How many times have you heard the favourite Muslim line: “There are scientific miracles in the Quran!” For decades, the Islamic world accepted they were far behind in the sciences unlike the West. Then came along a “hero” to the Arabs, Maurice Bucaille (1920-1998), a French physician of then king Faisal of Saudi Arabia. He published a book in 1976, The Bible, Quran and Science. In it, he attacked the inspiration of the Bible and cited several areas where the Quran allegedly agreed with modern science – proofs that the Quran is divine. The book paid off and Dr Bucaille went laughing to the bank.
Since then, Muslims have found a sanctuary in his theory. I’m sure if Dr Bucaille had been an African, the Arabs wouldn’t have batted an eyelash. But once a westerner (Caucasian) writes just a sentence in favour of Islam, it must make the headlines. After Dr Bucaille’s lofty appraisal of the Quran, he still didn’t convert to Islam. He remained a devoted Roman Catholic till death. Why? If he really believed that the Quran agrees with modern science and read in it that all infidels will roast in Hell, why didn’t he convert to Islam? You see, it was all for the oil money.
Today, “Bucailleism” – the idea that there are scientific miracles in the Quran – is a main topic of Islamic dawah books and videos. Muslim youths sing Bucaille’s arguments like a national anthem. But not all Muslims are excited with such buffs. Respected Muslim scholars like Maulana Ashraf Ali and Nomanul Haq have opposed “bucalleism.” Pakistani Nobel Laureate Physicist, Dr Abdus Salam counters: “There is no such thing as islamic science, nor Jewish science, Hindu science…nor Christian science.”
Come to think of it, if the Quran is so “scientific,” how come it doesn’t explain nuclear physics, quantum mechanics or molecular genetics? Why did all the great scientific discoveries of antibiotics, steam turbines, aircraft, electricity or computers come from the “infidel” Westerners instead of the turbaned sheikhs? Why is the Islamic world more eager to make bombs than vaccines? Even the term “scientific miracles” is a paradox. Sciences are not miracles and miracles are not scientific. It’s as inane as saying “elastic glass.”
In his debate with Dr Campbell, Dr Naik said: “In the olden days, it was the age of miracles, the Quran was a miracle of miracles. Then in the age of literature and poetry, it was a masterpiece. Now we are in the age of science and technology.”
This drivel reminds me of junk food – it fills you up but lacks wholesome nutrition. The Quran didn’t exist until the 7th century AD, so when was the time-frame of this “age of miracles?” Of course, Islamic miracles have long ceased, since they were either tales made up by Muhammad or his followers. Now, if the Quran was ever a “masterpiece” of literature and poetry, I can assure you that all non-Muslims would have converted to Islam, but they haven’t. In fact, the Quran is a badly written book plagued with many factual errors. This is why bucailleism is such a risky business; it exposes the Quran to scientific scrutiny.
Dr Naik continues: “The Glorious Quran is not a book of science, its a book of signs. And there are more than 6,000 signs in the Quran of which more than a thousand speak about science.”
These are word games. Signs are not “sciences,” they are supernatural feats while Science can be emperically tested and repeated. More than “a thousand sciences” in the Quran? This man is a politician. He should apply for the Indian cabinet.
Let’s check out some of these Quranic “scientific miracles”:
1. The Big Bang
It is said that the Quran describes the ‘big bang’ theory in which one primary nebula separated with a big bang giving rise to galaxies. This is often laced with Sura 21:30: “Do not the unbelievers see? That the heavens and earth were joined together and we clove them asunder.”
Muslims really need to read up about the Big Bang. This theory stipulates that about 13.7 billion years ago, a tremendous explosion started the universe. Prior to this event, all the energy that transformed the matter was contained at one infinitely small point (not a nebula!) The explosion purportedly resulted into particles that gave rise to matter as well as space and time. Since the galaxies were not all clumped together, the idea of heavens and earth “being separated” as the Quran says is nonsense.
In their fervour (or rather ignorance) to find science in the Quran, the scientific miracle fans overlook the fact that the big bang theory excludes creationism which the Quran teaches. Big bang is a theory, not a scientific fact. If it’s true, then the story of God creating the earth or Adam and Eve is false. Only atheists believe in the big bang. Muslims can’t have it both ways. Besides that verse used as “proof” contradicts another one which says:
“Moreover he comprehended in his design the sky and it had been (as) smoke. He said to it and the earth ‘Come ye together willingly or unwillingly…” (Q 41:11)
In Sura 21:30, Allah is separating the heavens and the earth while in Sura 41:11, he is joining them together. Two opposite versions of the same creation event! How can such a contradiction come from God? It’s even amusing that the Quran claims heaven was a smoke.
II. Egg-Shaped Earth?
Muslims claim that the Quran foretold the shape of the earth centuries before modern science. Q 79:30 “He made the earth egg-shaped.”
The trick here is that the Quranic version quoted is of Rashad Khalifa (a man denounced as a cultist by majority Muslims). All other versions read differently:
“He spread out the earth” (Pickthall)
“He extended the earth” (Ali);
“He spread the earth (Hilali-Khan)
“He spread forth the earth” (Sher Ali)
“He stretch out the earth” (Palmer)
Far from accurately telling us the shape of the earth, this verse is actually teaching a flat earth. The Arabic word translated as “spread out” is Dahaha and all Arabic dictionaries define it as a flat bed prepared by an ostrich to lay its eggs on. Sly Muslim scholars latch on to the word “egg” and insist that the word means egg-shaped. No, the earth is geoid, not “egg shaped.” In Muhammad’s time the earth was erroneously believed to be flat and that was exactly how he described the earth in the Quran:
“And He it is who hath outstretched [Madda] the earth and place on it the firm mountain.” (13:3)
“And the earth we spread out [Madadnaha]” (15:19)
“(Yea, the same that) has made for you the earth (like a carpet) spread out [Mahdan].” (43:10)
The Arabic words Madda, Madadnaha and Mahdan all mean flat. This was why a Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz, once dogmatically declared that the earth was flat. This is a shameful error, not a scientific miracle.
III. Human Embryology
This is perhaps the most “selling point” of Bucailleism. A Muslim guy wrote to me:
“Do you know that in Quran the creation of man in the womb of the mother was perfectly described? Right from his stage as a clot of blood. How could Muhammad have known this 1400 years ago when there was not technological advancement? Except it comes from the Creator. Muhammad could not have known that because we both know he was not a reader.”
This is their typical peroration. Once you refute this line, the Quran’s author is shown to be not the Creator, but a very ignorant fellow. The Quran describes its “embryology” thus:
Q 40:67 “He it is who created you from dust, then from a sperm drop, then from a leech like clot- ‘alaqa.’ Then brings you forth as a child that perhaps you may understand.”
Q 23:12-14 “Verily We created man from a product of wet earth. Then We placed him as a drop in a safe lodging. Then We fashioned the drop a clot (‘alaqa, something sticky) and of the clot (‘alaqa), We fashioned a chewed lump, and of the chewed lump We fashioned bones and We clothed the bones (with) meat. Then We produced it as another creation…”
We can lay it out as: Sperm (Nufta) –> Clot (Alaqa) –> lump of meat (Mudgha) –> Bones (Azaam) –> bones clothed up with muscles.
There is nothing here that “perfectly describes” human embryology. Any Medical or Biology textbook would describe it far better than the above, yet that doesn’t make these textbooks divine. In the same vein, even if the Quran’s embryology was “perfectly described” that still will not prove that it’s divinely inspired. Even Satan can describe such stuffs easily. Moreover, there are several pitfalls in this embryology:
a) Muhammad confused the creation of man in Eden from dust with the growth of a baby in the womb. This is an error. Adam wasn’t made from a semen and semen do not come from the “dust.”
b) Nowhere does the Quran speak of the ovum which the sperm fertilizes to become a zygote as modern science proves. No self-respecting elementary science student will make a blunder of saying semen develop into a baby without the egg. The Arabic word “nufta amshaj” means “thickened or mingled” and not “zygote” as some Muslims try to say. The Quran goofed.
c) At no point does the human embryo becomes a “clot of blood” unless there is a miscarriage, in which case the foetus is dead. Clumps of blood clot do not grow into babies. Muhammad’s wives must have experienced miscarriages so he thought that blood clots grows in the womb as the foetus. It was the thinking of his time.
Dr Bucaille, in order to sustain his theory resorted to word games. He claims the Arabic word “alaqa” means “something which clings” that the blood clot clings to the womb. That is nonsense. In major English translations of the Quran the word “alaqa” is rendered as: “leech-like clot” (Ali), “clotted blood” (Sher Ali), “clots of blood” (Rodwell) or “a clot” (Hilali-Khan). Its strange how Muslim leaders would allow an “infidel” Westerner to be a valid interpreter of the Quran as if there are shortages of Islamic scholars in Saudi Arabia. But you know, rules have to be set aside if a white man is going to market Islam.
d) At no point does the embryo becomes a bony skeleton waiting to be clothed with flesh. Dr Keith Moore, another westerner who wanted some oil money wrote to appease the Muslims in 1981 that the Quran’s embryology is accurate, yet he was careful enough not to get ousted from the Medical community by making darn remarks.
In his book, The Developing Human, he explained that the embryo’s skeletal system develops from the mesoderm. The cartilage which looks like bones is formed with muscles around it. As Calcium deposits on the cartilage, bones are formed. (Chapters 15-17) Contrary to the Quran, muscles are formed first before bones. The Langman’s Medical Embryology states that at the 8th week of fertilization, the ribs become cartilaginous – not bony – and muscles are present. The author of the Quran thought embryos were made like animal statues where sticks are first arranged as support and mud is used to cover them up.
e) Centuries before Muhammad was born, the Quranic ideas of embryology (babies being formed from semen and blood clots) were already known. This very idea is found in a Hindu Text, Garbha Upinandas dating back to 1416 BC. Hippocrates (460-370), the father of Western Medicine wrote about the same idea in his works. Greek philosopher, Aristotle (384-322 BC) described embryology based on the limited knowledge of his time. Claudius Galenus (129-210 AD) too wrote the very same ideas. So what’s new about what Muhammad said? If his claims were already known before his time, then he didn’t need to be a prophet to know them.
It is said that the Quran agrees with modern oceanography which states that when two types of water flow into one another, a slanting area is formed or an “unseen barrier.” Q 25:53 “It is Allah who let free two flowing bodies of water- one sweet and palatable, the other salt and bitter. Though they meet, they do not mix. Between them is a barrier which is forbidden to be trespassed.”
There are no “invisible barriers which is forbidden to be trespassed” between two waters. No science textbook makes such a claim. Waters do not mix immediately because of differences in temperature and density, but they do eventually. Muhammad being a superstitious man thought there was an invisible barrier between such waters. His modern followers are no different, in spite of their academic titles.
V. Mountains and the Sinking Sun
We are told that the Quran agrees with the modern theory of plate tectonics which says that mountains work as stabilizers and act as support for the earth.
Q 16:15 “And He has thrown onto the earth mountains lest it shake with you.”
This is nonsense. Mountains do not stabilise the earth. They actually result from the movements and instability of the tectonic plates. Another ridiculous verse is: “Have We not made the earth a bed? And the mountains as pegs?” (78:7). This a cave man thinking. The earth is geoid, not flat. Muhammad being an illiterate thought the mountains are just like the pegs the old Arabs insert into the ground to support their tents.
As if these are not bad enough, Sura 18:86 says Dhul Qarnain travelled “until he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water.” Muhammad thought the earth was flat and once the sun “sinks into a murky stream” sunset came about! How can such a stupid statement come from God?
When I was a boy, there was a bedtime story we used to read. It’s a story about a village of fools who saw the moon’s reflection in their stream for the first time, felt the moon must have fallen into it. So all the villagers – both young and old – came out with nets, boats, rakes, buckets and surrounded the stream to pull the moon out of it. Today, the Quran has made a village of fools out of many Muslims. We can still pardon the ignorant 7th century Arabs who fell prey to Muhammad’s lies, but how can we pardon the educated Muslims in this 21st century who still want to be fooled?
There seems to be a beam of cloud that blocks the mind of Muslims who promote the “scientific miracle” drivel. The longer it stays, the more fame and wealth their leaders get. There are no miracles in the Quran. The only miracle is the willingness of people to be fooled.