Christians and Muslims love to trumpet what they think is the amazing scientific accuracy of their respective holy books (while of course denying that the other is). I have already produced another article which exposes the general problems with such claims, which you can see here.
So instead of just refuting Muslim claims, this article will focus on showing some of the scientific inaccuracies of the Quran, thus demonstrating that it is anything but “divinely inspired”.
Created the earth in six days
The Quran claims that Allah made the earth in six days. This one probably isn’t a surprise to many people, but I mention it because there is no way to construe “days” as referring to “ages” as some Christians try to argue is the case with the Bible (which is also easily disproved). The verses make it clear that they refer to the regular 24-hour, “night-and-day”, sort of days.
For example, verse 7:54 reads, “Your Guardian-Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and is firmly established on the throne (of authority): He draweth the night as a veil o’er the day, each seeking the other in rapid succession.” After mentioning the six days of creation, the verse immediately refers to night coming over the day in succession, thereby proving that it is speaking about day-night cycle days, not “ages”. Also see verses 10:3, 11:7, 25:59, 50:38, and 57:4.
Birds are held up by magic
This is one of my favorites. The authors of the Quran (Muhammad, or perhaps others who added to it) had so little understanding of the natural world that they thought the flight of birds could only be explained by supernatural powers. Verse 16:79 says, “Do they not see the birds held (flying) in the midst of the sky? None holds them but Allah.”
Rather than saying that Allah had designed birds to be able to fly, as modern Muslims argue; or that birds are held up by the physical dynamics of their wings and the particles of oxygen and nitrogen that surround them, the Quran just says that birds are held by by Allah’s own power. To express scientific knowledge, the Quran should have been more explicit and more correct. It could even have remained poetic and still accomplished this – perhaps even by likening birds to a person swimming in water – but instead it chose to express a purely magical view.
Baby Jesus can talk (very well)
This one isn’t so much an unscientific verse regarding nature, as it is simply funny (although certainly scientifically false). Verses 19:29-30 of the Quran depict baby Jesus being able to talk immediately after being born.
Just after giving birth, Mary approaches a group of people and say ask “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?” Now that would normally be a reasonable question. But in this case, the less-than-a-day-old baby Jesus eloquently replies “I am indeed a servant of Allah. He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet.” He is surely above the reading level of his peers to say the least. The only thing more miraculous is that Muslims actually believe this story.
The Quran makes several references that indicate the authors copied the ancient, and incorrect, belief in “celestial spheres”. These were imagined to be crystalline orbs encircling the earth like Russian nesting dolls, and they were considered different levels of the heavens, and they served as the location for stars and planets to abide.
The Quran reveals its flawed cosmological view in verses like 37:6 which says that Allah “adorned the nearest heaven with an adornment of stars”, and 79:28 which refers to Allah having raised the “ceiling” of heaven as if it were a solid wall. And verses 67:3 and 5 even say that God “created the seven skies one above the other…. [and] adorned the lowest sky with lamps…”
Mountains prevent the earth from shaking
31:10 in the Quran says, “[God] created the heavens without pillars that you see and has cast into the earth firmly set mountains, lest it should shift with you.”
This one actually has a couple problems with it but I’ll focus on the part about the mountains. The verse says that he created mountains so that the earth won’t shake, but to anyone with even the most basic scientific knowledge of mountains, this verse makes no sense at all. Mountains do nothing to stabilize the planet, and they are not like structures “cast into” the earth. They are accrued material built up on the surface. Also, due to the fact that mountains are places where the earth’s crust has run against itself and piled up material, mountains are actually places where the earth has shifted and shaken the most. (Other verses mentioning that Allah put mountains in the earth to prevent it from shaking can be seen in 16:15 and 21:31)
Now to point out some of the other issues in this verse, the Quran also mentions that God “created the heavens without pillars” (at least that we can see, according to this verse). But why would space and light elements like oxygen be expected to have anything to do with pillars? The Quran’s authors clearly had no understanding of physics or the nature of the sky in this regard. This verse implies belief in a solid heaven, as mentioned in my point about the Quran’s belief in “celestial spheres”.
Lastly, the verse goes on to say “and [God] dispersed therein from every creature. And We sent down rain from the sky and made grow therein [plants] of every noble kind” and uses that as a premise for the next verse (31:11), which says “Such is God’s creation. Show me now what those (they worship) beside Him have created. Surely the evil-doers are in clear error.” But as is characteristic of religion, the logic used there is asinine. Other religions just claim that their god created those things, so they could just as easily use those same arguments agaisnt Islam. All the “arguments” in the Quran used to prove Allah’s existence can simply be asserted for Marduk, Gaia and Ouranos, Brahma, or any other spiritual belief.
Eclipses can’t happen
Verse 36:40 indicates that eclipses should never happen. It reads, “Neither is it allowable to the sun that it should overtake the moon, nor can the night outstrip the day; and all float on in a sphere.”
This is a conceptualization of the cosmos in which things are very ordered, with the sun and moon perhpas even on the same “track”, and where the sun and moon occupy only the day or night, respectively. But in reality the sun and moon can indeed “overtake” each other and appear in the same spot in the sky – and furthermore, the effect of this is that the sun can be blotted out thus, in essence, causing “night” during the daytime.
The earth and heavens don’t move
The Quran states in 30:25 that “Another of [God’s] signs is that the heavens and the earth stay in position by His command; and then when He will call you once you will come out of the earth.”
And similarly in 35:41 the Quran tells us, “Verily God holds the heavens and the earth in position lest they deviate; and if they deviated there will be none to hold them in place, apart from Him.”
There are two ways of interpreting the meaning of these passages and both would be scientifically incorrect beliefs.
One way would be that the verse means the earth doesn’t shift or shake. But this would be false due to observable events like earthquakes. The earth is in fact always moving and shifting, sometimes quite violently.
The other way would be to infer that it is talking about space, the stars, and the planet Earth as a whole. But we have discovered that neither the Earth nor heavens remain in place. The Earth goes about an orbit and flies through space, while the heavens – stars and space itself – expand and move in complex patterns guided by the force of gravity. In fact, even the appearance of constellations changes over time as Carl Sagan described in Cosmos, due to the changing positions of stars and galaxies. So there is no way to interpret this verse as meaning anything scientifically accurate unless you simply ignore that it says and just take a presuppositional position and assume the Quran is always true.