Does the Qur'an accurately describe embryology?

By: Joe Ford

Reading the Qur'an is kind of like reading Nostradamus — what is written could be interpreted as anything because there is no chronology and very little, if any, context. Also, it is written in an Arabic that modern Arabs and Muslims cannot understand, much less interpret, with over 20 percent of it unintelligible according to some Islam scholars (see in the paragraph Miracles of the Qur'an by Ali Dashti and the paragraph Psychopathic Vandalism quoting Arab linguist and German scholar Gerd R. Puin). With Muslim leaders telling everyone that it can only be properly understood in its original Arabic, that leaves out 99 percent of the Muslims who read it! Finally, a god who can provide his word in only one of the languages he supposedly created isn't God at all.

There is a particular passage that Muslims use in an attempt to prove the revelatory nature of the Qur'an. Specifically, they say it is the first account of scientific embryology. Here is the passage from one of the most reliable interpretations of the Qur'an (Marmaduke Pickthall):
"Verily We created man from a product of wet earth; Then placed him as a drop (of seed) in a safe lodging; Then fashioned We the drop a clot, then fashioned We the clot a little lump, then fashioned We the little lump bones, then clothed the bones with flesh, and then produced it another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best of Creators!" Surah 23:12-15
There are problems with claiming the passage is scientific, however. First, the context seems to be talking about creation, when God first made Adam, not a pregnancy. If this is the correct context (it doesn't seem to allow for any other context), then the Qur'an is simply wrong. God made Adam as a complete human being. He wasn't incubated and grown. Scientifically speaking, this passage doesn't tell us anything because the writers don't seem to know that nothing can come out of a "clot." Even if talking about a pregnancy, there is enough error (flesh comes before bones; flesh doesn't become "another creation") to not give it credence as from God.

There is another Surah that says something similar, and again, the context seems to point to Creation:
"O mankind! if ye are in doubt concerning the Resurrection, then lo! We have created you from dust, then from a drop of seed, then from a clot, then from a little lump of flesh shapely and shapeless, that We may make (it) clean for you. And We cause what We will to remain in the wombs for an appointed time, and afterward We bring you forth as infants, then (give you growth) that ye attain your full strength. And among you there is he who dieth (young), and among you there is he who is brought back to the most abject time of life, so that, after knowledge, he knoweth naught. And thou (Muhammad) seest the earth barren, but when We send down water thereon, it doth thrill and swell and Put forth every lovely kind (of growth)." Surah 22:5
A glaring issue for me in this verse is the phrase; "there is he who is brought back to the most abject time of life, so that, after knowledge, he knoweth naught." This actually sounds like Reincarnation, a pagan concept.

And here is another:
"He it is Who created you from dust, then from a drop (of seed) then from a clot, then bringeth you forth as a child, then (ordaineth) that ye attain full strength and afterward that ye become old men though some among you die before and that ye reach an appointed term, that haply ye may understand." Surah 40:67
And another:
"Thinketh man that he is to be left aimless? Was he not a drop of fluid which gushed forth? Then he became a clot; then (Allah) shaped and fashioned And made of him a pair, the male and female. Is not He (who doeth so) able to bring the dead to life?" Surah 75:36-40
This passage clearly speaks of Creation as "made of him a pair, male and female," is what happened to Adam. However, this passage sounds like someone gave birth to Adam, which didn't happen. The whole Surah is supposedly about the Day of Resurrection (v1), so this passage, and the Surah in general, makes no sense in the context given.

And another:
"Read: In the name of thy Lord who createth, Createth man from a clot." Surah 96:1-2
All of these verses seem to be mixing the original creation of man and regular pregnancy, providing little but confusion. Was man created from dust or a clot? Was he created as an adult or incubated? There is no clarity, and God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).

The Bible provides the original, though less descriptive, account of happenings in the womb in Psalm 139:13-16:
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
Was God trying to convey scientific knowledge in this passage? No. He was conveying how intimately He knows us and that He is the one who created us and is responsible for our lives. Any asides to science in this passage merely show God's glory, omniscience, and omnipotence; none of which the god of Islam has.

It is not a "miracle" that the Qur'an may be talking about "embryonic development." It doesn't prove anything other than they might have ripped open a pregnant woman and saw the baby growing inside. It doesn't show that God gave the Qur'an to Muhammad or that the Qur'an itself is a miracle. This would actually be more proof that the Qur'an was written more than 100 years after Muhammad died because medical science in the Arab world was expounding during this time (source).

If you are a Christian, and even if you aren't, do not be deceived by anything in the Qur'an. The Qur'an stole about 70 percent of its content and distorts and denies many events and doctrines found in the Bible. It is best to stick with God's truth which is only found in the Bible. Knowing its truth is the only truth that brings salvation (John 17:17).

Image Credit: Republica; untitled; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | False-Teaching  | History-Apologetics  | Other-Religions

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Published 11-21-16