Almost all christian apologists, when confronted with scientific miracles in the Qur'an, try to belittle those, or dismiss them as "interpretations". Some even go as far as to simply refuse to consider them as having anything to do with science.
A typical response from a christian apologist to verse 30 of Chapter 21 for example is this: "That doesn't say anything about the Big Bang, it only says earth and heavens were together". Well, let us see what does the verse indeed say:
Now, to me, this pretty much sounds like Big Bang. It clearly states that the universe (yes, the Universe, since when God says "Heavens and Earth", throughout the Qur'an, it always means universe, see e.g. a note to 42;29,Muhammad Asad) at one point was a singularity, then God caused it to explode, in the process creating stars, galaxies and planets, including earth. The word which is translated here as "joined together" is actually, in the original, the word رَتْقًا which means "fused and inseparable".
How would YOU in ONE verse explain the theory of Big Bang, understandable to the arabs of the seventh century AND at the same time sofisticated enough to be recognized as the Big Bang theory from the modern society? The beauty of Qur'an is that it does just that. While the ancient arab simply understood this as earth and the heavens at one time being joined as one, the modern sceintist sees in it the perfect example of the theory of Big Bang. Even the words used in the verse are PERFECTLY chosen to fulfill the meaning in every way - finding the balance in this kind of description is very hard, since, if you color it too much with symbols (to try and explain it to ancient people), it might get too "mythical" and won't be recognized as a scientific statement. On the other hand, if you "scientify" it too much - it would sound totally absurd to ancient people. It's like trying to explain the M-Theory to children.
The absurd claim that the author of the above verse, and as such the creator of this sofisticated double-explanation is Muhammad and not God, gets even more absurd when you consider the fact that this would mean that Muhammad, the unlettered Prophet, was familiar with Big Bang and quantum singularity theories. Since christians of course do not want to say that Muhammad was indeed a Prophet of God, thus making the Qur'an a genuine Revelation from God, and on the other hand they also do not want to say that Muhammad knew quantum mechanics and particle physics, they then apply their "twisting techniques" - trying to imply that the verses like the one in discussion are in fact not saying what they're saying, but that the meaning is only "re-interpreted" by muslims to make them sound scientific. Aha. OK.
This reminds me of a debate between Dr. Zakir Naik and Dr. William Campbell: When Zakir Naik presents his case from embriology in Qur'an and the perfect description of Alaqa - the leach-like look of the embryo at the early stage of development - precisely as described in the Qur'an - Dr. Campbell, shamelessly "refutes" this by showing a picture of the embryo FROM ANOTHER ANGLE with the words "Look, it does not look like a leach at all!". His humiliation, when exposed by Dr. Naik, is a classic in YouTube. This, just as an example, at what lengths will Christian apologists go to try and refute Islam.
In general, if you bring a single verse from Qur'an, a christian apologist will bombard you with words, twisting them, talking around the bush, words, words, words. This is even worse if you dare to refute any christian claim, like the belief in Trinity. You can be sure of one thing, they will talk so much and say so little. At the end of their apology you won't really be any smarter. This is because their case is weak, and they know it, so they try to present it as strong by "making much noise". It is like in a public discussion, the loudest among the speakers will be the one with the weakest case. In Qur'an there is a parable about this:
Showing the ignorance of some christian apologists is also their attempt to refute another qur'anic verse, which deals with the expansion of the universe. The verse reads:
In this case, totally ignoring the fact that one can not rely 100% on any translation of the Qur'an without consulting at least a good dictionary and knowing classical arabic semantics, they take one translation of the verse (e.g. from Yusuf Ali, where the verse is translated slightly differently) and boast: "See, it says nothing about expanding universe! It only says the space is wast. Well, anyone can see THAT."
As Muhammad Assad in the note to this verse says, the phrase "inna la-musi’un" clearly foreshadows the modern notion of the "expanding universe". I can give you for example the albanian version of this verse:
Ne, me forcën tonë e ngritëm qiellin dhe Ne e zgjërojmë atë.
Direct translation of this would be: "We, with power, built the sky, and we are expanding it."
Yet, christian apologists still try to refute this and belittle its significance. Interestingly enough they don't do that with statements in the bible that might be seen as scientific facts. Talk of double standards ...
Anyway, the reason why they "refute" this is, as I said, they pick one (english) translation, e.g. by Yusuf Ali, where, instead of "we are expanding it" it says "we create the vastness of space", without consulting others or the original. Now, why are there different translations anyway?
An excellent explanation of this offered Dr. Zaid Ghazzawi in his video Presentation "Why is the Qur'an in arabic?": Ghazzawi argues that in order to convey as much information as possible in a relatively small book, you would have to compress that information. The arabic language is perfect for this, since one word can have 20 or more meanings. If Qur'an was revealed in english for example, the Sura Al-Ikhlas would not be 15 words long, as it is, rather it would be up to 300 words long! That means Qur'an would not be handy and approachable anymore, since it would be comprised of tomes and tomes of hundreds of thousands of pages.
Having this in mind, we can understand why are there different translations of the words "inna la-musi'un". The base word there is musi' which means: expanded, rich, spacious, vast, wide. Since it is in the active form however (God is applying action on something), then the word musi'un means: to make rich, to make vast, to make wide, to expand. We can analyze this even deeper, if one might say we are making it rich does not mean we are expanding it. OK, think about it: what does making rich mean actually? If you had 10 gold coins, and I give you another 10 every day - i am making you rich - so, after one year you will end up having thousands of gold coins and a huge pile of them in your living room. Logically, the smal pile has become bigger. It expanded.
The beauty of Allah's word is that this one word (musi'un) not only can mean any of the words it means, it can also mean all of those words simultaneously! After applying this, the english translation of the verse could look something like this:
And it is We who have built the universe with power; and, verily, it is We who are steadily expanding it, making it rich, making it wide, making it vast, broadening it, making it spacious.
To convey all of this, the Qur'an uses a single word.
Let us however land our spaceship, and look if there is something here on earth, scientifically interesting, which we can find mentioned in the Qur'an 1400 years ago.
Since the matter of embriology has been discussed so many times, I won't discuss it here further. Instead I would like to draw your attention to the following verses:
Imagine yourself in Saudi Arabia, let's say somewhere around the year 630. And you hear Muhammad recite these verses. Would you not think something like this: "What is that all about?!" Why does God need to stress that he can make whole the finger tips of a person. I mean, shouldn't he impress people by saying that he can even recreate a persons brain or his heart? That is surely more complicated than a mere piece of skin on his fingers!
What might have sounded as unimportant to people in the 7th century, is very much important today. As you know, the fingerprints of a person, any of the 6+ billion people on earth right now, and any person that has EVER LIVED on earth, are UNIQUE. There are no two persons with identical fingerprints. By stating that he can even recreate his finger tips, GOd is emphasizing that not only will he resurrect everybody, but he will even resurrect everyone with his unique original personal identity. This is the one reason for this verse, and the other of course is to be another proof of the divine origin of Qur'an, since there was no one in the 7th century who knew the importance of the fingerprints.
I would really like to see Christian apologists refute this one. But please, don't use your twisting techniques. Very simple: Just tell us how could Muhammad, if he was the author of the Qur'an, have possibly known about the significance of fingerprints?
(articles series continues)
Notes1. Qur'an, 47:24 [back]
2. In particle physics, string theory is a theory that attempts to merge quantum mechanics with Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. The name string theory comes from the modeling of subatomic particles as tiny one-dimensional "stringlike" entities rather than the more conventional approach in which they are modeled as zero-dimensional point particles.
Edward Witten of the Institute for Advanced Study, building on contributions of many other physicists, proposed a new set of techniques that refined the approximate equations on which all work in string theory had so far been based. These techniques helped reveal a number of new features of string theory. Most dramatically, these more exact equations showed that string theory has not six but seven extra spatial dimensions; the more exact equations also revealed ingredients in string theory besides strings - membranelike objects of various dimensions, collectively called branes. Finally, the new techniques established that various versions of string theory developed over the preceding decades were essentially all the same. Theorists call this unification of formerly distinct string theories by a new name, M-theory, with the meaning of M being deferred until the theory is more fully understood. "String theory" Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 24 Jul. 2009 [back]
3. The word Alaqa is to be found in the very first verses revealed to Muhammad from God, which read as follows: "Read, in the name of thy Lord who createth. Createth man from Alaqa (a clot, somethings that clings).", Qur'an 96:1-2 [back]
4. Qur'an, 31:19 [back]
5. Ibid, 51:47 [back]
6. Dr. Zaid Ghazawi, "Why is the Qur'an in arabic?", 2009 [back]
7. Qur'an, 75:3-4 [back]