Science in the Service of the Scriptures


Noah’s ark in artist’s imagination

Source: Muslim Sunrise 2015 winter volume

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Are science and religion at odds with each other?

Cary Funk and Becka A Alper nicely summarized a recent Pew Research Center survey in USA, “A majority of the public says science and religion often conflict, with nearly six-in-ten adults (59%) expressing this view in newly released findings from a Pew Research Center survey. The share of the public saying science and religion are often in conflict is up modestly from 55% in 2009, when Pew Research conducted a similar survey on religion and science.

People’s sense that there generally is a conflict between religion and science seems to have less to do with their own religious beliefs than it does with their perceptions of other people’s beliefs. Less than one-third of Americans polled in the new survey (30%) say their personal religious beliefs conflict with science, while fully two-thirds (68%) say there is no conflict between their own beliefs and science.

Moreover, the view that science and religion are often in conflict is particularly common among Americans who are, themselves, not very religiously observant (as measured by frequency of attendance at worship services). Some 73% of adults who seldom or never attend religious services say science and religion are often in conflict. By contrast, among more religiously observant Americans – those who report that they attend religious services on a weekly basis – exactly half (50%) share the view that science and religion frequently conflict.

It seems that human rationalization is at play in resolving possible conflict between religion and science and as is true for all things in life, we tend to give more credit to ourselves than others.

Given the above description of human reality, it is easy to appreciate that most Muslims do not see any conflict between science and the Quran, but, see that many parts of the Bible are at odds with science. As a Muslim writer I have often written about this, for example my article: The Root Cause of Science and Religion Conflict: Wrong Theology, published in prior volumes of the Muslim Sunrise.

Today I want to talk about age of Noah both in the holy Bible and the holy Quran.

First few chapters of Genesis talk about creation in general and about Adam and his family. According to Genesis 5: Adam lived a total of 930 years, and then he died. (Genesis 5:5) Genesis 5 ends with the following description of Noah’s family: After Noah was born, Lamech lived 595 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Lamech lived a total of 777 years, and then he died. After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.” (Genesis 5:30-32)

Chapter 6 through 9 of Genesis talk about Noah and flood in his time. The Bible describes a flood that engulfed the whole of the earth and caused extinction of mammoth proportions, for which geologists and biologists have not found any evidence.

Read further: Science in Service of Scriptures

My understanding of the Quran is not borrowed from one teacher or commentator, no matter how much popularity he may have enjoyed in his time in any group. The Quran is a book of All Knowing God and of infinite wisdom and to be fair and just with the book, I learn from teachers of all walks of life and all different sects of Islam and even non-Muslim scholars.

Having said that the first question in the following video that is in Urdu talks about commentary of a verse of the holy Quran that talks about the age of the prophet Noah and then goes into discussion of the verse 3:7. This adds useful metaphors to discussion at hand how to read and understand the Quran:

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