Traditional Muslim scholars read the Qur'an and use exegesis to derive the meaning of the text. In recent years, Muslims have used eisigisis to extract a desired meaning from the Qur'an. Muslims frequently point to alleged "scientific miracles" that they claim are in the Qur'an and offer them as proof of the book's divine inspiration. Why are Muslims so adamant with their claims concerning the Qur'an and science?
Muslims have a clear disadvantage when they confront Christian and Jewish scriptures with the Qur'an. The Qur'an differs greatly with the Bible in terms of both the history that it tells as well as with many theological issues. The Prophets of God performed miracles and gave prophecies - detailed prediction of future events which came true. The testimonies of the prophets did not contract the teachings of earlier prophets. When we look at Muhammad, we see a man who is called a "Prophet" even though he came without prophecies or miracles. He was his only witness. Muslims often point to the "supernatural eloquence" of the Qur'an as evidence that the book is from God. The problem is that many non-Muslims, even those of us who have taken the time and effort to study Arabic, do not find the Qur'an particularly eloquent when compared to other literature. Therefore, the alleged "scientific miracles" of the Qur'an are the last hope to convince non-Muslims of the divine origins of the Qur'an. There are, however, several fatal flaws with this argument:
Problem 1: Many ancient texts contain statements that are scientifically true as well as statements that are clearly false. If a scripture contains statements that are scientifically true, is that sufficient proof that the book is of divine origin? The Hindu Vedas contain many scientific facts, however, I do not believe that these texts were inspired by God. The Pagan Greeks also wrote many books that contained scientific facts and the foundations of modern science are built upon the works of the ancient Greeks scholars. I do not believe that these men received divine inspiration, they simply used their minds to observe the world around them.
Problem 2: How far can we stretch the words of the Qur'an? As we will soon see, Muslim apologists can take one or two words in a Sura and derive a complex scientific theory from them - taking the words out of the context in which they were written. Often poetry is desperately stretched to fit modern science. For example, the word al-alaq, which originally meant a clot of blood, has been extrapolated into an explanation of embryonic and fetal development!
Problem 3: If the presence of scientific facts can prove the Qur'an's divine origins, the presence of scientific falsehood can disprove divine origins. For example, Sura 18:86 :
Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it he found a People: We said: "O Zul-qarnain! (thou hast authority,) either to punish them, or to treat them with kindness."
Since we all know that the sun does not set in a spring of murky water and, therefore, this is a big error. However, Muslim apologists are quick to tell us that this is only poetic and not a "scientific miracle"! This type of apologetic is intellectually dishonest as well as a bit silly.
Problem 4: Assuming that God gave Muhammad scientific facts, what was the purpose of doing this? After all, the people of Muhammad's time did not reach the conclusions that modern Muslims reach when they read the Qur'an. In fact, modern (mostly western) scientists had to discover the facts of science so that some modern Muslims can attempt to derive these facts from the Qur'an!
With these thoughts in mind, let us examine Mr. Meherally's claims concerning science and the Qur'an.
Responses to Akbarally Meherally
Answering Islam Home Page