Chapter 3 : "Avoiding the Mistakes of Genesis"
Shabir attempts to discredit the reliability of the Genesis account of creation with the most shallow argumentation we have ever seen. In fact, the very criticism Shabir applies to the Holy Bible actually can be used against the Quran and Muhammad with much greater impact. We proceed into the arguments set forth by Mr. Ally.
As we saw in chapter 2, both the Qur'an and modern science confirm that the heavens and the earth were created simultaneously, having been separated from a primary nebula. It is important to understand that the Bible, the most famous record of the creation prior to the Qur'an gives a sequence for the creation of the heavens and the earth that is today found unacceptable from a scientific standpoint. If the Qur'an was the work of human beings it is difficult to imagine how they could have avoided the human errors so firmly fixed in the minds of people from the previous records.
Actually, the Quran contains gross errors of scientific fact that leads us to conclude that it could only be the work of an ignorant human being. What Shabir and Bucaille have done is ignore the earliest Muslim exegesis of Quranic passages, interpreting them in such a way as to make these passages compatible with modern scientific theories.
In the Bible, in Genesis, chapter 1, we read that God created light which He called day, and separated it from the darkness which He called night (see v. 3). Today we know that the alternation of day and night is caused by the earth's movement in relation to the sun. But, according to Genesis, the sun was not created until the fourth day (see v. 16). So how could day and night alternate before that
The fact is that it is Shabir's misinterpretation of the Holy Bible that leads him to assume that the Genesis account is in error. Shabir must first assume that Genesis 1:16 clearly teaches that the sun and moon were created on the fourth day. Yet, another valid interpretation of the Hebrew text is that the sun and constellations were only made visible upon the earth on the fourth day.
This is based primarily on the Hebrew word for "made" which is asah. The word asah occurs 1,200 times in the Old Testament and has a wide variety of meanings, some of which include: did, made, show, appear, made to appear, etc. In light of this fact, the possible meaning of Genesis 1:16 is that God made the sun and moon to appear on the fourth day, whereas 1:3 refers to their actual creation of the sun.
A related problem is that vegetation is created on the third day (see vv. 11-12) whereas the sun which is necessary for sustaining vegetation does not appear until the fourth day.
"What is totally untenable" says Dr. Bucaille, "is that a highly organized vegetable kingdom with reproduction by seed could have appeared before the existence of the sun" (The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, p. 42).
In actuality it is the Quran and Muhammad, not the Bible, that claim that the sun and moon were created only after vegetation had already appeared on the earth.
Sahih Muslim, Chapter MCLV, The beginning of creation and the creation of Adam,
"Abu Huraira reported that Allah's Messenger (mpbuh) took hold of my hands and said: Allah the Exalted and Glorious, created the clay on Saturday and He created the mountains on Sunday and He created the trees on Monday and He created the things entailing labour on Tuesday and created light on Wednesday and He caused animals to spread on Thursday and created Adam (pbuh) after 'Asr on Friday; the last creation at the last hour of the hours of Friday, ie. Between afternoon and night."
Muhammad states that vegetation preceded the formation of light, i.e. the sun. It must be emphasized that Sahih Muslim is considered the second most reliable source of hadith collections. Hence, to brush aside this hadith basically means that Shabir must denounce the entire collection of hadiths. This is something that he, as a Sunni Muslim, cannot do.
The following traditions are taken entirely from The History of al-Tabari, Volume 1- General Introduction and from the Creation to the Flood (trans. Franz Rosenthal, State University of New York Press, Albany 1989), pp. 187-193:
According to this tradition from Ibn Abbas, Muhammad believed the earth and everything within it was created on the first four days whereas the heavens and the constellations were created afterwards on Thursday and Friday. Hence, Muhammad believed that vegetation was created nearly two days before the sun was even formed.
Once again we have "food", i.e. vegetation, appearing on Wednesday with the sun being created on Friday.
Al-Tabari then comments:
Tabari is honest enough to state that both the Quran and Muhammad's interpretation of it clearly place the sun after the earth and its nourishment had already been made.
Finally, in light of what was stated earlier about asah and its significance on the meaning of Genesis 1:16, here are Dr. Robert C. Newman's (B.S. summa cum laude in Physics [Duke University, 1963], Ph.D. in Theoretical Astrophysics [Cornell University, 1967]) comments:
"If this is the proper understanding of Genesis 1:14-19, then the sequence of the Genesis account is striking indeed. The author has delayed mentioning one important aspect of the physical environment - the final clearing and preparation of the atmosphere in its present breathable form - until after he has mentioned the plants. From a literary point of view, this event appears to be out of order, as the rest of the Genesis account would lead us to expect that the preparation of the physical environment would be concluded before the creation of life begins. Instead the creation of plants is before the appearance of the heavenly bodies. Yet according to our scientific model, vegetation was the immediate cause of both the oxygenation of the atmosphere and the removal of its heavy cloud cover!" (John Warwick Montgomery, ed. Evidence For Faith [World Publishing, 1986], pp.108-109)
Hence, far from being unscientific the Genesis account can be viewed in light of modern scientific theories with remarkable accuracy. This is not true for the Quran since Muhammad's understanding of the very passages alluded by Shabir is grossly in error.
We have already seen that the Qur'an states, and modern science confirms, that the heavens and the earth were formed together.
Dr. Bucaille explains as follows:
We have discovered the exact opposite of what Shabir asserts, since Muhammad clearly believed that the sun and moon were created after the earth had already been fashioned.
By giving a sequence in which the sun and moon are created after the creation of the earth, the Genesis account proves erroneous. On the other hand, the Qur'an, by speaking of the simultaneous creation of the heavens and the earth, has judiciously avoided the errors of the Genesis account.
Actually, we already have demonstrated that it is Ally's misinterpretation of the Bible that leads him to this erroneous conclusion. Furthermore, we have also demonstrated that it is the Quran as explained by his prophet that has the formation of the earth preceding that of the sun and moon. Hence, it is the Holy Bible that has avoided the gross mistakes made by the Quran and Muhammad.
Could the Qur'an have been authored by a human? No! Dr. Bucaille asks:
"How could a man living fourteen hundred years ago have made corrections to the existing description to such an extent that he eliminated scientifically inaccurate material and, on his own initiative, made statements that science has only in the present day been able to verify?" (p.151).
We in turn must ask, How could a document that preceded the Quran by nearly 2,000 years avoid the gross errors contained within the latter? Furthermore, if the Quran is God's word and Muhammad is his prophet how is it that Muhammad's interpretation of the Quran is inconsistent with what we know today of the origin of the universe? Do we attribute such errors to God? If not, would this not prove that Muhammad is not a prophet? We leave these questions for Shabir to answer.
In summary, we like to emphasize that scientific accuracy does not prove inspiration. Rather, we believe that for a book to claim to be the word of God it must contain no factual errors. In this aspect, the Holy Bible outshines all other religious textbooks combined, including the Quran with all its gross errors of fact.
Responses to "Islamic Information"
Answering Islam Home Page