(Unless otherwise stated, all Qur’an quotations are from www.quran.net)
A streaming video entitled “The Miracles of the Qur’an” can be found on the www.islam.org website ( http://islamicity.com//audiovideo/ra202/miracles_of_quran.ram ) on the Science Channel of CyberTV. A central claim of this video is that the Qur’an is “The Sole Guide of Humanity”, and that “The Qur’an has many miraculous attributes proving that it is a revelation of God”. Its primary thesis is that “A Number of scientific truths that we have only been able to uncover by the technology of the 20th century were stated in the Qur’an one thousand 400 years ago.”
This video is over an hour in length. What follows is a listing of the first six primary claims along with individual rebuttals. The claims of this video are unfounded, and the argumentation found therein is mis-leading.
It is argued that the Arab world, at the time the Qur’an was written, believed in mountains as pillars that supported the skies above. Furthermore, it is argued that a verse from the Qur’an reveals that this superstition is wrong -- “God is He Who raised up the heavens without support”
The claim is made that “Important facts were revealed at the time when no one could have known them.” – and that this proves that the Qur’an must have come from God, since man could not have known this.
This verse from the Qur’an is stating nothing beyond the common observation of man that the skies are without any visible means of support. This observation has nothing to do with any Arabic superstition, and in the context is not designed to dispel any stated superstition, but merely to indicate the majesty of God that he could accomplish such a wonder without any visible means of support. The creation of God should inspire wonder since its very existence argues intelligent design and the heavens do exist without any visible means of support. However, this does not reveal something which could not be known by common observation. Furthermore, it merely echoes what was recorded in the book of Job many hundreds of years earlier:
The “north” is the center of the heavens in the observation of man (since all of the stars rotate about the North), and it is evident that this great canopy is stretched out over “empty space” with no visible means of support.
Conclusion: This claim is false since its basis is false (i.e. it is NOT revealing something which could not have been known).
The video here claims that this statement of the Qur’an (6:101 “He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth”) is confirmed by modern science:
“This information given in the Qur’an is in full agreement with the findings of contemporary science.”
It is stated that the Big Bang theory is accepted by modern science as the only rational explanation and that as a part of this theory – Matter, Energy and Time were all created at one point in time.
“This fact, only recently discovered by modern physics, was announced to us in the Qur’an one thousand 400 years ago.”
For this to be a valid claim, the claimant must show that this knowledge was not available in the world, and could not have been known without supernatural revelation. However, the facts do not support this claim. The Jewish Pentateuch (first five books of the Old Testament) are widely documented to be much older than the Qur’an (typically dated before 1200 BCE). Over 1800 years before the Qur’an, Moses wrote:
Conclusion: While the statement in the Qur’an (He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth) is true, it does not provide any basis for arguing divine revelation. Another part of this verse, however, does contradict the testimony of the New Testament (How can He have children when He has no wife?) by denying the son-ship of Jesus Christ. Those who reject the Son have rejected God. The coming of Jesus the Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy concerning the Sure Mercies of David:
The sure mercies of David involved one who would be King and be properly called the Son of God:
The Qur’an plainly denies the Son, and so rejects God:
The video makes the claim that the Qur’an predicted the steadily expanding nature of the Universe. The Qur’an is quoted as follows: “And it is we who have constructed the heavens with might, and verily, it is We Who are and are steadily expanding it.”
A comparison of translations (from www.quran.org) shows that the intent of this verse is to show the vastness of creation as a reason why men should seek God.
For this reasoning contained in this verse to make sense, this must be a statement of something that is observable by man, which should cause him to recognize the nature of God. To attempt to make this a statement of a scientific argument which would not be known for hundreds of years is to destroy the intent of the passage as determined by its context. The translation by Dr. Muhsin Khan and Dr. Muhammad Al-Hilali (from www.quran.org ) says
The summary statement “So flee to Allah”, is a conclusion of verses 47 and 48 showing that a belief in God should be the result of the two observations. Therefore, the claim made in the video, cannot be substantiated by the context of the passage quoted, and is not consistent with the sense of the translations. A comparison of the three translations shows that in the context, the description is that God’s creation is vast in its extent (“vast extent”, “vastness of”, “things ample”), and NOT a description of a “steadily expanding” nature of the universe (a thing which could not be observed, and therefore could not accomplish the purpose stated in the context).
It is argued in the video that the Qur’an reveals facts about the Universe (i.e. that the planets and even the sun travel in orbits) which could not have been known by man, and therefore these passages in the Qur’an are evidence of supernatural revelation.
The video states:
“These facts, communicated in the Qur’an, have been discovered by astronomical observation in our age. … That the entire universe is full of paths and orbits, such as this one, is inscribed in the Qur’an as follows: “… By the sky full of paths and orbits”
“Surely at the time the Qur’an was revealed, human-kind did not possess today’s telescopes, or advanced observation technologies to observe space in a range of millions of kilometers, nor the modern knowledge of physics or astronomy. Therefore, at that time, it was not possible to determine scientifically that space is full of paths and orbits as stated in the verse. However, this is openly declared to us in the Qur’an that was revealed at that time because the Qur’an is the word of God.”
Whether the celestial orbits could have been determined scientifically during the time that the Qur’an was written is not relevant to this claim. The claimant must demonstrate that the passages in the Qur’an teaches the modern-day concept of orbits, and that the modern-day concept of orbits was not believed and that there was no prior writings that espoused this concept. The claimant can do none of these. There is no evidence from the context of these passages to indicate any knowledge of orbits beyond that of the common observation of man that the sun, moon and stars move in arcs through the sky in a cyclical pattern (e.g. the sun rises, arcs through the sky, sets, and repeats this cycle each day; the moon follows a circular path, and the stars all appear to rotate about the North Star). A statement of common knowledge is not a basis for proof of divine revelation. From the common observation of man, the sky is “full” of circular paths.
The Jewish Psalm assigned to David (written over 1600 years prior to the Qur’an) records this common observation using the word “circuit” which is defined as a circular path:
In the context, this common observation by man of God’s handiwork should inspire awe and wonder at God’s creation. It is evident then that the verses quoted from the Qur’an do nothing other than state common knowledge which can be demonstrated by prior writings and that these characteristics of the celestial bodies were well known and therefore the writings of the Qur’an have no claim to originality and therefore offer no valid proof of divine revelation.
The Qur’an is quoted as follows: “We made the sky a preserved and protected roof, yet still they turn away.” The video then makes the following argument:
“This attribute of the sky has been proved by scientific research done in the 20th century. The atmosphere surrounding the earth serves crucial functions for the continuity of life while destroying many meteors big and small as they approach the earth. It prevents them from falling to earth and harming living things. In addition, the atmosphere filters the light rays coming from space that are harmful to living beings. … In short, a perfect system is at work high above the earth. It surrounds our world and protects it against external threats. Scientists only learned about this recently, yet centuries ago, we were informed in the Qur’an about the world’s atmosphere functioning as a protective shield.”
Here is the same verse in three different translations.
It is plain from these translations that the writer argues that those who turn aside from “its signs” (i.e. the witness of the sky) are unbelievers who refuse to accept the witness. This theme is demonstrated in the context by verse 30
To argue that verse 32 is revealing something which could not be observed and understood is to destroy its meaning in the context and is a great injustice. The statement argues that the witness of the sky should cause belief, and this must then be understood as stating something about the sky which could be understood, and should cause belief – not something which could not be understood until centuries later, and therefore could not be a witness to cause belief.
The three translations shown above demonstrate that what is protected or guarded is the canopy. (… heavens as a canopy well guarded…, … a guarded canopy). This is totally opposite of what is being argued in the video. The video argues that the canopy (or sky) guards or protects the earth. The video argues that the canopy does the protecting, while the verse argues that it is the canopy that is protected!!! The video has taken this verse out of context and twisted its meaning in a vain attempt to demonstrate divine foreknowledge. The argument is patently false.
The idea that the heavens are guarded by God's power is expressed in the Bible by Isaiah the prophet:
The idea of a "guarded canopy" is not something new which was revealed by Mohammed, but was ancient knowledge.
Pay special attention to 21:30 (We have made of water everything living). This is in direct contradiction to the Biblical account of creation where Adam is made of the dust of the earth!
In the video a quotation from 86:11 is given as “by heaven with its cyclical systems”, and then the following argument is made
The Troposphere, … enables water vapor rising from the surface to be condensed, and turned back down to the earth as rain. The ozone layer, … reflects harmful radiation and ultraviolet rays coming from space and turns both back into space. The Ionosphere reflects radio waves broadcast from the earth back down to different parts of the world just like a passive communications satellite and thus makes wireless communication, radio and TV broadcasting possible over long distances. The fact that this property of the sky layers which could only be scientifically discovered recently was declared centuries ago in the Qur’an, once again demonstrates that the Qur’an is the word of God.
Here is the context from the Shakir translation:
It is obvious from the context that the only cyclical system being referred to here is the rain cycle, which is common knowledge by observation. To attempt to pour into this verse any hidden meaning of ultraviolet ray reflection or radio wave reflection is a grave injustice by attempting to make it say something which it plainly does not.
It can easily be demonstrated that this concept of a rain cycle was common knowledge hundreds of years prior to the Qur’an:
The argument of the video fails to demonstrate that what the verse speaks of was not known and could not be known, and thus fails to demonstrate any indication of recorded divine foreknowledge.
Note the pagan influence in the Qur’an in 86:11 where the writer makes an oath by the heavens and the earth. Matthew records the words of Jesus concerning oaths such as this one:
Even those in the Old Testament who swore solemn oaths, did so “before God”. For example, the statement in Isaiah:
The type of oath given in the Qur’an (86:9-13, “I swear by the raingiving heavens”) is decidedly unbiblical, and was condemned by Jesus.
The claims made cannot be substantiated, and therefore it follows that the argument that the Qur’an is the word of God is not demonstrated. In fact, its numerous contradictions of the Old Testament and New Testament scriptures is evidence that the Qur’an is not from God at all, but from man in opposition to God.