Islam claims that its holy book, the Quran, was authored by a god, and apparently Allah recited it all to Muhammad through an angel called Gabriel. Because these are the words of a God it is claimed to be perfect and asserted to not be wrong.
Is this a credible claim? To answer that we shall briefly wade in and take a look to see what these “perfect” words tell us about reality.
The earth is Flat – Geography Fail
And the earth We have spread out (like a carpet); set thereon mountains firm and immovable; and produced therein all kinds of things in due balance. (15:19)
The same is repeated many times, 20:53, 43:10, 50:7, 51:48 and in many other places throughout the Quran, a good analysis that verifies it all can be found here.
“Ah”, some might claim, “you are not reading it correctly, you need an Islamic scholar to interpret it correctly for you”. OK, fair enough, so let us now turn to the supreme religious authority of Saudi Arabia …
“The earth is flat. Whoever claims it is round is an atheist deserving of punishment.” —Sheik Abdul-Aziz Ibn Baaz, supreme religious authority of Saudi Arabia, 1993
[It is perhaps about here that your jaw hits the floor]
Humans are made of mud – Biology Fail
We created man from sounding clay, from mud moulded into shape; (15:26)
Yes, the stuff you make clay pots from is apparently the same stuff we are apparently made of. In reality almost 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of the six elements oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. In a rather stark contract sounding clay is Aluminium silicate.
Sun sets into a pool of mud each night – Astronomy Fail
Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it he found a People: We said: “O Zul-qarnain! (thou hast authority,) either to punish them, or to treat them with kindness.” (18:86)
So now we find that the sun is smaller than the earth and that the sun goes to a black muddy pool when it sets. It gets worse, we also find that the sun orbits the earth (36:38), and that there are only seven planets in the solar system (65:12), oh and lets not forget that the moon was once split into two (54:1).
The sky is also held up by invisible pillars (13:2), and of course the north and south poles do not exist (we find a claim that day and night cannot overtake each other 36:40).
We also find that thunder is an angel (13:13), and that Jinns, as in Aladdin and his magic lamp, are real and made of fire (55:15)
Even basic Sums are wrong – Maths Fail
Here we have some hereditary laws that explain how to divide things up …
4.11: Allah (thus) directs you as regards your Children’s (Inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females: if only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half. For parents, a sixth share of the inheritance to each, if the deceased left children; if no children, and the parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; if the deceased Left brothers (or sisters) the mother has a sixth. (The distribution in all cases (‘s) after the payment of legacies and debts. Ye know not whether your parents or your children are nearest to you in benefit. These are settled portions ordained by Allah; and Allah is All-knowing, Al-wise.
4.12: In what your wives leave, your share is a half, if they leave no child; but if they leave a child, ye get a fourth; after payment of legacies and debts. In what ye leave, their share is a fourth, if ye leave no child; but if ye leave a child, they get an eighth; after payment of legacies and debts. If the man or woman whose inheritance is in question, has left neither ascendants nor descendants, but has left a brother or a sister, each one of the two gets a sixth; but if more than two, they share in a third; after payment of legacies and debts; so that no loss is caused (to any one). Thus is it ordained by Allah; and Allah is All-knowing, Most Forbearing.
Now here is the problem, if you break all that up into fractions, it does not add up …
- wife: 1/8 = 3/24,
- daughters: 2/3 = 16/24,
- father: 1/6 = 4/24,
- mother: 1/6 = 4/24,
The total we get is 27/24 or to be more precise 1.125, in other words, we have a total does not equal to 1. This can not be reconciled. I get it that a human can make a mistake like that, but gods are not supposed to be so human.
So what can we conclude?
The above is simply a small sample of many similar errors, in fact there are so many that it would take too long to list them all in a posting like this.
What we can clearly see with a cursory glance is obvious, the claim that this text was authored by a super-uber supernatural entity that crafted the entire universe is demonstratively wrong. What we find instead is a text that is perfectly in tune with the beliefs and thinking of a 7th century human from the region immersed and is wholly immersed in the prevailing mythology and thinking of that time. If indeed this had been written by an all-knowing supernatural entity we would not only expect to find none of these basic bloopers, but also discover things that were truly astonishing, for example suggestions that slavery was not really a good idea, or guidance on germ theory, but no, there is nothing of any value at all. As was suggested by Sam Harris ….
Let’s just grant the possibility that there is a creator God who’s omniscient, who occasionally authors books. And he’s gonna give us a book – the most useful book. He’s a loving God. He’s a compassionate God, and he’s gonna give us a guide to live. He’s got a scribe. The scribe’s gonna write it down. What’s gonna be in that book? I mean just think of how good a book would be if it were authored by an omniscient deity. I mean there is not a single line in the bible or the Koran that could not have been authored by a 1st century person. I mean there’s not one reference to anything. There are pages and pages about how to sacrifice animals, and keep slaves, and who to kill and why. There’s nothing about electricity. There’s nothing about DNA. There’s nothing about infectious disease or the principles of infectious disease. There’s . . . there’s nothing particularly useful, and there’s a lot of Iron Age barbarism in there and superstition. This does not. . . This is not a candidate book . . . I mean I can go to any Barnes and Noble blindfolded and pull a book off a shelf which is gonna have more relevance, more wisdom for the 21st century than the Bible or the Koran. I mean it’s really not an exaggeration. Every one of our specific sciences has superceded and surpassed the wisdom of Scripture. From cosmology, to psychology, to economics, we know more about ourselves than anyone writing the Bible or the Koran did. And that is a distinctly inconvenient fact for the . . . for anyone wanting to believe that this book was dictated by the creator of the universe.
So why does any of this actually matter?
When you not only have daft claims about a 7th century text being authored by a God, but also find that this is the basis for some to use it to justify Misogyny, Homophobia, Intolerance, Stoning, violence and murder, then it is wholly appropriate and also vitally important to criticize this core claim and reveal it to be demonstrably wrong.