On soc.religion.islam in article <4hqujh$k59@usenet.srv.cis.pitt.edu>, ahm@alpha.smi.med.pitt.edu (Ahmad Hashem) wrote:

   In article <4hqt7t$k1i@usenet.srv.cis.pitt.edu>,
   Behnaam Saadeghi  wrote:
  >Now, from the text itself we have no way of knowing which meaning is
  >intended: blood clot or a clinging thing.
  Actually, a stronger argument can be made for "clinging thing" than
  "blod clot" as the meaning intended by the word "'alaq" in the verse.
  "'alaq" means "clinging" period.  Since a blood clot is blood drops
  that are clinging together, it is referred to as 'alaq as well.  But
  the original meaning of the word is *clinging*.
  I surely agree that the "scientific" statements in the Quran are
  oversold.  But I wouldn't go as far as claiming that there is no hint
  whatsoever in the Quran to facts that were only discovered recently.
  In embryology, for example, the descriptions Quran uses seem to fit
  quite well with what we know now about the early developments of the
  emryo -- "clinging thing", "chewed-like thing", etc.
  Ahmad Hashem

I have read many times about this supposed scientific miracle of the Qur'anic knowledge in regard to the embryonic development, but it just struck me and seems now completely obvious why Muslims would do better not to press this too strongly.

Let me tell you about this thought.

There are only two possibilities for this embryo.

Either it is free floating
or it is clinging to something else.

Not being a medical expert, but my gut feeling says, that only our body fluids are "free" floating and everything else that is in some sense "solid", especially all organs, muscles, etc are connected to ("clinging to") something else in the body.

Now, even pre-islamic society had miscarriages, or was disecting animals etc. and would readily admit that an embryo at any visible stage is for sure more like an organ than a fluid.

So, given that basically everything in our body clings to something else, how profound an insight or "revelation" is it really to say that an embryo is "something that clings"?

This is what everybody would expect. So, the Qur'an just chose the more probable [for any human thinking at any time] of the only two possibilities outlined above.

But now comes the bummer. Even this statement isn't unconditionally true. It depends on the time of the embryonic development!

In the very beginning, the first few days the merged ovum and sperm ARE free floating in the tube between the ovary and the uterus. During this migration towards the uterus which is quite a substantial and important time of its development as it is the time of its highest relative growth, it is a "non-clinging" state before it will finally come to rest at some spot of the uterine wall and become a "clinging thing".

How could the Qur'an get it so wrong? Only two possibilities and it chose the wrong one. The Qur'an seemingly is talking about the origin of human beings. So, one should assume it is talking about its very start. But no, it skips the real beginning and then talks in very general terms about something everybody could have come up with by just a little thinking. I fail to see the miracle in the insight of "clinging" [if that was indeed the intended meaning and not the scientifically completely wrong "clot of blood".]

Had the Qur'an chosen to speak about the early "free floating" phase, something that is not visible to the eye, then I might have been impressed. But the Qur'an only states the obvious and that is not striking me in the least miraculous.

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