Do environmental conditions change the genetic structures of beings?
Prof. Dr. Âdem Tatlı
Question: “According to some sources, face shapes, slanting eyes, skin colors are based on the place where people live. For instance, if a community of white people go to Africa and do not marry with black people, their skin colors blacken after hundreds of years. Turks living in the hard climate of Altai-Tengri Mountains are slant-eyed but Turks living in the mild climate of Anatolia are not slant-eyed. Can this view be true?”
Answer: The genetic traits of all living things are encoded in their genes. Genes are located in the big molecules called chromosomes. The basic structures of chromosomes are DNA molecules that consist of acids, bases and proteins. Environmental conditions that will change or break the DNAs, which are the bases of these genetic structures, or the chromosomes, affect the genetic structure of that living thing. Those environmental conditions are either the inner structure of the living thing or the outer environment it lives in.
To what extent a change that can happen in the genetic structure of a living thing can change the genetic structure of that living being depends on the level of the change and the genetic potential of that living thing.
The species of living things are dealt with as a community not as individuals. That community is called population. For instance, the community of bees is a population. Human beings are a population, too. Therefore, the individuals in the populations have some small differences genetically. We call it the genetic potential or the gene pool of the population. There will be a gene flow among the individuals in that gene pool and as a result of some combinations, some traits that will not show their affects in the appearance will be produced. The new traits emerging in that appearance may have different reasons. They are as follows:
1- Some genes that are present in the genetic structure but that cannot appear because of being under the effect of the dominant trait may have been freed from that effect. The stars are present in the sky during the day but they cannot be seen due to the dominant effect of the sun. Similarly, when the effect of the sun disappears, stars become visible. Some traits are like that. When they are freed from the effect of the dominant traits, they appear.
2- Some breaks and attachments may take place in chromosomes or genes due to the effect of the environment. In fact, the environment does not add new genetic structure to the living thing from outside. The changes in the existing gene pool make it possible.
We can clarify it by giving an example.
Suppose that the resistance dose of the bee to drug A is maximum120 units. When you give them an average of 70 units of drug A to the bees, some of the individuals of the bee population will die because although the traits that can resist the drug are present potentially in their genetic structure, they do not become active because they have never faced such an environment before. In such an environment, the traits in the genetic structures become active immediately and even if you increase the dose to 100 units, they will not be affected by it. As a matter of fact, the bee population did not acquire the resistance to that drug from that environment. Those traits, which were already present in their genetic structure, became active. If you increase the dose to 120 units, which is the maximum limit, that population will die.
Likewise, Allah gave each living thing including man that He created the maximum and minimum environmental conditions as a genetic potential just like that drug dose. The changes that can take place in the gene pool can be up to the maximum or minimum limits of life. When the change exceeds the limit, that living thing does not turn into a new species. It becomes extinct because it has exceeded the limit of life.
All of the color and race traits of man were present in the genetic structure of Hazrat Adam, the first man. During the course of the history, the tribes and groups that were separated from each other began to increase among themselves. Thus, through genetic expansions and new marriages, various color and race traits that were present in the gene pool of man became apparent in the appearance called phenotype.
Issues that fully interest specialists
As a matter of fact, these issues are very special questions that interest specialists only. I think the reason why people who are not specialists are interested in the issue originates from the fact that the positivist and materialist philosophers explain the past of man through such changes. Besides, the soul tries to find a way showing that man emerged coincidentally and randomly through the evolution of other living things based on the changes in the environmental conditions. Thus, the soul wants to leave Allah out and not to obey His orders and prohibitions. However, even the movement of an atom is not out of the boundaries of the knowledge and power of Allah. Can it be possible that the emergence of man, who is the most honorable creature, be out of His knowledge?
Denying Allah does not prevent one from going to the hereafter but to Paradise
Allah cannot be left out by ignoring Him. It is like denying the existence of the sun. A person who does not accept the existence of the sun and closes his eyes makes it a night only for himself. Denying the existence of Allah and the hereafter does not prevent one from going to the hereafter. It only prevents one from entering Paradise.
Causes are only a pretext and a veil to Allah’s knowledge, will and power
No matter what living thing it is, no matter in which environment it lives, any changes that can take place in its body can be realized only through Allah’s knowledge, will and power. Environmental conditions are only a pretext and a veil. The tree yields the apple and the seed yields the tree. Causes seem to produce the beings and direct them. In fact, there is a distance as far as the earth and the sky between the cause that brings about a being and that being. The distance between the sky and the mountain that seem to touch each other in the horizon is as much as the distance between the earth and the sky. As a matter of fact, the real doer behind the causes is Allah. Man intervenes in the structure of the beings consciously but he is still a cause because it is Allah who makes and renews the cells of the living things and it is also Allah who gives man knowledge, will and life, and arranges his working.
Allah wants us and encourages us to study the book of the universe, that is, all of the beings in the universe and the laws that they are subject to, and to find out the laws and principles that are valid among the beings and how they work, with the knowledge, will and power that He gave us.
However, we must not attribute the property of Allah to the causes and coincidence when we display them through the rules of science.
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