Scientific foreknowledge in the Qur'an

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For more information, see the Skeptic's Annotated Quran article:
The Qur'an

Scientific foreknowledge in the Qur'an is a defence of the origins of the Qur'an often cited by Muslims as an example of scientific foreknowledge in sacred texts. Many Muslims believe the only way this information could have bee obtained was Allah. There are many claims that are made, such that the Qur'an predicted the Big Bang and the speed of light.

"Could it be a coincidence that all this recently discovered scientific information from different fields was mentioned in the Quran, which was revealed fourteen centuries ago? Could this Quran have been authored by Muhammad or by any other human being? The only possible answer is that this Quran must be the literal word of God, revealed by Him.[1]"


Origins of the universe and the Big Bang[edit]

Orbits of the planets[edit]

"God hints at such orbit in the Quran: 'GOD is the ONE who created the night, the day, the sun, and the moon. Each one is travelling in an orbit with its own motion' (21:33). Here an essential scientific fact is clearly stated, namely, the existence of the earth's, sun'so and moon's orbits; besides, a reference is made to the travelling of these celestial bodies in space with their own motion! A new concept had therefore been established in the Quran, hundreds of years before it was discovered by modern science." —Islami City Science Article

  • The verse says the Sun and Moon have orbits but says nothing of the Earth having one. This is consistent with geocentrism. This verse did not introduce a new cosmological idea.

Speed of light[edit]

Chapter 32 verse 5 of the Qur'an reads: "GOD rules the cosmic affair from the heavens to the earth. Then this affair travels, to Him(i.e.,through the whole universe) in one day, where the measure is one thousand years of your reckoning." Using some mathematics, some Muslims conclude that this verse predicts the speed of light and thus the Qur'an is true and inspired by Allah (such as Dr. Mansour Hassab-Elnaby in his article "A New Astronomical Quranic Method for The Determination Of The Greatest Speed C"). However, there are many problems with this argument.

  • The verse is not unique to the Qur'an. One can find the same idea in Psalms 90:4.
  • The mathematics use modern measurements rather than the slightly different measurements contemporary to the Qur'an. That is an unstated assumption in the mathematics that the author would be using modern, more-accurate, data rather than the data available to him. One could say that's begging the question.
  • Some of the mathematics are invalid because an improvising, ad hoc, number was inserted so the calculation gave the desired result.
  • Even if the Qur'an predicted the speed of light accurately, the conclusion "Allah inspired the verse" is a non sequitur because Satan, aliens, Atlanteans, and so on could've inspired it.


Combining these guesses[edit]

"The Qur'an rightly says that everything is made up of water. If it is a guess, the chances that it will be correct is 1/10,000 and the probability of all the three guesses i.e. the earth is spherical, light of moon is reflected light and everything is created from water being correct is 1/30 x 1/2 x 1/10,000 = 1/60,000 which is equal to about .0017%. 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.[2]"

This is based on the false dichotomy that the information is either a guess or divinely inspired.

Counter arguments[edit]

This argument is severely undermined by the scientific inaccuracies in the Qur'an. Ignoring these is simply cherry picking the evidence.

Many of these scientific insights are attainable using some thought, careful observation or some experimentation. Much of this knowledge had already been discovered by ancient civilizations like the Greeks and Chinese. Folk wisdom often contains a few elements of truth. If this knowledge was completely out of the reach of humans, we would not be in a position to verify it scientifically!

This is an argument from ignorance because other possibly explanations for the knowledge have not been ruled out, including aliens, an advanced ancient culture, etc.


External links[edit]