I love looking into articles such as this, which discuss how to convert atheists. They provide interesting insights into the epistemological thingamajigs of theists. This is how they think supporting claims works. Though, often they’re just trying to “play the atheists’ game” against them, even if the arguments aren’t why they believe in the first place.
The author congratulates atheists because they’re already halfway there. He doesn’t have to dissuade us from a false god first… he can move right onto convincing us of Allah. He starts by making a decent point about definitions.
My first question to the atheist will be: “What is the definition of God?” For a person to say there is no God, he should know what is the meaning of God. If I hold a book and say that ‘this is a pen’, for the opposite person to say, ‘it is not a pen’, he should know what is the definition of a pen, even if he does not know nor is able to recognise or identify the object I am holding in my hand. For him to say this is not a pen, he should at least know what a pen means. Similarly for an atheist to say ‘there is no God’, he should at least know the concept of God. His concept of God would be derived from the surroundings in which he lives.
He’s technically right, but he’s largely confused about who has what responsibility. We can put it this way – the Burden of Definition belongs to the one who has the Burden of Proof.
If you walk up to me holding a pen, saying “This is blamenport“, it’s not up to me to tell you what that is. That’s your job. Complicating matters, we have multiple people approaching us, each holding different objects, all claiming that they are “blamenport”. When we don’t accept the claim, they insist that we prove that they’re not “blamenport.”
I agree that going from person to person, insisting that each object is not the undefined “blamenport” would be silly. That’s not what I’m doing. That’s not what most atheists are doing. Each theist is approaching us with their own proprietary version of “God”, claiming that it’s real, neglecting to support the claim… so we don’t accept the claim.
That doesn’t require us have a definition. In fact, without a definition, it’s automatic that we don’t accept it. We couldn’t – not rationally, anyway. How could a person accept a claim as true, without knowing what it is?
The author has point, but it’s mostly a digression.
If a non-Muslim believes that Islam is a merciless religion with something to do with terrorism; a religion which does not give rights to women; a religion which contradicts science; in his limited sense that non-Muslim is correct to reject such Islam. The problem is he has a wrong picture of Islam. Even I reject such a false picture of Islam, but at the same time, it becomes my duty as a Muslim to present the correct picture of Islam to that non-Muslim i.e. Islam is a merciful religion, it gives equal rights to the women, it is not incompatible with logic, reason and science;
Okay, though this seems to be another digression. Both the Quran and the Bible have nasty oppressive stuff in them, that many of their respective followers have rationalized away… but many oppressive Islamic countries do exist. They’d probably argue a thing or two with this guy.
I’m not sure about his point… that Islam oppresses women, therefore Allah isn’t real? That just means he’s a jerk.
Many atheists demand a scientific proof for the existence of God. I agree that today is the age of science and technology. Let us use scientific knowledge to kill two birds with one stone, i.e. to prove the existence of God and simultaneously prove that the Qur’an is a revelation of God.
Let’s do this. (Emphasis mine)
If a new object or a machine, which no one in the world has ever seen or heard of before, is shown to an atheist or any person and then a question is asked, ” Who is the first person who will be able to provide details of the mechanism of this unknown object? After little bit of thinking, he will reply, ‘the creator of that object.’ Some may say ‘the producer’ while others may say ‘the manufacturer.’ What ever answer the person gives, keep it in your mind, the answer will always be either the creator, the producer, the manufacturer or some what of the same meaning, i.e. the person who has made it or created it. Don’t grapple with words, whatever answer he gives, the meaning will be same, therefore accept it.
Well, no. My response would be “scientists who study the object.” The author doesn’t get to shove words into my mouth. Even if that was the case, that wouldn’t make it true. It just means I have a bias towards anthropomorphism, as usual.
Next, he explains some basics of Probability theory… such as the chances of successfully guessing a coin toss 3 times in a row is 1:8. He’s going somewhere with that.
Here’s the bulk of the argument, emphasis mine.
Let us apply this theory of probability to the Qur’an, and assume that a person has guessed all the information that is mentioned in the Qur’an which was unknown at that time. Let us discuss the probability of all the guesses being simultaneously correct.
At the time when the Qur’an was revealed, people thought the world was flat, there are several other options for the shape of the earth. It could be triangular, it could be quadrangular, pentagonal, hexagonal, heptagonal, octagonal, spherical, etc. Lets assume there are about 30 different options for the shape of the earth. The Qur’an rightly says it is spherical, if it was a guess the chances of the guess being correct is 1/30.
The Qur’an speaks about hundreds of things that were not known to men at the time of its revelation. Only in three options the result is .0017%. I leave it upto you, to work out the probability if all the hundreds of the unknown facts were guesses, the chances of all of them being correct guesses simultaneously and there being not a single wrong guess. It is beyond human capacity to make all correct guesses without a single mistake, which itself is sufficient to prove to a logical person that the origin of the Qur’an is Divine.
Short version: The Quran’s scientific statements couldn’t all be guesses, because the probability would be too low to happen – therefore, God/Allah.
Arbitrarily Asserted CauseFirst and foremost, the connection between scientific facts in a holy book, and it coming from a universe-creating entity is a leap. There’s multiple options, and the author just arbitrarily picked the one most convenient to his position. I’ve touched on that topic before.
The Bible’s “Science”
Secondly, the Bible also has supposed scientific facts. Hebrews 11:3 is often cited by Christians as a prediction for “particles” or atoms:
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (KJV)
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (NIV)
If you squint at it enough, you can almost make out the particles.
Does that mean Christianity is true too? Or is it the book with the most “science” wins? Was Allah sticking science into multiple books just to screw with us?
Tweaking the Probability
Thirdly, I do not grant the premise that these science factoids (if we were to grant their existence) were all “guessed.” In fact, that’s something I would have specifically pointed out – that these books can actually gets some science bits right because they tapped into… scientific knowledge, or some basic rudimentary observation.
Our choices here aren’t limited to:
- Everything was guessed
There’s many ways that science bits could make their way into a holy book without divine intervention.
1) Like Hebrews 11:3, many of these verses can be very loosely and retroactively interpreted into matching discoveries in science, when they originally weren’t about them at all.
How did that passage mean anything about particles? It sounds like it could be talking about spirits, for all we know. God could have communicated particles/atoms better.
Atoms aren’t invisible. Look at anything – you’re seeing a whole bunch of them at a time. So it’d be better to say that individual atoms aren’t visible to the naked eye. An accessible analogy would be saying that everything is like rock walls, except, the individuals rocks are too small to see individually. Would that have been so hard?
No, apparently the Bible must be incredibly vague and unspecific about it, so that the claim has to be stretched beyond the breaking point.
Organisms being “made of water”? What does that even mean? That’s like saying that a baloon is “made of air”. The actual distinguishing construction is of the non-air parts, namely the latex. The distinguishing characteristics of organisms are the organic molecules/compounds that create the sack of water. It’s not a very good description of organisms, but saying “organisms contain water” would just be a duh-moment.
This dramatically increases the chances “science” can appear in the books without divine sources.
2) Many things could be observed or reasonably deduced.
It doesn’t take much to figure out that the moon is roughly spherical, and reflects light. Anyone with a coarse rock, sitting around a campfire at night could notice the similarities of the shadows/light on the rock at various locations around the observer. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t take magic to figure that out.
The assertion that all organisms are “made of water” … really? Did ancient people not create jerky, or otherwise observe the difference between dried mean and moist meat?
Given that science itself runs on observation, adding observation greatly enhances the non-divine changes of the Quran getting things right.
3) Ignoring the misses
A cursory Googlin’ can reveal lists of science the Quran gets wrong. If assertions the Quran gets right demonstrates its divinity, wouldn’t assertions it gets wrong demonstrate that it’s not? Otherwise, we’re just talking about a Sharpshooter Fallacy – that the book makes a whole bunch of claims, point to all the successes, while trying to hide/ignore the fact it gets it wrong too.
It doesn’t take magic for a stopped clock to be right twice a day… nor the Quran.
If the previous two points didn’t drastically increase that 0.0017% already, this essentially cranks the probability up to 99% chance of non-divine sources.
There’s probably some other points that could be made, such as revising the text over time, but this should be sufficient.
To say that this is “sufficient to prove to a logical person that the origin of the Qur’an is Divine” is laughable.
The only logical answer to the question as to who could have mentioned all these scientific facts 1400 years ago before they were discovered, is exactly the same answer initially given by the atheist or any person, to the question who will be the first person who will be able to tell the mechanism of the unknown object. It is the ‘CREATOR’, the producer, the Manufacturer of the whole universe and its contents. In the English language He is ‘God’, or more appropriate in the Arabic language, ‘ALLAH’.
Different things were discovered by different societies at different times. It’s only in the modern era that we’re sharing that information. They’re ignoring the elephant in the room – that these things were discovered, and added to the book before modern science officially claimed them, or studied them more in depth.
Let me remind you that the Qur’an is not a book of Science, ‘S-C-I-E-N-C-E’ but a book of Signs ‘S-I-G-N-S’ i.e. a book of ayaats. The Qur’an contains more than 6,000 ayaats, i.e. ‘signs’, out of which more than a thousand speak about Science. I am not trying to prove that the Qur’an is the word of God using scientific knowledge as a yard stick because any yardstick is supposed to be more superior than what is being checked or verified.
Okay, so the author doesn’t have any point at all. Maybe the “signs” are pointing to the fact that basic observations were made, and not that a supreme being exists?
Using the ultimate yardstick of the atheist, I am trying to prove to him that the Qur’an is the word of God and it contains the scientific knowledge which is his yardstick which was discovered recently, while the Qur’an was revealed 1400 year ago. At the end of the discussion, we both come to the same conclusion that God though superior to science, is not incompatible with it.
And yet he provides no connection between the two – which is key to the entire discussion. His argument is “there’s this book that has some true statements from before modern science, therefore invisible magic man is real.”
Francis Bacon, the famous philosopher, has rightly said that a little knowledge of science makes man an atheist, but an in-depth study of science makes him a believer in God.
Then I disagree with him. By what logic does Bacon make that argument? Is it similar to the vacuous arguments this author makes? If Einstein were to say that God/Allah exists, my response to him would be the same for anyone making the claim – where’s the evidence? The level of fame of the individual isn’t relevant.