3 Common Misconceptions about Scientific Miracles in the Qu’ran (Part III/III)

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Read misconception 1

Read misconception 2

Misconception 3: Historical Inaccuracies and Progressivism

Finally, we arrive at the silliest class of misconceptions.

Recall that the linchpin of “scientific miracles” in the Quran is the assumption that, 1400 years ago, all of humanity was ignorant about the truth of “scientific facts” contained in the Quran, and only after the advent of modern science are we now able to see the scientific  foreknowledge contained in certain verses. This proves that the Quran was not written by a person, since there is no way any person could have known something science only discovered 1400 years later.

The problem is that many (but not all) purported scientific miracles involve knowledge and facts that were widely known 1400 years ago!

Here are a few examples taken directly from this site, which is based on the work of Harun Yahya.

1. The Sun emits its own light while the moon reflects light.

This is something that is realizable with the naked eye! On particularly clear nights, without the obstruction of modern light pollution, the different features of the moon are obvious. During its phases, you do not need a telescope to see the moon’s surface being  partially illuminated and partially in shadow. The Arabs in the 7th century as well as ancient civilizations and anyone else with functioning eyes understood that the phases of the moon are the result of it being partially illuminated by another light source, namely the sun.

It is telling that proponents of this “scientific miracle” believe that past peoples were so primitive that they lacked the wherewithal to notice something as manifest as this.

2. The Sun rises and sets at different points throughout the year.

It is well known that civilizations as far back as the ancient Egyptians and Mayans accurately tracked the motion of the sun throughout the year and used this information to formulate their solar calendars, plan their crop cycles, etc.

3. The specific orbit of the Moon.

Lunar orbits were also well-known by the time of the Prophet (Sallalahu Alaihi Wassalam). The definitive proof of this is Ptolemy’s 2nd century astronomical treatise the Almagest. This work (and others like it that have been lost) accurately tracks the motion of the moon in the sky and forecasts new moons, full moons, and, even, eclipses. Even in the Quran, multiple verses note how celestial bodies are used for the reckoning of time and navigation, which would have made sense to the Arabs who, by the 7th century, certainly had access to the latest astronomical methodologies.

4. Bone loss in old age.

A noteworthy quote from that link: “Bearing in mind that x-rays were only discovered in the 1890s, it is clear how difficult obtaining any information regarding the bones would have been.

Again, the fact that bones become increasingly brittle as one advances in age is basic anatomical knowledge requiring only simple observation of the elderly. Yet, apparently, primitive people in the 7th century were clueless without the aid of x-rays.

portraying past societies as intellectually retarded, strongly serves the narrative that these peoples were also hopelessly backwards with respect to their ethical and theological commitments.

Many of the explanations of “scientific miracles” in the Quran follow this same pattern. As we see, the inadvertent consequence of expounding on many of these miracles is that they portray past societies as extremely primitive and ignorant about basic facts in the world around them. This, in turn, serves the progressivist model of history, which has it that, as humanity moves through time, it advances in scientific, technological, and moral knowledge culminating in contemporary times, where modern man represents the pinnacle of human achievement. Historical progressivism is pernicious for many reasons that, in sha Allah, we will detail in separate posts. Suffice it to say that portraying past societies as intellectually retarded such that they are blind to even the most apparent facts about the world around them strongly serves the narrative that these peoples were also hopelessly backwards with respect to their ethical and theological commitments.

By .  This article was first published at islamandevolution.com