Archive for the ‘SCIENCE!’ Category


Remember when we were all in grade school and we were taught about space? Didn’t it sound amazing?

It sure did then… and sure does, even now. There are some crazy things going on in space that we are still discovering. With its seemingly endless landscape, space will always be something that we are studying. Here are some of the weirdest things we have seen while studying the sky.

1.) Massive Electric Currents

These currents have beens pied radiating from black holes. One has been spotted that is about 1.5 times the size of our whole Milky Way galaxy. That’s shocking!

2.) Pluto’s Ice

The temperature on the (former) planet Pluto is so low that the ice found on the planet is harder than most steel. You have the -390 degrees Fahrenheit to thank for that.

3.) Giant Stars

This is a comparison of our sun (which is massive by the way) to a newly discovered star called VY Canis Major (which is, how do I put it…much more massive). This star is so big that its collapse could have major implications for the entire universe.

4.) The Diamond Planet

This planet looks like it will be “forever.” Scientists recently happened upon a planet of diamond. Well, okay not the whole planet, but 1/3 of the planet is diamond which is good enough for me to deem it crazily interesting.

5.) Mercury’s Mickey

While scoping out what the planet Mercury is up to, scientists discovered a familiar Earthly site. It looks like there was a visitor to the planet, one Mr. Micky Mouse.

6.) Hypervelocity Stars

Shooting Stars aren’t actually stars. They are meteors shooting through the galaxy. BUT! There are such things as shooting stars. They travel millions of miles an hour and I hope we don’t come into contact with one any time soon.

7.) The Burning Ice Planet

This planet burns at 439 degrees Celsius, but the water molecules don’t melt or evaporate. They bone together to form what is known as, “hot ice.”

8.) A Giant Water Reservoir

This cloud is light years away but it holds roughly 140 trillion times the amount of water on Earth. Bring your swim trunks, kids!

9.) Dark Energy

Dark Energy accounts for 68% of the known universe and it is the catalyst for what is making the universe expand.

10.) Unicorns

The Trifid Nebula bares a resemblance to the mythical creature but in all actuality, it is not a unicorn. Sorry.

11.) An Almost Habitable Planet

This planet the was found near the planet of Burning Ice actually, doesn’t spin so it is uninhabitable on the side facing the its sun and the side away from its sun, but the areas in between are apparently habitable.

12.) A Giant Cloud

This is one of the largest known things, not just clouds, THINGS in the known universe. It is the Himiko Cloud and it is over half the size of our galaxy. I hope it doesn’t bring rain with it.

13.) A Cold Star

Most stars are known for being blazing hot, but this star that has been found is actually not as hot as YOU! That’s right, you are hotter than a star. Our body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, stars have been found that are only 89 degrees.

14.) The Large Quasar Goup

What is scary about this Large Quasar Group isn’t only its size (40x bigger than the Milky Way), it is that it breaks the laws of physics as we know it.

15.) Dark Matter

27% of the visible universe is the mysterious Dark Matter. Spooky right?

16.) Fast Moving Black Holes

These collapsed stars are hurling themselves through the universe eating up whatever matter or light they can. Not only do they move at speeds in the millions of miles per hour, but once they consume something, their direction changes. We could be on the verge of a catastrophic disaster and we wouldn’t even see it coming due to the unpredictable nature of these black holes.

Most of these facts are pretty far out… Literally. You may not not just what’s going on in space (and let’s face it, most scientists don’t, either). However, you should learn what you can! Share this post by clicking the button below – spread the space knowledge.

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While it is normal to occasionally feel sad, when a person has major depressive disorder, they experience a severely depressed mood that can remain for years at a time. This is often referred to as depression, which can interfere with daily functioning and cause distress for both the person with the disorder and their family. With an estimated 16 percent of adults suffering from depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, cases of depression are by no means isolated.

With everyone from doctors to therapists to herbal specialists chiming on the subject, reading more about depression can help both patients and caregivers make better decisions. If you are high in desire to learn but low on the wallet, there are options. To help out, I have gathered the below top 25 free and useful eBooks about depression. They are authored by everyone from licensed therapists to those who have suffered some type of depression.

Top Free and Useful eBooks About General Depression

  1. How to Survive the Loss of a Love
    Because there is nothing more saddening than the death of a loved one, stop here. This book by three professionals has been read by over two million people. All 67 parts are available to read with just a click and the part on Understanding Loss is a good introduction.
  2. How to Heal Depression
    Harold H. Bloomfield and Peter McWilliams return in this book on depression. Four parts include understanding depression, healing the brain, healing the mind, and continuing healing are all shared. You can also learn more on how St. John’s Wort is used in the treatment of depression.
  3. You Can’t Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought
    Because everyone is susceptible to negative thought, not just those with depression, click here. The book is intended for people with any life threatening illness. Chapters include the disease, the cure, and even the three steps to positive thought.
  4. A Collection of Poems About Depression
    If you or someone you know are suffering from depression, it can be easy to feel alone. In this collected work, the author shares poems made in the 90’s when suffering from depression. Peter Stone shares about ten years’ worth of experience battling the disease.
  5. Cure Chronic Anxiety and Depression
    Think you may have either? Then check out this free eBook from Sarah Shikitao-Brown. Natural happiness is also a topic of the book.
  6. Help for Anxiety, Phobias, OCD, and Depression
    Because depression can also come with other mental health problems, have a read of this book. Terry Dixon gives insight into anxiety-related problems and how to deal with them. It also provides information that can be helpful for leading the reader toward a better understanding of the causes and cures for anxiety-based problems.
  7. Meditation and Depression
    Get an academic view of depression with a visit here. Willoughby B. Britton of the department of psychology at the University of Arizona is your author. Chapters are on a prelude to medication, the reversal of depression, the physiological effects of mindfulness, and much more.
  8. Understanding Depression
    Visit here for more of an online guide than traditional eBook. The folks at Help Guide feature basic information such as the signs, symptoms, causes, and help for those with depression. There are also loads of useful links on the topic.

Top Free and Useful eBooks About Psychology

  1. Online Self Help Psychology Book
    Licensed psychotherapist Thayer White authors this book for people with mental health changes in their lives. He argues that individuals can do 90 percent of therapy themselves. Chapters include creativity, weight loss, emotion, men and women, along with many other topics.
  2. Dream Psychology
    You don’t have to be an expert in psychology to recognize the name Sigmund Freud. One of the founders of the science authors this very book on the topic. Visit here to get it as HTML, Kindle, plain text, and more.
  3. Studies in the Psychology of Sex
    Is sexual frustration the cause or downsides to your depression? Then check out this free, popular choice from Havelock Ellis. There are several parts, all of which are available for free.
  4. Psychology and Achievement
    The thought of unfulfilled goals can be depressing to anyone. This free eBook by Warren Hilton examines this very thing. Wasted effort, wasted money, usefulness, and other topics are explored.
  5. Hierarchy of Needs
    Because everyone has several needs, see which are most important to you with a read of this book. Abraham Maslow is considered to be the father of Humanistic Psychology and author of this eBook. There is even a diagram of needs included which is often referred to in psychology.
  6. Classics in Psychology
    Get historical essays on the topic from 1855 to 1914. Many psychology students and experts often read this text as part of their studies. Emerging topics such as methodology, analyses, individual experiences, and more are all featured.
  7. Elements of Psychology
    Similar to the above, this text is often read by students and doctors of psychology. It was written at about 1923 and has been reconstructed for the modern day. Over 250 pages are available to read.
  8. The Conundrums of Psychology
    Sam Vaknin writes on the many problems of psychology. They include normal personality, the myth of mental illness, history of personality disorders, and many more. You can read the entire thing online or download from Scrib’d.
  9. Just Stop Having Problems, Stupid
    Sick of all the “psycho-babble?” So was Dr. Matt, a self-professed fake doctor who takes on realistic problems in a realistic way. Five outrageous chapters include “How to Compare Russell Crowe and Stone Phillips.”

Other Top Free and Useful eBooks About Depression

    1. Hypericum and Depression
      What is hypericum and how can it be used to treat depression? These and other questions are answered in this free eBook. It also includes summaries of medical studies done on the treatment.
    2. The Dark Side of Sleeping Pills
      We all may have turned to sleeping pills at one time or other. However, Dr. Daniel Kripke discusses them in detail and the risks associated with them. Better alternatives are also looked at.
    3. Brighten Your Life
      Dr. Kripke returns again in this free eBook. It is about how sleep can be used as a treatment for depression. How light is used in modern days takes center stage.
    4. A Book of Infinite Possibilities
      Melody Bass shares just what the title promises. She discusses how to focus on changing your thoughts, loving your life, and learning the art of trusting. Readers even stopped into comment on their approval of the book.
    5. Dream Interpretation as a Science
      Is a cigar a cigar? Your dreams can give you more insight to your depression or mental state than you think. Christina Sponias take on the topic in this free 86 page excerpt of her book.
    6. An Amateur’s Guide to Spirituality
      Could spirituality be a treatment for your depression, but you don’t know how? Then check out this guide from Ella Roberts to get the opinion of someone of the same mind set. She knows what is like to be lost spiritually and to ask the questions that need answering.
    7. Mother Teresa: A Biography
      Learn more about one of the most adored figures of our times. The book follows the journey of Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu from her humble Albanian birth to worldwide celebrity as Mother Teresa. All 174 pages are available as a PDF.
    8. 101 Motivational Quotes
      Finally, if you just need some inspiration, click here. Steven Grabek shares quotes from society’s greatest thinkers in this free eBook. It also tackles the loss of motivation and procrastination.

The above top 25 free and useful eBooks about depression are for educational and entertainment purposes only. Please consult a licensed physician or therapist if experiencing depression or before making changes to any medication plan.

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New research from the Aerospace Institute of the University of Stuttgart in Germany supports the theory that water has a memory—a claim that could change our whole way of looking at the world. Does water have memory? Can it retain an “imprint” of energies to which it has been exposed? This theory was first proposed by the late French immunologist Dr. Jacques Benveniste in a controversial article published in 1988 in Nature as a way of explaining how homeopathy works. Benveniste’s theory has continued to be championed by some and disputed by others. The video clip below, from the Oasis HD Channel, shows some fascinating recent experiments with water “memory” from the Aerospace Institute of the University of Stuttgart in Germany. The results with the different types of flowers immersed in water are particularly evocative.

If Benveniste is right, just think what that might mean. More than 70 percent of our planet is covered in water. The human body is made of 60 percent water; the brain, 70 percent; the lungs, nearly 90 percent. Our energies might be traveling out of our brains and bodies and into those of other living beings of all kinds through imprints on this magical substance. The oceans and rivers and rains might be transporting all manner of information throughout the world.

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Note: The aim of this article is not to reject the science related to evolution. Its aim is to evoke thinking about the scientific method and the philosophy of science.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 ”In questions of science the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.” Galileo Galilei

Over the past few decades there has been a growing discourse on science, evolution and its compatibility with Divine revelation. This discourse can be summarised in the following way: the theory of evolution has been established as a scientific fact therefore a believer in a particular revealed text, such as the Qur’an, must reconcile evolution with their holy book. If there is no hope for reconciliation there are three main outcomes: the religious text is discarded, evolution is renounced, or a hope for a better understanding of the religious text and evolution in the future. However, in this growing discussion there is a hidden premise. This premise is that science produces certainty, evolution is fact and science is the only way to establish or verify truth claims. This premise is assumed in the popular discussion amongst many religious people, popular scientists and even the media, and by not bringing this premise to the forefront of the debate many Muslims (and fellow theists) have been left confused and disheartened.

It is not the scope of this article to enter into a discussion concerning the various approaches taken by scholars and thinkers to reconcile evolution with revelation. What will be discussed is what can be described as a foundational approach to the discussion or what is sometimes referred to as anepistemic approach. We believe that this approach exposes the false assumption that the theory of evolution is a fact, or is certain. Therefore, the need for reconciliation is not entirely necessary. By understanding the scientific method and the philosophy of science, and applying the concepts and principles to evolution, it will be evident that it is not a fact, and thus does not reach the level of certainty. This is also true for many of the intellectual outputs of science.

It must be noted that science can reach a level of certainty – but this is very rare – and although highly effective, it has severe limitations. People need to understand this and limit it to its sphere. There are many areas of knowledge that science is de-scoped, in other words, it has no say. Therefore, people must be aware of the fanatics in this debate masquerading as bastions of truth and beacons of light for all to follow. These fanatics are the science fundamentalists who advocate a narrow and dogmatic approach to science. They presume and propagate naturalism, empiricism and scientism, all of which are incoherent and lead to philosophical absurdities. We strongly believe that people should beware of these popularisers, and understand what science really is – a blessing from God with limitations and unresolved problems concerning some of its claims to truth.

A Note on the Definition of a Fact and Certainty

The words fact and certainty in this article are going to be used interchangeably. In the context of the discussion they will mean the representation of a state of affairs (reality). The level of accuracy is affected by the type of assumptions and metaphysical presuppositions used to try and described the state of affairs. The words fact and certainty do not mean a workable theory or the best theoretical model that has yet to be proven false; this is a scientific and pragmatic approach which doesn’t take into consideration the epistemic value of a particular theory. What is meant by epistemic value is a particular theory’s level of accuracy in describing reality, a theory may be a fact from a scientific perspective, but it may have a very low epistemic value. In scientific terminology evolution is a fact, but this use of the term means confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent[1]. To deconstruct the term ‘fact’ from a scientific perspective the key term to understand is ‘confirmed’. In the context of evolution this confirmation is achieved with certain assumptions and metaphysical presuppositions. It is the purpose of this article to expose what these are, therefore, by understanding these assumptions and presuppositions it will allow the reader to think outside of the box, and appreciate that evolution is not certain, in other words it does not yet fully represent reality, even though it may be confirmed scientifically. This is why the termsfact and certainty used in this article will refer to guaranteed conclusions such as the conclusions from deductive arguments (to be discussed later). To confine ourselves to a definition of fact and certainty based on the assumptions and presuppositions of science would be incoherent because they are not established truths either – in reality some of them have been exposed as incoherent, problematic and baseless in this article.

The Epistemic Approach

The epistemic approach that we will use can be summarised in the following way; Since this whole discussion rests on the premise that evolution is a fact and has reached the level of certainty, then the easiest way to provide an intellectual response is to readdress the hidden premise. Is evolution a fact? What epistemic status does revelation have? By answering these two questions, the problem is solved. This approach follows the subsequent logical structure:

i.            Evolution is an intellectual product of science.

ii.            Science is made up of a process and a philosophy (the logic through which we build scientific knowledge, also known as the philosophy of science).

iii.            The scientific process is limited.

iv.            The philosophy of science – most of the time – does not produce certain knowledge (this type of non-certain knowledge in Islamic thought is known as al-‘ilm adh-dhann). When the philosophy of science is understood and applied to evolution, the conclusion is that it is not a fact and has not reached the level of certainty.

v.            Divine revelation is certain knowledge (this type of certain knowledge is known as al-‘ilm al-qat’i) which can be proven using deductive arguments.

vi.            Conclusions:

  1. Science is a limited method of study with its own scope and sphere.
  2. The philosophy of science brings to light a whole range of issues and problems concerning the theory and study of knowledge (epistemology).
  3. The philosophy of science, when applied to evolution, exposes it as not reaching the level of certainty.
  4. Revelation is a source of certain knowledge.
  5. In situations where science and Divine revelation are irreconcilable, revelation supersedes science.

A detailed analysis and justification for the above statements will follow.

i. Evolution is an intellectual product of science.

This is generally true, and does not require justification.

ii. Science is made up of a process and a philosophy (the logic through which we build scientific knowledge, also known as the philosophy of science).

Science is commonly thought to just involve a method or a set of steps that one has to take to ensure the results of an experiment or theory are scientific. While this is true, the philosophy of science – which is the way in which we reach conclusions from the results of a particular experiment – is often a neglected topic of popular science and rarely discussed in the public domain.

So what is the scientific method and the philosophy of science?

The scientific method

The word science comes from the Latin word scientia, meaning knowledge. A concise definition of science has been accurately stated by the philosopher Bertrand Russell,

The attempt to discover, by means of observation and reasoning based upon it, … particular facts about the world, and the laws connecting facts with one another.[2]

To elaborate on the above definition, the scientific method can be described in the following way. The scientific method:

  • Focuseson the physical natural world. Science can only answer in terms of natural phenomena and natural processes. When we ask questions like, what is the meaning of life? Does the soul exist? The general expectation is to have answers that are outside of the natural world — and hence, outside of science.
  • Aimsto explain the physical natural world. Science as a collective institution aims to produce more and more accurate natural explanations of how the natural world works, what its components are, and how the world got to be the way it is now.
  • Only accepts ideas that can be tested. For an idea to be testable, it must logically generate specific expectations – in other words, a set of observations that we could expect to make if the idea were true and a set of observations that would be inconsistent with the idea and lead you to believe that it is not true.
  • Relies on the evidencefrom testing a testable idea. Ultimately, scientific ideas must not only be testable, but must actually be tested – preferably with many different lines of evidence by many different people.[3]

So where does the philosophy of science fit it?

The philosophy of science focuses on deriving and building knowledge from the evidence gathered from testing a testable idea. For that reason, it concerns itself with the implications of the data collected from an experiment, the metaphysical assumptions used to interpret the data, and the thinking processes used to form conclusions based on scientific evidence.

iii. The scientific process is limited.

The limitations of the scientific process are rarely discussed. One key reason for this is that science has become a social enterprise. A social norm has developed that exclaims that science has replaced religion and is now the new gospel truth. Rupert Sheldrake, one of the world’s most innovative biologists and writers, who is best known for his theory of morphic fields and morphic resonance, highlights this point in his new book The Science Delusion,

Yet in the second decade of the twenty-first century, when science and technology seem to be at the peak of their power, when their influence has spread all over the world and when their triumph seems indisputable, unexpected problems are disrupting the sciences from within. Most scientists take it for granted that these problems will eventually be solved by more research along established lines, but some, including myself, think they are symptoms of a deeper malaise…science is being held back by centuries-old assumptions that have hardened into dogmas.[4]

It must be noted that the Islamic spiritual tradition does not reject science, it is quite the opposite; Islam is pro-science. According to historians of science, it was the Muslim intellectuals and scientists that were the pioneers of the scientific method. For instance, the Muslim physicist and scientist Ibn al-Haytham used experimentation to obtain the results in his Book of Optics published in 1021 CE. He combined observations, experiments and rational arguments to support his intromission theory of vision.[5] Also, the Islamic influence on the renaissance – via the establishment of Islamic Spain – was unprecedented, as Professor Thomas Arnold in his book The Preaching of Islam writes:

…Muslim Spain had written one of the brightest pages in the history of Medieval Europe. Her influence had passed through Provence into the other countries of Europe, bringing into birth a new poetry and a new culture, and it was from her that Christian scholars received what of Greek philosophy and science they had to stimulate their mental activity up to the time of the Renaissance.[6]

It is therefore fair to conclude that Islam has not been at odds with science, and this article does not intend to belittle science. In actual fact, science is seen to be a great blessing from God and a sign of His Mercy.

The scientific method is limited due to:

Sensory perception:

George Gaylord Simpson, the renowned evolutionist of Harvard, wrote,

It is inherent in any acceptable definition of science that statements that cannot be checked by observations are not really about anything—or at the very least they are not science.[7]

This means that what cannot be observed is outside the scope of science. For example, questions such as does God exist? and is there a soul? are outside the realm of the scientific method. This does not imply that such questions are meaningless, rather it exposes the limitations of the scientific process, as there are other methods that can provide answers to the above questions. The philosopher of science Elliot Sober verifies this limitation of science, he writes in his essay Empiricism,

At any moment scientists are limited by the observations they have at hand…the limitation is that science is forced to restrict its attention to problems that observations can solve.[8]

It is important to note that to claim that conclusions which have not been established via observation – and by extension science – are meaningless or false, is making the inaccurate assumption that science is the only method to verify claims to truth. This false assumption, known as scientism, will be discussed later.

Time:

Science cannot explain the past or the origins of things. For instance questions such as, what was before the Big Bang? and how did the first living cell emerge? are technically outside the realm of the scientific method. Enno Wolthius explains this in his book Science, God and You:

Science seeks to explain the behavior of that which is, and to check its explanation by means of experiments. But this experimental requirement can be met only in the present time. The past, and especially the beginning of things, lies beyond the grasp of this method, and so science can only speculate about the origin and history of the world.[9]

Morality:

In other words science is amoral. It cannot provide detailed answers to the following questions, how must we act? and what should we do? Science also removes any true meaning to our sense of objective moral obligation. If science were to be relied upon concerning this, the conclusions would lead to absurdities. Charles Darwin thought about this point in 19th century,

If…men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters, and no one would think of  interfering.[10]

What Darwin seems to be pointing out here is that our values would have no objective meaning from a scientific perspective, as we are just a by-product of a set of socio-biological circumstances. This is why the oft repeated statement you cannot get an ought from an is, is true. Science can tell us what is, but it cannot tell us what ought to be. This sense of ought is best explained outside of the scope of science, Professor of Theology and Ethics Ian Markham comments on this:

Embedded in the word ‘ought’ is the sense of  a moral fact transcending our life and world…The underlying character of moral language implies something universal and external.[11]

iv. The philosophy of science – most of the time – doesn’t produce certain knowledge (this type of non-certain knowledge in Islamic thought is known as al-‘ilm adh-dhann). When the philosophy of science is understood and applied to evolution, the conclusion is that it is not a fact and has not reached the level of certainty.

What this statement means is that – most of the time – the conclusions or implications of theoretical models and experimental data do not provide levels of knowledge that can be described as certain. The inconclusive, or non-certain  nature of science is due to major metaphysical assumptions used to interpret scientific results. This includes theoretical and experimental bias, which exposes the relative nature of scientific conclusions. When these assumptions are understood and applied to evolution the conclusion will be clear – it is not a fact and has not reached the level of certainty.

There are a whole range of conceptual, logical and philosophical issues in the philosophy of science that highlight the approximate and tentative nature of science:

The problem of Induction:

Induction is a thinking process where one makes conclusions by moving from the particular to the general. Arguments based on induction can range in probability from very low to very high, but always less than 100%.

Here is an example of induction:

I have observed that punching a boxing bag properly with protective gloves never causes injury. Therefore no one will be injured using a boxing bag.

As can be seen from the example above, induction faces a key problem which is the inability to guarantee the conclusion, because a sweeping generalisation cannot be made from a limited number of observations. The best it can provide are probabilities, ranging from low to very high.[A] In the aforementioned example the person who made the statement could not logically prove that the next person to punch a boxing bag will not get injured.

Therefore, the problem with induction is that it can’t produce certainty.[B] This issue was raised by the 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume in his book, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Hume argued that inductive reasoning can never produce certainty. He concluded that moving from a limited set of observed phenomena to making conclusions for an unlimited set of observed phenomena is beyond the present testimony of the senses, and the records of our memory.[12]

From a practical scientific perspective, generalisations made for an entire group or for the next observation within that group based on a limited set of data, will never be certain. For example, a scientist travelled to Wales and wanted to find out the colour of sheep (assuming he does not know the colour of sheep), and he started observing the sheep and recording what colour they are. Say after 150 sheep observations he found that all of them were white. The scientist would conclude based upon his data, using induction, that all sheep are white. This basic example highlights the problematic nature with the process of induction as we know sheep can also be black. Certainty using induction will never be achieved.

Professor Alex Rosenberg in his book Philosophy of Science: A Contemporary Introduction explains the problem of induction and he concludes that this is a key problem facing science; he writes,

Here we have explored another problem facing empiricism as the official epistemology of science: the problem of induction, which goes back to Hume, and added to the agenda of problems for both empiricists and rationalists. [13]

Since evolution is based on inductive generalisations from data, including direct and indirect observations, the conclusions from these will never be certain.

The problem with empiricism:

Empiricism claims that we have no source of knowledge in a subject or for the concepts we use in a subject other than sense experience. Philosopher Elliot Sober in his essay Empiricism explains the empiricist’s thesis,

Empiricists deny that it is ever rationally obligatory to believe that theories provide true descriptions of an unobservable reality…For an empiricist, if a theory is logically consistent, observations are the only source of information about whether the theory is empirically adequate.[14]

Empiricism suffers from limitations and logical problems. One form of empiricism – which we will call strong empiricism – is limited to things that can only be observed. This form of empiricism faces a whole host of logical problems. The main problem with strong empiricism is that it can only base its conclusions on observed realities and cannot make conclusions on unobserved realities. Elliot Sober explains this problem,

Empiricists need to address problems in the philosophy of perception. The most obvious first stab at saying what seeing an object involves is to describe the passage of light from the object into the eyes, with the result that a visual experience occurs. However, the invisibility of white cats in snowstorms and the fact that we see silhouettes (like the moon during an eclipse) shows that this is neither sufficient nor necessary.[15]

Further exploring Sober’s example, imagine you observe a white cat walking outside of a house towards the direction of an oncoming snowstorm; you can see the cat walking up to the snowstorm and then you can no longer see the cat. A strong empiricist’s account would be to deny that there is a cat in the snowstorm, or at least suspend any claims to knowledge. However, based on other intellectual tools at your disposal you would conclude that there is a white cat in the snowstorm regardless of whether or not you can observe one.

The problems faced by strong empiricism have not gone unaddressed by empiricists. They have responded by weakening their definition for empiricism by redefining empiricism to the view that we can only know something if it is confirmed or supported by sensory experience – we shall call this weak empiricism. Others have dogmatically maintained the view that the only way to truth is via direct observation and being supported by observation is not good enough. These responses have created an unresolved dilemma for the empiricist. The Philosopher John Cottingham exposes this problem in his book Rationalism:

But what about ‘all water at a given atmospheric pressure boils at 100 degrees Celsius’? Since this statement has the form of an unrestricted universal generalization, it follows that no finite number of observations can conclusively establish its truth. An additional and perhaps even more worrying problem is that when we reach the higher levels of science…we tend to encounter structures and entities that are not observable in any straightforward sense. Atoms, molecules, electrons, photons and the like are highly complex theoretical constructs…here we seem to be very far removed from the world of direct ‘empirical observation’…The positivists tended to respond to this difficulty by weakening their criterion for meaningfulness…it was proposed that a statement was meaningful if it could be confirmed or supported by sensory experience. However, this weaker criterion is uncomfortably vague…Statements about God or Freedom, or the nature of Substance, or the Absolute, may not be directly checkable against experience…The positivist thus seems to be faced with a fatal dilemma: either he will have to make his criterion so stringent that it will exclude the generalizations and theoretical statements of science, or else he will have to weaken his criterion sufficiently to open the door to the speculations of the metaphysician. The dilemma has remained unresolved to this day…[16]

In light of the above, since empiricism is used as a metaphysical assumption to justify evolution then it cannot claim certainty, as there is the main problem of the unobserved. It can be assumed that our observations do not encompass all phenomena therefore evolution is tentative, in other words it can change based upon future observations. For evolution to be certain, all phenomena related to the change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations must have been observed. Including observing all evolutionary processes that give rise to diversity at every level including species and individual organisms.

A prioriand Causality:

Empiricism is exposed as an incoherent metaphysical assumption because it claims that knowledge must be dependent on experience, known as a posteriori in the language of philosophy. If it can be shown that there are truths that are independent from experience, known a priori, then the empiricist’s thesis breaks down.

There are many truths that are known independent of experience and are necessarily true and not merely products of empirical generalisations. These include,

  • Mathematics and logical truths
  • Moral  and ethical truths
  • Causality
  • From semantics (deductive logic – discussed in detail later):
    • All bachelors are unmarried.
    • All bachelors are male.
    • Therefore all bachelors are unmarried males.

The innate knowledge of causality is an interesting way of exposing the empiricist’s worldview. Many empiricists in the field of quantum physics have rejected the idea of causality, known as determinism, for an indeterministic view. This contention has arisen due to the apparent observations in the quantum vacuum, that sub-atomic events behave spontaneously without any causes. From a philosophical perspective it is extremely difficult for these empiricists to justify their conclusions. This is because without the concept of causality we will not have the mental framework to understand our observations and experiences.

As mentioned above, causality is a priori, which means knowledge we have independent of any experience or observations. We know causality is true because we bring it to all our experiences, rather than our experience bringing it to us. It is like wearing yellow-tinted glasses; everything looks yellow not because of anything out there in the world, but because of the glasses through which we are looking at everything. Take the following example into consideration[C]; imagine you are looking at the White House in Washington DC. Your eyes may wonder to the door, across the pillars, then to the roof and finally over to the front lawn. You can also reverse the order of your perceptions. Contrast this to another experience, you are on the river Thames in London and you see a boat floating past. What dictates the order in which you had these experiences? When you looked at the White House you had a choice to see the door first and then the pillars and so on, as well as the ability to reverse the order of your perceptions. However, with the boat you had no choice as the front of the boat was the first to appear.

The point here is that you would not have been able to make the distinction that some experiences are ordered by yourself and others are ordered independently, unless we had the concept of causality. In the example of the boat you would not be able to understand the logical causal connection between the front of the boat and the back. In absence of causality our experiences would be very different from the way that they are. It would be a single sequence of experiences only: one thing after another. So to accept that sub-atomic events do not correspond with causality would be tantamount to denying our own experience. Philosopher John Cottingham summarises how observations already presuppose  causality,

But on Kant’s argument we would not be able to recognize the…event in the first place, unless there were a rule that makes it necessary that the order of our perceptions should be thus and not otherwise. In short, the very experience of an external event already presupposes an understanding of causal necessity.[17]

From this perspective, empiricism is faced with a huge problem. Either they accept that knowledge can be achieved outside of sensory experience or they reject causality and by doing so reject their own perceptions, which would be tantamount to rejecting empiricism itself.

Since empiricism is a key metaphysical assumption used to justify evolution, it then weakens the view that evolution is based on certainty, because empiricism faces many philosophical problems.

Popper’s Falsification, Kuhn & Feyerabend:

The philosophers and thinkers Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend radically changed our view on scientific theories. For instance, Karl Popper understood that the problem of induction will never be resolved and developed “falsification” to show which scientific theories were genuine and which where pseudo-science. Popper’s falsification states that theories cannot be proven to be true but they can be proved false. If a theory claims that something will be observed under certain circumstances, and it is not observed, then the theory is proved false.[18]

Conversely, Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend rejected the empiricist model of science but also Popper’s view that notions can be falsified by having their consequences checked against experience. Kuhn argued  that ‘normal science’  is practiced within a framework of assumptions and agreed practices, in other words it has its own paradigm. Data or experimental results that do not fit within that framework (known as anomalous results) are “routinely dismissed and explained away“[19]. Feyerabend argued that no theory can be completely consistent with the facts. He saw the use of improvised concepts to save the paradigm as essential to the progress of science. Feyerabend took examples from the history of science and argued that scientists regularly deviate from the scientific method when they use improvised ideas to explain observations that are only later justified by theory.

The key points of Kuhn and Feyerabend can be summarised in the following way:

  • A so-called observation may (and probably will) have observation bias.
  • New theories provide different conceptual lenses which will produce new ‘data’ – a new way of seeing things.
  • If observations depend on a theory and theory in some sense determines how we read the world, then there is no way of objectively deciding between two theories.[20]

Robert Sheldrake, one of the world’s most innovative biologists and writers, aptly summarises the above contentions,

Anyone who has carried out scientific research knows that data are uncertain, that much depends on the way they are interpreted, and that all methods have their limitations.[21]

Considering the perspectives on Popper, Kuhn and Feyerabend, it is obvious to see that scientific theories cannot be proven in a way that gives them status of certainty. Applying the concepts developed by Kuhn and Feyerabend, we can see that evolution also faces some theoretical problems, and therefore cannot be considered as certain. For example, language acquisition in human beings has caused theoretical problems for evolution. It is not the place to discuss this at length. However, the fact that human beings seem to have an innate ability to take meagre linguistic input and develop knowledge of language that extends far beyond anything that he has learned, cannot be explained by evolution.[22]  Noam Chomsky a proponent of this perspective on language acquisition argues the difficulty evolution has in providing an adequate explanation,

…it is quite pointless to speculate about the ‘evolution’ of human language from animal communication systems.[23]

Simon M. Kirby the British Computation Linguist also raises the challenges evolution faces concerning the development of language,

This highlights an important and difficult challenge facing the study of language evolution: the need for cooperation between different disciplines and between researchers working on different aspects of the problem. Without this cooperation a satisfactory account of the evolution of human language, and therefore of human language itself, is likely to be elusive.[24]

Naturalism:

Naturalism is the view that the super-natural does not exist. The universe is like a box, a closed system, nothing outside can interfere and natural laws are an adequate account for all phenomena. Naturalism is the ontology of most atheists and scientists. They believe that plain cold matter is the source and nature of reality. It has to be made clear here that naturalism is not an epistemological thesis – it doesn’t tell us how to obtain knowledge – it is an ontology, it is the lens with which some people use to describe the source and nature of reality. Therefore, having a naturalistic presupposition is obviously going to skew the way scientific facts and experimental data are interpreted.

Philosophical naturalism faces many issues and therefore should not be used as the lens in which scientific theories are developed. These problems are called ‘recalcitrant facts’. A recalcitrant fact is a fact that resists a theory. For example, if Joe Bloggs was charged with murdering his wife on Sunday 6th January 2013 at 6PM but he could show that he was at a football game outside of the country at the time, the very fact that he was not at the murder scene is a fact that resists the theory that he murdered his wife. So the theory is incoherent and fails. This is true for naturalism. There are many recalcitrant facts that indicate the incoherence of naturalism, some of them include:

  • Consciousness
  • Language acquisition
  • Objective moral truths
  • “Big Bang” cosmology
  • Free Will

Consciousness is an interesting and powerful topic to expose the incoherence of naturalism. For example, a naturalistic ontology cannot explain intentionality which is a product of consciousness. One of the pioneers in the field of Neuroscience Wilder Penfield, explained how when the cerebral cortex of a subject was probed, the subject’s hand would move. The subject was subsequently asked who moved his hand, and he would reply that he didn’t do it, that the neuroscientist did it. If the physical brain was the cause of all conscious activity such as the subject intending to move his hand, then by probing the brain it should also cause the subjective phenomenon of intending to do something. But this wasn’t the case; the subject clearly knew that he did not intend to move his hand. Penfield concluded that there is no place in the cerebral cortex where electrical stimulation will cause a patient to decide.[25]

Although the topic of consciousness requires volumes to be explained and to respond to materialistic objections, the point that to be noted here is that naturalism cannot fully explain consciousness, especially intentionality. The philosopher J. P. Moreland in his essay The Argument from Consciousness explains that there is no plausible naturalistic explanation for the emergence of consciousness,

The truth is that naturalism has no plausible way to explain the appearance of emergent mental properties in the cosmos. Ned Block confesses that we have no idea how consciousness could have emerged from nonconsious matter: ‘we have nothing – zilch – worthy of being called a research programme…Researchers are stumped’.[26]

Evolution is a naturalist’s project. Therefore interpretations of the relevant data and observations will be filtered via the metaphysical assumption of naturalism. Since naturalism is incoherent and faces its own philosophical issues, then it follows that evolution – which has been formulated via a naturalist ontology – cannot be certain.

Scientism:

Scientism claims that a proposition is not true if it cannot be scientifically proven. In other words if something cannot be shown to be true via the scientific method, then it is false. There are a few problems with scientism, some of which we have already discussed, for instance:

    • Scientism is self-defeating. Scientism claims that a proposition is not true if it cannot be scientifically proven. But the proposition itself cannot be scientifically proven! It is like saying “there are no sentences in the English language longer than three words” or “I cannot speak one word of English”.
    • Scientism cannot prove necessary truths like mathematics and logic. For example, If P, then Q. P. Therefore, Q[27] and 3 + 3 = 6 are necessary truths and not merely empirical generalisations.
    • Scientism cannot prove moral and aesthetic truths. For example love, beauty, right and wrong.
    • Science cannot prove other sources of knowledge. For example justified beliefs via ‘authentic testimony’.

A major problem with scientism is that truths can be established outside the scientific paradigm. As aforementioned, authentic testimony is a valid source of knowledge in which epistemologists have argued at length to explain that the say so of others can – within certain criteria – provide a basis for truth.

The epistemology of testimony is the branch of the theory of knowledge concerned with how we acquire knowledge and justified belief from the say-so of other people“.[28] Therefore, one of the key questions it tries to answer is how we successfully acquire justified belief or knowledge on the basis of what other people tell us.[29]

Many truths that we hold are on the basis of authentic testimony, because we trust the statements of others and we have no good reason to reject what they have said. This is especially so when we have multiple people telling us the same thing via different chains of transmission (known as tawattur reporting in Islamic thought). Professor C. A. J. Coady highlights some of the truths we accept on the basis of testimony, he writes,

Many of us have never seen a baby born, nor have most of us examined the circulation of the blood…[30]

 Assistant Professor Benjamin McMyler in his book Testimony, Truth and Authority, explains that some of the things he knows are due to testimony,

Here are a few things that I know. I know that the copperhead is the most common venomous snake in the greater Houston area. I know that Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo. I know that, as I write, the average price for gasoline in the U.S is $4.10 per gallon. All of these things I know on the basis of what epistemologists call testimony, on the basis of being told of them by another person or group of persons.[31]

Although this is a vast topic, there is a general consensus that authentic testimony is a source of knowledge. However, there are disagreements amongst epistemologists on how we validate the transmission of knowledge via testimony. Even scientists require testimony as a source of knowledge in order to understand science itself. For instance, there are many assumptions in science that are purely based on the say so of other scientists.

Whatever discussions there are around testimony, the key point to raise here is that it is a valid source of knowledge. Therefore, the view that science is the only way to establish truth, is false. Professor Keith Lehrer summarises the validity of testimony as a source of knowledge,

The final question that arises concerning our acceptance of testimony is this. What converts our acceptance of testimony of others into knowledge? The first part of the answer is that we must be trustworthy in our evaluations of the trustworthiness of others, and we must accept that this is so. Moreover, our trustworthiness must be successfully truth-connected, that is, the others must, in fact, be trustworthy and their trustworthiness must be truth-connected. We must accept this is so. In short, our acceptance of their testimony must be justified in a way that is not refuted or defeated by any errors that we make in evaluating them and their testimony. Undefeated or irrefutable justified acceptance of the testimony of others is knowledge.[32]

Although scientism – as an issue in the philosophy of science – does not seem to provide problems for evolution, it is useful to highlight that non-scientific sources of knowledge may also play a vital role in our understanding of who we are and where we came from. It logically follows that since science is not the only way to reach conclusions about things, then we should entertain the possibility of other routes to knowledge.

v. Divine revelation is certain knowledge (this type of certain knowledge is known as al-‘ilm al-qat’i)  which can be proven using deductive arguments.

If Divine revelation is from God, then by definition its knowledge claims are true or certain. There is the obvious caveat that this depends on our understanding of what the revelation says and if we have come to the correct interpretation, however, the point here is that since it comes from the Divine – who is the All-Knowing and transcends our limitations – then what the revelation says is going to be true. An important point to highlight is that there are some unequivocal verses in the Quran and some that are open to interpretation. It seems contradictory to make this claim about the Qur’an when some of its verses will be uncertain from the perspective of what they imply and mean. However, interpreting the Qur’an has been made an intellectual endeavour between suitably qualified exegetes. What we are saying here is that the proposition here concerns the ontology of knowledge – its source and nature. Therefore, if the Qur’an is from the Divine it follows that its knowledge claims are true, regardless if we understand what these claims to knowledge are, because by definition God is the All-Knowing and His knowledge transcends human knowledge. With respect to evolution we are assuming that if the verses in the Qur’an cannot be reconciled with the science, then the Qur’an takes precedence due to its Divine nature.

The article does not intend to present a detailed case for how the Qur’an is from God; however it is important to note that using methods outside of the scientific paradigm, it can be rationalised that the book cannot have come from a human being. In other words there are no naturalistic explanations to explain the authorship of the Qur’an. There are various arguments to justify the above claim. For instance, Muslims can rely on deductive arguments to explain the miraculous nature of the Qur’an. Deductive arguments are arguments which the premises guarantee the truth of the conclusion. If the premises of a deductive argument are true then it is impossible for the conclusion to be false.

Here are some examples of deductive arguments:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause

2. The universe began to exist

3. Therefore the universe has a cause

1. Stockholm is in Norway or Sweden.

2. If Stockholm is in Norway then it is in Scandinavia.

3. If Stockholm is in Sweden then it is in Scandinavia.

4. Therefore, Stockholm is in Scandinavia.

1. All men are mortal.

2. George is a man.

3. Therefore, George is mortal.

The above are examples of valid and sound arguments.  A deductive argument is valid if the conclusion follows from its premises. It is sound if its premises are true and it is valid. With regards to the Qur’an there are many deductive arguments that can substantiate its claim of being a Divine book. For example, there is a well known deductive argument concerning the literary miracle of the Qur’an,

1. A miracle is an event that lies outside of the productive capacity of nature (there are no causal links between the event and the nature of the event).

2. The Qur’an’s literary form lies outside of the productive capacity of nature (its literary form cannot be logically explained using the Arabic language).

3. Therefore, the Qur’an is a miracle (a miracle is an act of God).

This deductive argument is valid because the conclusion logically follows from its premises. It is sound due to an overwhelming amount of evidence to substantiate the premises claims. However, it is not the place to justify and explain this argument here, for more information please read the chapterThe Challenge in the Qur’an from the book The History of the Magnificent Qur’an published by Exhibition Islam.[33]

The point that needs to be understood here is that the Qur’an can be shown to be Divine revelation, and therefore its claims to knowledge are certain and factual.

vi. Conclusions.

In light of the above it can be concluded that not only have many people misunderstood evolution, but they have misunderstood science itself. Evolution may be a coherent explanation based upon its own metaphysical assumptions, theoretical limitations and philosophical presuppositions, but it is not certain knowledge. This is because the scientific method is limited and the intellectual tools used to understand the results and data from scientific experiments do not – most of the time – produce certainty. Since revealed texts are certain and science cannot produce certain knowledge, revealed texts will always supersede science if there is a need for reconciliation and if there are irreconcilable differences. For the Muslim, this revealed text is the Qur’an, and this text can be established as a Divine book outside of the method and philosophy of science using deductive arguments.

The irony of this evolution debate is that majority of the people who believe in evolution do so out of the testimony of others, namely our teachers at school or the books we read, because we haven’t done the experiments ourselves. This is no different than a new form of priesthood – the scientific priesthood! But we must be wary, teachers and scientists and priests are human beings, and humans err. For example Marc Hauser, a Harvard professor of biology, was found guilty of misconduct as he invented and falsified data in experiments on monkeys. This was not detected by peer reviewers but by a student whistleblower. Hauser, an atheist, authored the book Moral Minds: The Nature of Right and Wrong in which he claims morality is an inherited instinct and that atheists are just as ethical as churchgoers.[34] The point being made here is that although we must respect scientists and teachers, we should not do so blindly. Rather, we must always understand knowledge and claims of truth from an epistemological perspective, meaning does this knowledge have the right to claim certainty? By understanding the scientific method and its philosophy we can easily conclude that it is a blessing and mercy from God, but it does not – most of the time – produce certain knowledge.

This brings us to briefly address scientific consensus. Many people who claim that evolution is certain do so on the say-so of others. They cite the scientific consensus on the issue as a defeater to anyone who claims otherwise. However, if we look into the history of science this position is unsound. There are many examples to show that when the scientific and academic authorities of the time thought something to be 100% certain, they were later proved to be wrong. For example in 1843 Oliver Wendell Holmes published  work on the contagiousness of puerperal fever but the scientific community attacked his conclusion. Just a few years prior to Wendell in 1775 Dr Alexander Gordon published a paper on contagious nature of puerperal fever. His paper highlighted the importance of the correct hygiene as a means to prevent the spread of the disease. Nevertheless, his paper faced harsh criticism and immense opposition. Many lives would have been saved if the scientific consensus was less dogmatic and open to the fact that a consensus should be there to be broken, all of which is in the spirit of the scientific process. There are many similar examples in the history of science, and if we can learn anything from them, is that a scientific consensus on an issue doesn’t necessarily make it the truth.

Interestingly there have been intellectual exchanges and debates concerning philosophical issues in evolution. For example, in the academic volumeConceptual Issues in Evolutionary Biology, that was written to highlight the conceptual issues that arise in the theory and practice of evolutionary biology, its editor writes,

Evolutionary biology is a living, growing discipline, and the same is true of the philosophy of evolutionary biology. One sign that a discipline is growing is that there are open questions, with multiple answers still in competition.[35]

Even from an experimental and theoretical perspective there are many academics that have published peer reviewed work that still questions the coherence of evolution. For example a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Bioremediation, Biodiversity and Bioavailability, written by Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, Kurt Stüber, Heinz Saedler and Jeong Hee Kim, entitled ‘Biodiversity and Dollo’s Law: To What Extent can the Phenotypic Differences between Misopates orontium and Antirrhinum majus be Bridged by Mutagenesis’ concluded that the debate continues whether mutations and selection alone will be sufficient to produce all the new genetic functions and innovations necessary for the cytoplasm, membranes, and cell walls.[36]

On a final note, this reminds me of a personal conversation I heard of Richard Dawkins. Someone questioned the answer he gave to an audience member at the World Atheist Convention in Ireland, which was “why did you tell them not to study the philosophy of science and ‘just do the science’?”, his silence really spoke volumes. Once you study the philosophy of science you will start to appreciate science for what it is; a useful evolving tool (no pun intended). It is not the only way to justify claims to truth, and it does not necessarily give you certainties, especially if it is laden with assumptions, theoretical presuppositions and limitations.

Footnotes & References


[A] There are two main types of induction, strong induction and weak induction. Strong induction moves from the particular to the general in a way that makes a conclusion for the whole group. Weak induction moves from the particular to the general in a way that makes a conclusion for the next observation.

An example of strong induction is the conclusion that all ravens are black because each raven that has ever been observed has been black.

An example of weak induction is that because every raven that has ever been observed has been black, the next observed raven will be black.

[B] Induction can reach certainties but not in the form of generalisations. For example,

I observe an instance of A with the quality B.

Therefore, the nature of A allows B.

 If you have observed Crows that are black you can conclude with certainty that some Crows are black. But you could not achieve certainty if you concluded that all Crows were black based on a limited set of observations. This type of induction that produces certainty doesn’t apply to evolution as inductive reasoning in the form of generalisations is not certain.

[C] This argument has been adapted from the 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant’s book Kritik der Reinen Vernuft (A Critique of Pure Reason).

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                                              [1] http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_fact-and-theory.html

[2] Bertrand Russell. Religion and Science. Oxford University Press. 1935, p. 8.

[3] Adapted and taken from Understanding Science: How Science Really Works http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/whatisscience_03

[4] Rupert Sheldrake. The Science Delusion. Coronet. 2013, p. 6.

[5] D. C. Lindberg. Theories of Vision from al-Kindi to Kepler. University of Chicago Press. 1976, pp. 60–7.

[6] Thomas Arnold. The Preaching of Islam, p. 131.

[7] George Gaylord Simpson. The Nonprevalence of Humanoids. 1964. Science, 143:769, Feb. 21.

[8] Elliot Sober “Empiricism” in The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science. Edited by Stathis Psillos and Martin Curd. 2010, pp. 137-138.

[9] Enno Wolthius. Science, God & You. Baker Book House. 1963.

[10] Charles Darwin. The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. Second Edition. New York. 1882, p. 99.

[11] Ian Markham. Against Atheism: Why Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris Are Fundamentally Wrong. 2010,  p. 34.

[12] David Hume. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, p. 108.

[13] Professor Alex Rosenberg. Philosophy of Science: A Contemporary Introduction. 2012, p. 198.

[14] Elliot Sober “Empiricism” in The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science. Edited by Stathis Psillos and Martin Curd. 2010, p. 129.

[15] Elliot Sober “Empiricism” in The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science. Edited by Stathis Psillos and Martin Curd. 2010, p. 131.

[16] John Cottingham. Rationalism. Paladin. 1984, pp. 109 -110.

[17] Ibid p. 88.

[18] See Karl Popper. Conjectures and Refutations. Routledge and Keagan Paul, 1963, pp. 33-39; from Theodore Schick, ed., Readings in the Philosophy of Science. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company. 2000, pp. 9-13.

[19] Rupert Sheldrake. The Science Delusion. Coronet. 2013, p. 297.

[20] See Thomas Kuhn. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and Paul Feyerabend’s article “Explanation, Reduction and Empiricism”.

[21] Rupert Sheldrake. The Science Delusion. Coronet. 2013, p. 298.

[22] Recent Contributions to the Theory of Innate Ideas, p. 123.

[23] Noam Chomsky cited in A. Denkel’s “The Natural Background of Meaning” p. 108.

[24] [Prefinal Draft] Kirby, S. (2007). The evolution of language. In Dunbar, R. and Barrett, L., editors, Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology, pp. 669–681. Oxford University Press.

[25] See Mystery of the Mind: A Critical Study of Consciousness and the Human Brain. Princeton University Press. 1978.

[26] J. P. Moreland. “The Argument from Consciousness” in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Edited by William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland. 2009, p. 340.

[27] Access the following link to understand what this means http://www.philosophy-index.com/logic/forms/modus-ponens.php

[28] Benjamin McMyler. Testimony, Truth and Authority. Oxford University Press. 2011. p. 3.

[29] The Epistemology of Testimony. Edited by Jennifer Lackey and Ernest Sosa. Clarendon Press: Oxford. 2006, p. 2.

[30] C. A. J. Coady. Testimony: A Philosophical Study. Oxford University Press. 1992, p. 82.

[31] Benjamin McMyler. Testimony, Truth and Authority. Oxford University Press. 2011. p 10.

[32] Keith Lehrer cited in The Epistemology of Testimony. Oxford University Press. 2006, p. 158

[33] To purchase the book please access the following link http://www.exhibitionislam.com/books.aspx?ID=28

[34] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Hauser#Scientific_misconduct

[35] Conceptual Issues in Evolutionary Biology. Edited by Elliot Sober. The MIT Press. 2006, p. ix.

[36] Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, Kurt Stüber, Heinz Saedler, Jeong Hee Kim, “Biodiversity and Dollo’s Law: To What Extent can the Phenotypic Differences betweenMisopates orontium and Antirrhinum majus be Bridged by Mutagenesis,”Bioremediation, Biodiversity and Bioavailability, Vol. 1(1):1-30 (2007).


“No question is more sublime than why there is a universe: why there is anything rather than nothing.”[1]

When we reflect upon our own existence we will come to the realisation, that at some point in time, we began to exist. Since we were once non-existent and are now in existence, it follows that we must have had a beginning. In light of this, the Qur’an raises some profound questions: were we created by nothing? Did we create ourselves? Or did we create the universe?

“Or were they created by nothing? Or were they the creators (of themselves)? Or did they create heavens and earth? Rather, they are not certain.” Quran 52:35-36

These questions can be addressed to the existence of everything temporal, in other words the entire universe. Therefore, the exegetical implications of these verses can be logically formulated in the following way:

Things that began to exist were either:-

1. Created or brought into being from nothing
2. Self caused or self created
3. Created or brought into being by something else that began to exist
4. Created or brought into being by a non-created or un-caused entity

Before we proceed, the first presupposition has to be subtantiated, as it forms the basis for the Qur’an’s argument for the existence of God. This first assumption is that the universe began to exist.

Did the universe begin to exist?

To substantiate the view that the universe began to exist we can bring into our discussion a plethora of philosophical and inductive arguments:

1. The second law of thermodynamics
2. The absurdity of an infinite history of past events
3. Astrophysical evidence

1. The second law of thermodynamics

The concept of entropy was introduced to explain the direction of various processes that occur in the natural world. Entropy is a measure of how evenly energy is distributed in a system. For example, heat always flows from a body of a higher temperature or energy (low entropy) to one of a lower temperature or energy (high entropy). Take the following illustration of a container with gas,


when the partition is removed, the gas in one end of the container will spread to the whole of the container, going from a state of low entropy (higher temperature or energy) to high entropy (lower temperature or energy).

Hence, according to the second law of thermodynamics, processes in a closed system tend towards higher entropy, as their energy is being used.

Applying the second law of thermodynamics to the universe we will conclude that it must have began to exist. Since the universe is a closed system, with enough time the universe will suffer a heat death or thermodynamic equilibrium. When systems are in thermodynamic equilibrium, they cannot transfer energy. This is because entropy can only increase over time. Therefore, as the universe continues to expand it will eventually become cold and dead. However this raises a question, if the universe never began to exist it would imply that the universe has existed for an infinite amount of time. If this is true then why isn’t the universe already in a state of heat death? This strongly suggests that the universe must have had a beginning, because if it didn’t it would imply that it has existed for an infinite amount of time, which would mean that it should already have suffered a heat death. Since it hasn’t suffered a heat death, it strongly indicates that the universe is finite, meaning it began to exist.

2. The absurdity of an infinite history of past events

Some philosophers such as Bertrand Russell argued that the universe is eternal, meaning it has no beginning and it will never end. However if we think about this we will conclude that this position is irrational. If the universe never had a beginning it means there must be an infinite history of past events. Yet does an actual infinite exist in the real world? Is it possible?

The concept of the actual infinite cannot be exported into the real world, because it leads to contradictions and doesn’t make sense. Let’s take the following examples to illustrate this point:

1. Say you have an infinite number of balls, if I take 2 balls away, how many do you have left? Infinity. Does that make sense? Well, there should be two less than infinity, and if there is, then we should be able to count how many balls you have. But this is impossible, because the infinite is just an idea and doesn’t exist in the real world. In light of this fact the famous German mathematician David Hilbert said,

“The infinite is nowhere to be found in reality. It neither exists in nature nor provides a legitimate basis for rational thought…the role that remains for the infinite to play is solely that of an idea.”[2]

2. Imagine you are a soldier ready to fire a gun, but before you shoot you have to ask permission for the soldier behind you, but he has to do the same, and it goes on for infinity. Will you ever shoot? No you wouldn’t. This highlights, the absurdity of an infinite regress and this applies to events to. Therefore, there cannot be an infinite history of past events.

3. Take the distance between two points, one may argue that you can subdivide the distance into infinite parts, but you will always be subdividing and never actually reach the ‘infinitieth’ part! So in reality the infinite is potential and can never be actualised. Similarly the ancient Greek Philosopher Aristotle explained,

“…the infinite is potential, never actual: the number of parts that can be taken always surpasses any assigned number.”[3]

So if we refer back to an infinite history of past events we can conclude, since events are not just ideas they are real, the number of past events cannot be infinite. Therefore the universe must be finite, in other words the cosmos had a beginning.

3. Astrophysical evidence

The ‘Big Bang’ is the prevailing theory in cosmology. It was first formulated by the aid of some observations made by an American Astronomer called Edwin Hubble. While Hubble was trying to understand the size of the universe, he observed immensely luminous stars called Cepheid Variables and noticed something peculiar. He observed that some of these stars were further away than initially anticipated, and that their colour was slightly changed, shifting towards red, something now known as red-shift. From Hubble’s observations we were able conclude that everything seems to be moving away from each other, in other words the universe is effectively expanding. As time moves on the universe continues to expand, but if time is reversed, the theory is that everything starts to coalesce and come together. Coupled with the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation, which is the radiation uniformly filling the observable universe, the idea of the ‘Big Bang’ was born. In other words the universe began at a cataclysmic event which created space-time and all matter in the universe. The physicist P. C. W. Davies explains,

“If we extrapolate this prediction to its extreme, we reach a point when all distances in the universe have shrunk to zero. An initial cosmological singularity therefore forms a past temporal extremity to the universe. We cannot continue physical reasoning, or even the concept of spacetime, through such an extremity. For this reason most cosmologists think of the initial singularity as the beginning of the universe. On this view the big bang represents the creation event; the creation not only of all the matter and energy in the universe, but also of spacetime itself.”[4]

Although our understanding of what happened 10-43 seconds after the ‘Big Bang’ is highly speculative, astrophysicists now concede little doubt that this universe in which we live is the aftermath of the emergence and expansion of space-time, which occurred approximately 14 billion years ago. John Gribbin, an astrophysicist at Cambridge University, summarises the importance of ‘Big Bang’ cosmology,

“…the discovery of the century, in cosmology at least, was without doubt the dramatic discovery made by Hubble, and confirmed by Einstein’s equations, that the Universe is not eternal, static, and unchanging.”[5]

Thus the ‘Big Bang’ model describes our universe as having a beginning a finite time ago. As Alex Vilenkin, one of the world’s leading theoretical cosmologists, writes,

“It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.”[6]

Other models have been proposed to try and explain away the obvious metaphysical questions that arise from a finite universe, for instance P.C.W. Davies questions,

“What caused the big bang? . . . One might consider some supernatural force, some agency beyond space and time as being responsible for the big bang, or one might prefer to regard the big bang as an event without a cause. It seems to me that we don’t have too much choice. Either…something outside of the physical world…or…an event without a cause.”[7]

These models include the oscillating and vacuum fluctuation models. These models however still have principles that necessitate a beginning to the universe, in other words they are non-infinitely extendable into the past. Take the oscillating model as an example, this model maintains that if the gravitational pull of the mass of the universe was able to surmount the force of its expansion, then the expansion could be changed into a cosmic contraction or ‘Big Crunch’, and then into a new expansion, with the process continuing ad infinitum. However, there are a few issues with this model,

1. Firstly there is nothing available in modern physics that would allow a universe that is collapsing to spring back into a new expanding universe.

2. Secondly the mean mass density of the universe, derived from observational evidence, has shown that it is not enough to develop the required gravitational force to stop and reverse the expansion of the universe.

3. Thirdly, the second law of thermodynamics (as discussed above) implies the finitude of the universe. According to the oscillation model, the entropy is conserved from cycle to cycle of the various oscillations of expansion, crunch and expansion. This has the effect of generating larger and longer oscillations. Therefore the thermodynamic property of this model implies a beginning, as the universe that we exist in has not suffered a heat death, or thermodynamic equilibrium.

Since we have presented good evidence that the universe began to exist. We can now address the logically possible explanations the Qur’an presents as rationalisations of the origins of the universe.

Created or brought into being from nothing

We know the universe couldn’t have come out of nothing, because out of nothing, nothing comes! This is an undeniable philosophical principle, as P. J. Zwart in his publication About Time explains,

“If there is anything we find inconceivable it is that something could arise from nothing.”[8]

A significant point to raise here is that nothingness should not be misconstrued as the nothingness that some physicists talk about. The term nothingness in this context refers to the absence of anything physical, in other words there is no pre-existing ‘stuff’. In light of the beginning of the universe, there was absolutely nothing before it began to exist, which is why physicists have explained the universe as having a space-time boundary.

However, nothingness as defined by some physicists relates to the quantum vacuum. This is misleading because the quantum is something. In quantum theory the vacuum is a field of energy pervading the whole of the universe. In the word’s of John Polkinghorne, a philosopher of science, the quantum vacuum,

“…is not ‘nothing’; it is a structured and highly active entity.”[9]

So, in context of some of the physicists’ definition, the universe could not have come from absolutely nothing, as the quantum vacuum is something. It is a sea of fluctuating energy, which is still part of the cosmos and it did not pre-exist the universe. This point leads us nicely to the next possible explanation.

Self caused or self created

Philosophically, the universe couldn’t have created itself because that would imply a paradox. It would mean that something can exist and not exist at the same time. The logical ends of this explanation are tantamount to saying that your mother gave birth to herself!

Recently, the world renowned physicist, Stephen Hawking in his new book The Grand Design argues that the universe did self create due to the law of gravity,

“Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing…”[10]

But his view on nothing, as previously mentioned, is not really nothingness but is space filled with the quantum vacuum, which is part of the universe. In essence Hawking is telling us that the universe can create itself, but it has to already exist for it to do that!

Concerning the law of gravity, well that is just a mathematical equation that describes nature. This law is part of the universe, which can also be described as a force of attraction between material objects. Therefore, how can this force exist before matter, in other words the universe?

To assert that the universe created itself would be absurd and self refuting, because in order for something to create itself it would need to exist before it existed!

Created or brought into being by something else that began to exist

This is not an adequate explanation for the origins of the universe. The universe could not have owed its existence to another state of temporal physical existence. To maintain such an explanation would be equivalent of expanding the boundaries of the universe, as all things which have a temporal beginning exist within the universe. Also, if temporal physical existence owes itself to another temporal physical existence ad infinitum, it doesn’t explain anything. Rather it highlights the absurdity of an infinite regress, and that there has to be a beginning to the temporal physical states, which logically must be a non-physical state.

Take the following example into consideration. If the universe, U1, followed another temporal cause U2, and U2 followed another temporal cause U3, and this went on ad infinitum we wouldn’t have the universe U1 in the first place. Think about it this way, when does U1 come into being? Only after U2 has come into being. When does U2 come into being? Only after U3 has come into being. This same problem will continue even if we go to infinity. If U1 depended on its coming into being on a chain of infinite temporal causes, U1 would never exist. As the Islamic Philosopher and Scholar Dr. Jaafar Idris writes,

“There would be no series of actual causes, but only a series of non-existents, as Ibn Taymiyyah explained. The fact, however, is that there are existents around us; therefore, their ultimate cause must be something other than temporal causes.”[11]

Created or brought into being by a non-created or un-caused entity

Since something cannot come from nothing, and self creation is absurd, including the unreasonableness of the aforementioned explanation, then the universe being created or brought into existence by an uncaused entity is the best explanation. This concept is intuitive but also agrees with reality: whatever begins to exist has a cause or a creator.

This cause or creator must be uncaused due to the absurdity of an infinite regress, in other words an indefinite chain of causes. To illustrate this better, if the cause of the universe had a cause and that cause had a cause ad infinitum, then there wouldn’t be a universe to talk about in the first place (something we have already discussed above). For example, imagine if a Stock Trader on a trading floor at the Stock Exchange was not able to buy or sell his stocks or bonds before asking permission from the investor, and then this investor had to check with his, and this went on forever, would the Stock Trader every buy or sell his stocks or bonds? The answer is no. In similar light if we apply this to the universe we would have to posit an uncaused cause due to this rational necessity. The Qur’an confirms the uncreatedness of the creator, God,

“He neither begets nor is born.” Qur’an 112:3

The cause or creator for the universe must be a single cause for several reasons. An attractive argument to substantiate this claim includes the use of the rational principle called Occam’s razor. In philosophical terms the principle enjoins that we do not multiply entities beyond necessity. What this basically means is that we should stick to explanations that do not create more questions than it answers. In the context of the cause for the universe we have no evidence to claim multiplicity, in other words more than one. The Qur’an affirms the Oneness of the creator,

“Say: He is God, [who is] One.” Qur’an 112:1

However some philosophers and scientists claim: why doesn’t the cause be the universe itself? Why can’t the cause stop at the universe? Well, the problem with these claims is that they would imply that the universe created itself, which we have already discussed, is absurd. Additionally, we have good reasons to postulate a cause for the universe because the universe began to exist, and what begins to exist has a cause.

Our argument thus far allows us to conclude that this cause or creator must be non contingent meaning that its existence is dependent on nothing but itself. If it were contingent it would be one more effect in the chain of causes. The Qur’an verifies this,

“God is Independent of (all) creatures.” Qur’an 3:97

The cause or creator must also be transcendent, this means that the cause of the universe must exist outside of and apart from the universe. Since this being exists apart from the universe it must be non-physical or immaterial, if it was material then it would be part of the universe. This is confirmed in the Qur’an,

“There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the Hearing, the Seeing” Qur’an 42:11

This cause must have the power to create the universe, without this ability nothing could be created. The Qur’an testifies to God’s power,

“Certainly, God has power over all things.” Qur’an 2:20

This cause must have a will, because it wouldn’t be able to create the universe without one. What this means is that it must have a will so the power to create could be acted on. The Qur’an refers to God as having a will in many places, for instance,

“And God guides whom He wills to a straight path.” Qur’an 2:213

In summary, we have concluded what the Qur’an concluded over 1400 years ago, that a creator for the universe exists, that is one, has a will, is powerful, uncaused, immaterial and eternal.

Quantum Physics Undermines the Argument

A common contention to the central argument made in this essay is that the assumption – whatever begins to exist has a cause – is false. This is due to the apparent observations in the quantum vacuum that sub-atomic events behave spontaneously without any causes. In light of this common contention there are some good objections we can raise:

1. Firstly, the view that some events just happen, also known as indeterminism, for no reason at all is impossible to prove conclusively. Our inability to identify a cause does not necessarily mean that there is no cause.

2. Secondly, there are deterministic perspectives adopted by physicists to explain these so-called spontaneous sub-atomic events. For instance in the 1950s David Bohm showed there was an alternative formulation of quantum theory that is fully deterministic in its basic structure. [12] Commenting on Bohm’s theory Polkinghorne explains,

“In Bohm’s theory there are particles which are as unproblematically objective and deterministic in their behaviour as Sir Isaac Newton himself might have wished them to be. However, there is also a hidden wave, encoding information about the whole environment. It is not itself directly observable, but it influences in a subtle and highly sensitive manner the motions of the particles in just such a way as to induce the experimentally observed probabilistic effects.”[13]

What this means is that the apparent indeterminism present at the quantum level can be explained deterministically by this hidden wave that produces observed indeterministic or probabilistic effects.

However, since these two interpretations of quantum theory are empirically equivalent the choice between them will not be based on a scientific decision but on a metaphysical one. This leads to the philosophical objection to this contention.

3. Thirdly, from a philosophical perspective it is extremely difficult for these physicists (who adopt an indeterministic explanation of sub-atomic events) to justify their conclusions. This is because without the concept of causality we will not have the mental framework to understand our observations and experiences. In philosophical terms causality is a priori, which means knowledge we have independent of any experience. We know causality is true because we bring it to all our experience, rather than our experience bringing it to us. It is like wearing yellow-tinted glasses, everything looks yellow not because of anything out there in the world, but because of the glasses through which we are looking at everything. Take the following example into consideration; imagine you are looking at the White House in Washington DC. Your eyes may wonder to the door, across the pillars, then to the roof and finally over to the front lawn. Now contrast this to another experience, you are on the river Thames in London and you see a boat floating past. What dictates the order in which you had these experiences? When you looked at the White House you had a choice to see the door first and then the pillars and so on. However, with the boat you had no choice as the front of the boat was the first to appear.

The point to take here is that you would not have been able to make the distinction that some experiences are ordered by yourself and others are ordered independently, unless we had the concept of causality. In absence of causality our experience would be very different from the way it is. It would be a single sequence of experiences only: one thing after another. So to accept that sub-atomic events do not correspond with causality would be tantamount of denying our own experience!

zs

References

[1] Derek Parfit, “Why Anything? Why This?” London Review of Books 20/2 (January 22, 1998), page 24.
[2] David Hilbert. On the Infinite, in Philosophy of Mathematics, ed. with an Intro. by P. Benacerraf and H. Putnam. Prentice-Hall. 1964, page151.
[3] Aristotle, Physics 207b8 (available online here http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/physics.html)
[4] P. C. W. Davies, “Spacetime Singularities in Cosmology,” in The Study of Time III, ed. J. T. Fraser (Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1978), pages 78–79.
[5] John Gribbin, In the Beginning: The Birth of the Living Universe (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1993), page 19.
[6] Alex Vilenkin, Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universe. Hill and Wang. 2006, page 176.
[7] Paul Davies, “The Birth of the Cosmos,” in God, Cosmos, Nature and Creativity, ed. Jill Gready (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1995), pages. 8-9.
[8] P. J. Zwart, About Time (Amsterdam and Oxford: North Holland Publishing Co., 1976), pages 117-19
[9] John Polkinghorne and Nicholas Beale. Questions of Truth. 2009, page 41
[10] Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow. The Grand Design. 2011, page 180.
[11] http://www.jaafaridris.com/English/Books/physicists.htm accessed 1 October 2011, 10:32AM.
[12] See D. Bohm and B. J. Hiley. The Undivided Universe. Routledge, 1993.
[13] John Polkinghorne. Science and Religion in Quest of Truth. SPCK. 2011, page 39


 

 

The sun The Sun is made up of 70% hydrogen (H) and 28% helium (He) atoms.1 Other substances make up less than 2%. Six hundred million tons of hydrogen are converted into 596 million tons of helium in the Sun every second. The remaining 4 million tons is given off as heat and light energy.2 In that sense, the first thing that comes to mind when the Sun is mentioned is the letters H (hydrogen) and He (helium) that stand for the Sun. All the 15 verses in Surat ash-Shams of the Qur’an (Shams meaning ‘Sun’), end in the letters H and E. The Arabic equivalent of these letters are:

The Arabic letter "He"

The Arabic letter “He”

 

 

 

The Arabic letter "Elif"

The Arabic letter “Elif”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Arabic form of the verses in Surat ash-Shams and the final letters thereof can be seen belowSURAH SHAMS

As can be seen, all the verses in Surat ash-Shams end in the letters He and Elif. The letter H stands for hydrogen and He for helium. No other Surah in the Qur’an ends in the letters HE in every verse from beginning to end. It is therefore extremely striking how only this Surah in the Qur’an ends in such a sequence of letters. Surat ash-Shams’s number, 91, is also highly significant. Apart from hydrogen, there are 91 other elements in the Periodic Table, and these are made up of hydrogen elements.  To put it another way, all atoms. From hydrogen, the lightest element, to the heaviest are intra-atomic combinations of hydrogen atoms. For that reason, the H (hydrogen) atom in the Sun makes up the other 91 elements in nature.3
Almighty Allah has created all the details in nature, and is still creating them. All our knowledge about such details is permitted to us in order for us to comprehend the omniscience of our Lord. In one verse, we are told:

Allah, there is no god but Him, the Living, the Self-Sustaining. He is not subject to drowsiness or sleep. Everything in the heavens and the earth belongs to Him. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them but they cannot grasp any of His knowledge save what He wills. His Footstool encompasses the heavens and the earth and their preservation does not tire Him. He is the Most High, the Magnificent. (Surat al-Baqara, 255)

 

REFERENCES:

 

1 http://observe.arc.nasa.gov/nasa/exhibits/sun/sun_2.html; http://www.nineplanets.org/sol.html

2 http://observe.arc.nasa.gov/nasa/exhibits/sun/sun_5.html

3 http://periodic.lanl.gov/elements/1.html; William D. Harkins, “The Abundance of the Elements in Relation to the Hydrogen-Helium Structure of the Atoms”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA, April 1916, Vol. 4, pp. 216–224.


“Among His (God’s) signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the living creatures that He has scattered through them : and He has power to gather them together when He wills.”(Holy Qur’an 42:29)
On 7th August 1996, NASA (1) scientists made an announcement that made front page headlines throughout the world. Within a Martian meteorite, they had found evidence of a microscopic life form that may have existed on Mars more than three billion years ago. (2) Although other studies were later published which challenged this conclusion, (3) numerous recent discoveries, for example, the discovery by the Galileo spacecraft, (4) in February 1997, of a possible red-coloured sea under the ice crust of Jupiter’s moon, Europa, (5) are raising hopes that we may soon be able to get an answer to one of the oldest and most interesting questions asked by humans-“Is anyone out there, or are we alone in the universe?”

However, it may be that none of us may live to see the day when scientists will give us a definitive answer to this question. For Muslims, that should not be a problem. We already have the answer. Although many Muslims are unaware of the fact, the Qur’an (6) explicitly mentions the existence of extraterrestrial life.

The existence of creatures of a spiritual nature, such as angels, in the universe, is accepted as a fact by all Muslims, as well as people of other religions, such as Christians. The point that generates excitement among the public, and scientists is the question of whether material life forms like ourselves, which can be found by science, do actually exist outside the earth. (7) The objective of this article is to present evidence from the Qur’an for the existence in the universe, of MATERIAL life forms (“Life as we know it”).

“Dabbatun”
In Sura 42, Verse 29 (42: 29) of the Qur’an, we are told,

“Among His (God’s) signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the living creatures that He has scattered through them : and He has power to gather them together when He wills. ” 

(8) Before proceeding further, a point or two must be noted. The word “sama”, translated “heavens”, is also the Arabic for “sky”. One may object that the verse refers to creatures in the sky (which would be birds), not in the heavens. However, birds are mentioned separately from creatures of the heavens in 24: 41,

“Seest thou not that it is God Whose praise all beings in the heavens and on earth do celebrate, and the birds (of the air) with wings outspread? . . . ” 

(9)

In a note to 42; 29, Muhammad Asad states, “In the Qur’an, the expression “the heavens and earth” invariably denotes the universe in its entirety. ” (10) The Qur’an mentions that inanimate objects also worship God:

“Do they not look at God’s creation, (even) among (inanimate) things- how their (very) shadows turn round, from right to left, prostrating themselves to God. . . “(16: 48). (11)

 

Therefore, may not the creatures spoken of in 42: 29 in the heavens, be inanimate creatures of God. No. The next verse, 16: 49 goes, “And to God doth obeisance all that is in the heavens and earth, whether moving (living) creatures or the angels. . . “. (12) The word translated “living creatures” here is the same as that in 42: 29- “Dabbatun”. Comments Asad, “The word dabbah denotes any sentient, corporeal being capable of spontaneous movement and is contrasted here with the non-corporeal, spiritual beings designated as “angels” “. (13) In other words, 42: 29 is referring to precisely the type of life forms that science is searching for, not some metaphysical entities. Yusuf Ali says, “Dabbatun: beasts, living, crawling creatures of all kind. ” (14) This is the same word used in 2: 164, “. . . in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth. . . are signs for a people that are wise, ” (15) and in 24: 45, “And God has created every animal from water: of them are some that creep on their bellies; some that walk on two legs; and some that walk on four. God creates what he wills. . . ” (16) Commenting on 42: 29, Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani says, “From the verse it appears that like on the earth, there are some kinds of animals- living creatures- in the heavens also. ” (17) On the same verse, Yusuf Ali comments, “Life is not confined to our one little Planet. It is a very old speculation to imagine some life like human life on the planet Mars. . . it is reasonable to suppose that Life in some form or other is scattered through some of the millions of heavenly bodies scattered through space. ” (18) >From such remarks, the reader will realize that Muslim scholars are well aware of the fact that 42: 29 clearly mentions the existence of aliens.

Is There Any Alien Intelligent Life ?
Although the discovery of any form of life outside the earth would be dramatic, humankind is especially interested in knowing whether there is any alien intelligent life in the universe. NASA previously had a program on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Although now scrapped due to budget cuts, private SETI organizations (19) have now been made which continue the search. The Planetary Society, (20) a private organization, in which the film director Steven Speilberg (21) is a member of the Board of Directors, has the largest SETI program in the world. So far, no sign of alien intelligent life has turned up. Can the Qur’an provide an answer?
Sura 27: 65 commands,

“Say: None in the heavens or on earth, except God, knows what is hidden: nor can they perceive when they shall be raised up (for Judgement). ” (22) 

This shows that, like humans, there are other creatures in the universe that will also be raised from the dead. We are told in 19: 93-96, “Not one of the beings in the heavens and the earth but must come to (God) Most Gracious as a servant. He does take an account of them (all), and hath numbered them (all) exactly. And everyone of them will come to Him singly on the Day of Judgement. On those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, will (God) Most Gracious bestow love. ” (23) From these verses we learn that there are alien life forms that, like us, will also be judged according to the works that they do during their lives. Among them are the believers. Therefore, naturally, there will also be those aliens who are unbelievers. The believers will be rewarded. The life forms being described in the above verses can hardly be expected to be microorganisms. The Qur’an is referring to creatures of a level of development that makes them morally accountable beings. They must be organisms possessing qualities which we would ascribe to intelligent life forms.

In Sura 72: 14-15, jinn (a type of spiritual life form, which the Qur’an mention as living on the earth) say, “Amongst us are some that submit their wills (to God), and some that swerve from justice. Now those who submit their wills- they have sought out (the path) of right conduct: But those who swerve- they are (but) fuel for Hell-fire. ” (24)

The Qur’an mentions that good jinn will be rewarded with Paradise. Summing up from all the above verses, it is clear that Judgement Day is for creatures in the whole universe (Sura 39: 68-

“The Trumpet will (just) be sounded when all that are in the heavens and on earth will swoon, except such as it will please God (to exempt). Then will a second one be sounded, when, behold, they will be standing and looking on! “) (25) 

and like jinn, aliens will also be sharing Paradise and Hell with humans. In fact, the Qur’an mentions that Paradise is of a size like that of our present universe- 57: 21, “Therefore (vie) with one another for the pardon of your Lord, and for a Paradise as vast as heaven and earh, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His apostles.

” (26) Therefore, it is not surprising that when we are sharing this universe with aliens, we should share Paradise and Hell with them too. The Qur’an shows us, therefore, that not only do aliens exist, but among them are also intelligent beings.

Where Can Aliens be Found?
Knowing that aliens, including intelligent life forms exist elsewhere, our next question would be, “Where do they live? “Scientists naturally expect them to live on planets. They look for other planets around other stars- planets that have the right conditions to harbour life- in other words, other earths. In October 1995, scientists announced the discovery of the first extra-solar planet around the star 51 Pegasi. (27) Since then, there have been a string of discoveries of other planets. At the time of writing of this article, fifteen planets have been claimed to have been discovered. (28) Although some of these objects have been dismissed as brown dwarfs (including the object around Pegasi 51) by some scientists, (29) at least some of the fifteen objects are agreed upon as being planets. Scientists believe that on potential moons around planets found to be orbiting two stars, the right conditions may exist for life to be present. (30)

In Sura 65: 12, we are informed, “God is He Who created seven heavens and of the earth a similar number. . . ” (31)
This verse, although usually translated properly, is very commonly misinterpreted by commentators. They give their interpretation that space is divided into seven zones, and likewise, as Yusuf Ali puts it, “the crust of the earth is built up of geological strata one above another”. (32) This interpretation arises due to a misunderstanding of what a “heaven” is as mentioned in the Qur’an. Before continuing further about the topic of aliens, it is necessary to clear up this confusion. The answer can be deduced from verses in the Qur’an itself and comparing them with our current scientific knowledge about the universe.

Sura 21: 30 asks, “Do not the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them asunder? . . . ” (33)

Sura 41: 11-12 tell us,

“Then turned He to the heaven when it was smoke, and said unto it and unto the earth: come both of you, willingly or loth. . . Then We ordained them seven heavens. . . and inspired in each heaven its mandate; and We decked the lowest heaven with lamps. . . “

(34)

and Sura 71: 15-16,

“See ye not how Allah hath created seven heavens in harmony, and hath made the moon a light therin, and made the sun a lamp? ” (35) Sura 51: 47 informs us,

“And it is We who have built the universe with (Our creative) power; and, verily, it is We who are steadily expanding it. ” (36)

Asad, comments on the above verses as follows: about 21: 30, “. . . the above unmistakable reference to the unitary origin of the universe- metonymically described in the Qur’an as “the heavens and the earth”- strikingly anticipates the view of almost all modern astrophysicists that this universe has originated as one entity from one single element, namely, hydrogen, which became subsequently consolidated through gravity and then separated into individual nebulae, galaxies, and solar systems, with individual parts progressively breaking away to form new entities in the shape of stars, planets and the latter’s satellites”; (37) about 41: 11, he explains the word “smoke” as, “a gas- evidently hydrogen gas, which physicists regard as the primal element from which all material particles of the universe have evolved and still evolve. . . ” (38) and says about the verse, “explaining this passage, Zamakhshari observes: “The meaning of God’s command to the skies (heavens) and the earth to “come”. . . is this: He willed their coming into being. . . “”; for 41: 12, he explains “seven heavens” as, “a multiplicity of cosmic systems”; (39) about 51: 47 he says, “the phrase “inna la-musi’un” clearly foreshadows the modern notion of the “expanding universe”- that is, the fact that the cosmos, though finite in extent, is continuously expanding in space. ” (40) Finally, three more verses need to be referred to- 50: 38, “And verily We created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them. . . and naught of weariness touched us” (41) , 21: 104, “The Day when We shall roll up the heavens as a recorder rolleth up a written scroll. As We began the first creation, We shall repeat it. (It is a promise binding) upon Us. Lo! We are to perform it” (42) , and 14: 48, “One day the Earth will be changed to a different Earth, and so will be the heavens. . . ” (43)

From the verses above, we learn this from the Qur’an: a heaven is a material entity which arose from the same material as the earth originated from. Initially, there was one gaseous mass. A cleavage process occurred resulting in the making of the “seven heavens” and “all that lies between them”. The sun, moon and earth are constituents of a heaven. Therefore, a heaven must be larger than a star (sun). When the end of the universe is at hand, the heavens, which till then were in an expanding universe (51: 47) will come together. Then, the way our present universe came into being, in a similar manner, a new creation will come into being, containing other heavens and another earth. Any astronomer reading these verses can tell you that there is only one entity that fits the description of a heaven in the Qur’an- a “heaven” in the Qur’an must be referring to a “galaxy”. According to modern science, the universe arose from a singularity, at the Big Bang, and has since, been expanding. From a primordial gas cloud arose huge fragments from which the galaxies and their clusters arose. Today, the galaxies are moving apart from each other in space. They are separated by intergalactic space in which may lurk invisible dark matter, making up to 90% of the total mass of the universe. if there is sufficient dark matter, at some time in the future, the universe will stop expanding and enter a contraction phase in which the galaxies will finally come close together in a Big Crunch marking an end to the present universe. The universe would have returned to a singularity state similar to that from which the present universe arose. Then, once again, scientists predict, a new universe may rebound from the singularity of the Big Crunch, as another Big Bang gives rise to a universe with its own galaxies and planets etc. Verses in the Qur’an agree amazingly with our current ideas about the universe!

The purpose of our lengthy divergence from the main topic of this article was to prove that the “seven heavens” are not zones into which the universe is divided, but large astronomical entities, the galaxies. Some people have interpreted a heaven as being a solar system. However, while this view may seem appropriate for some verses, it does not tally with all the verses.

The Qur’an mentions the creation of seven heavens. Asad explains that, “. . . as regards the “seven heavens”, it is to be borne in mind that in Arabic usage. . . the number “seven” is often synonymous with “several”. ” (44) I have shown that the heavens are the galaxies and we can see that millions of them exist. Even if we assume that the heaven are some other astronomical objects that arose from the primary gas cloud, they definitely are not literally seven in number, but in the millions.

The relevance of this to our discussion on aliens is that the Sura 65: 12 tells us that, as God has created “seven Heavens”, He has created, “of the earth a similar number. . . ” Therefore, as there are millions of galaxies, God has also created millions of earths scattered throughout the universe. Usmani comments on 65: 12, “The earths as well, He created seven (Usmani thinks literally seven. We know it actually means “many”), as given in the Tradition of Tirmizi etc. It is possible they are not visible, it is possible they are visible, but people think them to be stars or planets, as the scientists of today have predicted the possibility of life on Mars etc. . . ” (45) An important thing to point out in 65: 12 is that God does not use the word “worlds”, but specifically, “earth”. An ‘earth’ would be a planet that harbours life. Scientists also often speak of looking for other earths. They mean not just any planet, but one sustaining or capable of sustaining life. In his book, The Bible, The Qur’an and Science, Maurice Bucaille writes, “. . . it comes as no small surprise to the reader of the Qur’an to find that earths such as our own may be found in the Universe. . . ” (46)

We have finally arrived at the Qur’an’s answer as to where aliens can be found. They inhabit the millions of earths that God has created among the millions of heavens (galaxies) in the universe. The Qur’an therefore, gives us a magnificent view of the universe- a universe teeming with life, a place that the late astronomer Carl Sagan described as a “cosmic fugue, with themes and counter- points, dissonances and harmonies, a billion different voices playing the life music. ” (47)

Will we ever Discover Aliens?
So far, we have learnt from the Qur’an that extraterrestrial life, including intelligent life, exists throughout countless earths in the universe. But this is not sufficient to satisfy our curiosity. We want scientists to actually discover aliens. Only after we have found incontrovertible scientific evidence that aliens exist, will our (unbelieving) hearts see that the Qur’an was correct all along. We actually won’t be satisfied till we meet an alien face to face. Is there any chance that in the future we will actually discover, through science, the existence of aliens and establish some kind of contact with them or even meet them?

To get some idea on this matter, we must return to Sura 42: 29. We are told over there that the scattering of living creatures in the heavens and the earth is a “sign”. What is a sign? Sura 6: 104 says,

 “Momentous signs have come to you from your Lord. He that sees them shall himself have much to gain, but he who is blind to them shall lose much. “ (48)

Sura 6: 109,

“They solemly swear by Allah that if a sign be given them they would believe in it. “ (49) Sura 7: 73,

“A clear proof has come to you from your Lord. Here is Allah’s she-camel: a sign for you. ” (50) Clearly, a sign is something which we can see, or at least, experience with our senses. Otherwise, it would not be a sign. Some signs are those that God showed to humans in the past. Other signs remain for God to show us in the future-

“Soon we will show them Our Signs in the (furthest) regions, and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth” (41: 53). (51)

THERFORE, SURA 42: 29 CONTAINS A PROPHESY THAT A TIME WILL INDEED COME IN THE FUTUTE WHEN HUMANS WILL DISCOVER ALIENS.

In Sura 55: 33-34, we are addressed,

“O ye assembly of Jinn and men! If it be you can pass beyond the regions of the heavens and the earth, pass ye! Not without authority will ye be able to pass! Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny? ” (52)

Why does God ask us to go into space? There must be some purpose. Maybe it be for us to fulfill some grand destiny in store for our species- maybe to become a galactic race, a respectable part of the galactic community of civilizations. Maybe, it is our travels in space that may lead to our encounter with aliens and fulfill the prophesy in 42: 29. Only time will tell. In anticipation of the time when we become space-travellers, we are told in Sura 29: 22, “Neither on earth nor in heaven shall you be beyond reach: nor have you any guardian or helper besides Allah. ” (53)

To reach other civilizations, we must be capable of feasible interstellar transport. Might we one day be capable of undertaking such a voyage? Sura 16: 8 says,

“And (it is He Who creates) horses and mules for you to ride. . . and He will yet create things of which (today) you have no knowledge. “ (54)

The latter part of this verse is often translated in the present tense but as Asad points out, “The use in this context, of the aorist “yakhluqu” implies the future tense (“He will create”) . . . Since this reference to God’s continuing creation comes immediately after a mention of primitive means of transport, it obviously relates to other- as yet unknown- things of the same category: that is to say, to new means of transport which God unceasingly creates through the instrumentality of the inventiveness with which He has endowed man’s mind. ” (55) Therefore, it is possible that we may one day make the spacecraft required for interstellar travel. After all, God Himself has encouraged us to, “pass beyond the regions of the heavens”. Sura 42: 29 ends with the statement that God has the power to gather the creatures of the heavens and earth together if He wills. This also points to the possibility of our meeting aliens in the future. However, this gathering may well refer to that which will occur on Judgement Day as mentioned in Sura 19: 93-96 (see above).

Man’s Position Among Creation
The most revolutionary discoveries in history have been those which altered the way humans perceived themselves in the universe. We discovered that the earth was not at the centre of the universe. We discovered that our Sun was a very ordinary star located in an insignificant part of an ordinary galaxy, which was only one of millions of galaxies. These discoveries should have humbled us. Yet, even today, many of us triumphantly proclaim ourselves as being the most supreme creation of God. It is common to ascribe our cherished position among all living things to our higher intellectual abilities. If we were to find out that there are other intelligent beings in the universe, and that some may be intellectually more superior to us, where would that leave us ? Would we finally be dethroned?

Sura 17: 70 informs us, “Verily We have honoured the children of Adam. . . and preferred them above many of those whom We created with a marked preferment. “ (56) Many translations fail to mention the “marked preferment” in the verse, although the verse contains the Arabic “tafzelan” which conveys this. Note that the verse mentions that there are other creatures besides humans, who have also been given a position of distinction, and humans have been preferred above many, not all, of these creatures. Usmani states in a comment on this verse, “Under this verse a debate is opened: Who is superior- Man or Angel? But logically this verse does not decide the issue. ” (57) Another scholar has written, “From this (verse) it is evident that whatever superiority humans have got over other creatures is not whole. Allah’s creatures contain such creatures upon which humans have got no superiority. “It must be remembered here that while so far we have been discussing material alien life forms, the debate of man’s position in creation includes both material and spiritual creatures of God. Some early authorities, such as Hasan, have not accepted the word “akser” mentioned in 17: 70 as meaning “many”. Hasan maintains that the word “akser”, as used in 17: 70, should be understood as meaning “all”, since the same word is used in 26: 233 and 10: 36, where it would be inappropriate to take its meaning as “many” but rather as “all”. With such a substitution in verse 17: 70, the meaning would be altered to mean that man is preferred by God over all creatures.

The debate on man’s status continues among scholars and also among the public. Let us make an analogy to the debate of whether man is superior to woman. Suppose for a moment that we hand the trophy to man and let him enjoy his “superior” position. On the Day of Judgement, it will only be deeds that count and good women will go to Paradise and bad men will burn in Hell. Who would have been more superior? As you can see, in the final analysis, any debate on the status of a race, or species is useless. From earlier verses mentioned in this article, the reader will remember that, according to the Qur’an, God will judge humans as well as aliens on the basis of their deeds and reward them accordingly. Many humans will be sent to Hell for their wrongdoings. At the same time there will be aliens who will be rewarded for their good deeds. Who would be more superior- the unbelieving human or the faithful alien? The answer is obvious. Therefore, what’s the use of debating this point? Status of a creature is relative to its moral conduct. Sura 95: 4-5 states,

“Surely We created man of the best stature, then We reduced him to the lowest of the low. “ (58)

Islam and the Geocentric Universe
It is the fanciful idea of religion-bashers that the discovery of extraterrestrial life will undermine any remaining credibility that religion may have. In the case of Islam, as one can see from this discussion, that can hardly be the case. On the contrary, such a discovery would verify the truth of the statements contained in the Qur’an relating to the subject of alien life, and strengthen the position of Muslims. The vision of Islam is that of a truly universal religion. It is far removed from the exclusiveness of Judaism (“We are the Chosen Ones for God’s message”). It is a pity that the image of all religions has suffered a setback from the great scandal of the Church- its treatment of Galileo, for (rightly) challenging their views of a geocentric universe, in which Man was The Central Figure in God’s Plan of Creation, living on a planet around which all the rest of creation revolved.

The Qur’an gives us a picture of our place in the universe that is quite different. In Sura 40: 57, God says,

 “Assuredly the creation of the heavens and the earth is a greater (matter) than the creation of men: yet most men understand not. ” (59)

Comments Yusuf Ali, “Man is himself a tiny part of creation. Why should he be so ego-centric? ” (60) No one race of humans was chosen to be the exclusive custodians of the truth. Sura 16: 36 tells us,

“For We assuredly sent amongst every People an apostle, (with the command), “Serve God, and eschew Evil”:

of the people were some whom God guided, and others on whom Error became inevitably (established). So travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who denied (the Truth). ” (61) According to some Traditions of The Prophet (pbuh), 124, 000 messengers have been sent into the world by God, throughout the ages to people all over the world. No nation was denied access to the Truth. Even on earth, guidance was provided not only to humans, but also the Jinn who co-habit this planet with us- 6: 130: “(Then He will say): “Jinn and men! Did there not come to you apostles of your own who proclaimed to you my revelations and warned you of this day? ” (62) . God’s bounty, according to Islam, is not confined to creatures of the earth because He is,

“. . . Lord of the heavens and Lord of the earth, the Lord of the Worlds” (45: 36). (63)

To the people were sent revealed Books also, the last of which is the Qur’an. About the Qur’an itself, we are told in 43: 4, “It is in the Mother Book with Us, sublime and full of wisdom. ” (64) About other planets, S. Bashir-ud-din Mahmood has this to say, “On the basis of the interpretation of verse 65: 12 by Ibn-e-Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him), we can say that inhabitants of these worlds must have their religion like ours and so the Holy Books. They all come from the same “Supreme Source” of revelation from where the Holy Qur’an originated for us on the Earth. It is evident from the verse of the Holy Qur’an” (i.e.. 43; 4. All Books come from the “Mother Book with Us”). (65) The very first verse of the Qur’an begins, “Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. ” (66)

Summing up, while the Qur’an does point out that man has a favoured position on earth, (2: 30- “Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: “I will create a vicegerent on earth. “”; (67) 2: 34- “We said to the angels: “Bow down to Adam. . . “” (68) 95: 4- We have indeed created man in the best of moulds. ” (69) ) there are other creatures of God who have also been favoured in the universe (17: 70). Humans are just a small part of God’s creation (40: 57). When they act wrongly, they are reduced to the lowest of the low (95: 5). Salvation is not only for some race of humans, but for all humans and creatures throughout the universe. There is a grand destiny planned by God for all of them. All humans as well as aliens who follow the guidance that God sent to their respective planets, will be rewarded (19: 96). “. . . it is God Whose praise all beings in the heavens and on earth do celebrate. . . ” (24: 41). (70) All will return to Him. How far the picture of the universe that Islam paints is from that of a geocentric universe!

Conclusion – A “Secret” Waiting to be Told
If the Qur’an is so explicit in stating the existence of living organisms in the universe (42: 29), we would suppose that the Muslim population would generally be aware of the fact that the Qur’an mentions extraterrestrials. Unfortunately that is not the case. A significant proportion of Muslims have no idea that this exciting piece of information is provided in their Holy Book. I have quoted a number of scholars in this article, who have commented on the verses relating to extraterrestrials. Among them are those such as Yusuf Ali and Muhammad Asad, whose works are known to Muslims throughout the world. Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani was a prominent figure in the Freedom Movement of Pakistan. All scholars quoted are from the mainstream of Islam. So, at least, Muslim scholars are aware of the Qur’an mentioning aliens. Yet, there are scholars also who have no idea about this subject. Surprisingly, even Maurice Bucaille, whose brilliant book, The Bible, The Qur’an and Science is extensive in its coverage of scientific topics in the Qur’an, completely overlooked the mention of aliens.

How aware were the early Muslims, about the existence of extraterrestrials, or verses in the Qur’an on this topic? Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood writes, “The idea that there is life elsewhere in the universe also, was derived from the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) when he told Muslims, “When you sit down in the prayer for the Attahiyat and say: “Peace be upon us, and the righteous servants of Allah” you actually send peace on all the righteous people living on the Earth and in the heavens. “This clearly implies that all type of people, good and bad live in the other worlds as they live on our Earth. ” (71) He also writes, with reference to the Rasial Imam Ghazali, “According to Imam Muhammad Ghazali (11th Century), people in some of these planetary worlds have learnt to travel and communicate with each other. ” (72)

The case of Ibn-e-Abbas is interesting. He was one of the Companions of the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) had prayed to God specially to endow Ibn-e-Abbas(73) with knowledge of the Qur’an, and he became one of the great scholars of the Qur’an. Maulana Maududi writing in his Tafhim-ul-Qur’an, tells us that, “Ibn-e-Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him). . . believed with confidence that there are many more earth-like bodies in the heavens. . . . He not only thought that such earths are inhabited by intelligent beings but also that their people are exactly like the inhabitants on the Earth. He even went so far as to say that they may have a Prophet like Muhammad (pbuh), and had a Adam, like our Adam, a Noah, like our Noah, an Ibrahim like our Ibrahim, and a Jesus like our Jesus (pbut). ” (74) The knowledge of the existence of aliens and that they are mentioned in the Qur’an, has been present among Muslims from the earliest days of Islam!

There is something else that we know about Ibn-e-Abbas. He did not widely publicize his views about aliens. Rather, he was quite secretive about this matter. The reason is that he was afraid that his ideas would confuse people. In fact, he was afraid that people would be in danger of becoming unbelievers by not accepting the truth of this matter, which the Qur’an itself attested to. Perhaps it was such considerations that lead Muslim scholars of later times not to touch on the topic of aliens much, and so today, also, so many Muslims remain unaware about this matter. But times have changed. We’ve come a long way in our voyage of discovery of the wonders that surround us. The recent discoveries of extra-solar planets, of ice on the moon (75) , of microbes deep beneath the earth’s surface and around thermal vents in the oceans (76) , of water on the sun (77) and many other amazing findings are setting the stage for a grand finale. The public is mentally prepared to hear soon about the discovery of life outside the earth.

In recent times, Muslims have missed golden opportunities of propagating their religion to the peoples of the world. For example, the Qur’an mentions the expansion of the universe. This phenomenon was discovered by scientists only in 1929. If Muslims had let the world know beforehand, that the Qur’an mentioned this fact, then upon its discovery, a big impact could have been made on the non-Muslim world. We would have shown the world the power, the miracle, of the Qur’an. Of course, even today, the miracle remains that the Qur’an mentions the expansion of the universe, but non-Muslims tend to say, “Now you tell us, after science has already discovered this! You must be construing the meaning of Qur’anic verses to suit your wishes. ”

Today, as we stand at the threshold of making the most revolutionary discovery in the history of humankind, we Muslims should ask ourselves, “Hasn’t the time finally come for the “secret” that Ibn-e-Abbas held to be made known to the whole world? “Yes, the time is ripe. Let the world know, before it discovers for itself, that 1400 years ago in the deserts of Arabia, a prophet received revelations, mentioning the existence of extraterrestrial life through countless heavenly bodies in the universe, and prophesying that one day, humans will indeed discover aliens.

The Qur’an contains many amazing statements relating to science. There is no reason to believe that it has finally yielded all of its scientific secrets and as we enter the next century, we can be confidant that the Qur’an will continue to shed light on some of the most enduring and intriguing scientific mysteries of our times.

1. NASA Home Page
2. Medline citation
–Ref: Search For Past Life On Mars: Possible Biogenic Activity In Martian Meteorite
2. ALH84001. McKay et al. in Science, Vol. 273, pages 924-930; August 16, 1996.
–Scientific American: The Case For Relic Life On Mars. December 1997.
3. Ref: Scott, Edward R. D. et al, Petrological evidence of shock melting of carbonates
3. in the Martian meteorite ALH84001. Nature, 387, 377-379(22 May, 1997).
4. Galileo Home Page
5. Water on Europa:
-Scientific American: Exhibit: Great Balls of Ice: August 19, 1996.
–NASA Space Science News: The Frosty Plains of Europa
6. The Qur’an:
–Translations by Yusuf Ali, Pickthall and Shakir. Muslim Students Association site
–(MSA-USC), containing the entire translated text by three scholars.
–Qur’an Search Engine. Search for verses in the Qur’an by key words.
–Transliteration of the Qur’an. The complete transliterated text of the Qur’an.
–Listen to the Qur’an. The complete text recited in Arabic and English in RealAudio files.
–Qur’an in MP3 format. Download the Qur’an as mp3 files.
7. The Astrobiology Web. Information on space life science. Highly recommended.

“Dabbatun”

8. Sura 42: 29. The Holy Qur’an. Text, Translation and Commentary. Abdullah Yusuf Ali.
9. Sura 24: 41. Yusuf Ali.
10. Note 33 on Sura 42: 29. The Message of the Qur’an. Muhammad Asad.
11. Sura 16: 48. Yusuf Ali.
12. Sura 16: 49. Yusuf Ali.
13. Note 55 on Sura 16: 49. Asad.
14. Note 4568 on Sura 42: 29. Yusuf Ali.
15. Sura 2: 164. Yusuf Ali.
16. Sura 24: 45. Yusuf Ali.
17. Note 43 on Sura 42: 29. The Nobel Qur’an. Tafseer-e-Usmani. Allama Shabbir Ahmed
17. Usmani.
18. Note 4569 on 42: 29. Yusuf Ali.

Is There Any Alien Intelligent Life ?

19. SETI organizations:
—The SETI Institute.
—SETI@home. Now you can participate in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence
—from your own home by installing a screen saver. Check it out.
20. The Planetary Society. This has the world’s largest SETI program.
21. Steven Spielberg.
22. Sura 27: 65. Yusuf Ali.
23. Sura 19: 93-96. Yusuf Ali.
24. Sura 72: 14-15. Yusuf Ali.
25. Sura 39: 68. Yusuf Ali.
26. Sura 57: 21. The Meaning of the Qur’an. Dr. Mahmud Y. Zayid.

Where Can Aliens be Found ?

27. A planet around 51 Pegasi:
—-Mayor, M. & Queloz, D. A Jupiter-mass companion to a solar-type star. Nature
—-378, 355-359. (1995).
28. The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia. The main internet catalogue of all extrasolar planets
28. discovered so far.
29. Challenge to a planet around 51 Pegasi:
—-Walker, Gordan. One of our planets is missing. Nature, 385, 775-776. (27 Feb 1997).
—-Gray, David F. Absence of a planetary signature in the spectra of the star 51 Pegasi.
—-Nature, 385, 795-796. (27 Feb 1997).
—-Update: – New evidence for a planet around 51 Pegasi:
—-Marcy, Geoffrey. Extrasolar planets: Back in focus. Nature, 391, 127. (8 Jan 1998).
—-Gray, David F. A planetary companion for 51 Pegasi implied by absence of pulsations in the
—- stellar spectra. Nature, 391, 153-154. (8 Jan 1998).
—-Hatzes, Artie P. et al. Further evidence for the planet around 51 Pegasi. Nature, 391,
—-154-156. (8 Jan 1998).
30. The possible earths are potential moons of planets orbiting 16 Cygni B in the Swan
—-and 47 Uma in Ursae Majoris.
—-Chyba, Christopher F. Exobiology: Life on other moons. Nature, 385, 201. (16 Jan ’97).
—-Williams, Darren M. et al. Habitable moons around extra-solar giant planets. Nature,
—-385, 234-236. (16 Jan 1997).
31. Sura 65: 12. Yusuf Ali.
32. Note 5527 on Sura 65: 12. Yusuf Ali.
33. Sura 21: 30. Yusuf Ali.
34. Sura 41: 11-12. The Glorious Qur’an. Text and Explanatory Translation. Muhammad
—-Marmaduke Pickthall.
35. Sura 71: 15-16. Pickthall.
36. Sura 51: 47. Asad.
37. Note 38 on Sura 21: 30. Asad.
38. Note 12 and Note 13 on Sura 41: 11. Asad.
39. Note 14 on Sura 41: 12. Asad.
40. Note 31 on Sura 51: 47. Asad.
41. Sura 50: 38. Pickthall.
42. Sura 21: 104. Pickthall.
43. Sura 14: 48. Yusuf Ali.
44. Note 20 on Sura 2: 29. Asad.
45. Note 32 on Sura 65: 12. Usmani.
46. Ref: Bucaille, Maurice. The Bible, The Qur’an and Science. Section: The Qur’an and
46. Modern Science. Chapter III: The Creation of the Heavens and the Earth.
46. Subheading: The Basic Process of the Formation of the Universe and the Resulting
46. Composition of the Worlds.
47. Ref: Sagan, Carl. Cosmos. Chapter II.
—-Read the classic article: The Quest for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. By Carl Sagan.

Will we ever Discover Aliens ?

48. Sura 6: 104. Zayid.
49. Sura 6: 109. Zayid.
50. Sura 7: 73. Zayid.
51. Sura 41: 53. Yusuf Ali.
52. Sura 55: 33-34. Yusuf Ali.
53. Sura 29: 22. Zayid.
54. Sura 16: 8. Asad.
55. Note 6 on Sura 16: 8. Asad.

Man’s Position Among Creation

56. Sura 17: 70. Pickthall.
57. Note 105 on Sura 17: 70. Usmani.
58. Sura 95: 4-5. Pickthall.

Islam and the Geocentric Universe

59. Sura 40: 57. Yusuf Ali.
60. Note 4431 on Sura 40: 57. Yusuf Ali.
61. Sura 16: 36. Yusuf Ali.
62. Sura 6: 130. Zayid.
63. Sura 45: 36. Pickthall.
64. Sura 43: 4. Zayid.
65. Ref: Mahmood, Bashir-ud-din. Doomsday and Life After Death. Chapter 18,
65. Sub-heading: The Qur’an in Other Worlds. Ta-Ha Publishers.
66. Sura 1: 1. Pickthall.
67. Sura 2: 30. Yusuf Ali.
68. Sura 2: 34. Yusuf Ali.
69. Sura 95: 4. Yusuf Ali.
70. Sura 24: 41. Yusuf Ali.

Conclusion – A “Secret” Waiting to be Told

71. Ref: Mahmood, Bashir-ud-din. Doomsday and Life After Death. Chapter 18,
71. Sub-heading: Life in Other Worlds.
72. Ref: Mahmood, Bashir-ud-din. Doomsday and Life After Death. Chapter 18,
72. Sub-heading: Life in Other Worlds.
73. Ibn-e-Abbas- a short biographical note
74. Maududi, Abul Ala. Tahfhim-ul-Qur’an.
75. Ice on the Moon:
—-Scientific American: Science and the Citizen. Water, Water Everywhere: May 1998.
—-NASA Press Release: Ice on the Moon.
76. Subterranean microbes:
—-Wellsbury, Peter et al. Deep marine biosphere fuelled by increasing organic matter
—-availability during burial and heating. Nature, 388, 573-576. (7 Aug 1997).
—-Scientific American: Article: Microbes Deep Inside the Earth. October 1996.
77. Water on the Sun:
—-Polyansky, Oleg L. et al. Water on the Sun: Line Assignments Based on Variational
—-Calculations. Science, Vol. 277, pages 346-348; July 18, 1997.
—-Science magazine

 

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The superimposed heavens in the Quran are the extra spatial dimensions in modern physics.

Astronomers have just confirmed the existence of Dark Matter. This mysterious Dark Matter is invisible however it provides the bulk of gravity that holds galaxies (not the regular matter that forms stars and planets). This invisible Dark Matter has weird collision properties (collisionless). Simply put: we cannot see Dark Matter nor collide with it but we can detect its gravity.

In this image, two huge clusters of invisible Dark Matter (in blue) clashed with each other:

With each cluster having a mass of 10,000 galaxies (each cluster a quadrillion times the mass of the Sun, 1015!!!) (See: Universe Today). However upon impact, instead of disintegrating into smaller pieces, they passed through each other unscathed! This means that they did not collide with each other either! They simply passed through each other!!!

In order to explain why this invisible Dark Matter neither collides with each other, nor does it collide with us but still we detect its gravity, physicists and cosmologists are working on theories with extra dimensions. Traditionally scientists thought that we live in a four dimensional universe: Time and the usual three spatial dimensions of length, width and height (x,y,z). However today there is evidence for six extra spatial dimensions. So we cannot see nor collide with this Dark Matter because it is mass in the remaining six extra dimensions.

 

(YouTube) According to the Quran, we cannot see nor collide with Jinn but they have weight:

[Quran 55.31] We [Allah] will settle your affair, both you of weight (man and jinn)

The Jinn have weight means that we can detect their gravity and they can detect our gravity. So according to the Quran we cannot see the Jinn nor collide with them but we can detect their gravity.

Just as the Jinn is of different type that we cannot see nor collide with but we can detect their gravity, there are six other Heavens that we cannot see nor collide with either but we can detect their gravity, superimposed above the visible one:

[Quran 41.12] So [Allah] decreed them as seven heavens (one above the other) in two days and revealed to each heaven its orders. And We [Allah] adorned the lowest heaven with lights, and protection. Such is the decree of the Exalted; the Knowledgeable.

According to the Quran, only the lowest heaven has visible light. This means that this Dark Matter exists in the six Heavens superimposed above the lowest one. Also according to the Quran, each of these remaining six Heavens is of a different type and each has its own planets like Earth:

[Quran 65.12] Allah is the one who created seven Heavens and from Earth like them (of corresponding type); [Allah’s] command descends among them so that you may know that Allah is capable of anything and that Allah knows everything.

Earth is not a unique planet in Islam. Other planets like Earth do exist throughout the other six Heavens. It is just that we cannot see them nor collide with them but we can detect their gravity.

General relativity predicted gravitational lensing, that is, the gravitational field generated by a galaxy causes the light passing through it to bend (change direction). Dark Matter does not emit any light but we can still map its location by using gravitational lensing, that is, by detecting where light is bending in places where it shouldn’t. In the above image and video light gets bent by invisible Dark Matter in places where it shouldn’t. Moslems say that this is how God challenges nonbelievers to detect the remaining six superimposed Heavens:

[Quran 67.3-4] [Allah] is the one who created seven superimposed Heavens “سبع سموات طباق“. You do not see variations in the formations of the Compassionate, soredirect your sight, do you see any creation (Futtur in Arabic فطور)? Then redirect your sight again, your vision returns to you in defeat and regret.

Futtur in Arabic فطور means creation out of nothing (it does not mean “rip”). So the question in the Quran is “Do you see any creation out of nothing?”. Your initial answer should be NO. But in the second verse, when you are supposed to redirect your sight your answer will change to YES, with defeat. Why should you redirect your sight when you observe Dark Matter? Why should you look to another direction and then back? Well the gravity of a massive object makes you see the background stars in another direction:

Gravitational Lensing & Seven Heavens

This is how we detect Dark Matter today, the background images are lensed at a certain angle. Since Dark Matter does not emit any light then we have to trace the light from the background galaxies. From the distances and the angle of lensing we estimate the mass of the Dark Matter. So when detecting the superimposed seven heavens you have to look away and then back in order to measure the angle. No angle no Dark Matter.

How could an illiterate man who lived 1400 years have known that light could change direction? How could he have known about Dark Matter and Gravitational Lensing?

The Quran insists on seven superimposed heavens. We are in the lowest heaven, Angels are in the seventh, and Satan (Jinn) is in one heaven in-between. However all seven heavens are superimposed. There are two angels at your shoulders right now. The Jinn can pass right through you. The Quran says that we cannot see them nor collide with them but we can detect their gravity. However these are the exact same properties of Dark Matter, we cannot see them nor collide with them however we can detect their gravity. String Theory explains what they are: They are mass in other dimensions.

Traditionally physicists thought that the smallest particles in atoms were point like, that is, they looked like points. However recently discovered evidence suggest that the smallest particle is not point like, as previously thought, but rather a vibrating string of energy. But physicists also discovered that these strings need more than three spatial dimensions to vibrate in. Particularly they need six extra spatial dimensions. In all versions of String Theory there are 10 dimensions: “Time” plus the usual three spatial dimensions x,y,z (4 dimensions, our observable universe) plus six extra spatial dimensions making a total of ten dimensions (1 time + 9 spatial = 10 dimensions).

(YouTube) In this animation the strings with different colors are actually vibrating in different dimensions. They do not interact with each other except gravitationally. The two dimensional membrane that they are attached to in this animation is the three dimensions that we are used to projected on 2D (for this presentation). Photons only travel on this 2D plane (again for this presentation), and this is why we cannot see them. We can only detect the strings’ gravitational shadow on the 2D plane. Other competing theories like M-Theory has one extra spatial dimension (making the total 11 dimensions), however this extra spatial dimension is for the description of strings themselves (whether a string is a one-dimensional object like a thread, or whether a string is a rolled up two-dimensional membrane like a tube). If the strings have thickness (or variable thickness as in this animation) then we need this 11th dimension in order to describe them (to describe the tube). However if the strings have no thickness (always unity) then there is no need for the 11th dimension. In any case, in all currently competing theories, this Dark Matter is strings vibrating in six extra spatial dimensions. And in all those theories gravity is a force carried by gravitons (just like magnetism is carried by photons). Gravitons are emitted from strings and are then absorbed by other strings even those vibrating in other dimensions (different colors in this presentation). The place where gravitons travel is called the bulk (different than the 2D plane where light travels in this presentation).

[Quran 20.6] To Him belongs what is in the Heavens and what is on Earth and what is between them and what is under the soil.

Not only does the superimposed heavens (extra dimensions) belong to Allah but also what’s between them (برزخ, the bulk where gravitons travel). The bulk is a location just like under the soil is a location.

From a physics point of view, we are not living in a “Universe” but rather in a “Multiverse“;several universes superimposed above each other. Gravity is the only thing shared between these parallel universes:

(YouTube) The invisible Dark Matter is simply mass in other dimensions.

You might ask how does those six extra spatial dimensions look like:

(YouTube) Extra dimensions are tiny and curled up at each point in space. To envision a single extra dimension imagine the ant in the above video shrinking billions of times. Then this ant becomes small enough for transition to the extra circular dimension (like a roller coaster):

Speed of Light

However instead of one extra circular dimension there are six dimensions and not necessarily circular; but they are all curled up at each point in space. The ant would encounter multiple routes like this:

Speed of Light

As long as the ant remains in any of those extra dimensions we would not be able to see the ant nor collide with it but we would still detect its gravity. In M-Theory the Dark Mater is not only mass in other dimensions but they are in parallel universes (where the laws of physics might not be the same as ours). The only thing shared among those superimposed parallel universes is gravity. Add our universe to those parallel universes you get the Multiverse.

Speed of LightOn the other hand God swears by the heaven that has weaves:

[Quran 51.7] And the heaven that has weaves (Hubuk in Arabic).

Hubuk is plural of Habka which means a knot or a weave. Doesn’t the route that this ant needs to take look like a weave? Of course. Actually those Seven Heavens (Multiverse) are parallel universeswoven together (literally).

God also swears that someday we will travel to one of those extra dimensions:

[Quran 84.16-18] I swear by the afterglow of sunset… You will ride one layer from another layer.(لتركبن طبقا عن طبق)

Here “Tabak طبق” is a noun meaning “a layer”. The adjective “Tibak طباق” means “superimposed” and is used in describing the seven heavens “سبع سموات طباق“. The superimposed heavens in the Quran are the extra spatial dimensions in modern physics.  

Today we are sure that we are not living in a “Universe” but rather in a “Multiverse“. No physicist today believes that we are living in the three-dimensional universe of the Christian Bible (where not even time is a dimension!). Moslems ask how could an illiterate man who lived 1400 years have known that we are living in a Multiverse?

[Quran 40.57] The creation of the heavens and earth is greater than the creation of mankind, but most of the people do not know.


DO YOU EVER want to change the way you see the world? Wouldn’t it be fun to hallucinate on your lunch break? Although we typically associate such phenomena with powerful drugs like LSD or mescaline, it’s easy to fling open the doors of perception without them: All it takes is a basic understanding of how the mind works.

The first thing to know is that the mind isn’t a mirror, or even a passive observer of reality. Much of what we think of as being out there actually comes from in here, and is a byproduct of how the brain processes sensation. In recent years scientists have come up with a number of simple tricks that expose the artifice of our senses, so that we end up perceiving what we know isn’t real – tweaking the cortex to produce something uncannily like hallucinations. Perhaps we hear the voice of someone who is no longer alive, or feel as if our nose is suddenly 3 feet long.

brainhackhallucinations

 

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