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.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The 'Ant' in the Bible and the Qur'an: A Dialogue Between Hogan Elijah Hagbard and Ayaz

This thread includes an email dialogue between Ayaz and myself. Ayaz and myself engaged in public debate some years ago about the Bible and the Qur’an. We are currently contemplating an imminent debate God willing in the month of October this year

While we have discussed the arrangements I began to ask him about Sura 27: 18-19, challenging Ayaz to explain the capability of an ordinary ant to perceive the person, name and position of king Solomon. This thread contains our dialogue up to this point.

I have asked Ayaz for his permission to post our dialogue here, and hopefully our dialogue can proceed on this thread and blog.

Date: Tue, 6 Jul 2010 16:37

Hogan wrote:

One question, how do you explain the speaking ant in the Qur'an? How did it recognise Solomon? If an ant possess insight into human affairs does this mean that the fly on the wall votes Labour or Conservative?

I wrote two small articles about this on the and my own blog on the Qur'an and science:
Unfortunately, Muslims have not been to keen to respond, I fully understand that!

Keep in mind, I am not saying that God cannot make an ant talk or provide the ability to a prophet to understand the communication of an ant, yet what puzzles me here is the idea that a simply ant perceives human affairs and human politic, such as a specific royalty.

Date: Tue, 6 July, 2010 17:28

Ayaz wrote:

Do you belive in MIRACLES?or do ure MIRACLES have to be based on scientific proof?

Date: Tue, 6 Jul 2010 18:06

Hogan wrote:

I think you misunderstand my point here! I don't see how an ant perceiving the King Solomon is based upon a miracle. If Solomon with miraculous ears indeed understood the ant, yeah that would constitute a miracle, but nothing suggests that the ant perceiving Solomon and his royalty was a miracle. Either the ant was divinely inspired (a prophet ant) or the story is a fairytale.

Date: Tue, 6 July, 2010 18:11

Ayaz wrote:

Do you think ants communicate with eachother as Sura Namel istigates?

Date: Tue, 6 Jul 2010 18:53

Hogan replies:

We know today that ants do communicate with smell and even with sounds. However, if you think of the Qur'anic view in which an ant talks, this was an idea that existed prior to Islam.

For example it is recorded in the writings of the third century Church Father Origen (among others), in his quotation of Celsus that ants communicated effectively and in great details by language.

Scientists realise that some ants may communicate by sound, but not a language. However, if the Qur'anic assumption is accurate it only presents data that existed prior to Islam.

However, my question related to a very different matter. I asked how an ordinary ant possessed the ability to perceive a specific human person, both his name and status? What do you have to say about that?

Date: Wed, 7 July, 2010 13:18

Ayaz wrote:

Hi Hogan, it seems you have mis understood the Quranic verse of Sura Namel. I will try to explain the words that the ant uttered in the Holy Quran and try connect that with the new scientific discoveries made.

At length, when they came to a (lowly) valley of ants,one of the ants said: ''O ye ants,get into your habitations,lest Solomon and his hosts break you(under foot without knowing it)''.
Quran 27:18

The ANT reported the imminent danger facing them through four succesive stages as follows :
(1) O ye ants - This is the first alarm given by the ant to draw the attention of the other ants quickly. On recieving this alarm signal the other ants stand alert to recieve the other signals that the same speaker ant will give.
(2) Get into your habitations - Here the speaker ant follows HER words up with another signal, ordering the ants to do what they ought to do.
(3)Lest Solomon and his hosts break you - In these words the speaker ant shows reasons for this danger to her fellow ants.
(4)Without knowing it - The ants, as a reaction to the previous signals, will make a certain kind of defence, the ant shows her fellow ants that they do not need to attack the source of danger, because the source of danger is not from a real enemy.

Lets see what science has just discovered.

Four stages of Danger

Origen never mentioned the FOUR STAGES, he only said ANTS COMMUNICATE. WOW what a comparrison you gave lol.

Now lets see what the BIBLE says about ANTS:
The Ants in the Bible

Ants are mentioned twice in the Bible.

Proverb 6:6-8

6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!
7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler,
8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.

Proverbs 30:24-25 (King James Version)

24There be four things which are little (smallest) upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:
25The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat (food) in the summer;
Ants are creatures of little strength
Ants are a people not strong

In the Bible the only characters that match the science are the wisdom of the Ants and their ability to word hard.
However, the Bible says that Ants have no commander, no overseer or ruler which is not scientifically true because the Ants have commander, overseer and ruler.
Also, the Bible says that the Ants are not strong which is not scientifically correct because the Ants can carry up to 50 times their weight.
How come that a weight lifter who is capable to carry up to 50 times his weight is considered NOT STRONG?

Wed, 7 Jul 2010 16:08

Hogan replies:

This information on ‘four stages’ I have read fully on the website of Osama Abdallah.

Before you lol at my reference to Origen make sure to read what Origen actually writes; Celsus did not state that ants just communicate, he described what you find in the Qur’an in a much deeper and wider scientific language:

'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’

Celsus states here that: 1) ants are not devoid of reason; 2) that they converse with one another; 3) that ants meet together to converse which each other; 4) and because of this they never mistake their way 5) and finally that they express themselves about accidental things.

Thus is not a weak comparison it stresses the point much further than the Qur’an and it includes your so called ‘for stages’ and even more.

Hence even if the Qur’an is accurate about ant communication the Qur’an is not presenting anything miraculous of origin, since these ideas seemed to flourish prior to Islam, even among the pagan worshippers.

Let’s look at your claim that the Bible wrongly describes individual ants as physically weak. The Biblical passage you are quoting says:

24There be four things which are little (smallest) upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:
25The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat (food) in the summer;
Ants are creatures of little strength Ants are a people not strong
(Proverbs 30:24-25)

I find it funny that you even misunderstand and hence misinterpret an English translation.

Firstly, the statement that ‘ants are a people not strong’ does not refer to individual ants but the ants as a community.

The Hebrew word for ‘people’ is ‘am’ which means nation or tribe. Hence because of their size compared other species, ants constitute a weak society.

This has nothing to do with their individual physical strength but the strength of the ant community as compared to stronger physical community, which also lies in the word ‘strong’ in Hebrew ‘az’ which refers much more to the strength and power of a nation than that of an individual’s physical strength.

Furthermore, the passage you quoted states that ants are exceedingly wise, that is by observation scientifically true and something that has fascinated researchers for the last 2500 years.

As to your second passage from the book of Proverbs you commit similar errors. The passage you are quoting says:

6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! 7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler (Proverb 6:6-8).

You somehow assume that Solomon is rejecting the fact that ants have a queen or that younger ants may learn from each other, but this is not what the passage is advocating.

Firstly, the word ‘commander’, which in Hebrew is ‘Mashiach’ refers particularly to a general or a commander who guides the army in battle. While it is true that younger ants learn from the older, there is virtually no scientific evidence that ants have a military commander, or an official that literally controls their work to make sure that each and every ant actually works.

Furthermore, the word ‘overseer’ (in Hebrew Shoter) refers to a magistrate, basically an administrator. Again, as I stated: younger ants may learn from older, but there is no evidence that ants utilize ant offices, possess records of their store rooms, keep complain offices or communication offices, or anything like it. There is basically no ant administration similar to a human administration in a human work culture and environment.

Finally, the word ‘ruler’ (in Hebrew: Mashal) is not a direct reference to a king or a queen, as many Muslims assume when they read this passage. On the contrary ‘Mashal’ is simply a reference to authority. This is quite a contrast to the typical Muslim assumption, even though ants have a queen over them, the ant queen does not rule over its community like a typical human king utilizing a oppressive authority. The relationship between the queen and the ants are not the same as that of a typical human relationship to a ruling body or king.

Hence far from your claim about Biblical inaccuracy, the Bible at this point is everything but inaccurate.

Yet I would like to challenge you, once again, to educate me on the ability of the ant to perceive the person Solomon and his political status.

UPDATE: ...................................................................................................................................

Ayaz wrote this reply to me on the 7th July, unfortunately, I only received part of his rebuttal, but I will post it as it comes. I have conferred with Ayaz to respond to me on the comment section of this thread; that would be the easiest.

Date: July 7, 2010:

Ayaz wrote:

...ok let me reply to your rebutal on (1) Origen's writings Celsus that they contain greater scientific miracle on the Ants than Quran and (2) Educating you and christians alike Sam shamoun and David Wood etc on this miracle. my previous reply to you I stated Origen only STATES ANT COMMUNICATE on a basic converse level.

You then quite cleverly stated 5 points (1) Ants are not devoid by any reason(2)that they converse with one another(3) the ants meet together and coverse *points 2 and 3 are identical (4)Because of this they never mistake there way(5)they express themselves about accidental things..

All you have done is prove my point that Origen stated Ants communicate and then you build a straw man and say SEE ORIGEN NEW THIS BEFORE THE QURAN.Firstly whether Origen knew ants communciate before the revelation of the Qur

Date 10 July, 2010

Hogan replies:

Let me first say there is no point educating Sam Shamoun and David Wood on Islam, both brothers of mine, possess more knowledge about Islam than most Islamic apologists and even present Islam more accurately according to the Islamic sources.

In sharp contrast to your conclusion that I somehow have confirmed your point, notice the depth of my point. Your statement based upon Osama Abdalla's website states that the passage is a miracle because ants simply communicate and are able to perceive each other's communication, that is exactly what I already pointed out and what the text of Origen concluded. What you are doing here is attacking a strawman, claiming that you have effectively refuted the argument, while in fact you have merely attempted to present a case that is already absorbed by the source that I already utilized.

Let me clarify this.

Your argument includes for stages in an act of communication: 1) the ant is able to rise alarm, 2) which prepares the ants for further information, 3) then the ants prepare themselves for the information and 4) finally obey the information.

Unfortunately I am not very impressed by this argument at all! Furthermore, lets adduce from Origen if these four stages are not effectively absorbed by Celsus' description of ant communication.

Celsus stated that ants possess reason, this would already be sufficient evidence that Celsus believed ants possessed basic understanding. Point 2 and 3 are also vital and they are not entirely identical as you assume. Celsus points out that ants actually meet together to communicate. This suggests that ants possess the ability to communicate with each other about matters of concern. The claim that ants can meet together in a organised framework presents much more ability to reason than ants who simply pay attention to a signal, many animals and insects do that. Furthermore Celsus pointed out that ants hardly failed due to their ability to communicate (by language) and finally they adapt these stages in their communication about accidental matters. Hence Celsus describes ants as much more effective in their communication skills and stages than the Qur'an.


  1. The fact that uninspired works of literature that predate the Quran contain scientific foreknowledge really weakens "scientific miracle" arguments used to support the claim that the Quran (or any holy book) is divinely inspired, in my opinion. I find it odd that these types of arguments are thought by Muslims to hold so much weight.

    Great debate so far =)

  2. its desperation bro, pure desparation

  3. Bro. Hogan, I have been wondering if the Quranic account is true how can an ant know the name and status of Solomon. I am also wondering what is the moral or lesson of this account in the Quran. Let's see if Ayaz or any other Muslim can explain without confirming the fact that the Quran does contain fables.

  4. Solomon(pbuh) was the greatest powerful King of the World, his fame was spreaded in the World in that time, not only in Human but also in other creature. So the Ants knew the name of Solomon (pbuh) before looking up his force.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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