Responses to "Islamic Information"

Science in the Quran

Chapter 4 : "Six Days of Creation or Six Periods?"


Shabir attempts, again, to debunk the inspiration and authority of the Holy Bible with the flimsiest evidence. We shall once again see that Shabir's points crumble and have no real weight behind them.

Shabir:

Today we know that the creation process can be measured in billions of years.

The priestly editors or the Bible could not have known this. In their eagerness to enjoin Sabbath observance on others they wrote that God rested on the very first Sabbath day after finishing up his work of creating the heavens and the earth.

Response:

First, Shabir presumes that the documentary hypothesis, where several different documents were patched together by priestly scribes to form the Pentateuch, is an uncontested fact. We have already demonstrated elsewhere that both conservative scholarship and archaeological discoveries have conclusively debunked this theory. In fact, this method of criticism can be, and has been, used to explain the formation of the Quranic text over a period of 150 years, thus negating the traditional Islamic view of the Quran as a divinely revealed book. For further info see these related articles: [1] and [2].

Shabir:

The six days of creation in the book of Genesis, then, are clearly like six days of any seven-day week. The Priestly editors have made it clear that a day is meant a period from one sunset to another. Six days meant from Sunday to Friday. They believed that the reason the Sabbath day became holy is that God Himself had rested on that day. Thus the editors tell us:

"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done" (Genesis 2:2).

Response:

What Shabir must assume is that the days of creation can only be understood in terms of 24 hour periods. He cannot allow for the possibility that days here can refer to an indefinite period of time, as well shall shortly demonstrate.

Furthermore, in another article we will document the fact that both Muhammad and his followers clearly believed that the Quranic days of creation were actual 24-hour periods. In fact, Muhammad and his followers also believed in a young earth, that the earth was in existence less than 7,000 years.

Shabir:

If that is not far enough, the editors took the idea that God rested farther still when they wrote as follows:

"In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed" (The Holy Bible, King James Version, Exodus 31:17).

The idea that God rests like humans and gets refreshed like humans had to be corrected by Jesus, on whom be peace, when, according to John, he declared that God never stops working, even on the Sabbath day (see John 5:16). God clarified the matter in His own words when he declared:

"And verily we created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in six days, and naught of weariness touched us" (Qur'an 50:38 see also v. 15).

The above Qur'anic verses clearly refute the idea that God rested. God, according to the Qur'an does not get tired. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes him (Qur'an 2:255).

Response:

Shabir assumes that the Holy Bible teaches that God, like humans, needed to rest and then has the audacity to claim that Jesus corrected this alleged misinformation. What Shabir fails to understand is that the term for rest also carries the lexical meaning of "cease", "stop." Furthermore, the Holy Bible much like the Quran uses anthropormorphic language to describe God's acts. This is due primarily to the fact that God is incomprehensible and speaks in human language - using human descriptions which allow finite humans to comprehend the incomprehensible. This is also done to show God's immanence, that God in his love desires to relate to us on our level of frailty and understanding.

Examples of anthropomorphic language in the Quran include the following:

The Quran gives God a face:

Every one upon it will disappear while your Lord's face will remain full of majesty and splendor (Surat Al-Rahman 55:26,27 - T.B. Irving - The First American Version of the Quran).

The Quran gives God a hand:

The ones who swear allegiance to you merely swear allegiance to God. God's hand rests above their hands... (Surat Al-Fath 48:10).

The Quran gives God an eye:

Allah said: "Granted is thy prayer, O Moses! And indeed We conferred a favour on thee another time [before]. Behold! We sent to thy mother, by inspiration, the message: 'Throw [the child] into the chest, and throw [the chest] into the river: The river will cast him up on the bank, and he will be taken up by one who is an enemy to Me and an enemy to him: But I endued thee with love from Me: And [this] in order that thou mayest be reared under Mine eye.'" (Surat Ta-Ha 20:36-39 - King Fahd Holy Quran)

The Quran seats God on the throne:

He it is who created the heavens and the earth in six days; then He mounted the throne (Surat Al-Hadid 57:4 - M. M. Pickthall English Translation).

The Quran also attributes forgetfulness and repentance to God:

"Then Adam received commandments from his Lord, and his Lord relented towards him; for He is Oft-Repenting (Huwat Tawwaab), Most Merciful." S. 2:37

"And remember Moses said to his people: 'O my people! ye have indeed wronged yourselves by your worship of the calf; so turn (in repentance) to your Maker, and slay yourselves (the wrong-doers); that will be better for you in the sight of your Maker.' Then He relented towards you.: for He is Oft-Repenting (Huwat Tawwaab), Most Merciful." S. 2:54

"Such as took their religion To be more amusement And play, and were deceived By the life of the world." That day shall We forget them As they forgot the meeting Of this day of theirs, And as they were wont To reject Our Signs." S. 7:51

"The Hypocrites, men and women, are alike: they enjoin evil, and forbid what is just, and tighten their purse's strings. They have forgotten Allah: so He hath forgotten them. Verily the Hypocrites are rebellious and perverse." S. 9:67

So taste (the evil of your deeds). Forasmuch as ye forgot the meeting of this your day, lo! We forget you. Taste the doom of immortality because of what ye used to do. S. 32:14

And it will be said: This day We forget you, even as ye forgot the meeting of this your day; and your habitation is the Fire, and there is none to help you. S. 45:34

Would Shabir presume that Allah has a physical body and forgets like man does? Or would he say that these are nothing more than anthropormorphic descriptions of Allah that are employed in the Quran to help man understand God more clearly?

The Holy Bible clearly teaches that God does not fatigue and therefore is in no need of rest:

"He will not let your foot slip- he who watches over you will not slumber; Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." Psalm 121:3-4

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom." Isaiah 40:28

Hence, terms such as God resting and being refreshed are relational terms describing God's acts in finite human language.

Secondly, Jesus was not correcting the Genesis account of God ceasing from his work of creation. The point of Genesis is that God has stopped his work OF creation, whereas Jesus is speaking about God's work IN creation. The two do not even correlate.

Shabir:

But how about the period of creation? Was that six days in the Qur'an too? In the above quotation from the Qur'an the term translated `days' could mean, according to Dr. Maurice Bucaille, "not just `days', but also `long periods of time', an indefinite period of time (but always long)" (The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, p. 139).

Dr. Bucaille notes that the Qur'an also speaks of "a day whereof the measure is a thousand years of your reckoning" (Qur'an 32:5). The Qur'an also speaks of "a day whereof the measure is 50,000 years" (Qur'an 70:4).

Dr. Bucaille also points out that long before our modern ideas of the length of time involved in the creation, commentators of the Qur'an understood that when the Qur'an speaks of six days of creation, it does not mean six days like ours, but rather six periods. Abu al Su'ud, for example, writing in the sixteenth century, understood it as six events (see The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, p.139).

Again, we see that the Qur'an has avoided repeating an error which was established in a previous book an error that will not be discovered until modern times. In view of this, can anyone insist that the Qur'an is the work of a man?

Response:

Despite the contradiction in the Quran of whether a day is actually 50,000 years or a thousand, the Holy Bible also defines "day" in various ways, with one way being that a day can refer to a period lasting a thousand years:

"For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night." Psalm 90:4

Interestingly, this Psalm is attributed to Moses. Hence, who better than Moses to know the length of each specific day of the Genesis account seeing that he was the one God inspired to write it! Therefore, we have proof from Moses himself that the days of Genesis need not be taken literally, but can refer to indefinite periods of time lasting up to at a least a thousand years, if not more, for each specific day mentioned.

"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends. With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." 2 Peter 3:8

It should be also stated that the early church fathers clearly interpreted the days of Genesis as six periods totaling six thousand years, equating each day with a thousand years of our reckoning.

Other reasons for viewing the days of Genesis as indefinite periods of time include:

"... There are many indications in the text of Scripture to support the belief that the creation 'days' were longer than twenty-four hours. The following are those most often given in support of this position.

"Day (yom) often means time. Returning to word meanings, it should be noted how yom is used in the Bible. The word sometimes means a prophetic day, a significant future time as in 'the day of the LORD' (Joel 2:31; cf. 2 Peter 3:10). As noted above, 'A day is a thousand years' in Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8. And in Genesis 2:4 the word summarizes the entire creation. This indicates a broad meaning of the word yom in the Bible that parallels the range of meaning for the English day.

"As also noted above, Hebrews 4:3-5 teaches that God is still in that seventh-day cessation from creating described as a day in Genesis 2:2-3. This day, then, is at least 6,000 years long, even on the shortest chronologies.

"The third day is longer. On the 'third' day God not only created vegetation but it also grew to maturity. For the text says 'The land produced vegetation; plants bearing seed according to their kinds and tree bearing fruit according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good' (Gen. 1:12, emphasis added). But to grow from seeds to maturity and produce more seeds is a process that takes months or years.

"The sixth day is longer. It would also appear that the sixth day was considerably longer than a solar day. Consider everything that happened during this period of time (see Newman, Appendix III): God created all the many thousands of the land animals (Gen. 1:24-25).

God formed man from dust (Gen. 2:7) as a potter (cf. Jer. 18:2f).

God planted a Garden (Gen. 2:8), suggesting activity involving time.

Adam observed and named all these thousands of animals (Gen. 2:19).

God promised 'I will make him a helpmate' (Gen. 2:18), denoting a subsequent time.

Adam searched for a help mate for himself, apparently among the creatures God had made 'But for Adam no suitable helper was found [implying a time of searching]' (Gen. 2:20, emphasis added).

God put Adam to sleep for a time and operated on him, taking out one of his ribs and healing the flesh (Gen. 2:21).

Adam indicated he had anticipated Eve for some time (Gen. 2:23).

Eve was brought to Adam who observed her, accepting her, and was joined to her (Gen. 2:22-25).

"It seems highly unlikely that all these events, especially the second, were compressed within a twenty-four-hour period." (Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics [Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI, 1999], pp. 271-272)

Dr. Gleason L. Archer, former Professor of Semitic languages at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School of Deerfield Illinois, concurs with Geisler:

"It thus becomes clear in this present case, as we study the text of Genesis 1, that we must not short-circuit our responsibility of careful exegesis in order to ascertain as clearly as possible what the divine author meant by the language His inspired prophet (in this case probably Moses) was guided to employ. Is the true purpose of Genesis 1 to teach that all creation began just six twenty-four-days before Adam was 'born'? Or is this just a mistaken inference that overlooks other biblical data having a direct bearing on this passage? To answer this question we must take careful note of what is said in Genesis 1:27 concerning the creation of man as the closing act of the sixth creative day. There it is stated that on that sixth day (apparently towards the end of the day, after all the animals had been fashioned and placed on the earth-therefore not long before sundown at the end of that same day), 'God created man in his own image: He created them male and female.' This can only mean that Eve was created in the closing hour of Day Six, along with Adam.

"As we turn to Genesis 2, however, we find that a considerable interval of time must have intervened between the creation of Adam and the creation of Eve. In 2:15 we are told that Yahweh Elohim (i.e., the LORD God) put Adam in the Garden of Eden as the ideal environment for his development, and there he was to cultivate and keep the enormous park, with all its goodly trees, abundant fruit crop, and four mighty rivers that flowed from Eden to other regions of the Near East. In 2:18 we read, 'Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him."' This statement clearly implies that Adam had been diligently occupied in his responsible task of pruning, harvesting fruit, and keeping the ground free of brush and undergrowth for a long enough period to lose his initial excitement and sense of thrill at this wonderful occupation in the beautiful paradise of Eden. He had begun to feel a certain lonesomeness and inward dissatisfaction.

"In order to compensate for this lonesomeness, God then gave Adam a major assignment in natural history. He was to classify every species of animal and bird found in the preserve. With its five mighty rivers and broad expanse, the garden must have had hundreds of species of mammal, reptile, insect, and bird to say nothing of flying insects that are also indicated by the basic Hebrew term 'op ('bird') (2:19)... It must have required some years, or, at the very least, a considerable number of months for him to complete this comprehensive inventory of all the birds, beasts, and insects that populated the Garden of Eden.

"Finally, after this assignment with all its absorbing interest had been completed, Adam felt a renewed sense of emptiness. Genesis 2:20 ends with the words 'but for Adam no suitable helper was found.' After this long and unsatisfying experience as a lonely bachelor, God saw that Adam was emotionally prepared for a wife- a 'suitable helper.' God, therefore, subjected him to a deep sleep, removed from his body the bone that was closest to his heart, and from that physical core of man fashioned the first woman. Finally, God presented the woman to Adam in all her fresh, unspoiled beauty, and Adam was ecstatic with joy.

"As we have compared Scripture with Scripture (Gen. 1:27 with 2:15-22), it has become very apparent that Genesis 1 was never intended to teach that the sixth creative day, when Adam and Eve were both created, lasted a mere twenty-four hours. In view of the long interval of time between these two, it would seem to border on sheer irrationality to insist that all of Adam's experiences in Genesis 2:15-22 could have been crowded into the last hour or two of a twenty-four-hour day. The only reasonable conclusion to draw is that the purpose of Genesis 1 is not to tell us how fast God performed His work of creation (though, of course, some of His acts, such as the creation of light on the first day, must have been instantaneous). Rather, its true purpose was to reveal that the Lord God who had revealed Himself to the Hebrew race and entered into personal covenant relationship with them was indeed the only true God, the Creator of all things that are..." (Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties [Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI, 1982], pp. 59-60)

Archer also proceeds to demonstrate that the phrase, "first day," "second day," etc. is actually incorrect:

"... the translations 'the first day,' 'the second day,' etc. are in error. The Hebrew says, 'And the evening took place, and the morning took place, day one' (1:5). Hebrew expresses 'the first day' by hayyom hari'son, but this text says simply yom'ehad ('day one'). Again, in v. 8 we read not hayyom hasseni ('the second day') but yom seni ('a second day'). In Hebrew prose of this genre, the definite article was generally used where the noun was intended to be definite; only in poetic style could it be omitted. The same is true with the rest of the six days; they all lack the definite article. Thus they are well adapted to a sequential pattern, rather than to strictly delimited units of time." (Ibid, p. 61)

Norm Geisler also rebuts the common arguments used to support a literal six-day week of creation such as that vegetation could not have existed before sunlight if the days refer to an indefinite period of time and the use of the phrase 'evening and morning' only makes sense if the days were 24 hours in length, or that plants and animals cannot live apart from each other and that the numbers are in a series (i.e., first day, second day etc.):

"Numbered days need not be solar. Neither is there a rule of the Hebrew language demanding that all numbered days in a series refer to twenty-four-hour days. Even if there were no exceptions in the Old Testament, it would not mean that 'day' in Genesis 1 could not refer to more than one twenty-four-hour period. But there is another example in the Old Testament. Hosea 6:1-2 reads: 'Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.' Clearly the prophet is not speaking of solar 'days' but of longer periods in the future. Yet he numbers the days in series.

"There was a beginning and an end. That this phrase is often used in connection with twenty-four-hour days does not mean it is always used in this way. Genesis 1 is a good candidate to be an exception. Further, if one is going to take everything in Genesis 1 in a strictly literal way, then the phrase 'evening and morning' does not encompass a twenty-four-hour day, but only the late afternoon and early morning. This is considerably less than twenty-four-hours. Technically the text does not say the day was composed of 'evening and morning' (thus making a twenty-four-hour Jewish day). Rather, it simply says 'And there was evening, and there was morning- the first day' (1:5). The phrase may be a figure of speech indicating a beginning and end of a definite period of time, just as we refer to 'the dawn of world history' or the 'sunset years of one's life.'

"Finally, if every day in this series of seven is to be taken as twenty-four hours, then why is the phrase 'evening and morning' not used of the seventh day? In fact, as we shall see, the seventh day is not twenty-four hours, and thus there is no necessity to take the other days as twenty-four hours either, since all of them alike use the same word yom and have a series of numbers with them.

"The six periods are comparable to a work week. It is true that the creation week is compared with a work week (Exod. 20:11). However, it is not uncommon in the Old Testament to make unit-for-unit rather than minute-for-minute comparisons. For example, God appointed forty years of wandering for forty days of disobedience (Num. 14:34). And in Daniel 9:24-27, 490 days equal 490 years.

"We know the seventh day is more than twenty-four hours, since, according to Hebrew 4, the seventh day is still going on. For Genesis says 'on the seventh day he [God] rested' (2:2), but Hebrews 4:5-10 informs us that God is still in the Sabbath rest into which he entered after he created.

"When did light appear? Light was not created on the fourth day, as defenders of the solar day argue. Rather, it was made on the very first day, when God said, 'Let there be light' (Gen. 1:3). As to why there was light on the first day and the sun did not appear until the fourth day, there are two possibilities. Some scholars have noted a parallelism between the first three days (light, water; and land- all empty) and the second three days (light, water, and land- all filled with bodies). This may indicate a parallelism in which the first and fourth days cover the same period of time. In that case we are dealing with three periods of time, not six, and the sun existed from the beginning. Others have argued that, while the sun was created on the first day, it did not appear visually until the fourth day. Perhaps, this was due to a vapor cloud that allowed light through but not the distinct shape of the heavenly bodies emanating the light.

"Not all plants, animals are interdependent. If Genesis 1 is a parallel outline for creation, covering three days as suggested above, then the problem of plants and animals being created separately disappears. Also, some plants and animals are interdependent, but not all. Genesis does not mention all the plants and animals but only some.

"If the days are successive periods, then those forms of plant and animal life that need each other could have been created together. In fact, the basic order of events is the order of dependence. For example, many plants and animals can exist without humans (and they were created first), but humans (who were created on the last day), cannot exist without plants and animals." (Geisler, p. 271)

We also highly recommend Dr. William Campbell's book, The Qur'an and the Bible in Light of History and Science, especially pp. 15-27, where he exposes Bucaille's double standards in interpreting the Quran and the Holy Bible. For instance, Bucaille does not allow for the possibility that the Hebrew term yom can mean an indefinite period of time, despite all the evidence supporting such an interpretation. Yet, when Bucaille comes to the Quran and its usage of the term "day" (Arabic- yaum) he abandons his literal approach of interpretation for one that allows for a broader range of meaning, despite the fact that the phrase for day in Arabic is nearly identical with the Hebrew phrase! In fact, Campbell even documents the fact that the Genesis days of creation were understood metaphorically to mean indefinite time periods even before the advent of Islam and modern science:

"Dr. Bucaille's idea that Arabic 'yaum' could stand for a period of time is not new. St. Augustine suggested a similar idea for the Hebrew 'yom' in the 4th century saying that the creation days are so great, so majestic, so profound that we cannot consider them as mere sun-divided days, but as God-divided days. They are creative days, not solar days, and so he calls them natures, growths, 'dies inefabbes'." (Campbell, p. 21)

Hence, the interpretation of the days of Genesis as indefinite time periods is one consistent with the early church.

Finally, we have documented in another article that Muhammad personally believed that the days of creation were literal twenty-four-hour periods. He also believed in a very young earth, as did the early Muslim writers. Hence, there might have been Muslims who believed that the Quranic days were indefinite, and might possibly have spanned thousands of years, traditions attributed to Muhammad disagree with these assertions.

We again must conclude that Shabir's arguments crumble under closer examination and presents no real case against the Holy Bible, God's only inspired word.


Sam Shamoun


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