Friday, July 29, 2011

Oceanic structure in the Qur'an and "Western scholars touting "science" of the Qur'an

You also said you'd be interested to hear my interpretation of "waves upon waves" and once again seem to be claiming some sort of superhuman knowledge of oceonography and internal waves on behalf of the author of the Qur'an. Leaving aside my immediate reaction that "waves upon waves" is so vague as to be balmost meaningless, I thought I'd look to see what the net made of this...20+ pages of Islamic sites vaunting the "miracle" which apparently goes back to one poor western scientist hoodwinked into making one statement. Please read the Wall Street Journal article below. I have shortened it somewhat but, if you're interested, I can let you have the whole thing. I have highlighted the salient section - but I think the rest is pretty damning...

Western Scholars Play Key Role In Touting 'Science' of the Quran
Leigh Simpson, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, is a church-going Presbyterian. But thanks to a few conferences he attended back in the 1980s, he is known in parts of the Muslim world as a champion of the doctrine that the Quran, Islam's holy book, is historically and scientifically correct in every detail.
Dr. Simpson now says he made some comments that sound "silly and embarrassing" taken out of context, but no matter: Mideast television shows, Muslim books and Web sites still quote him as saying the Quran must have been "derived from God," because it foresaw modern discoveries in embryology and genetics.

Publicity Machine
Dr. Simpson is just one of several non-Muslim scientists who have found themselves caught up in the publicity machine of a fast-growing branch of Islamic fundamentalism.
Dubbed "Bucailleism," after the French surgeon Maurice Bucaille, who articulated it in an influential 1976 book, the doctrine is in some ways the Muslim counterpart to Christian creationism. But while creationism rejects much of modern science, Bucailleism embraces it.

In 1984, after being denied a permanent position at King Abdulaziz, Mr. Zindani turned to the Muslim World League, a nonprofit organization primarily funded by the Saudi government. The World League provided financial support to establish the Commission on Scientific Signs. Mr. Ahmed, who moved to Chicago in 1983, was put on its payroll at $3,000 a month, and traveled from coast to coast cultivating U.S. and Canadian scientists.
The commission drew the scientists to its conferences with first- class plane tickets for them and their wives, rooms at the best hotels, $1,000 honoraria, and banquets with Muslim leaders -- such as a palace dinner in Islamabad with Pakistani President Mohammed Zia ul- Haq shortly before he was killed in a plane crash. Mr. Ahmed also gave at least one scientist a crystal clock.
Mr. Ahmed, who left the commission in 1996 and now operates an Islamic elementary school in Pennsylvania, says he reassured the scientists that the commission was "completely neutral" and welcomed information contradicting the Quran. The scientists soon learned differently. Each one was given a verse from the Quran to examine in light of his expertise. Then Mr. Zindani would interview him on videotape, pushing him to concede divine inspiration.
Marine scientist William Hay, then at the University of Colorado, was assigned a passage likening the minds of unbelievers to "the darkness in a deep sea ... covered by waves, above which are waves." As the videotape rolled, Mr. Zindani pressed Prof. Hay to admit that Muhammad couldn't have known about internal waves caused by varying densities in ocean depths. When Prof. Hay suggested Muhammad could have learned about the phenomenon from sailors, Mr. Zindani insisted that the prophet never visited a seaport. Prof. Hay, a Methodist, says he then raised other hypotheses that Mr. Zindani also dismissed. Finally, Prof. Hay conceded that the inspiration for the reference to internal waves "must be the divine being," a statement now trumpeted on Islamic Web sites.
"I fell into that trap and then warned other people to watch out for it," says Prof. Hay, now at a German marine institute.

While disdained by most mainstream scholars, Bucailleism has had an important role in attracting converts to Islam and in keeping young, Western-leaning adherents faithful. Widely taught in Islamic secondary schools, the doctrine fosters pride in Muslim heritage, and reconciles conflicts that students may feel between their religious beliefs and secular careers in engineering or computers.

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