity of Babylon and Supreme God of the pantheon—the Supreme Being can be clearly seen…
According to the evolutionary model, this should not be the case, as the belief in One Supreme God supposedly grew out of limited polytheism and could not co-exist with animism. However, the concept of a single Supreme Being remains in most religions as evidence that the masses strayed away from the monotheistic teaching of the prophets [sent to them] by giving some of God’s attributes to other aspects of creation, which came to be regarded as lesser gods.
Another proof of the correction of this degeneration model [of religion] can be found in the historical transition of monotheistic Judaism and polytheistic Christianity. Monotheism taught by Prophet Jesus first degenerated into ditheism [i.e. God and His divine son]…Later it further degenerated into tritheism among the Romans who officially sanctioned the trinitarian concept. Finally, it degenerated into full-fledged polytheism in the Roman Catholic Church, where Mary and a series of so-called saints were given the powers of intercession and protection.
Similarly, if we look at the pure and final message of Islam as brought by the last Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him), and compare it with the present day beliefs among many Muslims, we find that a degeneration of beliefs and practices has also occurred. The pure monotheism of early Islam has degenerated over the ages. Among the various sects which have arisen, God’s attributes have (wrongfully) been given to the Prophet, his descendants, as well as to pious and impious individuals designated as saints among later generations.
Today, we find that a portion of those who call themselves Muslims have indeed become polytheists. Muslims believe that Allah (God) has protected the final message of Islam by ensuring that another portion of the ummah (Muslim community) would remain steadfast upon tawheed (monotheism). It is an obvious matter to see which portion of Muslims today have respected tawheed, and which have neglected it.
Return to text. Footnote 1: Here, we use the word “Islam” in its specific sense: the perfected religion as conveyed to us through Prophet Muhammad (salalahu alayhi wasalam) . Of course, Islam in the general sense of the word (i.e. submission to Allah ) has existed since the time of the first man, Prophet Adam.
Refuting atheism, evolution, etc.: http://forums.almaghrib.org/search.php?searchid=1692939&pp=25&page=1
“So what made the first monkey?”