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.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

The Qur'an and Sub-atomic Particles (2): The Writings of the Second Century Christian Philosopher Origen

In a previous thread I posted an article on the view on sub-atomic matter prior to Islam as a response to the claim of various Muslim apologists that the Qur’an by miracolous inspiration predicts this modern discovery. The article can be read here:

I particularly quoted Lucretius who in his writing ‘The Nature of the Universe’ indicates that this matter was debated 600 years prior to Islam.

Lucretius maintained that the heaven and earth were separated while in a chaotic state of cloudy atomic fusion:

‘...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).

Secondly Lucretius pointed out another idea of his time, namely that the atoms themselves consisited of a mass of least parts tightly packed together:

‘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)?

I asked in my previous article:
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.
This debunks the claim of Muslims that the postulate of particles smaller than atoms were non-existent prior to Islam.

Lucretius not only refers to particles smaller than atoms but even further that the particles exist within the atoms.

Interestingly I have recently discovered a number of other references in the writings of pre-Islamic thinkers that indicate their belief or the belief in sub-atomic matter; one such thinker is the third century Christian philosopher Origen who writes:

‘...whereas the gods of Epicurus, being composed of atoms, and, so far as their structure is concerned, capable of dissolution, endeavour to throw off the atoms which contain the elements of destruction.

The entire context can be read here:

But let us look at what Celsus next with great ostentation announces in the following fashion: "And again," he says, "let us resume the subject from the beginning, with a larger array of proofs. And I make no new statement, but say what has been long settled. God is good, and beautiful, and blessed, and that in the best and most beautiful degree. But if he come down among men, he must undergo a change, and a change from good to evil, from virtue to vice, from happiness to misery, and from best to worst. Who, then, would make choice of such a change? It is the nature of a mortal, indeed, to undergo change and remoulding, but of an immortal to remain the same and unaltered. God, then, could not admit of such a change." Now it appears to me that the fitting answer has been returned to these objections, when I have related what is called in Scripture the "condescension" of God to human affairs; for which purpose He did not need to undergo a transformation, as Celsus thinks we assert, nor a change from good to evil, nor from virtue to vice, nor from happiness to misery, nor from best to worst. For, continuing unchangeable in His essence, He condescends to human affairs by the economy of His providence. We show, accordingly, that the holy Scriptures represent God as unchangeable, both by such words as "Thou art the same," and" I change not;" whereas the gods of Epicurus, being composed of atoms, and, so far as their structure is concerned, capable of dissolution, endeavour to throw off the atoms which contain the elements of destruction. Nay, even the god of the Stoics, as being corporeal, at one time has his whole essence composed of the guiding principle when the conflagration (of the world) takes place; and at another, when a re-arrangement of things occurs, he again becomes partly material. For even the Stoics were unable distinctly to comprehend the natural idea of God, as of a being altogether incorruptible and simple, and uncompounded and indivisible.

The Muslim 'Hello' and his useless refutation of Lucretius and the Qur'an

I have in a number of my articles pointed out the resemblances of the postulates of the pre-Islamic Roman philosopher Lucretius with the Qur’an.

From there I tend to ask Muslims whether they believe Lucretius was inspired, since he proposed the same ideas and even got a number of scientific details more accurate than the Qur’an.

Funny, because over and over again Muslims will typically argue that Lucretius made some serius errors and hence he could not be divinely inspired.

Having made this statements, Muslims like 'Hello' and others think they have silenced me. However, I have made it very clear that I do not believe Lucretius to be any more inspired than the authors of the Qur’an: Lucretius made serious scientific errors and so do the authors of the Qur’an; what I find particularly interesting however, is that Lucretius makes a number of accurate scienitific propositions on which the Qur’an is silence, hence, ought Muslims not therefore to wave goodbye to their Islamic religion and become followers of Lucretius?

Hello, a desparate Muslim who continually posts on on this blog (typically attacking me personally, making incredible claims, posting a number of irrelevant and weak arguments including his attempt to spam the threads by drowning me in arguments) has attempted to debunk me and my use of Lucretius.

Funny Hello, claims to be a well read scholar, having read Ehrman and Geza Vermas (which I honestly doubt he has), he also claims that I simply utilize anti-Islamic websites, whereas the reader can check my articles and his posts and find that Hello is the only one bound by websites while I restort to deploy actual sources and investigation in my studies and rebuttal of Islam.

Here Hello attempts to prove that Lucretius failed drastically to indicate the view of sub-atomic matter and secondly, Hello attempts to prove that Lucretius failed to realise that the earth is spherical unlike so many other philosophers who preceeded him (I guess that is what Hello has in mind).

Notice that Hello fails to realise that there is no point to prove Lucretius wrong anyway, nobody believes that Lucretius was free from errors or operated under divine inspiration.

Furthermore, notice that Hello does not even investigate Lucretius’ writings he simply plagiarizes a critical introduction of a modern scholar to Lucretius. Even worse the, the passage on the atoms leads no where, and the second passage is simply wrong.

Hello wrote:

Could The works of Lucretius be divine revelation? Lets take a look.
Taken from Mathematical and Scientific and "Miscalculations" in

De Rerum Natura, Book I

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).

Hogan replies:

Mr or mrs ‘Hello’, why is Lucretius even in a dialogue about matter that is smaller than atoms and which even exists within atoms? If the Qur’an even refers to atoms and it truly means that there are smaller particles, this is exactly what we find in Lucretius. Furthermore, Lucretius is even more accurate to claim that this matter could exist within the atoms. Furthermore, Lucretius’ claim that the sub-atomic matter must be infinite does not support your case at all, this appears to be his argument against those who believe in smaller particles. In other words the belief in sub-atomic particles existed already in 50 BC and Lucretius at least makes us a favour to mention it, and Lucretius’ referrence to the infinity of matter was simply Lucretius’ argument and not necessarily the view of those who held to the view.
I am completely at odd with what your quotation has proven that supports Islam, the only conclusion is: that the belief in particles smaller than atoms was not absent from the pre-Islamic community.

Hello also posted this:

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.

Hogan replies:

So you are saying (I guess) based upon a secondary piece of information that Lucretius did not believe in a spherical earth?

Well that is plainly false:

Firstly, it is impossible to deny from the writings of Lucretius whether he did not view the earth to be central; he actually wrote:

We now have to consider how the earth remains fixed in the middle of the world.’ (Lucretius, 1957: 187)

Furthermore, concerning the issue of the earth being spherical or not, Lucretius does describe the earth drawing itself by its own energy below and above the globe of the earth (Lucretius, 1957: 191)

Hence I can point out a number of short falls with Hello’s approach:

1) He totally misunderstands my use of Lucretius

2) He uses secondary sources rather than primary sources (that is: he fails to study Lucretius’ writings and satisfies himself and thinks he satisfies me by quoting a modern opinion of Lucretius); Hello leaves me very unimpressed

3) Hello fails to see that even his secondary sources do not back up his attempt to refute me and that they are plainly wrong and misinterpret the primary sources.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The Qur'an a Fairytale: Insects and Their Knowledge of Human Affairs

In my previous post on ‘the talking she-ant’ I refuted effectively the two claims exclaimed by modern Muslim apologists that the Qur’an predicts the female nature of working ants and that ants possess the capability to talk:

Here is the passage:

When they approached the valley of the ants, one ant said, "O you ants, go into your homes, lest you get crushed by Solomon and his soldiers, without perceiving." He smiled and laughed at her statement... (Sura 27: 18-19).

However, in the comment section of ‘’ Ilena and Odo pointed out a related matter that proves to be even more devastating for the often presumed integrity of the Qur’an, namely that the particular ant in Sura 27: 18 knows and perceives king Solomon and possesses knowledge about human affairs:

Now, how in the whole wide world does an ant living in a valley among its own ant community possess knowledge about Solomon and the ability to even recognise the person of Solomon arriving with his army?

This falls short of logic!

Are Osama Abdallah and Harun Yahya gona attempt to convince us that this ant possible was an ant prophet to whom God revealed human affairs? Or do Muslim apologists now claim that the typical city fly on the house wall votes Obama or concerns itself about the Iraq war or the health system?

Watch it, seems like the we have a large crowd of insect witnesses of all sort operating around us that gladly occupy themselves to observe the details and incidents in our daily life (they know of politic, social systems, armies, names of individuals), or what? Yeah, exactly!

Yet this is the very view proposed in the Qur’an.

Probably the particular ant in the Ant Valley had obtained information about Solomon from another ant, who so happened to have a cousin in the city of Jerusalem. Or perhaps the ants in Israel operated under a sophisticated ant network having their own spies located in the king’s palace?

Despite the silliness of such a theory it turns drastically more problematic when we consider the enmity between ant communities. This might suggest that King Solomon himself had personally befriended this particular ant or its community, yet there is no suggestion of this in the text.
I would like Harun Yahay, Osama Abdallah and others to explain either this insect network of information or to provide the evidence that King Solomon personally by relationship was recognised by this ant community.

Both views are absurd and neither of these explains however how the ant community possessed the ability to perceive Solomon and his army.

Furthermore, Solomon in this noisy military parade was somehow able to perceive this sentence concerning his own recognition by the mouth of an ant whose sounds can only be perceived by modern advanced tools.

Are one billion Muslims really failing to see the fairytale nature and origin of this story?

Conclusion: well the Qur’an is a fairytale or at least contains fairytale presented as narrative!

Monday, 10 May 2010

The Qur’an and the miracle of the female talking ant

A number of Islamic proponents have proposed the idea that Sura 27: 18-19 depicturing the prophet Solomon hearing the words of a female ant reveals two clear modern scientific discoveries, which were virtually unheard off prior to Islam and not confirmed until the recent era.

This is the passage:

When they approached the valley of the ants, one ant said, "O you ants, go into your homes, lest you get crushed by Solomon and his soldiers, without perceiving." He smiled and laughed at her statement, and said, "My Lord, direct me to be appreciative of the blessings You have bestowed upon me and my parents, and to do the righteous works that please You. Admit me by Your mercy into the company of Your righteous servants" (Sura 27: 18-19).

Muslim exponents presuppose two miraculous predictions here:

1. The ant can communicate by talking

2. The ant is a female

Both claims are drastically portrayed in this youtube video in a response to the ‘answering-islam’ website:

Lets assess these claims:

Does the Qur’an predict the female nature of worker ants?

That the Qur’an addresses the ant as feminine is accurate, it is also accurate that the worker ants are females. However, contrary to what Muslims believe this idiom is not suggesting that the Qur’an describes a female creature. In a number of languages not only human female and males are referred to by their gender as male or female but entire species and objects are referred to as either male, female or neuter gender. In the Arabic language the ‘ant’ (naml) is simply generic female, it does not indicate natural gender or a biological female or male at least not in its singular and this particular ant is referred to as singular.

For further study read:

This completely debunks and refutes the popular claim that the Qur’an predicts the discovery that worker ants are female.

Does the talking ant predict modern scientific discoveries?

Similar exaggeration is utilized to introduce divine miraculous revelation through the prediction of a talking ant. Solomon supposedly heard an ant warning the ant community to escape into their dwellings do evade Solomon’s proceeding army.

To prove their case Muslims have recently turned to a very recent discovery which involved microphones to detect the communication between ants. The discovery revealed that some ants indeed communicate with sounds.

A Muslim youtube which appears to represent Osama Abdallah’s website ‘answering-Christianity’ praises this discovery:

This particular and very recent discovery which Muslim exponents quote is found here:

Unfortunately for the Muslim the claims are typically exaggerated and the discovery does not effectively render that much support to the Muslim use of the passage.

In the article we read:

‘Professor Thomas said it remained unclear how much the ants relied on sound for language but he suspected that further analysis would reveal a wider vocabulary than had been seen yet. “The most important discovery is that within the ant colony different sounds can provoke different reactions,” he said. “I would be very surprised if we didn't get different types of sound. “It's within the power of the ant to play different tunes by changing the rhythm with which they

Hence, far from what the Qur’an supposes, ants do not talk, they make sounds by rubbing body parts together. The sound might according to professor Thomas ‘provoke different reactions’.

However Thomas also concedes that it still remains unclear to what extent ants rely ‘on sound for language’ and that the variety in sounds is still a matter undiscovered.

Hence contrary to what the Qur’an states an ant cannot by talking vocabulary warn a community of ants about an imminent disaster.

But there is more, lets for a moment presume that the Qur’an actually provides insight into a natural fact that virtually remained unknown until recent times; are when then correct to deem the Qur’an as miraculous in its statement?

Not really!

A pre-Islamic scientific description of much greater details than the Qur’an describes this same ability to ants and appears much closer in word and details to the modern discoveries of Professor Thomas and others.

The text is found in the writings of the Christian philosopher Origen in his polemics and apologetical response to the pagan Celsus in his 'Against Celsus', chapter 84, written in the third century and therefore predates Islam with 350 years; it reads:

And since he asserts that, "when ants die, the survivors set apart a special place (for their interment), and that their ancestral sepulchres such a place is," we have to answer, that the greater the laudations which he heaps upon irrational animals, so much the more does he magnify (although against his will) the work of that reason which arranged all things in order, and points out the skill which exists among men, and which is capable of adorning by its reason even the gifts which are bestowed by nature on the irrational creation. But why do I say "irrational," since Celsus is of opinion that these animals, which, agreeably to the common ideas of all men, are termed irrational, are not really so? Nor does he regard the ants as devoid of reason, who professed to speak of "universal nature," and who boasted of his truthfulness in the inscription of his book. For, speaking of the ants conversing with one another, he uses the following language: "And when they meet one another they enter into conversation, for which reason they never mistake their way; consequently they possess a full endowment of reason, and some common ideas on certain general subjects, and a voice by which they express themselves regarding accidental things."337 Now conversation between one man and another is carried on by means of a voice, which gives expression to the meaning intended, and which also gives utterances concerning what are called "accidental things; "but to say that this was the case with ants would be a most ridiculous assertion.

Notice that Origen in his writings against Celsus 350 years prior to Islam describes a view of his time that ants talk and converse with each other:

For, speaking of the ants conversing with one another, he uses the following language: "And when they meet one another they enter into conversation, for which reason they never mistake their way; consequently they possess a full endowment of reason, and some common ideas on certain general subjects, and a voice by which they express themselves regarding accidental things." Ants were in fact considered unique in the writings of antiquity; in this same passage Origin described them as highly intelligent, possessing gardens, etc. Plato, Aristotle, Pliny and others referred to the ant as a political animal and Aelian the Greek-Roman philosopher ‘noted that ant colonies and ant highways were very much like the famous buildings and roads of Greece and Crete’

While most of these noted that ants communicated by other means rather than sounds, the source of Origen nevertheless reveals that speaking ants was a theory that existed 400 years prior to Muhammad and indeed the effective observation of ants within that era might certainly have led to such a conclusion by a number the thinkers of antiquity.

Yet I am not proposing that Muhammad or another Qur’anic author borrowed straight from Origen or even from an oral tradition deriving from such a source or even that the Qur’anic author had access to Origen’s writings. The Qur’anic description appears much more fairytale-like than then description of Origen and apart from Origen there were indeed tales existing prior to Islam of talking ants.

Hence I am inclined to believe that the author of the Qur’an did not depend upon a Greek Philosophical source.

Here ancient tales fit Islam a much as philosophy, Islam is a religion in which trees bow before prophets and where the dinner on your table has the capability to speak to you and stones possess the ability to steel you possessions. Solomon in Jewish fairytales possessed the ability to communicate with animals, to understand them and even to mobilise them in his battles against human enemies, hence the reason for this story. It reveals nothing of scientific significance but merely the belief that Solomon had extraordinary abilities. Desperate Muslim apologists read far too much into this fairytale.

Osama Abdallah, Haran Yahya and others nevertheless propose that the passage is miraculous in its incredible prediction of modern science; just take Osama Abdallah for example:

Again, the Holy Quran and Islam are 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.

We have already refuted Osama Abdallah here with the writings of Origen. The idea that ants could communicate by sound and speech existed already 400 years prior to Islam.

If Abdallah is correct then Origen’s source was indeed inspired by God some 400 years prior to Islam:

For, speaking of the ants conversing with one another, he uses the following language: "And when they meet one another they enter into conversation, for which reason they never mistake their way; consequently they possess a full endowment of reason, and some common ideas on certain general subjects, and a voice by which they express themselves regarding accidental things.

I am sure that Osama Abdallah will not ascribe such divine honour to the pagan Celsus whom Origen quotes in his writings, as to the Qur’an, despite the fact that Origen provided more insight and details than the Qur’an?

Furthermore, Osama Abdallah also needs to consider the divine inspiration upon pre-Islamic Roman writers and their tales, such as Aesop who wrote the fable ‘The ant and the Grasshopper’:

The Fable reads:

‘The ants were spending a fine winter's day drying grain collected in the summertime. A Grasshopper, perishing with famine, passed by and earnestly begged for a little food. The Ants inquired of him, "Why did you not treasure up food during the summer?' He replied, "I had not leisure enough. I passed the days in singing." They then said in derision: "If you were foolish enough to sing all the summer, you must dance supperless to bed in the winter."’

It is obvious that the Qur’anic description is much more of the same nature as the tale of Aesop rather than that of Origen, yet neither Muslims nor scientists would recognise the tale of Aesop to provide us with anything of scientific nature. Here Muslims might argue that ants deploy the ability to communicate to each other and not to grasshoppers, however Aesop does describe the ants as communicating by language or sounds.

Note here, I am not saying that the author of the Qur’an plagiarized Aesop’s tale, I am pointing out that such tales were common in Muhammad’s time.

So, Harun Yahya and Osama Abdallah, do you guys 1) recognise the source of Origen and Aesop as divinely inspired? 2) Do you still claim that the ability of ants to speak in detailed language (if that should be proven right in future) is a scientific fact unheard of until the rise of Islam?

The above sources do not agree with you and I suggest that since your claims have been debunked and refuted that you remove these particular deceptive articles about the ant from your websites and ones again apologize to the readers you have mislead.