It was difficult for someone like myself who loves the Torah, the Zabur (Psalms), and the Gospel, to understand how Dr. Bucaille could claim that the Bible does not emphasize the power of God in His creative acts. Heaven or the heavens are mentioned 75 times just in the Zabur of David.
Many of these are poetic references about God in his heaven, comparing His qualities to the creation, as in Psalm 36:5-6,
``Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep.''
Other passages appeal for God's help on the basis of His creative power as in Psalm 121:1-2,
``I lift up my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.''
Or they contrast the power of God with powerless idols as in Psalm 96:5,
``For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.''
But 13 of these passages refer to God's creation of the heavens in a more scientific sense. David writes in Psalm 8:1,3-4,
``O LORD, our LORD, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens...When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?''
And in Psalm 19:1-4 the Holy Spirit guided him to write,
``The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.''
David is saying here that the glory of the heavens is like a language which speaks to every man so that he knows that there is a great creator intellect. ``There is no speech or language (no man or group of men) where their voice'' (the voice or vision of the creative acts of God) ``is not heard''.
It is on the basis of these verses that the Holy Spirit led Paul to write in the Gospel-New Testament,
``For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
``For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but...they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images...They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things (Idols) rather than the Creator - Who is forever praised. Amen.'' Romans 1:20-23a,25.
Because we have seen the wonders of His great creation - the stars always in their courses, and the desert coming alive and blooming after the rain, we know there is a Creator God out there to whom we are accountable. Added to this in our day are the microchemical wonders, e.g. the wonder of the Krebs cycle - the enzyme system by which sugar is broken down and becomes energy in the living cell, and the wonder of the genetic code which Dr. Bucaille has described so effectively in L'Homme D'Ou Vient-il?. These things all demonstrate His creative presence, and because of these material wonders before our eyes we have no excuse for not believing in this great Creator God!
That still leaves a problem, however. Many ``gods'' are worshiped among men, and many men have claimed to be their prophets. How can we know which of these ``gods'' named among men is this Creator God?
Is it Kali in India who orders her followers to steal and to kill?
Is it Shang Ti of the Chinese whom only the rulers could worship directly?
Is it Allah of the Qur'an who says that Jesus was not crucified?
Is it Yahweh Elohim, the Eternal One, of the Torah-Old Testament, (called Theos in the Gospel-New Testament) who says that Jesus will die (Isaiah 53) and did die for our sins?
Recently I came across the book L'Islam et la Science by Dr. Ahmed Aroua, a medical colleague from Algeria in which he describes the problem in very precise terms. Summarizing the relationship between science and religion, he says,
``Therefore, it will be demanded of science, not only to explain the phenomena and to act on them, but also to give answer to the why and to the ultimate development of things.
``The so-called objective sciences not being qualified to respond to this type of metaphysical question, and philosophy being only a speculation by adventurous extrapolation from the natural sciences, certitude can only come from the transcendental source which dominates the reality and the destiny of the universe, and which is revealed to man by the phenomenon of prophecy.''
Or, to say it in the terms we have been using, scientific observation of the universe demonstrates that there is a Creator God, but to know this God, He must reveal Himself in prophecy.
Dr. Aroua has accepted Islam as that prophecy. However, in this book he does not give us the reasons or proofs which led to his choice. He does not say how he decided which prophet to follow.
So the question remains. Which God? Which prophet is true? Every man must decide. But how? In the Torah-Old Testament, First Kings, Chapter 18, the prophet Elijah gave a unique type of challenge to the prophets of the idol ``Baal''. He ordered them to put a bull on one altar, and he would put a bull on another altar in the name of Yahweh Elohim, but with no fire under either sacrifice. Then each side was to pray. The God who would answer by fire from heaven would show himself to be the true God.
After the priests of Baal tried for several hours, Elijah prepared his sacrifice and even wet it with water. Then he prayed and Yahweh Elohim answered with fire - fire which consumed the sacrifice and even the water. Seeing this, all the people cried out,
``Yahweh (The Eternal One), He is God! Yahweh, He is God!''
That was a great demonstration for those people, but what shall we do in our day? How shall we decide who is the One True God?
In the Qur'an Muhammad instructed to give another type of challenge. There are four places where Muhammad says to his opponents that if they are so sure that the Qur'an was his creation then they should produce something equal to it or better. In the Late Meccan Sura of the Children of Israel (Bani Isra'il) 17:88, he challenged his hearers to produce a whole book. In the Late Meccan Sura of Hud 11:13, the requirement was reduced to 10 suras. Finally in the late Meccan Sura of Jonah (Yunus)10:38 and the Sura of the Heifer (Al-Baqara) 2:23 from 2 AH it was reduced to one sura. The challenge in Sura 10:38 reads,
``Or do they say, `He forged it'?
``Say; ``Bring then a sura like unto it, and call (to your aid) anyone you can, besides God, if it be that you speak the truth.'''
However, as we consider this challenge a question must be asked - a question to which there may not be a clear answer. When Muhammad threw down this challenge to the people of Mecca to bring even one other sura like the Qur'an, was he speaking about its poetic beauty? Or was he speaking of its religious truth?
Muslims praise the Qur'an for the beauty of its language, and indeed there are many beautiful passages such as the description of God as light in the Sura of Light (Al-Nur) 24:35-36 from 5-6 AH. But was the challenge on the basis of the beauty of its language?
There does not seem to be any verse in the Qur'an which answers this question. My own feeling is that a challenge on the basis of poetic beauty would be of limited value. It is the religious content which counts. Just because Shakespeare wrote the best English prose, that does not make him a prophet of God.
When I have posed this question to Muslim friends they have always answered, though often reluctantly, that Muhammad was speaking of the religious truth. On the other hand it must be admitted that Muslim theologians maintain that the miracle of the Qur'an is to be found, well and truly, in its literary perfection.
When I first read the Qur'an I thought that those whom Muhammad challenged included ``the People of the Book'', and I used to imagine which chapters from the Bible I would present for the contest. Since then I have changed my mind. We saw above in Chapter I of Section Two that Muhammad believed in the Torah, the Zabur, and the Gospel present ``WITH HIM'' in Mecca - books already completed. In the Middle Meccan Sura of the Prophets (Al-Anbiya') 21:105 he quoted the words of David, ``My servants, the righteous, shall inherit the earth'' from Psalm 37:29. Also he claimed that the inspiration given to him was like the inspiration given to the prophets before him (Sura 4:163).
If the inspiration granted the previous prophets was the same as that granted to Muhammad, then their books would be just as true as the book granted to Muhammad. Therefore, I now believe that his challenge was to the idol worshipers of Mecca and did not include the ``People of the Book''.
However, in case I am wrong I would like to present the following two suras, i.e. chapters, from the Bible in answer to these challenges. Later I shall present another passage from the words of Jesus.
The first is a Psalm of David which is beautiful and poetic but in a different way. Hebrew poetry is not based on rhyming verses. The effect is achieved by repeating the same idea in different words. We might judge that it is not as pleasing without the beauty of rhyme, but it has one great advantage. It does not suffer poetic loss in translation, because the double way of saying the same truth can be faithfully repeated in any language.
Any judgement as to whether the poetry of this Psalm from the Zabur of David is as beautiful as one of the Suras of the Qur'an must remain a subjective matter. But when judged by the religious truths which it contains, it is equal to many Suras.
David praises the LORD Who is King of all, Who forgives sins, Whose love is as great as the heavens are high above the earth, Whose compassion for us is like the compassion of a father for his children, and Who is from everlasting to everlasting. For the believer there is great comfort in all these truths.
My second passage is from The Torah-Old Testament. It appeals to the wonders of the creation. It contains modern scientific knowledge. It speaks against idols, and Yahweh Elohim, the Eternal One, affirms that there is no other god except Himself.
6 A voice says, ``Cry out!''
9 You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain.
10 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
19 As for an idol, a craftsman casts it,
21 Do you not know?
25 ``To whom will you compare me?
Or who is My equal?'' says the Holy One.
26 Lift your eyes and look to the
heavens. Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
Because of His great power and mighty strength,
and calls them each by name.
27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
28 Do you not know?
In this passage as in the Psalm of David there are many beautiful thoughts to encourage the believer. Verse six says that Isaiah was told, ``Cry'' or ``Cry out'': the same command which was repeated in the first words of the Qur'an in the Sura of the Clot (Al-`alaq) 96:1-2. And the message of the succeeding three verses, that man is like grass which will pass away, is similar to verses 6-8 of the same Sura saying that,
``man transgresses all bounds...verily to thy Lord is the return (of all)''.
Isaiah points out the futility of idols made by man from gold and wood, just as the Qur'an does many years later.
God is clearly the Creator of all things. The Holy One Himself asks, ``To whom will you compare Me? Or who is My equal? Lift your eyes and look to the heavens. Who created all these?'' And Isaiah answers, ``The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.''
Lastly, we see that this prophet who wrote in about 750 BC, mentions in verse 22 that God ``sits enthroned above the circle of the earth'' - a statement which can certainly include our modern knowledge that the earth is round.
[In Section Six, Chapter III, we will also have a look at a "Sura" from Jesus.]
Though the verses and chapters given in this section show clearly that the Torah-Old Testament appeals many times to the creation as a proof (or sign) that there is a great Creator God, in the final analysis I agree with Dr. Bucaille's evaluation.
This argument does not receive the same emphasis in the Bible that it does in the Qur'an, but there is a valid and important reason. It is because Yahweh Elohim, the Eternal One, of the Torah-Old Testament proposes quite a different method for knowing whether a prophet speaks from God or not, and we shall examine this method in the next chapter.
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