The purpose with this blog is to expose the claim of modern Islamic apologists that the Qur'an is miracolous in its prediction of what they claim resembles modern science.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Debunking Qur'anic Science: The Qur'an, Atoms and Sub-atomic particles

Does the Qur'an Predict the Sub-atomic world and particles? This is the claim of certain Islamic apologists, such as Mustafa Mlivo, Muhammad Assaid and Zakir Naik among others:

Mustafa Mlivo, Quran and Science , The Qur’an prior to Science and Civilisation; see:
http://www.preciousheart.net/Main_Archives/Links_Folder/SUPER_List_Islam.htmAnd

Muhammad Assadi, in his book: The Unifying Theory of Everything: Koran and Nature’s Testimony; see http://www.amazon.com/Unifying-Theory-Everything-Natures-Testimony/dp/0595129048

Zakir Naik; see http://www.scribd.com/doc/18926563/Quran-and-Modern-Science-EnglishBy-Dr-Zakir-Naik

These among others claim that the Qur’an is miraculous in its prediction of the sub atomic world (that is sub atomic particles).

Let's assess the claim:

The particular Qur’anic (Sura 34: 3) passages reads:

‘...by him who knows the unseen,—from who is not hidden the least little atom in the heavens or on earth; nor is there anything less than that, or greater, but is in the record of perspicuous

See also Sura 10: 61:

He [i.e., Allah] is aware of an atom’s weight in the heavens and on the earth and even anything smaller than that...’

Firstly we need to consider that there is a debate whether the Qur’an is literally referring to atoms or insects or possibly dust.

But let us for a moment assume that the Qur’an does refer to atoms and the sub-atomic particles, are we then correct to presume that this reference is miraculous or is possible that the Qur’an only makes a lucky guess or even that sub-atomic particles were already a common idea flourishing in the time of Muhammad?

The theory of atoms was founded by Leucippus (440 BC) and Democritus (432 BC), who proposed that atoms constituted and composed everything in existence even heaven and earth. The theory perceived the atoms as physical particles, which are in constant motion; being indivisible, indestructible and infinite in number and varieties.

All this is slightly correct indeed, expect of course that the number of atoms and their varieties are infinite.

Indeed the early atomists predicted a range of up-to-date details, such as Democritus’ ‘moving at random’, which according to Russel in his book: 'History of Western Philosophy' suggests denotes the kinetic theory of gasses; and furthermore the collisions of atoms which collected them and formed vortices and later material bodies (Russell, 82-84); all this was in agreement with the latter theory of Lucretius (Lucretius, The Nature of the Universe, p. 185).

Yet Democritus and many early atomists seem to have committed the fallacy of considering atoms to contain no void, which made them impenetrable and indivisible (Russell, History of Western Philosophy, p. 88).

This error excluded the existing reality of e.g. the neutrons, protons and electrons, and the newly proposed theory of the quarks. That is of course unless we move Democritus’ understanding as a theory of the Quark world and what preceded it.

Hence according to certain Muslim writers, e.g. Mlivo and Muhammad Assadi and Zakir Naik, this suggests that the Qur'an solely gets the information right and must therefore be of divine origin.

However, there are serious flaws within this Muslim proposition.

Its primary failure is the failure to grasp that atomic science developed through the centuries.

The emphatic claim of Democritus, that atoms were the first cause-particles which could not be further divided appears to be slightly diminishing at the time of Lucretius (approximately 50 BC); Lucretius seems to refer to new ideas in his time which suggests that atoms could be divided (at least he alludes to ideas quite different from those presupposed by Democritus); Lucretius writes in 50 BC:

It is with a mass of such parts, solidly jammed together in order, that matter is filled up. Since they cannot exist by themselves, they must stick together in a mass from which they cannot by any means be prized loose. The atoms therefore are absolutely solid and unalloyed, consisting of a mass of least parts tightly packed together. They are not compounds formed by the coalescence of their parts, but bodies of absolute and everlasting solidity. To these nature allows no loss or diminution, but guards them as seeds for things. If there are no such least parts, even the smallest bodies will consist of an infinite number of parts, since they can always be halved and their halves halved again’ (Lucretius, The Nature of the Universe 45)?

What are these least parts of which the atoms consist? And how about the opposite position, but otherwise proposed impossibility, that atoms can be halved and halved again?This idea seems to have been raised 600 years prior to Islam.

And there are further indications, that even the Epicurean's postulated particles smaller than atoms.

The Epicurean theory theorized that our body throws off thin films, which travel to touch the soul-atoms to create sensation; if these were considered to operate between atoms, then we might assume they are smaller (Russell, History of Western Philosophy, p. 255).

If however, atoms are the principle of matter and thus life, why is it that the Qur’an, being a divine revelation does not provide further insight into the world of atoms or quantum?

Why is the Qur’an making no reference to atoms in relation to compounds or the combination of atoms to form a greater mass, as was expounded upon by Lucretius more 600 years prior to Islam (Lucretius, The Nature of the Universe, p.41); Lucretius writes:

At that time the sun’s bright disc was not to be seen here, soaring loft and lavishing light, nor the stars that crowd the far-flung firmament, nor sea nor sky, nor earth, nor air nor anything in the likeness of things we know nothing but a hurricane raging in a newly congregated mass of atoms of every sort’ (Lucretius, The Nature of the Universe, 184).

This completely refutes Zakir Naik in his debate with William Campbell, in which he admitted the similarity between Qur’anic and Greek science but then claimed that Qur’anic science is more specific and even corrects Greek science.

The Qur’an does not explain that the atoms are the fundamental building blocks and existed prior to cosmological expansion and the accretion of the earth, nor does it describe their existence as prior to the galactic dimension the pre-stellar material existed.

Lucretius’ description of a primordial congregated mass of atoms in the writings of Lucretius is fairly accurate and presents an idea that is much more advanced and explicit than the Qur’anic simple reference to the world of atoms and lesser matter.

Lucretius continues:

‘...they (the atoms) began, in fact, to separate the heights of heaven from the earth, to single out the sea as a receptacle for water detached from the mass and to set apart the fires of pure and isolated ether. In the first place all the particles of earth, because they were heavy and intertangled, collected in the middle and took up the undermost stations. The more closely they cohered and clung together, the more they squeezed out the atoms that went to the making of sea and stars, sun and moon and the outer walls of the great world’ (Lucretius, The Nature of the Universe, 184-5).

While Lucretius’ postulate is outdated and contains a number of flaws, it does reveal a much more advanced insight into the atomic world than the Qur'an does and some details actually predicts modern science.

If the Qur’an is a miracle due to its reference to atoms and smaller matter, then certainly a number of Greek philosophers and indeed the atheist Lucretius were divinely inspired.

What is much more logical however is that the Qur’an simply describes the ideas that were flourishing within its time and era; unfortunately for the Muslim position is the fact that these pre-Islamic sources provide a much more advanced and accurate picture of the atomic world than the Qur’an.

19 comments:

  1. You have completely misunderstood. Just a little note. I Will probably never check your blog so feel free to email me.

    Smallest particle

    Even before Muhammad’s time, there already prevailed a well-known theory of atomism advanced by the Greek philosopher, Democritus. He and those after him have assumed that matter consists of tiny, indestructible, indivisible particles called “atoms.” The Arabs too, used to adhere to the same idea in which the word “dzar-rah” was commonly understood as referring to the smallest particle known to man - the atoms. Now modern science has discovered that this smallest unit of matter (i.e. the atom) has yet smallest elements still, and thus atom can be split into its component parts, and new terms given to these elements yet smaller than atoms – protons, neutrons, electrons, photons, quarks etc;. This is a new idea, a development of the 20th century. Yet, we may ask what has the Qur’an to say regarding this. Has it already accepted the notion that an atom was the smallest? It would be interesting to note a statement in the Qur’an:


    وَلَا تَعۡمَلُونَ مِنۡ عَمَلٍ إِلَّا ڪُنَّا عَلَيۡكُمۡ شُہُودًا
    .
    إِذۡ تُفِيضُونَ فِيهِ‌ۚ وَمَا يَعۡزُبُ عَن رَّبِّكَ
    .
    مِن مِّثۡقَالِ ذَرَّةٍ۬ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ
    .
    وَلَا فِى ٱلسَّمَآءِ وَلَآ أَصۡغَرَ مِن ذَٲلِكَ
    .
    وَلَآ أَكۡبَرَ إِلَّا فِى كِتَـٰبٍ۬ مُّبِينٍ
    .


    “We are your witness [from the moment] when you enter upon it: for, not even an atom’s weight [of whatever there is] on earth or in heaven escapes thy Sustainer’s knowledge; and neither is there, anything smaller than that, or larger, but is recorded in [His] clear decree.”

    (Qur’an: Yunus: 10: 61)



    In this verse, the man’s understanding of “dzar-rah” as the smallest element is differentiated from God’s knowledge (author of the Book, not Muhammad, the man) since it qualifies even further by stating “…anything smaller than that ... is recorded in [His] clear decree.” Thus the possibility of finding of still smaller elements have been implicitly included by the author of the Book, although men (even the Arabs) at that time may not know of the existence of yet smaller elements than atom or “dzar-rah.”

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  2. Hello wrote that he is not willing to check my blogs, yet he finds it ok to leave a note of correction. Fine, ok with me, but I find this puzzling; did the information put him off or reduce his faith and trust in Islam? Is that why he will leave notes but not check out my blogs? hmm...

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  3. First any rational person would notice your arguments are easily self refutable.

    This is what i take to be your conclusion:
    While Lucretius’ postulate is outdated and contains a number of flaws, it does reveal a much more advanced insight into the atomic world than the Qur'an does and some details actually predicts modern science.

    If the Qur’an is a miracle due to its reference to atoms and smaller matter, then certainly a number of Greek philosophers and indeed the atheist Lucretius were divinely inspired.

    What is much more logical however is that the Qur’an simply describes the ideas that were flourishing within its time and era; unfortunately for the Muslim position is the fact that these pre-Islamic sources provide a much more advanced and accurate picture of the atomic world than the Qur’an.

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  4. First you yourself are admitting the Greek math and science contained many flaws so Obviously the Quran could not have been plagiarized if the errors are not contained within the context of the Quran.

    Could The works of Lucretius be divine revelation? Lets take a look.

    Taken from Mathematical and Scientific and "Miscalculations" in
    Lucretius
    De Rerum Natura, Book I

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  5. II. MATHEMATICAL ERROR REGARDING INFINITIES
    In 599–634 Lucretius sets forth arguments to prove that there are "least parts" of atoms. If
    there is no pre-set limit to the successive dividing in half of matter, each atom could be
    said to consist of an infinite number of parts. According to Lucretius the universe itself
    contains an infinite number of parts. In his mind the idea of infinite divisibility of an
    atom led to the paradox of making each atom equal to the whole universe, since both
    De Rerum Natura 2
    equal infinity. Lucretius is so moved by the force of this paradox that in emotional tones
    he says: "But since true reasoning cries out and denies that the mind can believe it, you
    must admit to defeat and now accept that there are things which no longer consist
    endowed with any parts and are the smallest nature" (623–626).
    Historians of Mathematics note that although Aristotle (c. 384–322 B.C.E.) had difficulty
    with certain aspects of infinity, it is clear that he at least understood the concept of
    infinitesimals as used by mathematicians of his day, as seen in expressions such as: "for
    that which is continuous is divisible without limit" (lit. "unto what is boundless," Physics,
    185b); "from the divisibility among magnitudes (which the mathematicians treat as
    without limit)" (Physics, 203b, see also 206b for a further statement followed by a
    mathematical illustration).
    Archimedes (c. 287–212 B.C.E.) says that it was Emulous (c. 408–355 B.C.E.) who
    actually used the concept of infinitesimals in the so-called "method of exhaustion" in
    mathematical proofs to derive the relationship between pyramids and prisms, and
    between cones and cylinders (in each case the former contains one-third the volume of
    the latter), and also that circles are to one another as the squares of the diameters. (The
    Thirteen Books of Euclid's Elements, transl. by Sir Thomas L. Heath, Vol. III,
    Cambridge, 1926, see "Historical Note" beginning Book XII, pg. 365). These principles
    are given mathematical treatment in Euclid's Elements (c. 300 B.C.E.; circles in xii, 2;
    pyramids in xii, 7; cones in xii, 10).
    Lucretius' problem was of a conceptual nature. Mathematicians did not argue the
    feasibility of actual, physical infinite division of objects (which, of course, would take an
    infinite amount of time to accomplish). What Lucretius found unbelievable was a very
    useful mathematical concept that had long been in use to solve practical problems in
    determining surface areas and volumes of solids.

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  6. III. SCIENTIFIC ERROR REGARDING THE EARTH
    Lucretius argues against the centripetal nature of matter in 1052–1113 and thereby rejects
    what is considered scientifically true today.
    The Pythagoreans believed the earth was spherical by analogy with other heavenly
    bodies, but it was Aristotle who put forth clear arguments to prove that the earth was a
    sphere. He stated firmly, "It necessarily has a spherical form" (De caelo, 297a). One
    argument was based on the curvature of the earth's shadow as seen on the moon during a
    lunar eclipse—it is always the same curvature regardless of the exact configuration of
    sun, earth, and moon. Only a spherical shape for the earth would account for this
    observation. Secondly, Aristotle noted that different stars could be seen from different
    latitudes, which indicated not only that the earth was spherical, but also that its size could
    not be overly large, since a fairly small change in latitude produced a noticeable effect on
    star observations. He stated further that mathematicians had been able to measure the
    circumference of the earth (see De caelo, 297a–298b).
    De Rerum Natura 3
    Eratosthenes (c. 276–194 B.C.E.) calculated the circumference of the earth based on
    observations similar to those of Aristotle, and he was much more accurate than earlier
    mathematicians. Noting the angular difference of the sun's rays falling on the surface of
    the earth at two points (almost) due north and south of each other (Alexandria and Syene,
    modern Aswan), and knowing the distance between the two points, it was a
    straightforward matter to solve geometrically for the circumference of the sphere of the
    earth, assuming (and accurately so) the sun's rays to be practically parallel to each other
    over the whole surface of the earth.
    It is interesting to note that the Phoenicians recorded observations showing that the earth
    was spherical. In recounting how the Phoenicians had circumnavigated Africa, Herodotus
    relates a report (although he himself does not believe it) that the Phoenicians, in sailing
    around "Libya" on a westerly course, had the sun on their right, which would be in the
    north (Histories, IV, 42). This is no great surprise to those who live in the southern
    hemisphere.
    Although Lucretius was right in denying that the earth is the center of the universe, he
    was wrong in his treatment of the earth itself, taking into consideration neither
    convincing mathematical demonstrations nor first-hand accounts of experienced sailors.

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  7. "What is much more logical however is that the Qur’an simply describes the ideas that were flourishing within its time and era;"

    This is an absurd claim posed by the missionaries.

    No Arabs had such resources; in fact, as missionary Dr. William Campbell demonstrated the best naturalistic anti-Islamic argument for correct statements in the Holy Qur’an regarding modern embryology involves a doctor of the Prophet (P) who was taught in Persia!6 Carrier offers no evidence that displays that Arabs had any Greek texts present in Makkah, in fact he himself admits that at best Arabs may have been taught in Greek education centers even then this does not demonstrate that th Holy Quran is the product of older Greek texts; nor can Carrier sight which texts have presumably been plagiarized. In sum Carrier’s argument so far is nothing but fanciful heresy “it could have been like this..”, “maybe…”, “perhaps..”; he provides nothing solid he merely tries to ground the idea that Arabs would have been masters of Greek scientific literature and Carrier disappointingly fails miserably.

    http://www.bismikaallahuma.org/archives/2006/cosmology-and-the-holy-quran-a-response-to-richard-carrier/

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  8. Seems like i posted the same comment twice.

    Lets continue:

    "While Lucretius’ postulate is outdated and contains a number of flaws, it does reveal a much more advanced insight into the atomic world than the Qur'an does and some details actually predicts modern science."

    "unfortunately for the Muslim position is the fact that these pre-Islamic sources provide a much more advanced and accurate picture of the atomic world than the Qur’an."

    Zakir Naik:

    "Let me remind you that the Qur’an is not a book of Science, ‘S-C-I-E-N-C-E’ but a book of Signs ‘S-I-G-N-S’ i.e. a book of ayaats. The Qur’an contains more than 6,000 ayaats, i.e. ‘signs’, out of which more than a thousand speak about Science. I am not trying to prove that the Qur’an is the word of God using scientific knowledge as a yard stick because any yardstick is supposed to be more superior than what is being checked or verified. For us Muslims the Qur’an is the Furqan i.e. criteria to judge right from wrong and the ultimate yardstick which is more superior to scientific knowledge.

    But for an educated man who is an atheist, scientific knowledge is the ultimate test which he believes in. We do know that science many a times takes ‘U’ turns, therefore I have restricted the examples only to scientific facts which have sufficient proof and evidence and not scientific theories based on assumptions. Using the ultimate yardstick of the atheist, I am trying to prove to him that the Qur’an is the word of God and it contains the scientific knowledge which is his yardstick which was discovered recently, while the Qur’an was revealed 1400 year ago. At the end of the discussion, we both come to the same conclusion that God though superior to science, is not incompatible with it."

    As i mentioned Works of Lucretius contained many errors and flaws not mentioned in the Quran.

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  9. The Quran contains NO ERRORS on scientific facts which have sufficient proof and evidence and not scientific theories based on assumptions.

    Detailed Analysis from Lisan Al-Arab (this alone is 10 big books) and 7 other dictionaries proving the Scientific Miracles in the Holy Quran in Great Details.

    http://www.answering-christianity.com/detailed_meanings_of_scientific_words_in_verses.htm

    "It is very important to remember that Allah Almighty's choice of the Holy Words below was for a Divine Purpose and not just by chance. There were many other choices of words that Allah Almighty could've chosen, but He Chose the ones below because they carried far deeper meanings in them that only Science today was able to unveil and confirm. These Holy Words were used by Allah Almighty to describe how He, the Almighty, Created the Universe and many of the creations in it. The Holy Words are in perfect harmony with Science and with the way the Universe was truly created by Allah Almighty.


    "The Noble Quran is filled with scientific statements and notions. These are statements of Allah Almighty describing how He created things on earth and in the Universe. What's most amazing is that all of these scientific statements and notions had been proven to be in perfect agreement with science and our modern-day scientific discoveries. Allah Almighty made the Noble Quran be Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) Everlasting Divine Miracle and proof for Prophethood. The Holy Book certainly stood the test of time 1,500 years ago with Its Claims, Prophecies and Miraculous language eloquence, and it does again and again in our day today with Its overwhelming agreement with science and discoveries that were not known to man 1,500 years ago."

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  14. Now one might ask why am I wasting my time on you? Although my schedule is tight, I cannot see you running towards hellfire. Allah(swt) has brought the hearts of some of the greatest enemies of Islam to him. Please accept Islam.

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  15. Hello

    Just a warning. I permitted you on another thread to spam the topic with 50 questions which were irrelevant to both the blog and the thread. However, that is not how I want this blog to run or appear.

    The very reason why this blog concerns science in the Qur'an is because the focus is on science in the Qur'an and to your information not Biblical Criticism, Christianity, or even textual criticism of the Qur'an.

    I deleted a number of your comments since they are in my opinion categorized as spam and are irrelevant. Posting a hundred arguments, which no one will have time to reply to in one go is not the method I appreciate here and its not the method I lean toward myself. I focus and stay on the subject.

    I know that you purposely attempted to drown me in arguments, such behavior and tactics I have grown away from long time ago and I do not tolerate them. This blog is for sincere and indepth dialogue, its not a kinder garden.

    To your information, I could have sat down for a few hours and answered each one of them, but that would simply be throwing pearls before pigs, I would wast time and you would not even read the replies. I could also have backfired with hundreds of arguments against the Qur'an, but that childish behavior and immature in debating. I could also have posted you a number of websites that effectively answered all your arguments.

    I did not find it appropriate either that most of your points are on Biblical criticism and not even science. There are a number of other blogs where you can post that, and I do have a blog on Christian apologetics; free welcome to post your points there, but only a few at the time so we can deal with them in their depths.

    I am also puzzled that you accuse me of running to websites when all you do is to plagiarize from Islamic websites.

    The posts of yours that are relevant to this thread and blog are still left intact, in future please stay on the topic.

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  16. What a ridiculous excuse.

    "I did not find it appropriate either that most of your points are on Biblical criticism and not even science."

    First to beigin with, Your thread was poorly written and your method of debunking the Quran science was just followed up by an absurd claim. Your response was also followed up with an absurd claim. For example you describe the Quran to have plagarized off ideas flourishing at the time, and that if Quran mentions this then Lucretius could have also received divine revelation. My response did not relate to biblical criticism but rather common errors in the works of Lucretious and mentioned ina nother thread even classical polemicists such as J.M Rodwell and Alan Jones admit that the Prophet (P) was indeed illiterate.


    "I am also puzzled that you accuse me of running to websites when all you do is to plagiarize from Islamic websites."

    You're just exposing your gross ignorance with your claim that Muslims cannot do a critical analysis of the Qur'an. We have been doing it for centuries way before Biblical criticism became a norm in the Western academia. The works of your Ali Sina, Spencer, et. al are nothing more than a pathetic attempt at Christian apologia that aims to prop up their misguided claims at the expense of credible, historical truth. Unlike you, I have read their works and I am not impressed with their bare-faced lies and manipulation of facts to suit their fabricated man-made dogma called Christianity. Just read for yourself the scholarly works of Dr. Wilson, Dr. Vermes and most popularly Dr. Bart D. Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus and Jesus: Interrupted and you will understand the point I am trying to make here. Try to come out from your dark cocoon of blissful ignorance and fabricated fallacies.

    *Note* Im not surprised you would remove my comments. I also suggest you compare the claims of your pathetic websites to islamic websites and follow up with the rebuttals. You will come to realize that many of the arguements are self refutable.

    Once again I invite you to Islam.

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  17. ~~“We are your witness [from the moment] when you enter upon it: for, not even an atom’s weight [of whatever there is] on earth or in heaven escapes thy Sustainer’s knowledge; and neither is there, anything smaller than that, or larger, but is recorded in [His] clear decree.”

    (Qur’an: Yunus: 10: 61) ~~

    Anything in "[]"s is not the original text. It is a translators interpretation. I find it funny how so open you are willing to "invite someone to Islam" when the evidence points otherwise. Not even Muhammad knew what constituted an atom's weight and if you try to vouch for an "all knowing God", said god didn't specifically say so, therefore just proving the Quran borrowed from the blog's article.

    You didn't bother to read and your passage shows:

    //If the Qur’an is a miracle due to its reference to atoms and smaller matter, then certainly a number of Greek philosophers and indeed the atheist Lucretius were divinely inspired.\\

    They PRECEDED the Quran. They were not divinely inspired, they were simply philosophers. But at least they set up the framework despite their flaws to modern science.

    Your ancient holy book has so much Grecko-Indian primitive science in it you can not see it unless you take your faith glasses off.

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  18. The gall and utter bollocks of "hello" tells me there is no chance convincing the brainwashed islamic beLIEver. However moderator I find you particularly diplomatic dealing with the trollesque rather patient!

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