Last week when I was in the United Arab Emirates, someone gave me a copy of The Qur’an, a new translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem. I’ve already read the Avestas of Zarathustra and the Bhagavad Gita. So it’s about time I read the Qur’an as well. But I’m not having a good time with it. The first chapter, The Opening is just a few lines of a pointless prayer and that’s it. There is nothing there worthy of note. The second chapter, the Cow is the longest chapter, or sura, and there is quite a lot wrong with it. So I felt compelled to comment on it.
“2 This is the Scripture in which there is no doubt/ containing guidance for those who are mindful c of God, 3 who believe in the unseen.”
So faith is still defined the same as in the Bible, a belief in what is not seen. This explains why the remaining scripture relies on the logical fallacy of the circular argument routing back to the assumed conclusion. There is nothing that is indicated by evidence, nothing that is verifiably correct, just empty assertions of impossible nonsense that you’re supposed to swallow without question simply because it says so.
6 As for those who disbelieve, it makes no difference whether you warn them or not: they will not believe. 7 God has sealed their hearts and their ears, and their eyes are covered. They will have great torment.’
So God will punish me for not believing even though it is his fault that I don’t believe. God doesn’t need to seal my heart and my ears or cover my eyes. How about providing something that I could see or hear that would actually indicate a god? Why does God demand faith in lieu of evidence? I think it’s not just that there is no evidence, but that the reason there isn’t is because there is no god either.
8 Some people say, ‘We believe in God and the Last Day,’ when really they do not believe. 9 They seek to deceive God and the believers but they only deceive themselves, though they do not realize it. 10 There is a disease in their hearts, to which God has added more: agonizing torment awaits them for their persistent lying.
This is pretty much the very beginning of the Qur’an and it has already failed with a face-plant. If you say you believe in God, but you don’t really believe in God, then how you could you possibly be trying to fool God? Wouldn’t you have to believe there is a god if you’re going to try and deceive him? And what is the deception? Are you trying to trick God into thinking you believe in him? If you don’t believe in God then that’s not even possible. So already the Qur’an reveals sufficient absurdity to prove that it cannot have been authored by any god. Seriously, could this be any less ridiculous if it were written in Arabic?
11 When it is said to them, ‘Do not cause corruption in the land,’ they say, ‘We are only putting things right,’ 12 but really they are causing corruption, though they do not realize it. “When it is said to them, ‘Believe, as the others believe,’ they say, ‘Should we believe as the fools do?’ but they are the fools, though they do not know it.
According to mainstream non-religious sources, a fool is one who too readily accepts improbable assertions from questionable sources on insufficient evidence. So it is no wonder that the Bible and the Qur’an both use the opposite definition, so that the wise are called foolish and only fools are wise. By definition, one would have to be a fool to be fooled by either book. As for “putting things right”, the only way to do that is to identify unsupported assertions and examine what the facts really indicate, and that always goes against faith.
21 People, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, so that you may be mindful [of Him] 22 who spread out the earth for you and built the sky; who sent water down from it and with that water produced things for your sustenance. Do not, knowing this, set up rivals to God.
The earth is not “spread out”; it is a rotating spheroid hurtling through a virtual void that was not ‘built’. This reflects belief in a fixed table-like world beneath the dome of the firmament, a common notion throughout ancient Asia, but it is still demonstrably wrong.
23 If you have doubts about the revelation We have sent down to Our servant, then produce a single sura like it— enlist whatever supporters” you have other than God— if you truly [think you can]. 24 If you cannot do this— and you never will— then beware of the Fire prepared for the disbelievers, whose fuel is men and stones.
It doesn’t specify what it means to make a sura “like” this. Does it mean just as inaccurate and outdated? Because doing one that is better would be all too easy. Just describe the earth as it really is instead of the way it was once believed to be before anyone knew any better. But then remember that you’re also being threatened with a fate worse than death if we don’t blindly follow that which we can prove to be wrong.
26 God does not shy from drawing comparisons even with something as small as a gnat, or larger: c the believers know it is the truth from their Lord, but the disbelievers say, ‘What does God mean by such a comparison?’ Through it He makes many go astray and leads many to the right path. But it is only the rebels He makes go astray: “those who break their covenant with God after it has been confirmed, who sever the bonds that God has commanded to be joined, who spread corruption on the earth— these are the losers.
So the failure of scripture to describe anything accurately is obfuscated by assuming the conclusion with confirmation bias. Once again it is God who leads the unbelievers astray, and not their desire to understand the world as it is. And even though several of the world’s richest and most successful, and even the most charitable people are unbelievers, they are still considered losers. Of course the Qur’an is wrong about all these things, and I’m glad to be back in a country where I am allowed to say that. But those are the sort of lies that religion needs to sell itself.
30 [Prophet], when your Lord told the angels, ‘I am putting a suc- cessor” on earth,’ they said, ‘How can* You put someone there who will cause damage and bloodshed, when we celebrate Your praise and proclaim Your holiness?’ but He said, ‘I know things you do not.’ 31 He taught Adam all the names [of things], then He showed them to the angels and said, ‘Tell me the names of these if you truly [think you can].’ 32 They said, ‘May You be glorified! We have knowledge only of what You have taught us. You are the All Knowing and All Wise.’ “Then He said, ‘Adam, tell them the names of these.’ When he told them their names, God said, ‘Did I not tell you that I know what is hidden in the heavens and the earth, and that I know what you reveal and what you conceal?’
Do I even need to comment on how silly this is? We know that this is a fable, that none of this is even figuratively true. But were we to pretend that it is, then if Adam’s job was to name all the animals, the angels of course wouldn’t know what names he gave them.
34 When We told the angels, ‘Bow down before Adam,’ they all bowed. But not Iblis, who refused and was arrogant: he was one of the disobedient. 3S We said, ‘Adam, live with your wife in this garden. Both of you eat freely there as you will, but do not go near this tree, or you will both become wrongdoers.’ 36 But Satan made them slip, and removed them from the state they were in. We said, ‘Get out, all of you! You are each other’s enemy/ On earth you will have a place to stay and livelihood for a time.’
This makes the assumption that the serpent in the garden was secretly Satan. The Tanakh does not imply this. Nowhere does it say that the serpent was supposed to be anything but a snake. In fact nearly all of the mainstream Christian depictions of the serpent show it as a woman, allegedly Lilith, Adam’s first wife in Talmudic legend. The earliest versions of this myth, like that found in the Epic of Gilgamesh also show it to be nothing more than “the serpent who could not be tamed”. The serpent could not have been Satan, because it was cursed to crawl on it’s belly and eat dust for all of it’s days. Yet the first time Satan appears in subsequent scripture is some time after this story, and Satan is God’s right-hand man then; there was never a fall-out between them. At no time is Satan ever reduced to crawling on his belly or eating dust or having his head bruised by women. There is a distinct difference in this story between the mythical character of Satan and the mythical origin of snakes. The authors of the Qur’an adopted an erroneous interpretation and is therefore in error.
37 “Then Adam received some words” from his Lord and He accepted his repentance: He is the Ever Relenting, the Most Merciful. 38 We said, ‘Get out, all of you! But when guidance comes from Me, as it certainly will, there will be no fear for those who follow My guidance nor will they grieve— 39 those who disbelieve and deny Our messages shall be the inhabitants of the Fire, and there they will remain.’
There again we have the threat of damnation for anyone who isn’t gullible enough to believe indefensible absurdities without reason.
42 Do not mix truth with falsehood, or hide the truth when you know it.
Remembering that ‘truth’ is defined as whatever statement can be shown to be true, then these scriptures give the believer no choice but to mix truth with falsehood. They must also conceal the truth (when they find it) or face damnation in Hell.
62 The [Muslim] believers, the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabians”— all those who believe in God and the Last Day and do good— will have their rewards with their Lord. No fear for them, nor will they grieve. 63 Remember when We took your pledge, and made the mountain tower high above you, and said, ‘Hold fast to what We have given you and bear its contents in mind, so that you may be conscious of God.’ 64 Even after that you turned away. Had it not been for God’s favour and mercy on you, you would certainly have been lost. 6S You know about those of you who broke the Sabbath, and so We said to them, ‘Be like apes!* Be outcasts!’ 23 We made this an example to those people who were there at the time and to those who came after them, and a lesson to all who are mindful of God.
67 “Remember when Moses said to his people, ‘God commands you to sacrifice a cow.’ They said, ‘Are you making fun of us?’ He answered, ‘God forbid that I should be so ignorant.’ 68 They said, ‘Call on your Lord for us, to show us what sort of cow it should be.’ He answered, ‘God says it should be neither too old nor too young, but in between, so do as you are commanded.’ 69 They said, ‘Call on your Lord for us, to show us what colour it should be.’ He answered, ‘God says it should be a bright yellow cow, pleasing to the eye.’ 70 They said, ‘Call on your Lord for us, to show us [exactly] what it is: all cows are more or less alike to us. With God’s will, we shall be guided.’ “He replied, ‘It is a perfect and unblemished cow, not trained to till the earth or water the fields.’ They said, ‘Now you have brought the truth,’ and so they slaughtered it, though they almost failed to do so.
Imagine that you are the creator of the universe. What message would you impart to your people? Whatever your answer, this wouldn’t be it. If one could read a passage like this and imagine that these are the words of an actual deity and an infallible genius, then I don’t think I could reach such a person to reason with them. I could only pity them.
8I Truly those who do evil and are surrounded by their sins will be the inhabitants of the Fire, there to remain, S2 while those who believe and do good deeds will be the inhabitants of the Garden, there to remain.
Once again we see that only believers can be saved and that those who do not believe will be damned. Thus gullibility is the ultimate criteria for redemption. It is the stick and the carrot. Only believers receive any reward and you must believe the sacred nonsense or else. These are not the mandates of any being that actually exists. These are the criteria of con-men trying to sell belief in something that cannot really be true.
89 When a Scripture came to them from God confirming what they already had, and when they had been praying for victory against the disbelievers, even when there came to them something they knew [to be true], they disbelieved in it: God rejects those who disbelieve.
There is no example of this ever happening. This is like the doubting Thomas story, meant to assure those who don’t want to inquire too deeply.
119 We have sent you [Prophet] with the truth, bearing good news and warning. You will not be responsible for the inhabitants of the Blaze.
Once again, ‘truth’ is whatever statement can be shown to be true. Nothing said by prophets ever meets that simple criteria.
120 The Jews and the Christians will never be pleased with you unless you follow their ways. Say, ‘God’s guidance is the only true guidance.’ If you were to follow their desires after the knowledge that has come to you, you would find no one to protect you from God or help you. Those to whom We have given the Scripture, who follow it as it deserves, are the ones who truly believe in it. Those who deny its truth will be the losers.
If you can’t show that it’s true, then you can’t call it truth. Knowledge is similar to truth in that it a justified belief. Knowledge is demonstrable and testable with measurable accuracy. If you can’t demonstrate your knowledge to any degree at all by any means whatsoever then you don’t actually know what you think you do, no matter how convinced of it you are. Without evidentiary support, then it is only an empty assertion unworthy of serious consideration.
130 Who but a fool would forsake the religion of Abraham? We have chosen him in this world and he will rank among the righteous in the Hereafter.
Misstated: Who but a fool could accept the religion of Abraham?
168 People, eat what is good and lawful from the earth, and do not follow Satan’s footsteps, for he is your sworn enemy. 169 He always commands you to do what is evil and indecent, and to say things about God that you do not really know.”
As there is not one actual fact pertaining to God, then there is nothing anyone can show to be correct about God. Thus there is nothing anyone can honestly say they actually know about God, except perhaps that all gods are apparently imaginary. This entire book is nothing but asserting things about God that no one really knows.
170 But when it is said to them, ‘Follow the message that God has sent down,’ they answer, ‘We follow the ways of our fathers.’ What! Even though their fathers understood nothing and were not guided? m Calling to disbelievers* is like a herdsman calling to things that hear nothing but a shout and a cry: they are deaf, dumb, and blind, and they understand nothing.
Except that all of the greatest minds of the modern age are unbelievers, and this is largely because they understand a whole lot of things that believers typically don’t know anything about at all. Case in point:.
222 They ask you [Prophet] about menstruation. Say, ‘Menstru- ation is a painful condition, so keep away from women during it. Do not approach them until they are cleansed; when they are cleansed, you may approach them as God has ordained.” God loves those who turn to Him, and He loves those who keep themselves clean.
The Bible says something similarly inane, and it is NOT indicative of any superior being.
223 Your wives are your fields, so go into your fields whichever way you like and send [something good] ahead for yourselves. Be mindful of God: remember that you will meet Him.’ [Prophet], give good news to the believers.
So much for sodomy laws. While I might applaud that, there is also the point that women are once again nothing more than property to be used.
258 [Prophet], have you not thought about the man who disputed with Abraham about his Lord, because God had given him power to rule? When Abraham said, ‘It is my Lord who gives life and death,’ he said, ‘I too give life and death.’ So Abraham said, ‘God brings the sun from the east; so bring it from the west.’ The disbeliever was dumbfounded: God does not guide those who do evil.
Shouldn’t the believer be dumbfounded to find that the sun doesn’t come from the east or go to the west because the sun doesn’t move at all from our perspective, since we’re a spinning ball orbiting around it?
And to the next point, do we have an objective means of identifying evil? Because the only objective criteria I know was listed by an atheist.
“A particular action or choice is moral or right if it somehow promotes happiness, well-being, or health, or if it somehow minimizes unnecessary harm or suffering or both. A particular action or choice is immoral or wrong if it somehow diminishes happiness, well-being, or health, or if it somehow causes unnecessary harm or suffering or both.” –Scott Clifton; A Treatise on Morality
By this standard, there is an awful lot that some Muslims do that is definitely evil. Yet such people typically insist that what they do is not evil, but righteous. According to them, God also justifies and condones the evil that such men do. There is no pain or suffering that is ‘unnecessary’ compared to the eradication of rationality.
259 Or take the one who passed by a ruined town. He said, ‘How will God give this life when it has died?’ So God made him die for a hundred years, and then raised him up, saying, ‘How long did you stay like that?’ He answered, ‘A day, or part of a day’ God said, ‘No, you stayed like that for a hundred years. Look at your food and drink: they have not gone bad. Look at your donkey— We will make you a sign for the people— look at the bones: see how We bring them together and clothe them with flesh!’ When all became clear to him, he said, ‘Now I know that God has power over everything.’
How would the food or the donkey still be there a century later?
260 And when Abraham said, ‘My Lord, show me how You give life to the dead,’ He said, ‘Do you not believe, then?’ ‘Yes,’ said Abraham, ‘but just to put my heart at rest.’ So God said, ‘Take four birds and train them to come back to you. Then place them on separate hill- tops,” call them back, and they will come flying to you: know that God is all powerful and wise.’
So do something that would have worked anyway whether God is real or not, and then simply assume that it worked because God is real. Of course. That’s religious logic for you.
282 You who believe, when you contract a debt for a stated term, put it down in writing: have a scribe write it down justly between you. No scribe should refuse to write: let him write as God has taught him, let the debtor dictate, and let him fear God, his Lord, and not diminish [the debt] at all. If the debtor is feeble-minded, weak, or unable to dictate, then let his guardian dictate justly. Call in two men as witnesses. If two men are not there, then call one man and two women out of those you approve as witnesses, so that if one of the two women should forget” the other can remind her.
So that’s why it takes two women to equal the witness of one man, because women might forget things. Sure. That would never happen with a man, would it. Of course not. :-\
285 The Messenger believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, as do the faithful. They all believe in God, His angels, His scriptures, and His messengers. ‘We make no distinction between any of His messengers,’ they say, ‘We hear and obey. Grant us Your forgiveness, our Lord. To You we all return!’— 286 God does not burden any soul with more than it can bear: each gains whatever good it has done, and suffers its bad— Lord, do not take us to task if we forget or make mistakes. Lord, do not burden us as You burdened those before us. Lord, do not burden us with more than we have strength to bear. Pardon us, forgive us, and have mercy on us. You are our Protector, so help us against the disbelievers.’
We ‘unbelievers’ are not a threat; we offer help. Whoever comes away from delusion will be better off. Just ask some of those who already have. They’ll be happy to help you.