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About the Rain in the Qur'an

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"About the Rain in the Qur'an" is a document by Harun Yahya that purports to show that the Qur'an contains scientific foreknowledge about rain.

The following is a side-by-side rebuttal.

Rebuttal[edit]

"About the Rain in the Qur'an", Harun Yahya:[1] RationalWiki:

The Proportion of Rain[edit]

"Rain is indeed one of the most important factors for like on the earth. Rain is a prerequisite of life in a region. Rain, which carries great importance for all living things including human beings, is mentioned in various verses of the Qur'an where substantial information is given about the formation of rain, its proportion and effects. The level of scientific knowledge required to say, "Hey, rain exists!" is astoundingly low.


The fact that it was not possible for any of this information to have been discovered at the time of the revelation of the Qur'an shows us that the Qur'an is the word of Allah. Now, let us examine the information given in the Qur'an about rain. None of the information Yahya presents is actually in the cited verse of the Qur'an, so it's hard to argue that the Qur'an had foreknowledge of it.


In the eleventh verse of Surah az-Zukhruf [(Qur'an 43:11)], rain is defined as water sent down in due measure. The verse is as follows:

"And He who sends down (from time to time) water from the sky in due measure, and We raise to life therewith a land that is dead. Even so will you be raised (from the dead)." [Al-Qur'an 43:11]

This 'measure' mentioned in the verse has to do with a couple of characteristics of rain.

Full text of Qur'an 43:11 (Pickthall):
And Who sendeth down water from the sky in (due) measure, and We revive a dead land therewith. Even so will ye be brought forth.

Again, it's pretty clear that this verse of the Qur'an is simply stating that Allah sends down rain as he pleases, not any Yahya's "measures".

The verse in question mentions that Allah sends down rain "in due measure". From this alone, it should be clear that "in due measure" is talking about the "justice" or "fairness" of Allah's decisions to send rain where and when He wants, not about the qualities or quantity of rain. The context makes this even more clear. The verse states that rain will bring crops from dead ground and Allah will similarly bring people back to life. This verse isn't about the science of rain - this verse is about showing off Allah's power and trying to make Him seem like a good guy.


First of all, the amount of rain that falls on the earth is always the same. It is estimated that in one second, 16 million tones of water evaporates from the earth. This number is equal to the amount of water that drops on the earth in one second. This means that water continuously circulates in a balanced cycle according to a 'measure'. First, again, this isn't what the Qur'an means by "measure", nor is it stated in the cited verse of the Qur'an, making it quite difficult for this to be scientific foreknowledge. Second, this isn't true. Both precipitationWikipedia's W.svg and evapotranspirationWikipedia's W.svg vary daily, as wind and temperature affect both. Furthermore, the level and intensity of rain is likely to change in the future, causing erosion and drought,[2] due to certain changes in climate in the future.


Another measure related with rain is its falling speed. The minimum altitude of rain clouds is 1,200 meters. When dropped from this height, an object having the same weight and size as a rain drop would continuously accelerate and fall on the ground with a speed of 558 km/h. Certainly, any object that hits the ground with that speed would cause big damage. If rain happened to fall in the same way, all harvested lands would be destroyed, residential areas, houses, and cars would be damaged, people would not be able to walk around without taking necessary precautions. What is more, these calculations are made for clouds of just 1,200 meters high, whereas there are also rain clouds at an altitude of 10,000 meters. A rain drop falling from such height could normally reach a very destructive speed. But that is not how it works; no matter how high they fall, average speed of rain drops is only 8-10 km/h when they reach the ground. The reason for this is the special form they take. This special form increases the friction effect of the atmosphere and prevents acceleration when the rain drops reach a certain speed "limit". (Today parachutes are designed by using this technique.) First, again, this isn't what the Qur'an means by "measure", nor is this stated in the cited verse of the Qur'an, making it hard for this to be scientific foreknowledge. Second, Yahya appears to be making an argument from design. While correct about the fall speed[3] and shape of rain,[4] his argument both fails to recognize the anthropic principle and assumes that the purpose of physics itself is to promote human life. Indeed rain, snow, and other precipitation are sometimes quite destructive. His reasoning is also utterly backwards: the raindrop is in part shaped by atmospheric resistance, it does not self-organise into a "special form" to promote it. Seemingly Yayha also believes the existence of terminal velocity is somehow unusual (since it would, apparently, not 'normally" happen) rather than, say, a phenomenon associated with any body falling in a medium denser than a perfect vacuum, including benelovent and miraculous devices like bombs and artillery shells.


This is not all about the 'measures' of rain. For instance, in the atmospheric layers where it starts to rain, the temperature may fall so low as 400C degrees. Despite this, rain drops never turn into ice particles. (This would certainly mean a fatal death for the living things on the earth. The reason for this is that the water in the atmosphere is pure water. As known, pure water hardly ever freezes even in very low temperatures." First, again, this isn't what the Qur'an means by "measure".

Second, "400C" degrees would make rain into superheated steam, not water.[note 1]

Third, Yahya's claims about the "purity" of water contradict another Qur'anic scientific foreknowledge claim about the fertilizer content of water.

Fourth, It is untrue that pure water "hardly ever freezes". Ice indeed does form high in the atmosphere when it is actually cold. That's called hail and snow, which originates as tiny liquid droplets.[5]


Summary of claim: The Qur'an accurately describes various properties of rain, which would have been unknowable to contemporary science.
Does this statement meet all criteria necessary for Qur'anic scientific foreknowledge?

  1. Is it correct? Yes. Rain has the properties noted by Yahya.
  2. Is it in the Qur'an? No. The Qur'an does not mention any of the properties noted by Yahya.
  3. Is it unambiguous? No. None of the properties noted by Yahya are mentioned in the Qur'an, so they cannot be unambiguous.
  4. Was it outside of contemporary knowledge? Yes. The properties of rain noted by Yahya were outside of contemporary knowledge.
  5. Was it outside of contemporary technology? Yes. The properties of rain noted by Yahya were outside of contemporary technology.

Thus, this statement is not an example of Qur'anic scientific foreknowledge.

The Formation of Rain[edit]

"How rain forms remained a great mystery for people for a long time. Only after air radars were discovered, could it have been possible to learn by which stages rain formed. The formation of rain takes place in three stages: First, the "raw material" of rain rises up in the air. Later, clouds are formed and lastly, rain drops appear. These stages are clearly defined in the Qur'an in which precise information was given about the formation of rain centuries in advance;

"It is Allah Who sends the Winds, and they raise the Clouds: then does He spread them in the sky as He wills, and break them into fragments, until you see rain-drops issue from the midst thereof: then when He has made them reach such of his servants as He wills behold, they do rejoice!" [This is Qur'an 30:48.]

Now, let us look at the three stages mentioned in the verse;

Full text of Qur'an 30:48 (Pickthall):
Allah is He Who sendeth the winds so that they raise clouds, and spreadeth them along the sky as pleaseth Him, and causeth them to break and thou seest the rain downpouring from within them. And when He maketh it to fall on whom He will of His bondmen, lo! they rejoice.

This verse, like much of the Qur'an, is extolling the power of Allah, as he plays with clouds and winds and the deaths of millions through drought. It's hard to argue that this verse seeks to educate humans about the water cycle, when it would be incredibly easy to mention other details, such as transpiration from plants, or groundwater, or an actual description of how water is always recycled, never lost.

Yahya's claim is simply untrue. Humans have known (or, at least hypothesized) about the water cycle for thousands of years, and some prominent ancient Greek and Chinese philosoher-scientists believed that rain was the source of some surface water.[6]


1st Stage: "It is Allah Who sends the winds ... " Countless air bubbles formed by the foaming in the oceans continuously burst and cause water particles to be ejected towards the sky. These particles which are rich in salt, are then carried away by winds and move upwards in the atmosphere.These particles which are called aerosols form clouds by collecting around themselves the water vapor -that again ascends from the seas - as tiny drops, by a mechanism called "water trap". First, the cited Qur'anic verse does not mention ocean foam, water droplets, or a "water trap", unlike what Yahya claims; instead, it merely states that Allah brings winds that raise and spread clouds. Here, the claimed scientific foreknowledge is not in the Qur'an.
Second, drawing on the first point, the knowledge that wind and storms are associated does not require any divine inspiration whatsoever, making it unnecessary for this to be scientific foreknowledge.


2nd Stage : " ... and they raise the Clouds: then does He spread them in the sky as He wills, and break them into fragments ... ["] The clouds form from the water vapor that condenses around the salt crystals or the dust particles in the air. Because the water drops in these are very small (with a diameter between 0.01 and 0.02mm), the clouds are suspended in the air and they spread in the sky. Thus the sky is covered with clouds. First, again, the cited Qur'anic verse does not mention salt crystals, dust particles, or condensation, unlike what Yahya claims; instead, it merely states that Allah raises, spreads, and breaks clouds. Here, the claimed scientific foreknowledge is not in the Qur'an. Second, drawing on the first point, knowledge that wind affects clouds does not require any divine inspiration whatsoever,[note 2] making it unnecessary for this to be scientific foreknowledge.


3rd Stage : " ... until you see rain-drops issue from the midst thereof." Water particles that surround salt crystals and dust particles thicken and form rain drops. So, the drops which become heavier than air depart from the clouds, and start to fall on the ground as rain. First, again, the cited Qur'anic verse does not mention salt crystals, dust particles, or condensation, unlike what Yahya claims; instead, it merely states that raindrops form in clouds. Here, the claimed scientific foreknowledge is not in the Qur'an. Second, drawing on the first point, knowledge that clouds form raindrops, making it unnecessary for this to be scientific foreknowledge.


The conclusion to be arrived here is that; Every stage in the formation of rain is told in the verses of the Qur'an. Furthermore, these stages are explained in the order they take place ... Just like in many other natural phenomena in the world, it is again the Qur'an that provides the most correct explanation about this phenomena as well, and more, that has announced these facts to people centuries before they were discovered by science." It is again that the Qur'an vaguely describes an already-known process and easily-observable facts, helping advance the cause of Science!


Summary of claim: The Qur'an accurately describes the formation of rain droplets, which would have been unknowable to contemporary science.
Does this statement meet all criteria necessary for Qur'anic scientific foreknowledge?

  1. Is it correct? Yes. Rain evapotranspires, condenses, and precipitates.
  2. Is it in the Qur'an? No. The only information given in the cited Qur'anic verse is that the wind affects clouds and that clouds cause rain.
  3. Is it unambiguous? No. The cited Qur'anic verse could easily have specified how and why rain evapotranspires, condenses, and precipitates, but instead chooses to focus solely on the rain.
  4. Was it outside of contemporary knowledge? No. The knowledge that winds affect clouds and that clouds create rain was in contemporary knowledge.
  5. Was it outside of contemporary technology? No. The technology required to understand that winds affect clouds and that clouds create rain is no more advanced than the human eye.

Thus, this statement is not an example of Qur'anic scientific foreknowledge.

Life Given to a Dead Land[edit]

"In the Qur'an, a lot of verses call our attention to a particular function of rain, which is 'giving life to a dead land'. A book mentions rain? Clearly, Goddidit Allahdidit!


It is stated in a verse as:

"We send down pure water from the sky. That with it We may give life to a dead land, and slake the thirst of things We have created, cattle and men in great numbers." [ Al-Qur'an 25:48- 49 ]

In addition to furnishing the earth with water, rain also has a fertilization effect. Rain drops that reach the clouds after being evaporated from the seas, contain certain substances 'that will give life' to a dead land. These 'life-giving' drops are called 'surface tension drops'. Surface tension drops form on the top level of the sea surface which is called the micro layer by biologists. In this layer, which is thinner than one tenth of a millimeter, there are many organic leftovers caused from the pollution of microscopic algaes and zooplanktons.
Qur'an 25:48-49 (Pickthall):
And He it is Who sendeth the winds, glad tidings heralding His mercy, and We send down purifying water from the sky, That We may give life thereby to a dead land, and We give many beasts and men that We have created to drink thereof.

Yahya appears to be correct about the sea surface microlayerWikipedia's W.svg and the fertilizer content of rain,[7][8] even if he overstates their importance.

However, this verse mentions only the joy-causing properties of the breeze and the fact that life dies without water, rather than, say, detailing a layer of microorganisms and organic compounds exists on the top of the ocean which adds life-supplementing nutrients to the rain as it evaporates. A pity.


Some of these leftovers select and collect within themselves some elements which are very rare in sea water such as phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and some heavy metals like copper, zinc, cobalt and lead. These 'fertilizer' laden drops are lifted up into the sky by the winds and after a while they drop on the ground inside the rain drops. Seeds and plants on the earth find numerous metallic salts and elements essential for their growth here in these rain drops. This event is informed in another verse of the Qur'an as follows:

"And We send down from the sky rain chartered with blessing, and We produce therewith gardens and grain for harvests." [ Al-Qur'an 50:9 ]

Salts that fall with rain are small examples of some fertilizers (calcium, magnesium, potassium etc.) used for increasing fertility. The heavy metals found in these types of aerosols, on the other hand, are other elements that increase fertility in the development and production of plants. Forests also develop and are fed with the help of these sea-originated aerosols. In this way, 150 million tons of fertilizer falls on the total surface of lands every year. If there was not a natural fertilization like this, there would be very little vegetation on the earth, and the ecological balance would be damaged.
Qur'an 50:9-11 (Pickthall):
And We send down from the sky blessed water whereby We give growth unto gardens and the grain of crops, And lofty date-palms with ranged clusters, Provision (made) for men; and therewith We quicken a dead land. Even so will be the resurrection of the dead.
This verse focuses on the really difficult idea that "plants die without water", rather than that rain gathers fertilizers from the air by absorbing pollution and through lightning strikes.


What is more interesting is that this truth, which could only be discovered by modern science, was informed by Allah in the Qur'an centuries ago." In neither of the cited verses does the Qur'an even attempt to mention the sea surface microlayer or the fertilizer content of rain. Instead, the Qur'an focuses on the technical detail that water is necessary for the survival of plants and animals. It should further be noted that Yahya's claims about the fertilizer content of rain contradict another Qur'anic scientific foreknowledge claim about the purity of rain.


Summary[edit]

Summary of claim: The Qur'an accurately states that rain contains fertilizer, which would have been unknowable.
Does this statement meet all criteria necessary for Qur'anic foreknowledge?

  1. Is it accurate? Yes. Rain contains fertilizers.
  2. Is it in the Qur'an? No. The Qur'an mentions "blessed rain" and "slaking thirst", not the fertilizer of rain or a sea surface microlayer.
  3. Is it precise and unambiguous? No. The Qur'an mentions "blessed rain" and "slaking thirst", not the fertilizer of rain or a sea surface microlayer.
  4. It must be improbable. A statement cannot be Qur'anic foreknowledge if it reasonably could be the result of a pure guess, because foreknowledge requires a person to actually know something true, while a correct guess doesn't mean that the guesser knows anything. This also excludes contemporary beliefs that happened be true but were believed to be true without solid evidence. TLDR: Lucky guesses don't count.
  5. Was it unknown? Yes. The knowledge that rain contains fertilizers was not present in contemporary Arabian culture.
    Thus, this statement is not an example of Qur'anic foreknowledge.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Seriously, what could posssibly be the intended value? 400 K? Even that's enough to boil water.
  2. Some might say that clouds are too high up to understand whether wind affects them. This seems strange, given that widespread cultures have created storm gods, usually in charge of lighting, rain, and wind. Furthermore, if our example needs to be closer to ground, it's easy enough to understand that fog and clouds are fundamentally the same, and that wind (or even just breathing) affects fog.

References[edit]

  1. Yahya, Harun. "About the Rain in the Qur'an". SunnahOnline.com. 
  2. WATCH. "Global rainfall by decade". Natural Environment Research Council. 
  3. Elert, Glenn (2007). "Speed of a Falling Raindrop". Hypertextbook.com. 
  4. Fraser, Alistair. "Bad Rain". Penn State University, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. 
  5. See the Wikipedia article on Snow § Snowflakes.
  6. See the Wikipedia article on Water cycle § History of hydrologic cycle theory.
  7. Lowenfells, Jeff (8 October 2008). "Blanket of snow is a poor man's fertilizer". Alaska Dispatch News. 
  8. Cook, David (June 2012). "Rain Water vs Ground Water".