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REPLY #86d TO
This is the last of a four-part reply.
What "signs" are being proposed here? Are you claiming that Allah exists simply because rain falls and wind blows?
(R) As I showed before, just a simple act as the falling of a stone indicates strongly the existence of a Creator. You can read an article by me on this subject titled "What a Falling Stone Means". Since everything is interrelated and interconnected in the universe, falling of rain and blowing of wind can only be done by the One who owns and operates the whole universe.
(MB) The more one claims "it had to be done by my God" with no evidence other than the claim itself, the weaker and weaker the claim becomes. One really needs to go no further than Hume's devastating refutation of miracle explanations to show why supporting evidence is crucial to any claim. Your article is a classic candidate for the application of Hume's reasoning. Why would any deity create a universe so complex that he had to intervene in something so mundane as the falling of a stone in order to make it work in a consistent manner? Isn't it *far* more reasonable to understand that the stone falls because it is such a simple and fundamental process that it *must* do so and can't do otherwise?
In this sense, to "expand" something means to add more to it. It does not mean that the sky itself is expanding. By the way, who is "we" in this verse? I thought that Allah was a one-and-only deity?
(R) How do you know this? If you look at any Arabic dictionary, you will see that the literal meaning of the arabic word "vasia" is "to enlarge, to widen, to expand, etc" in spacial terms. It clearly indicates that universe is getting larger and larger as verified by the latest astronomical observations.
(MB) You would seem to prefer the Rashad Khalifa translation of adh-Dhariyat 51:47, but I'm sure that you are aware that there are other translations which differ with your assessment. For example, there are the following:
[adh-Dhariyat 51:47] We have built the heaven with might, and We it is Who make the vast extent (thereof).
[adh-Dhariyat 51:47] With power and skill did We construct the Firmament: for it is We Who create the vastness of space.
[adh-Dhariyat 51:47] And the heaven, We raised it high with power, and most surely We are the makers of things ample.
Sher Ali translation
[adh-Dhariyat 51:47] And WE have built the heavens with Our own hands, and, verily, WE have vast powers.
As can easily be seen, there is no support in any of these translations for your interpretation that this verse refers to the Hubble expansion of the universe. In fact, in none of them is there any suggestion whatsoever that anything at all is expanding -- much less the universe.
As a side note, isn't Rashad Khalifa considered to be a rather controversial figure in the Muslim community? In fact, isn't he accused by many Muslims of being a Coptic Christian rather than a Muslim? That being the case, why would you prefer his translation of the Qu'ran above the others? Would this not put you at odds with over 90% of the world's Muslims?
(R) Besides, Quranic verses may have more than one meaning and in this case obviously one of them refers to the expansion of space.
(MB) If they can have more than one meaning (a claim also advanced by Biblical apologists who are trying to explain away problems), how can it be said with certainty that any given explanation is correct? Isn't it more likely that an explanation is being formed to support whatever one wishes to believe -- with the belief itself then being circularly referenced to support the explanation?
(R) "We" is used to imply prestige and reputation.
(MB) How and why? Isn't Allah's name alone prestigious and reputable enough?
This is a good example of "retroactive prophecy" that is analogous to many Christian claims on behalf of the validity of the Genesis creation account.
(R) I don`t know what you mean by that concept but I can distinguish the clearly false statements of creation in Genesis and perfectly true description of a creation scenario in accordance with all scientific evidence.
(MB) I'm sure you are familiar with many of the apologetic gyrations that have been used to explain away the serious problems with the two different creation tales in Genesis. How you can call them "clearly false" while giving unquestioned credence to a statement which you, yourself, can be interpreted in multiple ways is unknown to me.
As to the support you claim to find in the Rashad Khalifa translation of al-Anbiya' 21:30 for the Big Bang and evolution, let's check the other translations again.
[al-Anbiya' 21:30] Have not those who disbelieve known that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them, and we made every living thing of water ? Will they not then believe ?
[al-Anbiya' 21:30] Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?
[al-Anbiya' 21:30] Do not those who disbelieve see that the heavens and the earth were closed up, but We have opened them; and We have made of water everything living, will they not then believe?
Sher Ali translation
[al-Anbiya' 21:30] Do not the disbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were a closed up-mass, then WE opened them out? And WE made of water every living thing. Will they not then believe?
Nowhere here do we find any mention or suggestion of a Big Bang style explosion, nor is there anything at all which can be interpreted as support for evolution. They all agree that every living thing was made from water, but there is nothing to indicate anything other than that the initial creation event was the beginning and ending of the appearance of new forms of life.
Who believes that humans are made from mud of any kind?
(R) This is one of the numerous possibilities:
"Recently it has been shown that it is possible to form RNA from monomers on the surfaces of clays, which can catalyze, or chemically assist, the polymerization reaction. Experiments done in test tubes (in vitro) have shown that RNA with one type of catalytic activity can evolve to an RNA with different catalytic properties. These two sets of experiments suggest that it may be possible to demonstrate how clay minerals could have permitted the formation of complex RNA molecules that are capable of evolving in form." (on the origin of life on Earth)
(MB) This is Cairns-Smith's theory. If true, it would demonstrate a natural process that did not require supernatural intervention. Of course, clay is not "mud", and clay has been well known and unmistakeable for many thousands of years. It is inconceivable how clay and mud could be confused in a verse, yet the various translations of al-Mu'minun 23:12 do confuse them. Pickthall and Rashad Khalifa say mud while Shakir and Sher Ali say clay (Yusefali calls it a "quintessence").
Nomadic people who raise domesticated animals are well aware of how the process of breeding works. Its description is hardly any evidence of divine intervention or action.
(R) But they did not have microscopes to see the development of a zygote!
(MB) Nor did they need any such thing. Simple observation of the increasing size of a female's abdomen during gestation leads to a correct explanation of the growth of unborn offspring.
The Bible quotes Jesus as saying similar things. Needless to say, none of these signs has yet materialized. If they had, there would be little left to debate.
(R) There are a lot of signs but one must be ready to accept the truth and should get rid of the preconceptions. Prof Moore is one of the many people who met with reality by those signs.
(MB) How can you state such a thing when religious belief is *founded* upon nothing but preconceptions? Your argument is also another example of what I call the "you have to believe before you can believe" fallacy.
Here is a link to something else that you may wish to comment upon in regards to Qu'ranic explanations of the creation of Man and the scenarios given in Professor Moore's work:
No more so than all similar "revelations" that were written into the Bible upwards of 30-40 centuries ago. I'd be far more impressed if these revelations were in unmistakeable language instead of in vague terms and broad generalities which require favorable interpretations.
(R) But then there would be no meaning to choose to believe or disbelieve by free will.
(MB) Sure there would! If we have free will, we can always choose what we will or will not believe. The crucial question concerns how we are to make that choice. The rational method is to demand that all claims submit to the same standards of evidence and proof. A prophecy stated in clear and unambiguous language could not be denied by a rational person if and when it is fulfilled. A vague and ambiguous prophecy which is subject to favorable interpretation can only be accepted as being fulfilled if one already believes in it. This is not a rational process.
(R) Since we are sent here to be tested and examined by God, our value will be determined by our effort to search for the truth and to sincerely live according to it.
(MB) Why would a perfect God make imperfect men unless that's the way he wanted us to be? There is no point in his "testing" us since he already knows what we will do and how we will react. It would be unreasonable (and, therefore, imperfect) of him to punish his creation for acting in the way he designed us to act.
Finally, what is to be accomplished or gained by the actions of Man? We can't give an all-powerful deity anything he doesn't already have and can never do anything that he wouldn't know about even before we were born. In such a scenario, how can our lives possibly be important or have any real meaning?
Why not? Man has written many wonderful, insightful, and far-reaching books in his history. Why isn't the Qu'ran just another example?
(R) Because insight is not sufficient for a person who did not read and write and did not have any contact with other cultures(Muhammed(pbuh)) to know how the universe is created and how the embryo develops in fetus and how the galaxies move and how life began and how the old prophets lived. And these are only the scientific miracles of the Quran, not to mention the linguistic and artistic miracles.
(MB) All people have insight as a result of their combined life experiences. This is even true of a hermit on a remote and deserted island. Such a person could easily devise his own ideas of how things came to be the way they are and give his full and unquestioned belief to them. That, however, does not make such ideas right.
As to the "miracles" of the Qu'ran, I'm sure you realize that similar claims are made on behalf of other holy books. Claiming them is one thing. Demonstrating them is quite another. So far, I have seen no claim from you in favor of the Qu'ran that can't also be applied to many other holy books.
One more time. This is exactly the same claim made by Henry Morris and the other pushers of Fundamentalist Christian Creationism. They claim that there is not the slightest chance that science could ever contradict the Bible. I assume that you don't accept that claim. Why, then, should your similar claim be accepted?
(R) Because Bible has been changed throughout the history but Qur`an, as a word of Allah, is totally conserved.
(MB) I have already provided evidence to the contrary. Even if you were right, that does not indicate that it was not wrong to begin with and that its wrongness is not what has been totally conserved. The Book of Mormon is totally conserved and unchanged and is claimed to be the revelation of God. I assume, however, that you will not give it the same credibility that you give to the Qu'ran. Why not? It has the same qualities that you uphold in favor of the Qu'ran. So, why is it wrong?
Here is another question for you. How much of the early Bible do you consider to be accurate? I would think that all stories and accounts prior to the separation of the Abrahamic lineage through Ishmael and Isaac should be equally valid and agreeable for Judeo-Christians and Muslims alike since it would be a common history. Do you agree?
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