Book Review: The Bible, The Quran and Science
Book by Dr. Maurice Bucaille, his patients included the members of the family of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
Book review by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
As I was growing up in Pakistan and studying in King Edward Medical College, Lahore, 1979-1985, enamored by the success of science and technology, I had come to have agnostic and atheistic tendencies.
Then I read the book by Dr. Maurice Bucaille, the Bible the Quran and Science, and every thing changed for me.
For centuries the Christian apologists have called the Holy Quran a forgery of the Bible and I had some reasons to think that the Bible itself is a forgery, and in a recent book a New Testament scholar, Prof. Bart Ehrman, presents evidence and claims that half of the New Testament is a forgery. After reading Bucaille’s book I thought to myself, how could an alleged forgery of a forgery, the Holy Quran, get its facts straight in the court of science, as Maurice Bucaille presented? Over time I have come to admire the Holy Quran more and more!
In presenting the Islamic scriptures to the agnostics and atheists, now I also realize that as they mostly grew in Christian background, they learn about the vulnerabilities of the Bible and without genuinely studying the case for the Holy Quran, attribute those vulnerabilities and some more, to the Quran also.
Additionally, when interpreting a given verse of the Quran, they invariably accept the most cynical interpretation of the Holy Quran without trying to determine which interpretation is more probable. However, if they were to objectively and honestly study the Holy Quran they may relive the experience of the famous German philosopher, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:
As often as we approach the Quran, it always proves repulsive anew; gradually, however, it attracts, it astonishes, and, in the end forces admiration.
The Holy Quran states:
The disbelievers say: This Quran is naught but a lie that Muhammad has fabricated, and other people have helped him with it. They have, thereby, perpetrated an injustice and an untruth. They also say: These are fables of the ancients which he has got someone to write down for him and they are recited to him morning and evening. Say to them: The Quran has been revealed by Him Who knows every secret that is in the heavens and the earth. Indeed, He is Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful. (Al Surah Al-Furqan 25:5-7)
Many Christian writers and clergy claim that the Holy Quran is borrowed from the Bible. Allah refutes this allegation in the words, “The Quran has been revealed by Him Who knows every secret that is in the heavens and the earth.”
The most effective proofs of this Quranic claim were to come after the scientific revolution. Dr. Maurice Bucaille’s book is indeed a landmark achievement in this regards. By showing that the Quran co-relates with modern science, whereas, the Bible often does not and is self contradictory, one can put to rest propaganda of the Christian apologists!
However, it needs to be understood that the Holy Quran is a book of ‘religion’ and not a ‘book of science’ and Bucaille’s book is a book of ‘metaphysics’ and not of science. Metaphysics is a term, which means literally ‘what comes after physics.’ So, it is a branch of philosophy that studies the ultimate structure and constitution of reality, correlating religion and science.
This book by a French Surgeon, Maurice Bucaille has gained general popularity in the Muslim world. Today when I searched this title of the book on Google, I came up with more than half a million possible links. Even today some Christian apologists have the audacity to suggest that the Holy Quran is copied from the Bible. Let this post be a discussion and an international repository to disabuse them of such ideas.
Here I quote from the introduction section of Maurice Bucaille’s book:
Another fundamental difference in the Scriptures of Christianity and Islam is the fact that Christianity does not have a text which is both revealed and written down. Islam, however, has the Quran which fits this description.
The Quran is the expression of the Revelation made to Muhammad by the Archangel Gabriel, which was immediately taken down, and was memorized and recited by the faithful in their prayers, especially during the month of Ramadan. Muhammad himself arranged it into suras, and these were collected soon after the death of the Prophet, to form, under the rule of Caliph Uthman (12 to 24 years after the Prophet’s death), the text we know today.
In contrast to this, the Christian Revelation is based on numerous indirect human accounts. We do not in fact have an eyewitness account from the life of Jesus, contrary to what many Christians imagine. The question of the authenticity of the Christian and Islamic texts has thus now been formulated.
The confrontation between the texts of the Scriptures and scientific data has always provided man with food for thought.
It was at first held that corroboration between the scriptures and science was a necessary element to the authenticity of the sacred text. Saint Augustine, in letter No. 82, which we shall quote later on, formally established this principle. As science progressed however it became clear that there were discrepancies between Biblical Scripture and science. It was therefore decided that comparison would no longer be made. Thus a situation arose which today, we are forced to admit, puts Biblical exegetes and scientists in opposition to one another. We cannot, after all, accept a divine Revelation making statements which are totally inaccurate. There was only one way of logically reconciling the two; it lay in not considering a passage containing unacceptable scientific data to be genuine. This solution was not adopted. Instead, the integrity of the text was stubbornly maintained and experts were obliged to adopt a position on the truth of the Biblical Scriptures which, for the scientist, is hardly tenable.
Like Saint Augustine for the Bible, Islam has always assumed that the data contained in the Holy Scriptures were in agreement with scientific fact. A modern examination of the Islamic Revelation has not caused a change in this position. As we shall see later on, the Quran deals with many subjects of interest to science, far more in fact than the Bible. There is no comparison between the limited number of Biblical statements which lead to a confrontation With science, and the profusion of subjects mentioned in the Quran that are of a scientific nature. None of the latter can be contested from a scientific point of view. this is the basic fact that emerges from our study. We shall see at the end of this work that such is not the case for the Hadiths. These are collections of the Prophet’s sayings, set aside from the Quranic Revelation, certain of which are scientifically unacceptable. The Hadiths in question have been under study in accordance with the strict principles of the Quran which dictate that science and reason should always be referred to, if necessary to deprive them of any authenticity.
These reflections on the scientifically acceptable or unacceptable nature of a certain Scripture need some explanation. It must be stressed that when scientific data are discussed here, what is meant is data definitely established. This consideration rules out any explanatory theories, once useful in illuminating a phenomenon and easily dispensed with to make way for further explanations more in keeping with scientific progress. What I intend to consider here are incontrovertible facts and even if science can only provide incomplete data, they will nevertheless be sufficiently well established to be used Without fear of error.
Scientists do not, for example, have even an approximate date for man’s appearance on Earth. They have however discovered remains of human works which we can situate beyond a shadow of a doubt at before the tenth millenium B.C. Hence we cannot consider the Biblical reality on this subject to be compatible with science. In the Biblical text of Genesis, the dates and genealogies given would place man’s origins (i.e. the creation of Adam) at roughly thirty-seven centuries B.C. In the future, science may be able to provide us with data that are more precise than our present calculations, but we may rest assured that it will never tell us that man first appeared on Earth 6,786 years ago, as does the Hebraic calendar for 1976. The Biblical data concerning the antiquity of man are therefore inaccurate.
Whereas the scriptures are books of religion, what Bucaille is writing or the theme of his book is ‘metaphysics.’ A certain amount of humility is in order to comprehend the distinction between religion, science and metaphysics. In the words of Sir Charles Darwin, as he quoted Francis Bacon from his book Advancement of learning in the later editions of Origin of Species to establish the proper relationship between religion and natural science:
“To conclude, therefore, let no man out of weak conceit of sobriety, or an ill-applied moderation, think or maintain, that a man can search too far or be too well-studied in the book of God’s word, or in the book of God’s works; divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavor an endless progress or proficiency in both.” Review of the scriptures in light of science and appropriate commentaries by the initiated will lead a casual but honest reader to truth.
If we read the book of Dr. Maurice Bucaille with this humility there is much room for learning for both the Muslim and the non-Muslim audience.
To order the book please go to Amazon.com, the Kindle version is available for $2.99
— The Muslim Times (@The_MuslimTimes) January 22, 2017