Scientific Miracles? Not quite

Many educated Muslims are struggling to waft their Quran from its Medieval fossil form to fit into the 21st century age of science and technology. To this end, they are boldly asserting that their book foretold modern scientific findings 14 centuries ago. These portions are dubbed “scientific miracles” of the Quran. We will see if these claims hold up.

The following rebuttals were drawn out from dialogues with several Muslims on this topic. When I asked them to present their strongest “proofs” for the Quran’s divine inspiration, their favourite trump cards were the “scientific miracle” passages. But as it often turns out, the cards quietly slips back into their pockets and the propaganda backfires.

(I) Quran 24:40 says “(The unbelievers’ state) is like the depth of darkness, in a vast deep ocean, overwhelmed with a great wave toppled with (another) great wave, toppled with (dark) clouds, darkness one above another; If a man stretches out his hand, he can hardly see it; for whom Allah gives no light, there is no light.” It’s a miracle that the Quran described layers of darkness in the ocean 1400 years ago. This has now been recently confirmed by marine scientists stating that the ocean becomes progressively dark at very distinct layers of its depths.

Reading through the various English translations of the Quran, it’s clear that this passage is referring to darkness covering the surface of sea, not dark layers within it.

Arberry: “Or they are as shadows upon a sea obscure covered by a billow above which is a billow above which are clouds, shadows piled one upon another…”

Palmer: “Or like darkness on a deep sea, there covers it a wave above which is wave, above which is a cloud – darknesses one above the other…”

Rodwell: “Or like the darkness on the deep sea when covered by billows, above which are clouds; darkness upon darkness…”

Sher Ali: “Or, their deeds are like thick layers of darkness spread over a vast and deep sea, on whose surface rises waves, above which are clouds…”

Pickthall: “Or as darkness on a vast, abysmal sea. There covereth him like a wave, above which is a wave, above which is a cloud. Layer upon layer of darkness…”

There are no clouds within the sea, certainly this verse refers to darkness above the sea. One would have to be so desperate to force oceanography into this banal allegory.

(II) Sura 21:30 says “Have they not who disbelieve seen that the heaven and earth were joimed together (as one piece), then We parted them.” Here, Allah explained a mystery unknown to the greatest physicists and astronauts for centuries. It described the creation of the universe by joining together heavens and the earth and separating them. This harmonizes with Big Bang Theory of the creation of the universe which holds that about 20 million years ago, the universe began with an explosive expansion of a single condensed matter.

I appeal to all Muslims who don’t wish to be exposed to ridicule to read up about the Big Bang theory before including it in their dawah memo. This theory stipulates that about 13.7 billion years ago, a tremendous explosion started the universe. Prior to this, the energy that transformed the matter was contained at one infinitely small point, thus, the explosion supposedly gave rise to the particles that became matter as well as space and time. It proposes that the galaxies were not all clumped together, so the claim of heavens and earth “being separated” as the Quran says is false.

Even more than a point, the Big Bang theory excludes Creationism, so the term “Big Bang theory of creation” is ludicrous. The Big Bang is just that – a theory – not a scientific fact. If it’s true, that means God didn’t create the earth and there were no Adam and Eve. Most believers in the Big Bang theory are atheists and agnostics. Appealing to speculative theories in place of facts is self-defeating.

(III) Sura 78:12-13 says “We have built above you seven strong (heavens) and placed therein a blazing lamp.” It’s clear from this verse that the sun is the only light for our solar system. Astronomers have now established that the moon merely reflects the light of the sun. The Qur’an stated this fact centuries before the astronomers could establish this by their findings

These verses actually prove that the Quran is not from an all-knowing Allah. The idea of “seven solid (heavens)” built up like some storey buildings is absurd. No astronomer will buy such gobbledygook. And finally, the sun is not “a blazing lamp,” that’s what an illiterate 7th century cave man would say. It would have been scientifically accurate if the Quran said that the sun is the star at the centre of the solar system around which the earth rotates.

(IV) Sura 16:68-69 “And your Lord inspired the bee, saying: Take your habitations in hills, on trees, and in (men’s) habitations. Then eat of all fruits, and follow the way of your Lord made easy (for you); There comes forth from their bellies, a drink of varying colours wherein is healing for men; Verily, in this indeed a sign for people who think.” The Quran in this verse used the female form of the verb, thus is stating that the female bee is entrusted with the task of collecting food and making the honey. Muhammad wasn’t an expert entomologist, so he couldn’t have known this 14 centuries ago

There are a number of problems with these verses. One, bees have a more complex navigation, communication and social mechanism. They live in a wide variety of environments and are certainly not restricted to hills, trees and houses. The Muslim who wrote this obviously has a poor information about bees at his disposal. For one, bees are classified into queen, drones and workers based on their responsibilities.

Two, bees don’t eat fruits; they feed on nectar and pollen from flowers. That is what they use to produce honey which also results in cross pollination in flowers. If Allah authored the Quran, he should have known this, but he didn’t. Three, how exactly do insects “follow the way of their Lord”? Are they Muslims too? The Quran attributes human thinking or abilities to insects. That’s fairy tale, not science.

The “drink of various colours” from bees alluded to are beewax and royal jelly and they are not for healing; they cause allergic reactions in humans. Allah should have given a disclaimer. Finally, this passage is not a sign for thinking people. Apiculture or bee-keeping has been practiced in ancient Egypt and ancient Greece, so the Quran is saying nothing beyond what a 7th century desert man would have known.

(V) Sura 1:1 says “Praise be to Allah; the Lord of the worlds.” Fourteen centuries ago, the human mind was certainly incapable of thinking about the earth, the solar system or the galaxies. Yet the very first verse of the Quran states that Allah is the Lord of the worlds. Today, mankind knows for a fact that there are other planets besides earth. Allah revealed this to Prophet Muhammad before modern discoveries.

Planets are not “worlds” and no planet is an inhabitable as earth, so they can’t be correctly termed “worlds beyond the earth.” Another absurdity in the Quran is the claim that there are 7 heavens. These “heavens” couldn’t be planets, because there are 9 planets observed so far and scientists are looking at the possibility of a 10th planet which is still too dark to see now. Maybe, Allah should have given us the number of planets instead. Me thinks that would have been the real “scientific miracle.”

(VI) Sura 10:5 “He it is Who made the sun a shining brightness and the moon a light, and ordained for it mansions that you might know the computation of years and the reckoning. Allah did not create it but with truth; He makes the sign manifest for a people who know”

Sura 25:61 “Blessed is He who made constellation in skies and placed therein a lamp (sun) and a moon giving light”

Sura 71:15-16 “Do you not see how God has created the seven heavens in stories, and has set the moon therein for a light, and set the sun for a lamp.”
Quran uses two different words for the sun (siraj or zia) and the moon (noor). It acknowledged that the sun is the source of light and the moon only reflects it

There is a big spoof here. The Arabic word “noor” used for the moon means direct light and it’s scientifically wrong. The Arabic word for an object emitting light is “munir.” The moon doesn’t have its mansions or stations. This nonsense was borrowed from Astrology which is about as scientific as placing garlics on your bed to ward off spirits.

The sun is a star and there’s no scientific evidence that the moon is in the midst of or on the same level as stars. Scientists have observed that stars are much farther away from the earth than the moon. Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the earth, is about 4.3 light years (40 trillion kilometre) away from it. No matter how you slice the cake, the Quran is premodern.

(VII) “And it is He (Allah) Who spread out the earth, and set thereon mountains standing firm, and (flowing) rivers ; and fruits of every kind he made in pairs, two and two. He draws the night as a veil over the day ; Behold ! Verily, in these things there are signs for those who consider.” (13:3)¬†

Who made for you earth like a carpet spread out, and has opened roads therein, and has sent down water from the sky? With it have We produced diverse pairs of plants, each separate from the other” (20:53)

“Glory be to Allah, Who created in pairs all things that the earth produces ” (36:36), Centuries before Botanists knew of plant genders, the Quran made it known. How could Muhammad have had this information if he wasn’t inspired by God?

These verses are quite revealing, though not in the way Muslims suppose. Sura 13:3 says that Allah “spread out the earth and set thereon mountains” and that the “earth [is] like a carpet spread out” (20:53). This is teaching a flat earth. It was the belief of Muhammad’s time that the earth was flat. This has been disproved by the Voyages of Discovery and the advent of science. The earth is not flat.

Sura 13:3 speaks of “fruits of every kind He made in pairs.” This is nonsense. Fruits do not have male and female sexes! One doesn’t even need to be a scientist to know this. Sura 20:53 also speaks of “diverse pairs of plants” made. This is not true. Many plant species reproduce asexually. Why was Allah unaware of this?

Sura 36:36 is totally false. The lizard Cnemidophoras reproduces asexually. All members of the Monera kingdom reproduce asexually. Higher fungi (Fungi imperfecti), as well as various plants and single-celled organisms also reproduce asexually. They were not created “in pairs.” Why did Allah not know these facts? You see, Muhammad was a good observer, but he wasn’t all-knowing. These blunders (ironically been presented as “scientific miracles”) actually prove that the Quran is entirely man-made.

Bible Characters in the Quran (2)

Islamic records make references to many Jews and Christians living in Arabia during Muhammad’s time. He obviously heard some Bible stories from them and even appealed to their Scriptures for legitimacy. But whilst the Quran claims to be a confirmation of the Bible and a fuller explanation of it, many of its teachings and stories directly contradict it.

Pharaoh and Moses

The Quranic account of Moses is laden with several historical, chronological and Biblical errors that no rational person should have any qualms dismissing it as a poorly crafted redaction:

“So the magicians were thrown down to prostration; they said, ‘We believe in the Lord of Aaron and Moses. (Pharaoh) said: Believe ye in Him before I give you permission? Surely this must be your leader, who has taught you magic! be sure I will cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will have you crucified on trunks of palm-trees; so shall ye know for certain, which of us can give the more severe and the more lasting punishment” (Q 20:70-71).

This is a hogwash. Muhammad shamelessly abjures millennia of Jewish and Egyptian history by presenting Moses, Aaron and the magicians as Muslims. Furthermore, crucifixion as a means of execution was unknown in Egypt during this time of history, so that statement alluded to Pharaoh is an impossible one. Interestingly, maiming and crucifixion were also prescribed by Allah/Muhammad for anyone who insults Islam (Sura 5:33). It seems the cruel spirit that inhabited the Quranic Pharaoh also inspired Muhammad.

The Quran’s author is not sure whether the ancient Egyptians were polytheists or monotheists.

Sura 7:127 “The chiefs of Firaun’s (Pharaoh) people said ‘will you leave Musa (Moses) and his people to spread mischief in the land and to abandon you and your gods. He said we will kill their sons…”

Sura 28:38 “And Pharaoh said ‘Council I know not that you have any god but me. Kindle me Haman, a fire upon the clay, and make me a tower, that I may mount up to Moses’ god for I think that he is one of the liars.”

Moses and the Israelites

The episode of the children of Israel’s worship of a golden calf in the Quran is plagued with several problems. Sura 7:149 says that the children of Israel “repented, and saw that they had erred” and begged the Lord for forgiveness before Moses’ return but Sura 20:91 says the opposite: “They had said, We will not abandon this cult, but we will devote ourselves to it until Moses returns to us.”

In the real Bible account, the Israelites didn’t repent of their idolatry before Moses’ return (Ex. 32:18-26). Adding to this conundrum, the Quran is not sure whom to blame for this apostasy. In Sura 20:85, Allah says “Verily, we have tried thy people, since thou didst leave them. The Samaritan has misled them into error.”

Essentially, Allah tried them by leading them into idolatry or he used a Samaritan to pull it off. This is even an anachronism. Samaria was not existing at the time Moses was leading the children of Israel. It was a city built about 7 centuries later, so there couldn’t have been “a Samaritan” (or a Samari) with them. Where did he even come from? Did he descend from heaven or ascend from below?

When Moses returned and chastised the people for their apostasy, they told him “we were loaded with fardels, even the ornaments of the people [of Egypt] and we cast them, as the Samaritan also threw them, into the fire” (20:87). They were blaming God for blessing them with too much gold! A forger hath done this. In the Bible, only the women and very young male children had jewelry on them (Ex. 32:2). Once again, the “Samaritan myth” is exposed for what it is.

In the Quran, after the calf was made by the ‘Samaritan’, it “had a mooing sound, so they said: This is your god, and the god of Musa” (20:88). Such Arabian night tales are not in the Bible. In vs 92-94, Moses blamed Aaron for the apostasy and even plucked out his beard. But wasn’t it Allah/Samari that did the job? Verse 97 quotes Moses saying “Verily we will burn it [the idol] and will scatter its dust over the sea.” Which sea? They were in a wilderness! Allah didn’t know this.

David and Saul

“And (further) their Prophet said to them: ‘A sign of his authority is that there shall come to you the Ark of the covenant, with (and assurance) therein of security from your Lord, and the relics left by the family of Moses and the family of Aaron, carried by angels. In this symbol for you if ye indeed have faith” (2:248).

The name of this prophet is not given in the Quran, but from the Bible, we know he is Samuel. The Israelites were fed up with the corrupt judges and asked him to appoint them a king like other nations (1 Sam. 8:1-5). The Ark had been returned to Israel decades before Saul became king, so it couldn’t have been “the sign of his authority” (1 Sam. 10).

The Hebrew word “sakinat” used for the Ark is one of the many non-Arabic words smuggled into the Quran. The Ark contained the stone tablets of the 10 commandments (Ex. 25:16), the golden pot of manna (Ex. 16:32-34) and Aaron’s budding rod (Num. 17:1-11). They weren’t relics from Moses and Aaron’s family. When the Temple was dedicated, only the stone tablets remained (1 Kgs. 8:9).

Muhammad probably heard from the Jews about cherubims on the Ark’s cover but didn’t understand that they were statues, not literal angels. The Ark was carried by the Levites (Dt. 31:9). Apparently, Muhammad thought the Ark was in heaven, so he too claimed that his own “scriptures” were also preserved on a tablet in heaven (Q 85:22).

Vs. 249 reads: “And when Saul went forth with the hosts he said, ‘God will try you with a river; whosoever drinks of it is not of me, and whoso tastes it flot, he is of me, saving him who scoops up with his hand.’ But they drank of it, except a few of them; and when he crossed it, and those who disbelieved with him, they said, ‘We have no power today against Goliath and his hosts…’

This is a confusion of Gideon’s story with that of Saul. In the Bible, Gideon led Israel against the Midianites and his army was tested at the stream (Judges 7). Whereas Saul’s battle was against the Ammorites about 110 years after Gideon’s time (1 Sam. 11-12). Saul’s battle was not even against Goliath, because by then, he had been rejected by God. The Quran mixes up details of separate stories at different times and weaves them into one.

Solomon

The Quran’s account of Solomon reads like a badly scripted Arabian legend that would have been so laughable if it wasn’t so false.

“And there were gathered together unto Solomon his armies of the jinn and humankind, and of the birds, and they were set in battle order. Till they reached the Valley of the Ants, an ant exclaimed: O ants! Enter your dwellings lest Solomon and his armies crush you, unperceiving” (27:17-18).

This story not only lacks an eye witness account but one must ask why Muhammad – “the seal of the prophet” – didn’t marshall such a wonderful army of aves, spirits and men. This is a fairy tale for children. Ants do not talk, are unable to recognize humans or avoid being crushed. How did Solomon retain his sanity if he heard the voices of all the insects around him chattering day and night? Was that wisdom or lunacy?

Between vs 22-28, Solomon carries on a long conversation with a Hoopoe bird whom he sent to the Queen of Sheba. The bird tells Solomon “I found her and her people worshipping the sun instead of Allah, and Satan maketh their works fairseeing unto them and debarreth them from the way (of Truth)…” (v 24). There you have it: a Muslim bird with a fully developed human brain!

Sura 34:14 says: “Then, when We decreed (Solomon’s) death nothing showed them his death except a little worm of the earth, which kept (slowly) gnawing away at his staff; so when he fell down, the jinns saw plainly that if they had known the unseen, they would not have tamed in the humiliating Penalty (of their Task).”

How did this work out? Solomon stood there for months (or years), waiting for a little worm to finish him up till he fell apart. How did a little worm eat away his staff? In Sura 72, jinns (demons) told Muhammad about Allah, heaven and the earth, but here they were deceived by Allah to keep working for Solomon not knowing he had died. This book is an insult to human intelligence.

Mary

An entire sura is named after Mary the mother of Jesus, but what the Quran says are mainly blunders. Sura 3:35 says of Mary’s mother. “(Remember) when the wife of Imran said, My Lord! I have vowed unto Thee that which is in my belly as a consecrated (offering)…”

This is an error. Mary’s mother couldn’t have been the wife of Amran (or Imran) who was Moses’ father! “The name of Amran’s wife was Jocebed the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt, and to Amran she bore Aaron, and Moses and their sister Miriam” (Num. 26:59). Ibn Kathir gave Mary’s mother’s name as Anna but this suggests that Muhammad confused the story of Hanna in the OT with that of prophetess Anna in the Temple at the time of Jesus. Whereas they lived over 1,000 years apart.

In Q 3:36-37, we are told that Zechariah was Mary’s guardian in the Temple and whenever he “went into the sanctuary where she was, he found that she had food.” When asked she said “It is from Allah.” It’s possible Muhammad weaved in Elijah’s story, but this is entirely a fabrication.¬†Mary and Zacharias didn’t live in the same town, so he couldn’t have been her guardian (Lk. 1:26). Also, if Zacharias was a prophet of Allah, he certainly would have known where Maryam’s food was coming from. Sura 19:27, however, gives a nuanced version of this story:

“[Allah says to Mary:] So eat and drink and be glad, and if you see any human being, say: ‘Verily I have vowed a fast unto the Most Beneficient (Allah) so I shall not speak to any human being this day.”

Allah asks Mary to lie to people that she was fasting when she was actually feasting! Quite telling. There’s also a discrepancy in the number of angels that visited Mary:

“And when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah hath chosen thee and made thee pure … (And remember) when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah hath given thee glad tidings of a word from him, whose name is the Messiah…” (3:42, 45)

“…Then we sent our angel to her and he appeared to her in the form of a well proportioned man… The angel said, ‘I am only a messenger of thy Lord, that I may give thee glad tidings of a righteous son” (19:17-19).

After Maryam gave birth to baby Jesus in a secluded place, she returned to her people who exclaimed: “O Mary! Thou hast come with an amazing thing. O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a wicked man or was thy mother a harlot” (19:27-28).

This statement is an unfortunate anachronism. Mary couldn’t have been Aaron’s sister since they didn’t live in the same century. Muhammad confused Miriam the sister of Aaron with Maryam the mother of Jesus (the name is the same in Arabic) not realizing they were different women who lived 1,500 years apart. By claiming Mary was a daughter of Imran and Aaron’s sister, he was implying that Moses was Jesus’ cousin! This historical compression exposes the Quran as a binded book of lies.

If this book can be so flat-out wrong about Bible characters, then its claims about Jesus cannot be reliable either. This is why Muslim leaders try to scare their followers away from reading the Bible by themselves. But a truth-seeking Muslim must decide to reject lies and cleave to truth. The Bible is the truth.