The Miracle of Reinterpretation
In recent years, some Muslim proselytizers have come to claim that the "miracle" of the Qur'an is demonstrated by "astounding scientific facts which only through modern science has man discovered what was accurately described in the Muslim Holy Book and by the Prophet Muhammad 14 centuries ago!" There is indeed a need for the exclamation mark, as it is an astonishing boast in light of the gaping chasm between Islam and modern science in regards to the most basic philosophical issues.
From the origins of the universe, to the origins of man, Islam posits explanations which leave a scientific mind incredulous. Christian fundamentalists are not alone in their belief in Gilgamesh epics and a lost Eden, any more than they are alone in claiming inerrancy for texts, and errancy for proofs they find unpalatable. Like the clockwork of a blind watchmaker, the even blinder Muslim literalist, and his bedfellow in illogic- the Christian fundamentalist, are left by the paucity of rational support for their beliefs to fume at the satanic conspiracy (a.k.a. evolution a la natural selection) working to undermine all of morality. Little wonder then, that the day the Muslim literalist or Christian fundamentalist gives a fair hearing to evolution and cosmology, is the day that monkeys type Shakespeare, or, as we can only pray, the day that the dogmatic blinders fall to the wayside.
For the purposes of proselytizing, however, it is paramount to downplay the root conflict with scientific knowledge-to harp on the reformed nature of Islam, which unlike Christianity, is "Perfection" itself, full to the brim of "Rational Teachings," "Factual Prophecy," the "Scientific," and devoid of "Myths or Superstitions."
Certainly the dogmatist is few and far between who would explicitly claim to be advocating irrationality, some pretense must be made that despite the unfalsifiable nature of the belief, it is in line with the observed world. On one Muslim web page, exclusively devoted to recounting the laundry list of scientific miracles in the Qur'an, the terms are given for what observations will be accepted and which ones will be rejected: "It must be clarified however, that the faith of Muslims is not conditional based upon whether or not scientific fact coincides with what is found in the Qur’aan or in authentic statements (hadeeth) of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam). If scientific discoveries coincide with what has already been uncovered or mentioned in the Qur’aan, it is then viewed as a confirmation of what was already held as true and it may also be a clarification of those matters which may have been beyond the scope of human knowledge at any given time. The case may arise however, where the views held by scientific circles may conflict with assertions made in the Qur’aan and the authentic hadeeth. In such a case, Muslims are duty bound to accept what is evident in the religious texts and should scrutinize what is held to be the scientific view." In other words, evidence is immaterial, unless it favors Islam. Which it does! Join today! Or not.
It comes as little surprise, then, that instead of focusing on the scientific discoveries most responsible for redefining how we see ourselves in relation to the universe, the dogmatist is left with his dusty sacred writ, from which he must cull each and every excuse for a scientific insight, and poor excuses at that. With his feeble ideology he can by no means defeat theories which are a refutation of everything he has ever held to be sacred. From recent Western experience, part of the response to such defeat is a retreat into "Bible Codes," sifting through Scripture for a proof that the number "Pi" is revealed, and finding amazing fantastical hydrological cycles (despite the incorrect ancient Hebrew belief in a firmament and Sheol)!
Muslims are no strangers to number codes (especially those who call themselves "Submitters" and reject hadeeth) and bogus precognition/interpretation-facelifts. Off-line, the most promulgated book in this regard has been The Bible, the Qur'an, and Science by a French doctor named Maurice Bucaille. Bucaille's intentions are somewhat shady, as at times what he says of the Qur'an and its reconcilability with science is antithetical to orthodox Sunni Islam, particularly the evolutionary spin he tries to put on some ayat, and what he says of hadeeth. Nevertheless, the dearth of "well-written" books on the subject available in English, necessitates the use of Bucaille's book for propaganda- or rather dawaganda.
On-line, portions of The Bible, the Qur'an and Science appear scattered on various web pages, but noticeable is the lack of great commentary and reflection upon its contents. It seems to be a case of plopping it on the web page, and hoping a few people plop it in their brains hook, line, and Jonah (Yunus). While there are probably a few score pages in relation to Islam and science on the Internet, most of them seem to think that rational proof operates along this same method- one of which I attempted to dissect further.
This is the Truth: Newly Discovered Facts Revealed in the Qu'ran and Authentic Hadith, contains some commentary similar to Bucaille's, but is from an orthodox Muslim perspective. From what I can tell the argument runs thus: Professor Simpson, Professor Keith Moore, Dr. G.C. Goeringer, Dr. Marshall Johnson, Dr. T.V.N. Persuad, Dr. Tagata Tejasen, Professor Alfred Kroner, Professor Palmer, Dr. William W. Hay, Professor Dorja Rao, Professor Shroeder, Professor Armstrong, and Professor Yoshihide Kozai are quoted and paraphrased as lending support to the view that certain ayat in the Qu'ran are of interest because they reveal foreknowledge of modern science.
The problem in all of this? It is an argument which relies almost wholly on authority, rather than proof. From the text of This is the Truth it appears to be the case that most of these scientists were contacted while they were in Saudi Arabia attending scientific and/or medical conferences, some of which included discussion of Science and Islam. This raises issues about intent.
First, why in the world would someone want to go to Saudi Arabia if not for Hajj? Does the Saudi government fund any scientific research? Does it offer any incentives for cooperating with its propaganda efforts on behalf of Islam? I for one, don't know. I just know that even if there wasn't the threat of decapitation, I certainly wouldn't be going to Saudi for a vacation. Mullah, and I ain't talkin' bout no guy with a turban.
Regardless of intentions and the unconsciable use of the argument from authority, what little of substance that appears in This is The Truth can be said to suffer from a few general ailments. To roughly categorize just some of the problems in methodology: 1) Claims are made that phenomenon observable by the naked eye, in fact, can only be deduced used advanced scientific techniques. 2) Verses are construed to refer to scientific theories, even when the only similarity could be said that it peers in the same direction of nature. 3)Poetic or figurative usage is construed to refer to inane factoids. 4)Arguments against the interpretations they maintain are not addressed; no attempt is made to refute the refutations.
Naked Eyes: Nudity is of Course Haraam, ergo the Wool of technospeak:
Fourteen hundred years ago, people had eyeballs. Sometimes they looked to the heavens. Sometimes they described what they saw. And they did this, yes, bare with me for a moment, they did this without satellites, balloons, and planes.
"Allah said in the Qur'aan: Have you not seen how Allah makes the clouds move gently, then joins them together, then makes them into a stack, and then you see the rain come out of it...? [Qur'aan 24:43]
[My response: Haven't you seen Aunt Jemima make pancakes, and then put them in a stack, melt some butter, and pour on maple syrup? Or did you need scientists to make that observation with cytoquantum nuclearpancakeology? If it is a rhetorical question, merely praise of Allah, it would stand to reason that this is common knowledge at the time of "revelation."]
Meteorologists have only recently come to know these details of cloud formation, structure, and function by using advanced equipment like planes, satellites, computers, balloons, and the like to study winds and its direction, to measure humidity and its variations, and to determine the levels and variations of atmospheric pressure (See Figure 18.2).
The Qu'ran provides merely a description of what happens when rain clouds form. It explained zilch in regards to meteorology, and the principles underlying meteorology. And I am just guessing (truth is no substitute for conjecture. Or was it the other way around?) that a rain cloud might be a event that would gain quite a bit of attention in a parched environment like Arabia.
The use of Allah as the force behind the clouds is comical and fatuous. I suppose in the modern day he has a monopoly on smog clouds, or as Ibn Warraq mentions in his book Why I am not a Muslim, the cyclones with which Allah decides to flood South Asia, so that there are more martyrs to witness to his meteorological power and glory.
Actually, there was a miracle that was missed- the Qu'ran explains AERODYNAMICS! "Do they not observe the birds above them, spreading their wings and folding them in? None can uphold them except the Most Gracious: truly it is He that watches over all things." (67:19) I apologize if this offends the reader, but I will not ride in an airplane built upon the Allah principle instead of Bernoulli's.
This objection, of course, is not significant enough for the proponents, who are on cloud nine when they recognize yet another miraculous verse from the Almighty.
And He sends down hail from mountains (clouds) in the sky, and He strikes with it whomever He wills, and turns it from whoever He wills. The vivid flash of its lightning nearly blinds the sight. [Qur'aan 24:43]
The proponents go on to give an account of how scientists think hail is connected with lightning, never questioning that a person doesn't have to understand ions and the nature of ice crystals to observe a storm. When some second-rate novelist begins his book with "It was a Dark and Stormy Night" we don't hand him an honorary degree in meteorology.
Not content with their case they leave with a parting jab at Aristotle: "This information on lightning was discovered only recently. Until 1600 A.D., Aristotle's ideas on meteorology were dominant. For example, he said that the atmosphere contains two kinds of exhalation, moist and dry. He also said that thunder is the sound of the collision of the dry exhalation with the neighboring clouds, and lightning is the inflaming and burning of the dry exhalation with a thin and faint fire. These are some of the ideas on meteorology that were dominant at the time of the Qur'aan's revelation, fourteen centuries ago."
Aristotle, in that case, at least made an attempt to give an explanation that wasn't punctuated by "the gods know best." And ultimately, even if Aristotle did not have the answer, by his philosophical inquiries he at least made it clear that it was a problem for human minds to solve, not to be abdicated to the various gods that have come and gone. While Aristotle may have gotten the "how" wrong, so does it appears the author(s) of the Qur'an (by virtue of not being a scientific treatise), although both may have had the ability to look to the sky and know the "what".
Much More Ado about Nothing:
We asked him [Professor Yoshihide Kozai] whether at some point in time the firmament was in a form of smoke. He stated that all signs and indications are converging to prove that at one point in time the whole firmament was nothing but a cloud of smoke. This has come to be established as a proven visible fact. Scientists now can observe new stars forming up out of that smoke, which is the origin of our universe, as we see in this picture (Figure 17.1)....[Note the "one point in time" and "nothing but smoke" as it will come in handy...]
We presented to him the Qur’anic verse saying:Then he turned to the sky, and it had been (as) smoke (dukhaan): He said to it and to the earth: come you together, willingly or unwillingly. They said: we do come (together) in willing obedience. (Qur’an 41:11).
Some scientists describe this dukhaan or smoke “mist”. But Professor Kozai pointed out that the term “mist” does not correspond to the description of this smoke, because mist is characteristically cold, whereas this cosmic smoke is somewhat hot. Dukhaan indeed is made up of diffused gases to which solid substances are attached, and this is the exact description of the smoke from which the universe emerged even before the stars were formed. Professor Kozai said that because that smoke was hot, we cannot describe it as “mist”. Dukhaan is the best descriptive word that can ever be. In this way Professor Kozai continued to scrutinize each Qur’anic verse we presented to him.
Unfortunately Professor Bonzai (by the extensive use of paraphrasing we get little indication of Professor Kozai's view- might as well have been a tree they spoke to) failed to scrutinize the few verses preceding 41:11, which might cast doubt on Dukhaan as meaning any primordial plasma, or early state of the universe.
Even if the authors weren't quoting out of context their own scripture, immediately it is an apparent anachronism, as the earth with its heavy elements did not form until well after such a so-called "smoke & mirrors" phase of cosmic development had transpired, and stars had already begun to die out. It would be imprecise to refer to it as merely smoke, if galaxies, quasars, "oh my" had been in existence for quite some time before the earth and its six days.
If the author(s) of the Qur'an had any intimation of cosmology, it is shred as soon as we read in 41:9 that the earth was created in two days- the dual for yawm, yawmayni appears. If it makes you feel better, then, of course, refer to ayaam as meaning an abstract period of time, but in that case the earth might as well been formed in one period rather than two, the sustenance which Allah so beneficently measured out over four days- uh- periods as mentioned in 41:10 might as well been Pi * x^3 periods, there is no rhyme or reason, as Allah's calculations don't immediately square off with eons, except if one tries hard enough.
But my point is that there seems to be a sequential flow in those verses- the progressive development of Allah's creation, and after six days is when he turns to the sky and earth, and has a cute little conversation, probably in Tagalong, with Mother Earth and Father Sky, while there are probably burgeoning dinosaurs tromping about on the earth, who get to witness Allah installing the lighting and genii-security system.
The lower heavens are adorned after it was said the earth was in existence.
Again, this is not a scientific explanation, creation by divine fiat. Allah doesn't explain gravitation and the forces molding stars, all he says is to look up the sky and give him credit, even if his description of cosmological development is at odds.
The Poetry of the Infernal Inferno:
"Allah said in the Qur’an about one of the evil unbelievers who forbade the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) from praying at the Ka'abah: Let him beware! If he does not stop, We will take him by the naasiyah (front of the head), a lying, sinful naasiyah! [Qur’an 96 :15-16]
Why did the Qur’an describe the front of the head as being lying and sinful? Why didn't the Qur’an say that the person was lying and sinful? Is there a relationship between the front of the head and lying and sinfulness?"
Naasiyah is translated as forelock by Yusuf Ali. When I looked through The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, I didn't find the word, but rather a derivative with the same meaning.
From the get-go I suspected an idiomatic usage of forelock, as when in English we say, "I don't want to see your lying ugly face." Thankfully Yusuf Ali decided to answer affirmatively, otherwise I would be forced to revert to Islam, because of clear proofs of "mah Lord."
In 11:56, footnote 1551, "I put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord! There is not a moving creature, but He hath grasp of its forelock, Verily, it is my Lord that is on a straight Path." "Grasp of the fore-lock; an Arabic idiom, referring to a horse's forelock. The man who grasps it has complete power over the horse, and for the horse the fore-lock is as it were the crown of his beauty, the sum of his power of self-assertion. So Allah's power over all creatures is unlimited and no one can withstand His decree."
So, this area of the cerebrum is responsible for planning, motivating, and initiating good and sinful behavior, and is responsible for telling lies and speaking the truth. Thus, it is proper to describe the front of the head as lying and sinful when someone lies or commits a sin, as the Qur’an said: ...a lying, sinful naasiyyah (front of the head)! Scientists have only discovered these functions of the prefrontal area in the last sixty years, according to Professor Keith Moore.
In an earlier chapter, the authors make another claim about foreknowledge of the nervous system, which is even more audacious:
"It was stated to Dr. Tejasen: You will be interested to know that in this book, the Holy Book - the Qur’an, there was a reference 1400 years ago which pertains to the moment of punishment of the unbelievers by the fire of Hell and it states that when their skin is destroyed, Allah makes another skin for them so that they perceive the punishment by a fire, indicating knowledge about the nerve endings in the skin, and the verse is as follows:
Those who reject our signs, We shall soon cast into the fire. As often as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them for fresh skins, that they may taste the chastisement. Truly Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise. (Qur’an 4:56).
Whether one is aware of the existence of nerve endings or not, is immaterial to whether one can conceive of how to cause intense pain. If Jeffrey Dahmer thinks up some horrendous torture techniques, we don't extrapolate that he necessarily is thinking about nerve endings when he puts himself to inventing. We just think he is one sick b******. When the Most Sadistic does it, we only assume such because of his vaunted quality of omniscience.
It is non sequitir, as Allah gives no description of nerves, gives no analysis of the nervous system.
In fact, when Allah does reference the functions of the nervous system in the Qu'ran he does so in error. How many times does one have to hear "fi qulubihim?" I should then posit the cause of evil behavior as heart disease, as "fi qulubihim maradun." Allah does not grasp that the function of the heart, is not the same as the function of the brain. What can I say. Sometimes Allah reminds me of the scarecrow of the Wizard of Oz, except that he doesn't even recognize his need.
Not a discouraging word, and the skies...
100% of all the scientists in the entire world agree with the scientific miracle of the Qur'an. But on the rare chance that there was a differing opinion, then surely it would be addressed, so that such a poor misguided soul might be led out of his error, so he too could appreciate the miracle of the Qur'an, and the greatest religion in the world- Islam.
Less, of course, he was an operative of the Shayatin, whose every expression of skepticism was merely the satanic rantings of one intentionally covering his heart from Islam. To even answer a single one of his objections would be to give a hearing to the devil himself. Which as the creators of This is the Truth have wisely recognized as interfering with their holy works, is the gravest evil imaginable. I seek refuge from Satan, and all of his assorted thoughts, nay I would never consider even a parlance with such a scoundrel, not bowing down and all.
Why some have even suggested that instead of a cosmic drama with a whole sundry cast of angels, geniis, and prophets, starting with the first man Adam, that what is occurring on the earth is rather a different production. And as these claims have not been routed by the creators of This is the Truth, in my magnamity, I offer to expose.e the evolution deceit, once and for all.
Evolution: A Slap in the Face of the Almighty! Or a Drop-Kick à la Jerry Springer?
[I am still working on this! But here's what I gotz so far!]
Origins can be one of the most hotly contested realms of debate, because at issue is the fundamental dichotomy between how things are, and how we would most wish them to be. With its offers of a sumptuous paradise, Islam is pronounced in claiming that after an unspecified date, those who believe and work righteous deeds will have their every wish granted (I apologize for all allusions to geniis, my cultural insensitivity is shocking). This is all contingent upon Allah having a "plan" with respect to human beings, which if Allah could provide for our every whim in the future, we might expect evidence in the Qur'an for "how things are" at this very moment- how Allah's plan is progressing. The point need not be further pressed, that if science casts all doubt on the Muslim "explanation" of creation, that it is at the same time casting doubt about Candy land. What does a God know of the post-history, if he knows nothing of the pre-history?
But Islam and some of the other salvation peddling religions are not alone in contesting origins. This is also the case for the non-religious, for controversies still erupt at the premise that genes likely mediate in many respects IQs, temperaments, and behaviors like alcoholism. Certainly we might want nature to be more egalitarian, to provide each and all a tabula rasa at birth, a blank slate, but thinking doesn't make it so, even if it thwarts one's bleeding heart liberalism.
Within scientific circles, an ecocentric view of the entire world, viewing the entire "biosphere" as a giant organism called "gaia" has been proposed- giving new meaning to harming mother earth. But again, how much is this wishful thinking, and how much science?
It is human to contest origins, in one way or another, whoever you are, and whatever you believe. But there are differing degrees of openness to evidence, and near the bottom of the list is Islam.
[Insert Quotes about "we believe in all of the book..." the roots of the dogmatism within the Qur'an and Sunnah"]
Islam's compatibility with science can be tested through its response to three integral questions about origins, and a comparison with the answers that mainstream science provides: 1)How did the universe "develop?" 2)How did life arise? 3)Where do we as humans fit in this picture?
If it is shown that Islam is incorrect with respect to origins, what would Islam itself say on the matter? Main Philosophical Proposition From Qur'an: Should not the Creator know what He has created? Secondary Philosophical Proposition: That there can be no contradiction