The Big Bang in the Quran
Muslims claim many scientific truths that were discovered recently were already mentioned in the Quran. Dr. Zakir Naik has a list of them and has convinced many Muslims of those claims. In these series I will discuss several of them.
Here is the claim made by Dr. Naik:
As far as Qur’an and modern Science is concerned, in the field of ‘Astronomy’, the Scientists, the Astronomers, a few decades earlier, they described, how the universe came into existence – They call it the ‘Big Bang’. And they said… ‘Initially there was one primary nebula, which later on it separated with a Big Bang, which gave rise to Galaxies, Stars, Sun and the Earth, we live in.’ This information is given in a nutshell in the Glorious Qur’an, in Surah Ambiya, Ch. 21, Verse No. 30, which says, “Do not the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together, and we clove them asunder?’ Imagine this information which we came to know recently, the Qur’an mentions 14 hundred years ago.
In his fervor to make the Quran look scientific Dr. Naik overlooks the fact that the theory of Big Bang precludes the concept of creation. If the Big Bang is true then the story of the creation and Adam and Eve must be false and vice versa.
Dr. Naik should have at least studied the theory of the Big Bang before commenting on it. The theory of the Big Bang stipulates that about 13.7 billion years ago a tremendous explosion started the universe. Prior to that event all of the energy that was later transformed into matter was contained at one infinitely small point (not nebula). This explosion, not only gave birth to the particles that gave birth to the matter, but also to space and time.
The Big Bang actually consisted of an explosion of space within itself unlike an explosion of a bomb were fragments are thrown outward. The galaxies were not all clumped together, but rather the Big Bang lay the foundation for the universe. Therefore the notion of “separating the heaven and the earth” is absurd.
This is how the Big Bang took place
Furthermore, the earth is not separate from the universe. Galaxies are scattered everywhere. Each galaxy contains several hundred billion stars. Earth is a planet revolving around one of the stars in the Milky Way. Where is the separation between the heavens and the earth?
This is what the Qur’an says:
21:30, ‘The heavens and the earth were joined together, and we clove them asunder’
This is wrong. Earth is not separate from heaven. It is, as it has always been, and will forever be, a part of it.
The Quran gives also another version of the creation – Verse 41.11.
“Moreover He comprehended in His design the sky, and it had been (as) smoke: He said to it and to the earth: “Come ye together, willingly or unwillingly.” They said: “We do come (together), in willing obedience.”
These two verses contradict each other. Were the heaven and the earth joined together and Allah clove them asunder or were they apart and Allah told them to come together?
Of course both claims are false. The earth is inside the heaven and part of it. They can neither come together nor separate. The Qur’an gives two contradictory versions of the creation and both of them are wrong.
But where does the tale of God separating heaven and earth comes from? Muhammad hardly said anything that was new. The verse 21:30 rehashes Genesis 1: 6-9
6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
So if this explanation is a miracle, the credit should go to the Bible and not to the Qur’an. However, the origin of this tale dates back to pre-biblical stories of Babylonians and Mesopotamians.
The Qur’an is full of legends borrowed from the Bible. These in turn were based on the myths of ancient Sumerians, Babylonians, Canaanites, etc. Muhammad’s cosmology is the cosmology of the ancient people.
In pre-Hebrew Semitic myth two watery tumultuous beings, one male and one female, Apsu (sweet water) and Tiamat (salt water) give birth to a variety of sea monsters and gods. In the ensuing chaos Tiamat, the female creator, tries to take control. Her descendants unite against her, choosing one of their numbers –Marduk, the god of Babylon to lead them. Armed with a hurricane and riding a tempest drawn by four fiery steeds, Marduk meets Tiamat and her evil accomplice Kingu in battle and kills them both.
After the death of Tiamat her conqueror forms the heavens and the earth by cutting her body open “like a cockleshell” and lifting up one half to form the sky while leaving the bottom half as the earth:
“The lord rested; he gazed at the huge body, pondering how to use it, what to create from the dead carcass. He split it apart like a cockleshell; with the upper half he constructed the arc of sky, he pulled down the bar”. http://cc.usu.edu/~fath6/worldview.html
So the verse 21:30 is not talking about the big bang. It is rehashing a biblical tale that in turn was borrowed from ancient mythology.
Now, let us discuss the origin of the verse 41.11. In this verse the Quran says, the sky was smoke and God said to it and the earth to “come together,” which they did willingly.
Of course, God talking to inanimate objects such as heavens and earth and telling them “come together willingly or unwillingly” and they responding, “we will come willingly,” is good for children’s stories. Heaven and earth are made of gasses and rocks. They don’t have a will and don’t respond.
Furthermore, the earth was never separated from sky/heaven. So they could not have come together.
Let me quote all the four verses that talk about his cosmic event.
|41:9||Say: Is it that ye deny Him Who created the earth in two Days? And do ye join equals with Him? He is the Lord of (all) the Worlds.|
|41:10||He set on the (earth), mountains standing firm, high above it, and bestowed blessings on the earth, and measure therein all things to give them nourishment in due proportion, in four Days, in accordance with (the needs of) those who seek (Sustenance).|
|41:11||Moreover He comprehended in His design the sky, and it had been (as) smoke: He said to it and to the earth: “Come ye together, willingly or unwillingly.” They said: “We do come (together), in willing obedience.”|
|41:12||So He completed them as seven firmaments in two Days, and He assigned to each heaven its duty and command. And We adorned the lower heaven with lights, and (provided it) with guard. Such is the Decree of (Him) the Exalted in Might, Full of Knowledge.|
Here we see Muhammad saying that the first thing God did was to create the Earth in two days. Then he set on it the mountains and plants and animals. All this took another four days. “Then”, i.e. in the last day, after all the above was already done, he erected the sky.
ثُمَّ اسْتَوَى إِلَى السَّمَاء
This is not how the universe is formed. According to the above verses, the creation of the world starts with the creation of the Earth. Once the Earth is completed, it is filled with plants and animals, it is only then that Allah turns to the sky and lifts it up and adorns it with stars. Any school kid (not being fed with the Islamic nonsense) will tell you this is crazy.
The universe is estimated to be 13.7 billion years old. The Earth is only 4.5 billion years old. The first micro-organisms appeared 3.5 billion years ago. Although soft bodied creatures have appeared 3 billion years ago, the oldest animal fossil found is only 600 million years old. And we are just talking about “multi-celled” organisms such as sponge-like animals, cnidarians, and worms. The dinosaurs appeared in the Jurassic period, approximately 200 million years ago and became extinct over 60 million years ago. It is in these 60 million years that all the modern animals, birds and mammals have evolved.
When the universe was in gaseous form, i.e. over 13 billion years ago there was no earth and there were no creatures. The story of the evolution/creation given in the Quran is anachronistic and asinine. It has no resemblance to what science says. Every aspect of it is wrong. The verse 12 continues with this potty description of the creation. It says that He (Allah) completed them as seven firmaments in two Days. (Note how often Muhammad forgets that the Quran is supposed to be dictated by Allah and refers to its alleged author in third person).
What seven layers of heaven? There are no seven layers of heaven. This is fairytale. I explained this point here.
Then Muhammad says that Allah adorned the lower heaven with “lights” (stars), which is of course nonsense.
Similar tales can be found in the Bible and in the lore of the Sumerians, Babylonians and the Canaanites. These ancient people thought that the sky is made of seven layers pitched like a dome. The word اسْتوَى (erect, raise, stand, hoist, pitch) in this verse shows that Muhammad also thought, the sky is a dome that is pitched over the earth. In the verse 13.2 and 31.10 he even mentions that this sky is raised “without any pillars that ye can see”.
These are not scientific descriptions of the universe. They are based on the beliefs of primitive people about the universe. The word smoke in the verse 41:11 is not talking about the early state of the universe. It says before the dome of sky was raised, everything above the surface of the earth was like smoke. When the universe was a nebula the earth did not exist. It came to exist over nine billion years later.
The origin of this fable can be found in the myths of the Mesopotamians that I quoted already. When the great god Marduk, slew the serpent of the seas (Tiamat), he clove her body and hoisted the upper half as sky. He then firmly fixed the stars, arranging the constellations of the zodiac, and created the moon and set him as a creature of night, to make known the days monthly without failing”. (Note that Muhammad gave this very same answer when people asked him about the moon: “They ask you concerning the New Moons. Say: They are but signs to mark fixed periods of time in the affairs of men, and for Pilgrimage 2.189). In this way Marduk brought order to the universe. Marduk created seven heavens, and stationed each god (planets revolving around the sun were believed to be gods) to his appropriate sphere. Before that everything was formless and in a state of chaos.
The Big Bang Theory is just a theory. Unlike the theory of evolution, it has not been proven. An associate professor at the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan has proposed a new model of explaining the Universe. According to expert Wun-Yi Shu, mass, time, and length, some of the most basic aspects of the Cosmos, can be converted into each other as evolution takes place within the Universe. The explanation removes the necessity of accounting for the ever-increasing acceleration in the Cosmos by using the notion of dark energy. He proposes, time and space can be converted into each other by using a basic conversion factor, and namely the speed of light. Similarly, mass and length can be converted into each other. According to this theory the expansion of the Universe makes time convert into space, whereas mass changes into length. When the Cosmos will begin to contract, the exact opposite will take place.
Based on this new theory, the universe expands and contracts indefinitely which precludes the Big Bang. If this theory is proven right Hindus could claim that their sacred scriptures is scientific.
Based on this model time has no beginning and no end, which means there is no moment of creation and the world will never come to an end. Also that singularities such as the Big Bang and the Big Crunch (Universal contraction) cannot and did not exist. Another effect is that the Universe passes through alternating stages of acceleration and deceleration, similar to the way Earth experiences alternative reversals of its magnetic poles.