Aron Ra got into an online debate with an Islamic apologist, Nadir Ahmed, on the science of the Qur’an. No offense, Aron, but you got suckered. It’s a total waste of time. They got into a whole bunch of goofy details, which Ahmed just oozed around slimily.
Islamic apologist, Nadir Ahmad insisted there were no scientific errors in the Qur’an. So we decided to do a series of videos listing them for him. In this episode, we talked about:
1. Sūrah 105 Birds bombing elephants with stones? Seriously?
2. Sūrah 54 The Moon (being broken in half) Didn’t happen.
3. Sperm becomes blood
4. Sex is determined later
5. Sperm = Human. We are made only of sperm, not sperm + egg.
6. Sperm comes from backbone and ribs
7. Flesh forms after bones
I haven’t watched the whole thing, but Aron let me know I was mentioned 1 hour 44 minutes in (Gah! It’s interminable!), when they’re discussing that last question, does flesh form after bones in embryonic development?
Ahmed practices expert theology. First he questions my knowledge of human embryology, trying to undercut anything I might have said. Then he begins splitting hairs: does “clothed with flesh” mean that Allah created muscles at that moment? Could he have created it first, and then draped it over the bones? Everything was word games, trying to rationalize the words of the Qur’an to fit a chronology worked out now with a body of scientific evidence that he apparently just heard for the first time right there, and I’m sorry, but Aron and his other guest got played right into that meaningless ad hoc argument, and they’re all sitting there playing the interpretation dance on screen.
Cut through the shit, guys. The verse in question is one paragraph long in English translation, just two short sentences. It’s vague and general, and it’s merely summarizing Aristotle’s view of development, part of the common currency of scholarly knowledge of the Prophet Mohammed’s time. It’s derivative and not specific enough to be a test of secret, divine knowledge bestowed upon the Prophet or the infallibility of the sacred text — and it’s a disgrace that Muslim zealots insist that it is, and that anti-Islamic atheists argue that its errors are proof that it isn’t God’s word. The former are embarrassingly ignorant, and the latter should know better. God, or rather his interpreters, lie all the time.
…the Quran contains negligible embryological content, and what there is is so sketchy and hazy that it allows his defenders to make spectacular leaps of interpretation. Mohammed avoided the trap of being caught in an overt error here by blathering generalized bullshit, and saying next to nothing. This is neither an accomplishment nor a miracle.
We can say the same thing about the book of Genesis. It’s like half a page! It’s clearly a poetic parable that uses guesses about how life came about, written by people who had no clue, to make some currently incomprehensible point about Hebrew destiny, and all the fine-toothed combing of the story is only obscuring the meaning. People who stack it up against all the scientific observations of the complex history of geology and biology are ludicrous, and that’s the point we should be making, not dissecting what happened on what day and how it fits the science.
Unfortunately, I commented on that video, which meant Ahmed was prepared to pounce with more irrelevancies.
He wants to debate me? No. Not ever going to happen. Hamza Tzortzis wanted to fly me to London to debate him — the prospect of a free trip to England was tempting, but no, I didn’t debate him, either, and Adnan Oktar once invited me to Istanbul for a conference on Islamic creationism, even more tempting, and I turned him down. Ahmed didn’t tantalize me with anything, and his performance with Aron told me he was just a know-nothing word parser who practices motivated reasoning blatantly. To engage with him is to elevate his importance far too much, as it would have been with Tzortzis and Oktar (Oktar has since vanished into a Turkish prison, so I can safely say that association with him would not have looked great on my CV).
Then he’s desperately reduced to questioning my credentials. What can I say? As an undergraduate, I did research on development with Jenny Lund and Johnny Palka at the University of Washington; I moved on to do graduate work at the University of Oregon on zebrafish development; I did a post-doc with Mike Bastiani at the University of Utah studying early development in the grasshopper; I was hired to teach developmental biology at Temple University; I took a position as a developmental biologist and geneticist here at the University of Minnesota Morris. I’ve taught human embryology, developmental biology of both invertebrates and vertebrates, developmental neurobiology, and ecological development. Anybody could look at what I’ve been doing for over 40 years now and see that yeah, I’m about as qualified in developmental biology as you can get.
But all Mr Ahmed, the wibbly-weebly twister of words, can do is squint and try to pretend I’m less informed about embryology than he is. That’s a taste of what any debate with him would be like, and no thanks.