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Religion and Science – Are They in Conflict?

Religion and Science is a topic that has attracted a tremendous amount of attention in recent times. It has become a meeting point for scientists, philosophers and¬† carservice2u¬†theologians in a very constructive fashion. According to Oxford dictionary the word religion means ”belief in a superhuman controlling power especially in a personal God or gods entitled to obedience and worship” and has been described as such by many people. The word science comes from the Latin “scientia,” meaning knowledge. I should like to stress, that I use the word science to mean knowledge which has been soundly established. It does not include the theories which, for a time, help to explain a phenomenon or a series of phenomena, only to be abandoned later on in favour of other explanations. These newer explanations have become more plausible thanks to scientific progress.

Vocal materialistic scientists such as Richard Dawkins, have in recent times, aggressively peddled the idea of religion and science as being in a perpetual state of conflict. These beliefs are not uncommon. Many educated atheists have beliefs similar along these lines and its about time that these and other misconceptions are cleared. Firstly if religion and science are in conflict which religion in particular? Is it Hinduism, Buddhism or Christianity? Secondly what is meant by the word ”conflict” in this context? And finally what ”science”? Are they talking about a conflict between established scientific data and certain verses in the holy books of all religions? Or is it a conflict between unproven and undependable scientific theories and hypotheses that always seem to take ”U-turns”? Questions such as these are never raised let alone answered by the scientific community at large. However we will try and answer these questions from a logical point of view in this discussion.

Contradictions
Almost all religions contain internal/external contradictions in their authentic holy scriptures and there’s no point in lying or hiding behind linguistic acrobatics or ”metaphorical” interpretation of certain passages. Also nearly all religions contains scientific and mathematical errors that are logically unacceptable and which weakens their argument for the right to be called ”divine revelations”.

The Glorious Qur’an
Let’s analyse the second largest religion, Islam. Let us see what the relationship between modern established scientific data and Quranic passages are.

Astronomy

Creation of the Universe

It seems here there’s a different situation. No longer do we have a religious book littered with contradictions but a religious book which actually anticipates modern scientific data by more than 1400 years. We will begin with astronomy and analyse what the Quran says. The Qur’an contains the following verse on the origin of the universe in Surah 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”? The striking congruence between the big bang and the Quranic verse is inescapable! The meaning of this verse was confirmed by Dr. Alfred Kroner. He is one of the world’s renowned geologists and a Professor of Geology and the Chairman of the Department of Geology at the Institute of Geosciences, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany. He said: “Thinking where Muhammad came from… I think it is almost impossible that he could have known about things like the common origin of the universe, because scientists have only found out within the last few years, with very complicated and advanced technological methods, that this is the case.” Also he said: “Somebody who did not know something about nuclear physics fourteen hundred years ago could not, I think, be in a position to find out from his own mind, for instance, that the earth and the heavens had the same origin.”

Initial Gaseous Mass Before the Creation of Galaxies

Modern Cosmologists and Astrophysicists state that before the galaxies in the Universe were formed, celestial matter was initially in the form of gaseous matter. In simple terms, huge gaseous matter or clouds were present before the formation of the galaxies. To describe initial celestial matter, the word ‘smoke’ is more appropriate than gas. The following Qu’ranic verse refers to this state of the Universe by the Arabic word Dukhann which means smoke.
Then He turned to the heaven when it was smoke… (Quran, 41:11)

Scientists now can observe new stars forming out of the remnants of this ‘smoke’. The illuminating stars we see at night were, just as was the whole of galaxies, in that ‘smoke’ material.

Individual Orbits of the Sun and Moon

”It is not permitted to the Sun to catch up the Moon, nor can the Night outstrip the Day: Each just swims along in its own orbit (according to law).” (36:40)
This verse mentions an essential fact discovered only recently by modern astronomy, i.e. the existence of the individual orbits of the Sun and the Moon, and their journey through space with their own motion. The Quranic verse is in perfect conformity with modern scientific discoveries in this field.

Shape of the Earth is Spherical

Previously, in the olden days people believed that the earth was flat. For centuries, men were afraid to venture out too far, for fear of falling off the edge! Sir Francis Drake was the first person who proved that the earth is spherical when he sailed around it in 1597. The earth is not exactly round like a ball, but geo-spherical i.e, it is flattened at the poles. The following verse contains a description of the earth’s shape:

”And the earth, moreover, hath He made egg-shaped”. (79:30)

The Arabic word for egg here is dahaahaa which means an ostrich-egg. The shape of an ostrich-egg resembles the geo-spherical shape of the earth.

Thus the Qur’an correctly describes the shape of the earth, though the prevalent notion when the Qur’an was revealed was that the earth was flat.

Interstellar Matter

Space outside organized astronomical systems was earlier assumed to be a vacuum. Astrophysicists later discovered the presence of bridges of matter in this interstellar space. These bridges of matter are called plasma, and consist of completely ionized gas containing equal number of free electrons and positive ions. Plasma is sometimes called the fourth state of matter (besides the three known states viz. solid, liquid and gas). The Qur’an refers to the presence of this interstellar material in the following verse:

“He Who created the heavens and the earth and all that is between.” [Al-Qur’an 25:59]

It would be ridiculous for anyone to even suggest that the presence of interstellar galactic material was known 1400 years ago! A similar message is conveyed in the Qur’an in 13:2, 35:13, 39:5 and 39:21.

The Expansion of the Universe

The observational evidence for the expansion of the Universe was first provided by an eminent American astronomer, by the name of Edwin Hubble in 1929. In this year Hubble formulated the empirical Redshift Distance Law of galaxies, nowadays termed simply Hubble’s law, which, if the redshift is interpreted as a measure of recession speed, is consistent with the solutions of Einstein’s equations of general relativity for a homogeneous, isotropic expanding space. The expansion of the universe is now an established scientific fact. This is what the Qur’an says regarding the nature of the universe:

”And it is We Who have constructed the heaven with might, and verily, it is We Who are steadily expanding it.” [Al-Qur’an 51:47]

The Arabic word musioon is correctly translated as ‘expanding it’, and it refers to the creation of the expanding vastness of the universe.

BOTANY

PLANTS HAVE MALE AND FEMALE

In the olden days, humans did not know that plants too have male and female gender distinctions. Botany states that every plant has a male and female gender. Even the plants that are unisexual have distinct elements of both male and female.

“‘And has sent down water from the sky.’ With it have We produced diverse pairs of plants each separate from the others.” [Al-Qur’an 20:53]

FRUITS HAVE MALE AND FEMALE

“And fruit of every kind He made in pairs, two and two.” [Al-Qur’an 13:3]

Fruit is the end product of reproduction of the superior plants. The stage preceding fruit is the flower, which has male and female organs (stamens and ovules). Once pollen has been carried to the flower, they bear fruit, which in turn matures and frees its seed. All fruits therefore imply the existence of male and female organs; a fact that is mentioned in the Qur’an.

In certain species, fruit can come from non-fertilized flowers (parthenocarpic fruit) e.g. bananas, certain types of pineapple, fig, orange, vine, etc. They also have definite sexual characteristics.

EVERYTHING MADE IN PAIRS

“And of everything We have created pairs.” [Al-Qur’an 51:49]

This verse lays emphasis on everything. Besides humans, animals, plants and fruits, it may also be referring to electricity in which the atoms consist of negatively – and positively – charged electrons and protons. And many more things!

 

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