Qur'anic scientific errors
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Qur'an scientific errors occur when a verse, approached from a literalist perspective, states something about reality that's fundamentally flawed. Qur'an scientific errors are external errors (errors in relating the Qur'an to the external world), rather than internal errors.
Qur'an scientific errors suggest against Qur'an scientific foreknowledge and Qur'an inerrancy.
- Qur'an 76:2:
- Yusuf Ali: "Verily We created Man from a drop of mingled sperm, in order to try him: So We gave him (the gifts), of Hearing and Sight."
- Arabic: .إِنَّا خَلَقْنَا ٱلْإِنسَٰنَ مِن نُّطْفَةٍ أَمْشَاجٍ نَّبْتَلِيهِ فَجَعَلْنَٰهُ سَمِيعًۢا بَصِيرًا
- Qur'an 86:5-8:
- Yusuf Ali: "Now let man but think from what he is created! He is created from a drop emitted - Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs: Surely (Allah) is able to bring him back (to life)!"
- Arabic: .إِنَّهُۥ عَلَىٰ رَجْعِهِۦ لَقَادِرٌ .يَخْرُجُ مِنۢ بَيْنِ ٱلصُّلْبِ وَٱلتَّرَآئِبِ. خُلِقَ مِن مَّآءٍ دَافِقٍ. فَلْيَنظُرِ ٱلْإِنسَٰنُ مِمَّ خُلِقَ
Here, the assertion is made that semen comes from between the backbone and the ribs. This is false for obvious reasons.
Location of the moon
The Qur'an is explicit about where the stars are:
- "Then He ordained them seven heavens in two Days and inspired in each heaven its mandate; and We decked the nether heaven with lamps, and rendered it inviolable. That is the measuring of the Mighty, the Knower," (Qur'an 41:12).
- "Who hath created seven heavens in harmony [commonly translated as "in layers"]. Thou (Muhammad) canst see no fault in the Beneficent One's creation; then look again: Canst thou see any rifts ? Then look again and yet again, thy sight will return unto thee weakened and made dim. And verily We have beautified the world's heaven [the heaven closest to the Earth] with lamps [also known as "stars"], and We have made them missiles for the devils, and for them We have prepared the doom of flame," (Qur'an 67:3-5).
The Qur'an further explains where the moon is:
- "See ye not how Allah hath created seven heavens in harmony, And hath made the moon a light therein, and made the sun a lamp ?" (Qur'an 71:15-16).
Since the lowest heaven contains the stars, this is a problem. The moon is, at minimum, the same distance from earth as the stars are; at worst, the moon is farther from Earth than the stars. Either way, this is a wildly incorrect statement.
The Qur'an frequently describes the earth as "spread out", often comparing it to a "carpet". Unless you have some kind of freaky 3D carpet, that's pretty flat.
- "And the earth have We spread out, and placed therein firm hills, and caused each seemly thing to grow therein," (Qur'an 15:19).
- "He Who has, made for you the earth like a carpet spread out; has enabled you to go about therein by roads (and channels); and has sent down water from the sky." With it have We produced diverse pairs of plants each separate from the others." (Qur'an 20:53, Yusuf Ali).
- "(Yea, the same that) has made for you the earth (like a carpet) spread out, and has made for you roads (and channels) therein, in order that ye may find guidance (on the way);" (Qur'an 43:10, Yusuf Ali).
- "And the earth — We have spread it out, and set thereon mountains standing firm, and produced therein every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs)" (Qur'an 50:7, Yusuf Ali).
- "And the earth have We laid out, how gracious is the Spreader (thereof)!" (Qur'an 51:48).
- "And Allah has made the earth for you as a carpet (spread out)," (Qur'an 71:19, Yusuf Ali).
- "Have We not made the earth an expanse, And the high hills bulwarks?" (Qur'an 78:7).
- "And after that He spread the earth, And produced therefrom the water thereof and the pasture thereof, And He made fast the hills, A provision for you and for your cattle," (Qur'an 79:30-33).
- "And the earth, how it is spread?" (Qur'an 88:20).
- "And the earth and Him Who spread it, And a soul and Him Who perfected it And inspired it (with conscience of) what is wrong for it and (what is) right for it," (Qur'an 91:6-8).
Sun sets in a muddy spring
The Qur'an states that Alexander the Great traveled to where the sun sets and to where the sun rises. This is impossible on a spherical earth, since there is no specific place where the sun goes "down". Furthermore, the Qur'an states that the sun literally goes into muddy water when it "sets".
- "Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout. We said: O Dhu'l-Qarneyn! Either punish or show them kindness. .... Till, when he reached the rising-place of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had appointed no shelter therefrom." (Qur'an 18:86-90).
Facing the Ka'aba during prayer
“”"We have seen the turning of thy face to heaven (for guidance, O Muhammad). And now verily We shall make thee turn (in prayer) toward a qiblah which is dear to thee. So turn thy face toward the Inviolable Place of Worship, and ye (O Muslims), wheresoever ye may be, turn your faces (when ye pray) toward it. Lo! Those who have received the Scripture know that (this revelation) is the Truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do."
According to the Qur'an, Muslims must pray while facing the Ka'aba. If we interpret "facing the Ka'aba" either as "pointing your front side in the direction of the shortest path to the Ka'aba" or as "pointing your front side in such a way that you would walk directly towards Mecca", then praying while "facing" the Ka'aba is difficult on a spherical earth and much easier on a flat earth. Three examples make this clear:
- First, (top) for any place out of direct sight of the Ka'aba, any prayer that isn't facing into ground will face towards space rather than the Ka'aba.
- Second, (bottom-left) assuming that prayer does follow the curvature of the Earth, even when you "face" the Ka'aba you are blasphemously praying with your face and backside simultaneously aimed at the Ka'aba.
- Third, (bottom-right) assuming that prayer does follow the curvature of the Earth, there is one point exactly opposite the Ka'aba -- Tematangi -- where any direction is "facing" Mecca; consequently, there is no one "correct" direction. Or perhaps all directions are the "correct" one.
However, Muslims have pointed out that this interpretation -- that Muslims must pray in a direct line to the Ka'aba -- is a bit of a stretch. If you're asked to face a particular direction on earth, it's commonly understood (then, as now) as the shortest distance via travel on the Earth's surface. Moreover, there's nothing in the Qur'an that implies that "facing" means a direct line through the Earth, or anything similarly far-fetched.
The sky is solid
Numerous Qur'an verses state or imply that the sky is solid:
- "Then He ordained them seven heavens in two Days and inspired in each heaven its mandate; and We decked the nether heaven with lamps, and rendered it inviolable. That is the measuring of the Mighty, the Knower," (Qur'an 41:12). This verse implies that the "nether heaven" is impenetrable.
- "Who hath created seven heavens in harmony. Thou (Muhammad) canst see no fault in the Beneficent One's creation; then look again: Canst thou see any rifts ?" (Qur'an 67:3). This verse implies that there are no holes or cracks in the heavens; it's impossible for space to have holes or cracks (in the classical sense), unless space is solid, like a dome over the Earth.
- "And We have built above you seven strong (heavens), And have made (therein) a shining lamp (sun)," (Qur'an 78:12-13). This verse states that the heavens are strong; it is difficult for "nothing" to be strong. Perhaps, instead, the Qur'an heavens are actually physical objects.
- "See they not what is before them and behind them, of the sky and the earth? If We wished, We could cause the earth to swallow them up, or cause a piece of the sky to fall upon them. Verily in this is a Sign for every devotee that turns to Allah (in repentance)." (Qur'an 34:6-12). It is impossible for a piece of he sky to fall and hit someone unless the sky is solid.
This is despite claims that the Qur'an predicts space travel.
Horses were created for transportation
The Qur'an claims that horses were created specifically for transportation. However, the earliest evidence for the domestication of horses dates back to around 3500 BCE by early groups such as the Botai, who most likely hunted them for meat and continued to use them for meat and milk, and the earliest evidence for the usage of horses as a method of transportation dates back to around 2000 BCE from possible chariot burials. Also, there are two subspecies of horses that were not domesticated (Equus ferus ferus and Equus ferus przewalskii). (Qur'an 16:8)
- Biblical scientific errors
- RationalWiki:Annotated Qur'an
- Qur'an scientific foreknowledge
- Qur'an contradictions
- List of actions prohibited by the Qur'an
- "Scientific Errors in the Qur'an" by WikiIslam
- "Erroneous Science and Contradictions in the Quran" by Syed Mirza
- "Predicting Modern Science: Epicurus vs. Mohammed" by Richard Carrier
- "Flat Earth and the Qur'an", WikiIslam
- Apparently there's some debate over which is the "correct" view.
- Ancient DNA Study Pokes Holes in Horse Domestication Theory, National Geographic, May 9, 2018
- See the Wikipedia article on Domestication of the horse.