Rahmat Attaie’s Opening Video on Science in the Quran
17 Jun 2016
I'jaz / Miracles, Astronomy
Rahmat Attaie, PhD
This video uses several Qurʾānic verses in an effort to use science to prove that the Qurʾān has a divine source, known as iʿjāz ʿilmii.
Attaie opens by citing verse 16.89 to note that the Qurʾān explains everything. He presents verse 51.47 in order to discuss the expansion of the universe. He then uses verse 21.30 to discuss all life being based on water. These are common topics in iʿjāz narratives.
The discussion of the expansion of the universe relies more on a discussion of the science of this in the early twentieth century than Qurʾānic exegesis. Edwin Hubble’s discovery that stars were moving away is explained in general terms.
Attaie’s presentation on life being based on water rests on cell structure including large amounts of water, among other other chemicals. He asserts that because seventh-century Arabs could not have known about microscopic cell structures, this material must be based on a divine source.
The material presented in the video is presented in both English and Persian; Qurʾānic material is recited in Arabic as well.
This video was the first in a series Attaie did in 2016 on the Qurʾān and science. Visually, this video displays several slides from a PowerPoint, with Attaie shown in a small insert in the lower left corner throughout the video. Although this original video was not removed, he did a second, slightly longer video in July 2016 with some of the same content but more professionally presented, which can be found here.
Rahmat Attaie, Ph.D. is a research scientist at Texas A&M University, from which he graduated in the early 1990s. His degree is in Food Science and Technology. His curriculum vitae is on the web.
The material on Islam is within the bounds of what Muslims have historically understood as acceptable, although not all Muslims agree with using science to try to “prove” the divine source of the Qurʾān.
Most of the science presented here is fairly vague, and so is generally accurate at this level. Most scientists would disagree, however, with using science, which depends on observations, to attempt to prove something metaphysical, that is, unobservable.
In terms of history, some of Attaie’s description of Hubble is inaccurate. Should the details of this discussion be important, one should look for a more detailed historical account, such as that in Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe. Attaie also suggests that no one knew about cell properties in the seventh century, which is true. However, it does not take microscopic knowledge of the cellular level of plants and animals to know that without water, they die. Seventh century Arabs knew well that water was critical for life.