Creation and Science
Preface and Comparison with the Bible
Most Muslims claim that the Qur'an’s views of creation and science agree with modern science. They feel strongly about this because they believe the Qur'an must be flawless in every way or it is not a divine revelation. The validity of this claim needs to be questioned. Such inquiry logically begins with the Islamic story of creation.
Is there a creation story in the Qur'an? It does not have one complete passage that covers the subject as in the beginning of the Bible. The Qur'anic verses on creation are scattered throughout the Muslim text. In this chapter, one hundred forty-nine verses have been collected, arranged and paraphrased to provide a quick guide to what Islam teaches on the origin of the universe, earth and mankind.
There are similarities between the Biblical and Islamic accounts. For example, both the Bible and the Qur'an describe the sun as rising and setting. This is a typical way to describe the passing of a day even in modern times, yet the Qur'an goes beyond what the Bible teaches about the actions of the sun and moon. For example, it claims that a mighty man saw the sun land in a muddy pool in the far west. In addition the Qur'an explains that the sun and moon orbit the earth and are not allowed to catch up with each other.
There are differences as well between the Bible and the Qur'an. One example has to do with mountains. The Bible describes how the earth was covered with water until the land came up out of the sea, but the Qur'an declares that the earth was leveled flat then mountains were set down on the earth from above. The mountains were placed on the earth to keep the land from sliding around.
The first verse of the Bible describes how the sun and moon, along with all the heavens and earth were created, yet, the Bible makes it clear that the sun and moon were not made to function for seasons until “the fourth day.” Christian creationists claim that this might have been due to a thick cloud cover over the earth. The Qur'an states that the sun and moon were created after the earth. The Qur'an goes on to reveal that they were hung as lights on the dome of the sky.
The Qur'an adds information not found in the Bible. For example, the Bible says nothing about the purpose of “shooting stars” but the Qur'an explains that they are fiery missiles which chase off genies from listening to what is taking place above the dome of the sky where Allah is on his throne. (The Qur'an teaches that “jinn” or genies are spiritual beings, maybe best compared to demons, though not all of them are evil. They are understood to have a free will and some of them have become Muslims.)
The cosmology of the Qur'an seems consistent with the Arabic understanding of the time of Mohammed. It certainly does not seem to agree with modern science. The non-Muslim reader needs to appreciate the difficulty Muslim fundamentalists experience as they try to harmonize the following verses with the facts that are known about the universe.
The Qur'an Says ...
Six DaysThe creation was completed in six days (10:3).
OrderIn four days the earth was completed. Then attention was given to the sky, which was still smoke. In two days seven heavens were created with the lower heaven adorned with lights (41:10-12). Everything on earth was created before Allah turned to the sky or heaven and fashioned seven levels of heavens (2:29, 41:10-12).
Flat EarthThe earth was leveled flat or spread out in the creation event (88:20, 15:19, 79:30). Allah will not let it cave in beneath mankind (67:16). Both the earth and the heavens would fall if it were not for the sustaining power of Allah. If they did fall, no one could hold them back (35:41, 16:45).
Mountains Set DownMountains were set down on the earth like giant immovable weights or pegs in order to keep the flat earth from moving (15:19, 21:31, 31:10, 88:19, 16:15, 79:32, 78:7).
ManMan was created to be in distress (90:4). Man was first created from clay. He then procreates as the essence of clay becomes a living germ and is put into the womb. The germ transforms into a clot of blood. The blood clot becomes a small mass, which is fashioned into bones. The bones are then covered with flesh. This is the amazing developmental process by which life is generated and regenerated (23:12-14). Each man begins as a discharged semen, which becomes a clot of blood and then is given male or female parts (76:37-39).
WomanA mate for man was created so that he might find comfort as he rests with her and produces offspring (7:189). Men were made superior to women, which means they exercise authority over females and must beat them if they are rebellious. This is why women depend on men for their support (4:34).
Sky Is a DomeThe sky and the heavens were still just smoke after the completion of the earth with its living things and mountains (41:10-11, 2:29). The sky was built up as a dome over the earth (2:22, 21:32). It was raised on high as a canopy (79:28). It continues to be amazing that it has no visible pillars or cracks (31:10, 50:6). It was built up, decorated with bright ornaments and has no cracks or defects (50:6). It remains to be a threat as a piece of the sky could fall on an individual as a form of punishment (34:9).
Stars Are LampsAbove the earth were constructed seven layers of heavens which are miraculously kept from falling. The lower level is decorated with lighted lamps (41:12, 67:5).
Zodiac SignsThe sky was decorated with the signs of the zodiac to make it beautiful (15:16, 25:61).
Falling Stars Chase GeniesShooting stars are made for a special purpose. They are lamps that are thrown as fiery missiles at genies (jinn) who try to fly up toward the sky in order to spy on the activities of heaven (37:6-10, 15:17-18, 67:5, 26:210-212).
SatanPrior to the creation of humans, Satan was created out of smokeless fire. He was punished for refusing a command to bow before Adam, the man who was sculpted and brought to life from clay. When he was banished and degraded to the earth, Satan swore to mislead people. Adam and Eve were his first victims. He was one of the genies (15:28-39, 7:11-23, 18:50).
Evil SpiritsGenies were made from fire that has no smoke (55:15).
Sun and Moon Orbit EarthAfter the seven heavens were built over the earth, the sun was put into service (13:2-3, 78:12-13). The sun is a shining lamp (25:61, 78:13). The sun swims its rounded course and comes to a resting-place (36:40, 18:86). The sun is not allowed to catch up with the moon and the moon is not allowed to overtake the sun as they run their prescribed orbits (36:37-40, 21:32-33). Allah swears by the sun with his midday brightness and the moon, how she rises to follow him (91:1-2).
Adam and EveAdam and Eve were created in a garden paradise in heaven. All the angels but Satan obeyed Allah by bowing before Adam. Satan was forever degraded because of this disobedience. Satan, in turn, tempted Adam and Eve to eat from the tree that Allah had forbidden them to even approach. Because of this, Allah cast Adam and Eve out of the heavenly garden and placed them on the earth (7:11-25).
SupermanA mighty man was made who was given the power to do anything. His name was Dhul-Qarnain. Among other things, he traveled on a road so far west that he saw where the sun landed in a pool of black mud. He was given authority to rule them and he was harsh with the people he found there. He traveled on another road so far to the East that he saw a kind of people who were close to the rising sun as it started its journey. They had been left without any protection against the nearness of the burning sun’s rays. He left those people alone. Another of his exploits was to construct a huge dam made of iron blocks and coated it with molten lead. It completely filled the space between two steep mountains and was so massive that the people of Gog and Magog (Russia) could not scale it or dig through it to disturb their neighbors. The great dam will survive until the Judgment Day (18:83-100).
SemenLook at the semen you emit. Did you create it, or are we the Creators (56:58-59)? The male and the female are created in the womb when a drop is poured fourth (53:45-46).
BirdsBirds are a sign to encourage belief since there is no natural reason why they are suspended between the earth and the sky. It is only by Allah’s miraculous power (16:79).
ShadowsAllah lengthens and shortens the shadows. He could have made them stationary. The sun guides them (25:45).
ThroneAfter the heavens were finished, Allah, who built them, went to sit down on his throne in heaven. Allah continues to hold the heavens and the earth so that they might not disappear (10:3, 13:2, 20:5, 25:59, 35:41, 57:4). Those who hold up Allah’s throne and surround it constantly pray that those Muslims who deserve it would be forgiven (40:7-9).