Big Bang, Ozone and Celestial Orbits as Signs of God

Big Bang, Ozone and Celestial Orbits as Signs of God January 19, 2022

In my last post, I addressed the big bang and the aquatic origins of life as mentioned in the Qur’an. In part 2, two other verses in the series will be reviewed in reference to the earth’s protective layers and the celestial bodies floating in their orbits.

Before going over the verses, it is worth reminding ourselves as to why these passages appear in the Qur’an in the first place. If the Qur’an (as well as the Bible) were revealed to guide the humans to One True God, what is the purpose of these passages? After all the Qur’an (and the Bible) are not ‘science books’.

The Qur’an mentions repeatedly that the main job of the messengers was to give them the message about the One True God and not to worship anyone except Him.

Thinking about the age they lived in, the question one can then ask is why would anyone believe them? If I were living in that era and some person shows up telling me that there is a God- and only One God, why would I just blindly believe what he is telling me?

The answer is more complex and there are multiple reasons why people start(ed) to believe in their message.

One common thread among many messengers was their ability to convince their people by showing “miracles”- the super natural things that was above and beyond the cognition of the people.

Jesus is known to possess numerous miracles such as bringing the dead to life, making a bird fly out of clay, and curing the lepers. David would speak to the mountains. Solomon could control and communicate with the birds and other animals, Moses had the staff, the white hand, and parted the Red Sea, and so on.

The Qur’an points out that all of these prophets were given the power to show the miracles with His permission- in order that people may take heed.

The Qur’an mentions that people around him asked Muhammad to show the same type of miracles. In some instances the response was that the Qur’an itself is a miracle. A detailed account of “the miracles of the Qur’an” is beyond the scope of this article but suffice to say is that  Muslims consider the references to the human biology, embryology, astronomy and geology as some of the “hidden’ miracles” that are only being understood more clearly some 1400 years later.

A common man some 1400 years ago in the age of Prophet Muhammad would not have had a clue what the Qur’an was talking about when it mentioned the big bang, the aquatic origins, the orbits and so on. We don’t have prophets anymore. But we do have the Qur’an and its invitation to ponder. Our knowledge has advanced to the point that we can now perhaps understand numerous scientific phenomena mentioned in the Qur’an some 1400 years ago a little better. As the Qur’an calls out, these are signs for us to ponder.

Let’s return to our topic at hand.

Here is the series of four verses I mentioned in the last post. I covered the first one already. Here we will focus on the other two verses.

These four verses are from chapter 21, “The Prophets”.

Do the Unbelievers not see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit), before we clove them asunder? (another translation- “before we split them apart?”) .We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe? 21:30

And We have set on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with them, and We have made therein broad highways (between mountains) for them to pass through: that they may receive Guidance. 21:31

We made the sky a protective ceiling. Yet they are turning away from Our signs. 21:32

It is He Who created the Night and the Day, and the sun and the moon: all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course. 21:33

1. Earth’s Protective Atmosphere and Ozone Layer

We made the sky a protective ceiling. Yet they are turning away from Our signs. 21:32

 Earth’s atmosphere protects the planet from harmful radiation. The stratosphere is the atmosphere that begins about ten miles above the earth surface and extends up to about thirty miles. The ozone layer in the stratosphere protects the earth from many harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. We also know that many small meteorites crash into small pieces as they travel through the stratosphere, rather than hitting the earth. The ozone layer was not described until late 1800s and early 1900s. In addition to the protective atmosphere, a layer created by earth’s magnetic field, called the Van Allen belt, serves to protect the planet from solar flares that can play havoc if they reach the earth.

The “protective ceiling” is also translated as “sheltering canopy” (Emerick), “guarded canopy” (Shakir), and “canopy well guarded” (Yousuf Ali).

Once again, though the Quranic reference to the ozone layer and other protective layers is indirect, it clearly speaks about a ceiling that serves to protect the planet earth. If one argues about the verses being too vague and stretched to fit into modern concepts, then what alternative conclusions can be drawn from this and other indirect verses?

The verse could also be pointing towards the magnetic field surrounding planet earth that is well known to protect the earth from many catastrophic events.

2. The Celestial Bodies Moving in Orbits

It is He Who created the Night and the Day, and the sun and the moon: all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course. 21:33

For many centuries, the concept of a geocentric universe was prevalent among European scientists, whereby the earth stood still in the center and everything else, including the sun, moved around the earth. In 1543 CE, Nicolaus Copernicus published his theory of a heliocentric system, whereby the earth moved around a stationary sun. The Quran described that the sun and other celestial bodies move in orbits:

In another verse, the concept of the sun and the moon moving in their respective orbits is once again mentioned as follows:

Neither is it allowable to the sun that it should overtake the moon, nor can the night outstrip the day; and all float on in a sphere.” 36:40 (Shakir)

or as translated by Pickthall:

It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor doth the night outstrip the day. They float each in an orbit.

 

The verse indicates that the celestial bodies not only move in an orbit but also implies that each has their own, distinct orbits, as they cannot “overtake” each other.

As I mentioned in the last post, this group of verses in isolation do not necessarily make one to believe in God automatically but should prompt us to ponder as to what these passages are referring to and what is their underlying message.

 

Portions of the article were based on the section “Quran and Science” of my book, The Quran: With or Against the Bible?

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Images: courtesy of Pixabay.com

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