Evolution Pre Darwin


Well-known member
This thread is looking into pre Darwin evolutionists which arose out of the Hieronymous Bosch thread Hieronymus Bosch
and rather than dilute it, though it is related, chose to move the discussion.

Evolution Theories Before Darwin

Islamic Foreshadowing of Evolution | Muslim Heritage
Read through those links, interesting stuff. As ever they both allude to people 'earlier' than Aristotle without point to their words/works or discussing them just using them as 'hidden support' which is a recurring theme when experts interpret the past.
Still I do see where you are coming from. The painter of the images could well have seen Al Jahiz's Book of Animals at some point he did hobknob with many people who may have had a copy or were able to get him access to a copy and these images made it into the panels in various forms.

Al Jahiz's pictures are poor efforts at recording what the eyes see on paper. Bit better than the quality I'm capable of but totally inferior to two family members who can accurately reproduce creatures and plants from life and way, way inferior to the accuracy whoever painted those European birds was capable of.
We are led to believe that old=primitive=less skillful by the 'official' history disciplines. I find it inconceivable now, after finding it utterly conceivable for decades, that there haven't always been people who can look at something and produce an accurate drawing/painting of what they see that other people would recognise and appreciate enough to hang on too, to look after, to pass on.

Then there is always, but always, a Church aka Religious angle to everything. It's as though it is directing what does and doesn't 'come out of history' for the present day people to 'interpret' in an 'authorised and prescribed manner'. Why must the Church be the organ of interpretation, the presenter of the past?
Feels more and more likely, to me, the Church is inventing the past on the fly and has been since it came into being.

Take Anaximander for example.
Everything this figure is said to have done or written is fiction; Anaximander - Biography, Facts and Pictures
Anaximander was born in approximately 610 BC in the Ancient Greek city of Miletus (now in Turkey). His father’s name was Praxiades. His mother’s name is not known.

None of Anaximander’s work survives. What we know of him was written by authors such as Aristotle in later times.

None survives. Nothing not a word, not a drawing but a bust of him does!


Still Aristotle wouldn't make things up and he was real, wasn't he?

Like almost all 'ancient' figures they find their exposure, their coming too light in the Church Tales. Nothing is known of any true ancients only the Church approved and authorised ancients.

The other pre Darwin evolutionist mentioned, Empledocles.
Empedocles - Biography, Facts and Pictures


Empedocles was born 2500 years ago, in approximately 490 BC.
Like many people who lived so long ago, details of his life are sketchy. Scholars rely on fragments from a variety of ancient sources to learn something of his life and his ideas.
Empedocles’ family was well-known and wealthy. His grandfather, whose name was also Empedocles, kept racehorses. His father, Meton, was an Olympic Champion.

When more is said to be known about the parents of the famous one than the famous one (look up Brunels father to see what I mean or Bruce Ismay as another) I smell a rat.

So once again its the same 'interpretation of what may, could, probably, possibly have been said and done' by others who 'came later'.

The Persian who gets quoted in that article is ibn miskawayh
Ibn Miskawayh, Ahmad ibn Muhammad (c.940-1030)

Ibn Miskawayh wrote on a wide variety of topics, ranging from history to psychology and chemistry, but in philosophy his metaphysics seems to have been generally informed by a version of Neoplatonism. He avoids the problem of reconciling religion with philosophy by claiming that the Greek philosophers were in no doubt concerning the unity and existence of God. He goes so far as to suggest that Aristotle's identification of the creator with an unmoved mover is a powerful argument in favour of a creator acceptable to Islam, since the very distinct nature of such a being prevents our normal categories of description from making sense.

Once more someone talking about some 'earlier' historical character. All roads lead to Aristotle it seems.

Why on earth would Muslims bother translating and interpreting such writings?
It makes no sense. Other than the geographical proximity of the land called Greek and Persian where is the commonality?
Mind when a very young me asked the question of a teacher "Why do I have to learn French?" and the teacher replied "Because the French our our closest neighbours."
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Well-known member
We have a lot of this second (third? fourth? fifth?)-hand information, passed on only in the writings of people talking about other people who lived long before. If there ever were any original documents, they are either long gone--burned in the many destructions of libraries and cities--or else they are hidden away in some vault in the Vatican or some other place.

Why on earth would Muslims bother translating and interpreting such writings?
Muslims were supposedly great mathematicians and scientists at one time. If true, then they have fallen far from their first estate. So maybe there were Muslim clerics who were really interested in history. I'm just wondering how we know that the sculpture in that picture is really Anaximander. He looks like any other old, bearded Greek guy. Anybody could have scratched his name on that bit of rock, which looks as if it broke off from a larger work.


Well-known member
Ever noticed how these sculptures seem to share features with each other?
Ever noticed the 'Romans' are rarely if ever sculpted with beards, 'Persians' always with beards, the Greeks a bit of both?
A tad sarcastic mayber but it feels to me they have a basic template for each ancient people and with the men they create diversity in ppearance but with the women they all look alike thoughout each 'culture'. We really are being played for fools, never mind space CGI this historical Tangible stuff is impossible to age and impossible to name.

Ruby Rhod

Active member
Why on earth would Muslims bother translating and interpreting such writings?
It makes no sense.
In 529 AD, Emperor Justinian ordered the school of Athens, last Platonic Academy, shut down. After years of Christian persecution, this forced the philosophers to flee to Persia. Arab conquest of Persia (Iran) happened in 651. Arabs take credit for math because of it. That is why we had to borrow our books on Plato (and others) from Arabs. Some ~100 years later, with some thanks to philosophers winning over their minds, Persian half-breeds succeeded in assimilating (as in breeding-out) the Arabs. This kicked-off the Islamic Golden Age.

Hundreds of years later, the Church allowed philosophy to return to Europe.