Why I don’t believe in the Quran
Note: This blog post isn’t intended to offend Muslims. It’s an attempt to highlight various flaws in the arguments commonly made by Muslims in favour of the Quranic scripture.
Living in an Islamic country, the only thing you get to hear publicly about Quran is praise. One’s usually not even made aware that there’s another side of the debate. There’s a reason why many people don’t believe in Islam, and perhaps some effort should be made to understand their point as well.
When I tell a Muslim that I don’t believe in the Quran, his first assumption is that I haven’t read the book. That’s rather condescending. It doesn’t occur to many that a person may have chosen not to believe it despite adequate knowledge of what he’s rejecting. How many Muslims have read Bhagvad Gita or studied the Old Testament in detail before rejecting them both?
Based on this assumption, I’m always presented a series of arguments about why I should believe in the Quran. I shall now address them separately.
- 1) Quran is the best piece of literature in the world!
I’m afraid that cannot be said for any literary work, no matter how good it is. Literature can never be compared effectively across lingual barriers, as the rules of literature are different for different languages.
For instance, here’s a question: “Who’s the better writer? Ghalib or Shakespeare?” A smart reader would immediately recognize this as a nonsensical query, as the English plays of Shakespeare cannot be compared with the Urdu poetry of Ghalib. Both did exceptionally well in their own areas.
At most, a person might argue that Quran is the best piece of Arabic literature, but that too would be an unfair assumption as this is largely subjective. Some works are more likeable than others, but there’s no way to objectively decide that one of these is the single most superior piece of work in terms of spiritual value or literary style.
- 2) Quran is scientifically accurate!
I’m afraid not. Ask a chemist if salt water and fresh water fail to mix, or is there such a thing as ‘diffusion’? Ask a biologist if a staff can spontaneously morph into a snake.
The universe was not created in six days (50:38), but billions of years. In fact, the term “creation” itself is meaningless as the universe is still being created…still evolving. One might even raise an eyebrow over why it took an omnipotent force six days to create a universe. Why not five? Or maybe just a moment?
Not all living organisms are created in pairs (51:49). Asexual and hermaphroditic species exist as well. Stars are not missiles to throw at satan (67:5), and semen does not arise from between the spine and the rib cage (86:6-7)
Here’s a list of scientific errors. You may check the context and compare various translations if you please.
- 3) The scientific miracles of Quran!
This argument involves pointing out different passages from the Quran that resemble modern scientific discoveries, and ask how people 1400 years ago could have known about such things. The ones most commonly used include a verse somewhat resembling the account of a Big Bang, and the detail of embryogenesis which was claimed to be a scientific miracle by Keith.L.Moore (from then onwards, the Muslim world has fallen in love with Mr.Moore and his books are recommended in all medical schools).
If Quran had stated so clearly that the universe came from a violent explosion, and not crafted by a divine being, why did it take Muslims a thousand years to figure it out? Why weren’t Muslims the ones to present the idea of a big bang, instead of a Belgian priest in 1921 (he didn’t prove the theory, he only proposed the idea).
Why did Muslims wait a thousand years for non-Muslims to make these propositions and then say, “Haha! We knew about this all along! Our holy book says so!”.
It’s called the Forer’s Effect, where a statement general enough to apply to a large number of things, gives the impression of talking about something very specific. It’s the same effect that sells horoscopes. You don’t understand what the horoscope is predicting until the event actually happens, and your brain draws a false connection between the event and the vague statement in the newspaper column.
- 4) To understand Quran properly, you need to learn Arabic.
Isn’t it odd that a book claiming to be universal and timeless is written in a language that is not understood universally? Did the author, in all His wisdom, not anticipate that the translation of the text in various languages with entirely different syntaxes would inevitably cause problems in understanding the scripture? That its powerful poetry, and the magic of its rhyming words, would be lost in translation?
- 5) Follow the Quran, not Muslims. Many Muslims portray Islam incorrectly.
The problem is that Quran has always been at the mercy of Muslims. God didn’t compile the Quran. God didn’t translate the Quran. God didn’t preach Quran. God didn’t write the tafseer for the Quran. All of these have been performed, and are being performed, by humans, and thus subject to variation and even errors.
There’s no such thing as “real Islam”, there are multiple versions of it. Apart from the few most basic concepts, like the existence of heaven and hell, and oneness of Allah, each Muslim has a slightly different idea and understanding of what Islam entails and demands. And that’s completely natural, since Islam is what the average human beings of unexceptional intelligence subjectively understand and believe.
Some view this as a flaw in God’s design, leaving the religion in the hands of imperfect humans. A God could’ve sent his commands telepathically to all humans, but for some reason, chose to write a book. A book over the interpretations of which, mankind has been bickering, fighting and even killing for over a thousand year. We may blame this on the stupidity of human beings, but who created these stupid humans in the first place? And more importantly, why did He not anticipate the inevitable sectarianism?