Watch out for the mudghah on the sidewalk

Weirder. This is quite possibly the most stupid thing I have read yet on development from a creationist, from The Quran on Human Embryonic Development.

The next stage mentioned in the verse is the mudghah stage. The Arabic word mudghah means “chewed substance.” If one were to take a piece of gum and chew it in his or her mouth and then compare it with an embryo at the mudghah stage, we would conclude that the embryo at the mudghah stage acquires the appearance of a chewed substance. This is because of the somites at the back of the embryo that “somewhat resemble teethmarks in a chewed substance.”

Prepare to laugh or weep…here is the figure accompanying this pseudoscientific absurdity. I’ve tucked it below the fold to prevent fatalities; click through only if you are well-prepared and braced, aren’t elderly, infirm, or an infant, and have had all your vaccinations.

When comparing the appearance of an embryo at the mudghah stage with a piece of gum that has been chewed, we find similarity between the two.
A) Drawing of an embryo at the mudghah stage. We can see here the somites at the back of the embryo that look like teeth marks. (The Developing Human, Moore and Persaud, 5th ed., p. 79.)
B) Photograph of a piece of gum that has been chewed.

Are Christianity and Islam in a race for the title of “Dumbest Collection of Freaks and Clowns” on the planet?


  1. Rocky says

    PZ, I don’t know how you have the time to find this unreal “weirdness” level of supposed knowledge.

  2. CousinoMacul says

    This just proves that Islam is a lie. Everyone knows that God made man out of molding clay, not chewing gum. (Although I have to admit that the mudghah does seem to explain puffer fish.)

  3. says

    Perhaps coincidentally, one Dr. Ramzi Mohammad is coming to my university to give a talk on this very topic this Wednesday:

    Dr. Ramzi Mohammad is a Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University in Michigan. He is a board member of the Shari’a Scholars of North America and has more than 90 publications and book chapters. His lecture will cover some of the Science in the Qur’an that modern Science only recently discovered. The main topic of the lecture will be the description of embryology from the Qur’anic text.

  4. J-Dog says

    I believe the correct answer is “Yes they are”.

    I was going to give the title to Muslims for the “Danish Cartoon Debacle”, BUT Pat Robertson’s “Diatribes of Doom” put the Xtians in the killer catagory too, so unfortunately, we’ll have to wait till the devil sorts them out when they are all dead.

    May it please Allah it will be soon! Thank You Lord, can I get an AAAA-Mennnn.

  5. BMurray says

    I’m not sure what the objection is — it’s a descriptive term and it’s not a bad description. Translate any given species name from Latin and you get some similar absurdities.

  6. says

    Let’s see: Creationists want to take a word coined a few millenia ago, back when proper sanitation in the desert meant using your left hand to wipe your ass and your right hand for everything else, and treat it as a modern medical term?


  7. says

    No, it is a very poor description. Embryos do not resemble something chewed, nor do somites resemble toothmarks, nor does the process of development in any way resemble what they are implying.

    It is not to Mohammed’s credit that he provides an explanation of development that is far, far worse than Aristotle’s.

  8. Dustin says


    Yeah, but the difference is that you aren’t distorting those translations as an apologetic device to show that your One True Holy Book contains all kinds of scientific truths.

  9. Dustin says

    Shari’a Scholars of North America

    I’m going to lose sleep over the fact that there is such an organization. I hope someone is watching their money trail very, very closely.

  10. minimalist says

    So does the Qur’an therefore advocate eating babies, or just chewing them up and spitting them out once they lose their flavor?

    I’m going to lose sleep over the fact that there is such an organization. I hope someone is watching their money trail very, very closely.

    No, no, that would imply competence. The gov’t is too busy infiltrating and investigating pro-peace groups. Hippies and lefties are, as ever, public enemy number one!

  11. says

    But where does the “false-color satellite photo image of Hurricane Katrina-looking-like-a-6-week-fetus” stage come in?

    (And religious apologists say that Richard Dawkins is “strident and condescending?” People are pushing the idea of an embryo being chewing gum, and Dawkins is condescending?)

  12. says

    ah, muslims. when it comes to insanity, islam wins hands down. even the most “open minded” of those ignorant, arrogant bigots can make the Pats and Behes look like enlightened libertines in comparison.

  13. lt.kizhe says

    Yep, if I deliberately shape a piece chewing gum with my tongue, carefully bite it in exactly the right place and view it from a certain angle, then it bears a passing resemblance to the standard picture of an embryo. Therefore the Quran is the Word of God, QED. Not only that, but the face of the Prophet appeared in my toast this morning. Guess I’ll go down to the mosque and convert now…..

  14. Mohammed Al-Qazarah says

    To all Infidels here: please do not make joke.

    You say you love the evidense. If you truly do love the evidense, then open your eyes to see the evidense.

    There can be no coinsidense claimed in fact that chewing of gum and miscarriage is linked. Wrigley’s Company is Christians and abortion is Christians also. Exploding gums is worse and we say that exploding gum every time is miscarrying somewhere.

    Allah saw to create human without gums to chew. To do chewing is to show at disrespect Islam.

    Now infidels can not admit they did not know this claims.

  15. HPLC_Sean says

    I can’t understand how the religious look to science to “validate” their scriptures one minute and then “invalidate” science with the same scripture the next.

  16. wÒӆ says

    Embryos are clearly made of chewing gum.

    If you do not believe this is possible, how is it there are الأقزام + الأقزام???!?

  17. EVinson says

    “So does the Qur’an therefore advocate eating babies, or just chewing them up and spitting them out once they lose their flavor?”

    They don’t stick to the bedpost worth a crap. At least, Christian embryos don’t. I haven’t tried Muslim ones.

  18. mathpants says

    The DoubleMint Gum commercials from a few years back were clearly based on this truth.

    Hence PZ Meiyjurs is ignoring important evidence that would serve to contradict his both aforementioned and heretoforesaid claim, and I find that both ironic and sad and also typical.

  19. Inky says


    I’m having trouble figuring out if you’re being funny (and it IS funny), or serious (you can’t be serious).

  20. Michael says

    There can be no coinsidense claimed in fact that chewing of gum and miscarriage is linked. Wrigley’s Company is Christians and abortion is Christians also.

    The picture shows bubble gum, everyone knows Bazooka is the best bubble gum, Bazooka is made by the Topps Candy Company, and the founders of Topps were Jewish so I must dispute the linkage. However, I see no evidence here that anyone has actually tasted an embryo to be sure of the flavor, it’s possible the Bazooka illustration is simply an error. More rigorous research is clearly required: we must consider the possibility embryos are actually Spearmint, or even Juicy Fruit. Someone must conduct an embryo taste-test to confirm or disprove the gum-Wrigley-Christian link.

  21. Inky says

    Juicy Fruit embryos are abominations–they grow up to become homosexuals.
    Big Red embryos, on the other hand, are all right–they grow up to be fiery fundamental (redundant?) right-wing Republican (redundant?) Christians.

  22. John says

    Hey, I’m a homeless person that has to beg for half a days for half an hour internet so I can check out Pharyngula. I can’t afford chewing gum, so I always go to the nearest abortion clinic, and lemme tell ya, they does taste like Bazooka. Even better. And it don’t stick to the pavement.

  23. says

    I don’t think this is intended as a joke or a hoax, people–if it originally was, it’s all over the Internet now. Muslims who blog apparently believe it. I might have to ask some of my friends if they do.

  24. Helen of Troy says

    oh my.

    Dr. Myers, please, please let us know that this article came from a late-night hack you did onto that website. Very funny, glad to see you’re so creative. Tell me you made this up. Because some small yet significant part of my brain might explode if I have to believe that this is real.

    Hmmm, well, if it is real, then Bubble Gum Alley has to be a study of fetal development:
    although I’m not sure it all supports the phargumula theory, not seeing to many other gums that have that fetal-development look:
    maybe the pro-choice movement has been sneaking into the alley at night to reshape the gum away from looking like the fetal structures they are?

    Heck, all that gum I had as a child? Never thought I was actually recapitulating ontology.

  25. Snark says

    So…. this might give us some ideas for new Disney movies. Like um, Pinochewo , the boy chewed from gum by Gepetto.

    Or Dumbo, the believer, whose ears are much larger than his brain, as with all believers.

  26. Pete K says

    It may or may not be a hoax. Humans do have a tendency to see patterns and phenomena in things. Virgin Mary’s in toast, “allah” written in Arabic on a fish, faces on Mars, even astronomers call star clusters and nebulae “Rotten Egg” or “Coal Sack” or “Jewelbox”etc.

    Seldom are the percived similarities this funny, though.

  27. says

    I don’t think it’s a hoax at all. Look through the whole site — it’s quite elaborate, and goes on and on about the virtues of Islam.

  28. says

    Since if I put URLs in it gets held up, I’ll simply say that the source of this stuff is, as far as I know, Maurice Bucaille, who wrote a bookk “The Bible, the Qur’an and Science”.

  29. Frumious B. says

    Well, I’m all on for comparing embryos to leeches, little parasites that they are.

  30. bmurray says

    Some “palaeontologists” have chosen to call the Mighty Swamp Monster, “brachiosaurus”. Can you imagine the stupidity? “Arm lizard”? It doesn’t even look like an arm. It isn’t a lizard. Maybe they name everything with arms brachiosomething? Har har.

    You’re attacking the easiest target in the article (unfairly I think — a fetus looks more like a chewed wad of gum than you’re prepared to admit, though the photo in the article is hopelessly contrived) and missing its conclusion, which is worth targeting: the claim that these observations somehow presage modern embryology.

  31. John Smith says

    This has been around for a long time as “proof” that Islam is correct/true/etc. There is even a debate out there between a Muslim nutjob and a Christian nutjob about the Bible, the Quran and Science. The Muslim speaker lists all kinds of ‘scientific accuracies’ in the Quran while the Christian speaker ‘refutes’ these by using using standards that would also destroy the credibility of the Bible if the Christian was not a hypocrite.

  32. John C. Randolph says

    This has got to be a gag. No Muslim would go to these lengths to make his religion look so absurd.

    If it’s not a gag, then the author of this web site would have to be the stupidest individual to ever emerge from the middle east.


  33. Harlequin says

    Whoever came up with this “theory” obviously wasted their childhood trying to put the square peg in the round hole.

  34. James Gambrell says

    B) Photograph of a piece of gum that has been chewed.

    Thats the funniest line I’ve read all week!

  35. says

    If it’s not a gag, then the author of this web site would have to be the stupidest individual to ever emerge from the middle east.

    Actually, he emerged from France. As has been pointed out, this is taken from Maurice Bucaille’s The Bible, the Qur’an and Science.

    It’s the equivalent of American young earth creationists. Muslims scientists view these apologists just as dimly as we do the YECs.

  36. John Smith says

    Even better are the works of Harun Yahya, a Turkish Muslim creationist. He pulls all the usual creationist crap but has also written a book about how reality is an illusion (ala The Matrix)! How using The Matrix as a basis for Islamic though is okay but real science is wrong is beyond me.

  37. James Gambrell says

    Don’t ignore other great quotes from that site, like this one:

    “So, this area of the cerebrum is responsible for planning, motivating, and initiating good and sinful behavior and is responsible for the telling of lies and the speaking of truth. Thus, it is proper to describe the front of the head as lying and sinful when someone lies or commits a sin, as the Quran has said, “…A lying, sinful naseyah (front of the head)!””

    You’re all a bunch of sinful front-of-the-heads!

  38. says

    Ah yes. The science in the Qur’an folk. I’m sad to say I discovered a while back I have one for an in-law.

    Oddly, they don’t seem to invite us to the same dinner parties anymore.


    I’ve always suspected, quite without having anything that much proves it, that such bizarre performances as these reveal a deep anxiety, and an unsurprising one. That try as he might to avoid it, the writer has begun to fear that his alleged holy book really is just the work of men and men alone–men who knew no more than they could have been expected to know millenia ago when they wrote it–that clearly no deity was whispering in anyone’s ear, nor guiding anyone’s pen.

    And so he goes to these absurd lengths, to push back at that fear, does what he must to concoct what he deems an adequate reason to believe otherwise.

    And thus, ‘thou shalt not eat shellfish’ becomes a description of quark flavours.

  39. says

    When I was a boy we used to crack open hen’s eggs to get to the bubble gum inside.

    That was back when I was in elementary school which is a school where the teachers convert students into their basic elements. I know this is true because that is what the word elementary literally means and it’s impossible for the board of education to use a metaphor or be wrong about something.

  40. says

    How many millions of words have been wasted trying to analyse the random ramblings of some guys wandering around the desert hundreds of years ago? I don’t care if they were hebrews or arabs – their myths and legends have no more relevance to modern life than my blog will have to future folk 2000 years from now.

  41. says

    Aw shit. I don’t have the stomach for actually goint to the site; I’m already depressed. But I don’t have to. I’ve seen the book. If it’s a hoax, it goes way beyond a website.

    There is a similar (companion?) book — both are thin paperbacks — about women and Islam, and it wasn’t about how original Islam said women were equals of men, but about how we were actually protected by being declared mostly incompetent.

    Oh damn. This really is emetic. ‘Scuse me, there goes dinner.

  42. says

    “Oh me oh my oh you, I don’t know what to do.
    Hallelujah! The question is peculiar,
    It’s got me on the go, I’d give a lot of dough,
    If someone here would tell me, is it ‘yes’ or is it ‘no’?

    Does your foetus lose its flavour on the bedpost overnight?
    If you chew it in the morning will it be too hard to bite?
    Can’t you see I’m going crazy? Won’t somebody put me right?
    Does your foetus (mp3) lose its flavour on the bedpost overnight?”

  43. says

    …lose its flavour on the bedpost overnight?

    Oh my ghod. Someone else remembers:

    “We’re The Interwoven Pair, Billy Jones and Ernie Hare/Howdja do, howdja do, howdja do
    . …”

    So who hosts the Old Farts Carnival?

  44. David Moe says

    This claim goes back at least 30 years. I have before me The Bible, The Qur’an And Science by Maurice Bucaille which, on pg. 205, after quoting sura 23:14, says: “‘Chewed flesh’ is the translation of the word mudga; ‘intact flesh’ is lahm. This distinction needs to be stressed. The embryo is initially a small mass. At a certain stage in its development, it looks to the naked eye like chewed flesh.”

    The book is a translation from French and does not have a date of publication, but the latest dates in the footnotes are 1974. I received my copy from a prostelatizing young woman at the MIT student center around 1986. Thank Allah I’ve lugged it around for twenty years so it could be of use tonight!

  45. outeast says

    “At a certain stage in its development, it looks to the naked eye like chewed flesh.”

    Yes – I always wondered why it is that descriptions that appear most likely to have been based on the cursory inspection of miscarriages get cited as evidence of divinely communicated science. And what kinda archangel uses language like that anyhoo?

    Does your foetus lose its flavour on the bedpost overnight?

    Isn’t a fetus described at an earlier stage of development as ‘something that sticks’? To the bedpost, presumably.

  46. Anonymous says

    Funny thing is, Keith L. Moore wrote one of the anatomy textbooks I read, way back in first year. And here he is, on the webpage you linked, proposing a new classification of embryology based on the Koran. Boggles the mind.

    If, like Dr. Moore says, writing about scientific facts can make Mohammed (PBUH) a messenger of God, that’s something we ought to be happy about. Maybe scientists are all messengers of God, seeing that they write scientific facts for a living.
    So look up PZ, see any haloes overhead?

    PS – Please don’t burn anybody’s embassy over this.

  47. says

    I realized once that if all the knowledge about the universe is in $HOLY_BOOK, then the data compression must be, er, godly. And thus the universe is largely redundant. Unfortunately, this conclusion seems to be independently held by many fundamentalists, so it doesn’t work as a rhetorical reductio.

    Also, Harun Yahya is a rather rude organization, though I guess PZ is used to creationist spammers by now. (I got emailed a bunch of their crap once after posting some stuff on Vic Stenger’s mailing list.)

  48. Craig Shergold says

    The Koran specifically states that an embryo is not human until 4 months. Until then, abortion is ok.

    Life is hard in the desert; you don’t want to spread your resources too thin.

  49. says

    There’s only one thing I can say:

    A complicated gentleman allow to present,
    Of all the arts and faculties the terse embodiment,
    He’s a great arithmetician who can demonstrate with ease
    That two and two are three or five or anything you please;
    An eminent Logician who can make it clear to you
    That black is white–when looked at from the proper point of view;
    A marvelous Philologist who’ll undertake to show
    That “yes” is but another and a neater form of “no.”

    “Yes” is but another and a neater form of “no.”
    All preconceived ideas on any subject I can scout,
    And demonstrate beyond all possibility of doubt,
    That whether you’re an honest man or whether you’re a thief
    Depends on whose solicitor has given me my brief.

    -Utopia, Limited.