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There are often claims (such as those seen here) of scientific mistakes and inaccuracies in the Qur'an. While I agree that many errors in that list are silly and might just be misinterpretations, some of them are harder to explain; especially those that are astronomical and biological in nature (many of these mistakes are shared with the Bible). Since Islam considers the Qur'an to be ipsissima verba of Allah, this suggests that Allah has somehow made mistakes and since Islam (as well as other Abrahamic religions) considers Him to be omnipotent, this can be seen as a serious problem.

Where do Muslims stand on this matter? For example, it is well-known in Christian history that the Church outright opposed the Heliocentric model of our solar system up until 1757, despite the scientific evidence to support it. However, even this isn't as weighty as it would be for Islam since the Bible isn't generally considered the literal word of God.

So, my question: If any scientific claims appear incompatible with the Qur'an, are Muslims required to reject them? Or can they accept the idea that the Qur'an itself may have its shortcomings?

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wikiislam.net/wiki/… seems to be pretty specific. Organisms are not always created in pair. Many species have only female speciments and reproduce through parthenogenesis. –  Jim Thio Jan 6 at 7:01

4 Answers 4

Whenever a person makes a scientific claim that contradicts the Quran, then only 2 things are possible:

  1. Either the Scientific information is incomplete, misleading, inaccurate.
  2. Or the Quran has been misunderstood by the person.

Yes, humanity is encouraged to question whether or not the Quran is the word of God. But for those of us who have already accepted this revelation to be the word of God, believe without doubt that the Quran does not have any mistakes. For if someone were to suggest that The Creator of all that is has made a mistake, has in fact reached the pinnacle of arrogance. It would be analogous to Satan's character who thought God had made a mistake when Adam was appointed.

...and he (Satan) said, "I am better than him: You created me from fire and him from clay." God said, "Get down from here! This is no place for your arrogance."

Quran; Surah 7: 12-13

One should also be very careful when accepting any absolute statements derived purely from science, because the very nature of scientific discoveries is never concrete, rather they are continuously changing. (If you disagree with this, you have not studied the history of science).

"In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable... "

-Karl Popper

We also live in a time, where many hasty scientific conclusions are being made from superficial tests that are in no way exhaustive. Some tests are specifically designed in order to protect corporate interests, such as the tobacco companies that manipulate science in their favor. Other tests are used to encourage the modern passions of people, like the ever-changing benefits & harms of alcohol as shown by this Google-search list of contradictory articles

As Muslims we should never reject science, but also we need to understand the limits of the scientific method and we should never be mislead by someone else's wrong conclusions.

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This answer isn't bad but it really needs some authoritative references for those claims upon which the whole post relies (especially the first two paragraphs). –  goldPseudo Dec 17 '12 at 16:08
    
You started off extremely well with the first sentence and beginning of the 2nd paragraph, but after that you slipped into bias too. +1 however for actually answering my question, unlike the other answers. –  JohnPhteven Dec 17 '12 at 16:17
    
@Truth I would invite you over to Christianity.SE to check the truth of your claim that Christians have no history of open-mindedness. I'm pretty conservative - very conservative actually, but nobody has gotten away with calling me close-minded. –  Affable Geek Dec 20 '12 at 7:52
    
re-edited response with references –  Truth May 6 '13 at 23:24

Ishaq Kindy was an Arab philosopher at the time of Imam Askari --peace be upon him, he wrote a book under the title of Paradoxes in Quran. Once one of his students came to Imam Askari --peace be upon him-- and Imam complained why there is no one among the students of Ishaq kindy who would answer back his tutor's propositions. The student answered "because he is our tutor and we cannot oppose his statements". Imam asked then if they can induce a meaning instead to their tutor? The student answered "yes"! So Imam taught the student to first get close to his tutor by being kind and respectful, then in a good opportunity to ask him a question, that if it is possible that someone says something and the hearer understand something else? Imam told the student that his tutor will answer: "yes it is possible", then he can further continue asking about Quran if it is possible that God has intended meanings different than those the tutor has understood? And that as Ishaq was a smart man he would get the point. This was done and Ishaq understood his fault and finally he burned his book in fire. See here for references.

I took a glance over the page you have linked in your question, some of them were more than obvious to be wrong and fallacy but some needs thinking more deeply and there is always a probability that none of us in Islam.SE and even many scholars at the time cannot answer a question, but of course that's no proof for the question having no answer! I only grab your attention to the very fact that the Experimental Sciences --including physics, chemistry, biology and most others-- cannot prove any theory to be right but only those things that they have proved based on thought experiments, which are very few in numbers and negligible in overall. That is because of the very logical statement that a theory cannot be proved even though infinitely many examples are found to approve the idea, but the idea can be rejected simply through one singe contradiction. Also note that the uncertainty principle --which is not correct from the Islamic point of view in general but only about the sensation based experiments-- prevents the scientists from confirming that a discovered contradicting example is indeed a contradiction! Thus, the contradiction will be certainly confirmed only if it is intellectual, again like in thought experiments.

Therefore, as a general answer to a general question we do believe that there is no mistake in Quran as it is a book revealed by the only God, the one who has created you and your parents from whom you have started to learn, the one who has created all those scientists who have raised such issues as the mistakes of God (funny but sad), the one who has created the science itself that if scientists are scientists for their discovering the fact about stars and galaxies and wild life and physics of body and fluid and electromagnetism Allah is the one who has created all those facts, if the scientists are trying to dead to travel to Mars Allah has created Mars billions of years before and has maintained it till now and after. To Muslims that's only funny for a 2 years old ignorant child to write a lecture about the mistakes in lectures of Einstein, and indeed the difference between Allah and His creatures is infinitely more than the difference between Einstein and such a kiddy. I hope you will see the point I am putting forward and understand that I am not going to be offensive. The creatures of Allah understand something that Allah has missed? That's impossible, even the scientists' thought is created by Allah:

لا إِلـٰهَ إِلّا هُوَ الحَىُّ القَيّومُ ۚ لا تَأخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلا نَومٌ ۚ لَهُ ما فِى السَّمـٰوٰتِ وَما فِى الأَرضِ ۗ مَن ذَا الَّذى يَشفَعُ عِندَهُ إِلّا بِإِذنِهِ ۚ يَعلَمُ ما بَينَ أَيديهِم وَما خَلفَهُم ۖ وَلا يُحيطونَ بِشَىءٍ مِن عِلمِهِ إِلّا بِما شاءَ ۚ وَسِعَ كُرسِيُّهُ السَّمـٰوٰتِ وَالأَرضَ ۖ وَلا يَـٔودُهُ حِفظُهُما ۚ وَهُوَ العَلِىُّ العَظيمُ

Allah - there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great. [2:255]

That scientists find apparent mistakes in Quran is because Quran needs describer, and this need is introduced in [3:7], since Allah has intended to make some points ambiguous for all but only those who refer to those firmly grounded in knowledge, and the followers of these describers are the only ones who are to be guided. Also note that the holy prophet --peace be upon him and his family-- remarked I leave two precious things for you behind me, the book of Allah and my household, whoever that follow them will never stray, until they come back to me at the pond. Also note that Quran is a book for guidance but some believe in it and will be guided and some deny it and will be strayed:

... وَلَيَزيدَنَّ كَثيرًا مِنهُم ما أُنزِلَ إِلَيكَ مِن رَبِّكَ طُغيـٰنًا وَكُفرًا ...

... And that which has been revealed to you from your Lord will surely increase many of them in transgression and disbelief. ... [5:68]

this doesn't include all the scientists but only those who try to find mistakes in Quran. People are more than welcome to ask about anything that they don't understand from Quran, things that seems odd to them and cannot understand how can it be that it's not wrong, but that Quran is right is something obvious to every Muslim and this is not proved through science to be rejected through science.


At the end, let me answer only one question in that list, the one discussing Adam --peace be upon him-- being created from clay:

The scientific hypothesis postulates that clay merely 'match-makes' RNA and membrane vesicles - and therefore does not form a building block. This is contrary to the Islamic faith which postulates that human beings were created from clay, implying clay was a building block.

We created man from sounding clay, from mud moulded into shape; Qur'an 15:26

To Him is due the primal origin of the heavens and the earth: When He decreeth a matter, He saith to it: "Be," and it is. Qur'an 2:117

Indeed let me add that not only Adam --peace be upon him-- was created from clay but also you and me are still beings created from clay. According to the today science our physical body is refreshing itself every few years, we wash out the dead cells from our skins at bathroom and new cells come to live day by the day. Almost all the cells in our bodies die and new ones replace the older ones, you don't agree? Where such new cells come from? Isn't it right to conclude from what we eat and drink? If yes, then what do we eat? Vegetables and fruits and similar to those beside meat of the animals which eat again from vegetables and fruits, and etc. . Don't you see all these foods are originated from the clay? Isn't water a best solvent that can carry quite many minerals with it? Don't we eat clay in many different deformed forms for our body to refresh itself? If someone dies doesn't his body again change to clay? Isn't our body made of clay that scientists ever raise a question about it being or not being made of clay? Also note that all the limbs of a complete man forms in the womb of his mother, where he is created from what his mother eats and drinks and again you can study how clay with different percentages of minerals are used in a period of nearly nine months for a complete body to form.

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Saying physics is experimental is wrong, there is such a thing as theoretical physics, and such a thing as experimental physics. Also, you're forgetting mathematics is a powerful tool, and that a mathematical proof always holds. Your remark on the Uncertainty Principle is not very clear to me, I don't get what you mean, uncertainty principle is confirmed theoretically as well as experimentally. Also, no insult, but the clay argument is bogus; look up Mitosis and Meiosis. Clay holds mineral that feeds plants.. and you're saying that means we are made out of clay? That's a non sequitur. –  JohnPhteven Dec 16 '12 at 23:37
    
However, the first part of the second sentence of the third paragraph is what I was looking for; Qur'an is seen as more authorative than science. –  JohnPhteven Dec 16 '12 at 23:39
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-1: This post is very difficult to read, and I don't think the Adam/Clay arguments help it at all. –  goldPseudo Dec 17 '12 at 16:02
    
I don't understand the clay scientific hypothesis against the Quran. Is it suggesting that humans are not composed of clay, or is it suggesting that they are composed of clay? –  Truth May 6 '13 at 23:23
    
@Truth, that scientific idea means not being composed of clay, at least not clay alone, as it says clay can make no building block ..., and we disagree. –  owari May 8 '13 at 1:10

I read the page about the "scientific inconsistencies". I was shocked by the ignorance and arrogance of the material. Many texts were taken too literally. For example, we are made from clay - although no one has significant amount of clay in their body, we are after all made of matter, which is itself a mystery.

For example, regarding the motion of the sun and moon and so on, any one with basic physics knowledge should know that when physists talk about "motion", they mean relative change in space over time. Physists refrain from talking about absolute motion and absolute rest. In other words, sun moves around the earth and the earth moves around the sun, and sayings such as "the earth moves" are not well defined because one needs to specify relative to which frame is earth moving.

It is very arrogant for people to assert such things, when they don't even have high school level of understanding in certain sciences.

Science has advanced a lot, but it is far from knowing everything, in fact, far from knowing anything for certain at all! Because we can always keep asking questions deeper and deeper in the foundations, to a point some questions cannot be answered. Most sciences are empirical sciences (such as physics, chemistry, biology), where scientist come up with theory trying to explain nature, and if their theory is verified by experiment then they hold on to the theory, until new discoveries entail the development or overthrowing of the old theory. Modern mathematics is different, it only relies on some sets of axioms and uses nothing but logic. We show a statement is true by reducing the statement to the axioms using strict deduction logic and no more.

The nature of empirical sciences says that what you think is true today might not be thought to be true tomorrow! Newtonian motion theory was overthrown/improved by Einsteinian, but who knows what next. And by this nature empirical sciences will never assert that one day they have found absolute truth.

Mathematicians, on the other hand, know from the beginning that there is no chance. First we base everything on axioms, which we don't prove, just believe. That's why we don't even know whether we know anything at all, because we build everything from something that we don't know. Secondly, it's proven that there are many axioms whose truth or failure is independent of many other, that is whether we assume those is just our choice, it does not affect the consistency of our model.

All in all, mathematicians have realized this long ago, and have been trying to tell the scientists that they don't know anything either, but they are too arrogant to listen.

Intelligence is a great gift from Allah, and we shall be humble with this marvelous gift. Not until we truly appreciate this gift (through the odious pursuit of truth), can we be truly grateful to Allah.

EDIT
I like your curiosity. I don't suggest you to blind-mindedly trust what the "scientists" say, neither do I suggest you to blind-mindedly reject what the "scientists" say. You ask a very good question, should you reject these? But how do you truly reject or accept these, when you don't understand them? It is better to learn the things and experience it yourself before you form an opinion on it. I wish one day you are able to see these things and realize from the bottom of your heart that Allah knows all, it is better than taking it as a dogma (which is still better than non-belief in Allah of course).

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This example may be your answer:

Let's go back in the history and see what scientists said about the following Aya:

والشمس تجري لمستقر لها ۚ ذلك تقدير العزيز العليم

And the sun runs [on course] toward its stopping point. That is the determination of the Exalted in Might, the Knowing.

[36:38]

First Point: When this Aya came, people thought that that the sun runs around the earth.

Second Point: After many years, the Italian Galileo Galilei said the sun does not move and the earth runs around the sun. After a short time, most scientists accpeted Galilei's idea. And many people said this is quran's mistake.

Third Point: Nowadays, most scientists say that the sun is also running. The sun is moving in the universe. Now, people don't call this Aya a mistake, This Aya is right.

Forth Point: ...


Okay, as you saw, the science grows and a lot of theories are subject to change. We can't be sure about our theories. We may be at the second point.

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