Are you sure that the Quran is not the word of God

How can anyone who does not speak Arabic, or as Muslims would say classical Arabic, think they know if the Quran is or is not the word of God?

Posted: June 16th 2011

flagellant www

You assert that it’s necessary to apprehend the Koran in Arabic to be able to pronounce upon it.

When I look at an alleged holy book, the original language is irrelevant. I look for information which makes it clear that what was written was truly penned by an all-knowing superior intelligence. In examining something composed several thousand years ago, I look for strong pointers to knowledge that modern science has only comparatively recently made clear to us.

After all the Koran repeats ad nauseam “Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise”. [e.g. Sura 4;19.] Or does the Arabic version say something like “Allah is ignorant/non-existent and only knows what you can imagine ‘he/she/it’ might know?” I would want to see that an alleged god gave us, for example, an outline of The Periodic Table , with information about the different elements and why they have different physical and chemical properties. And what do we find in the Koran? Nary a word; not even a guess at Döbereiner’s Triads . (In fact, this early scientific stab was as recent as the first part of the nineteenth century.)

The Periodic Table is just an example. What else is there in the Koran that would pass as modern knowledge? Absolutely nothing. But what do we find instead? Prescriptive ideas about relations between the sexes, instructions to kill unbelievers, and a non-stop series of statements about the mercifulness, wisdom, and comprehensive knowledge of Allah? Are any of these useful, positive, or constructive? I think not…

Some scholars would claim that one has to apprehend the Bible in its original languages: Ancient Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. But it does not stop them criticizing it. I would not dream of saying that the Bible is a superior document but, to their credit, at least those denominations that I wouldn’t describe as batshit crazy, are sufficiently realistic to acknowledge that stories about Adam and Eve, the Great Flood, and the fall of Jericho – to take but a few examples – are just that: stories.

Muslims do not seem to be capable of criticizing the Koran. Please understand that, while it may be an interesting document, it is a monument to the ignorance of ancient people, just like the Bible. Both may have great poetry in them but that does not make either of them the word of God, or even evidence of God’s existence, whatever language they are read in.

Posted: June 20th 2011

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Dave Hitt www

You need to be a bit more specific. Which God are you referring to?

Posted: June 19th 2011

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Blaise www

This is really quite a simple question, which can be answered statistically.

First, if there is no “God”, then there is no “Word of God”, so the improbability of a god’s existence limits the likelihood of any book being the word of one. Second, whatever the unlikelihood of a god might be, thousands of different religions lay claim to knowing the “Word of God”, so the chances of any one being right are thousands of times less than even the possibility that there is a god in the first place.

So, lets be generous, and say that there are only 1000 religions (including islam), and that there’s a 1 in 100 chance that a god or gods exist (most would put that last likelihood at more like 1 in 1,000,000, but we’re being generous). That means that the possibility that the Quran is the actual “Word of God” is 1 in 100,000. The language it’s written in never even comes into it. If we were to use more realistic statistics, the likelihood drops into the millions or billions, depending on the estimates used.

You have a better chance of winning the Irish Lottery than of being right about your book…

Posted: June 19th 2011

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brian thomson www

If a message cannot survive translation without being invalidated, what does that tell us about the strength of the message? Is it really that fragile, or is there something else going on here?

Looking at the situation from the outside (as we atheists do), whenever I see people being forced to do something against their natures, my natural response is to ask the question cui bono? Who benefits, when people are forced to speak Arabic? The leaders of Arab nations, of course: Islam was founded in what is now Saudi Arabia, and has the explicit goal of conquering the rest of world.

Just as English was forced on to all countries in the British Empire, an Islamic ummah would be one in which everyone spoke Arabic. Telling people that the Quran is only “valid” in Arabic is one way of achieving that goal. It hasn’t worked, however, and English is more popular for cultural reasons, such as the strength and depth of Western cultures and principles.

Instead, you have millions of people who have been forced to recite the Quran in Arabic, but who do not understand it – and what is there to understand, anyway? Even in Arabic, it’s so vague it can be used to justify almost any action, and needed people to create volumes of “hadiths” explaining it – a corrupt process that enshrined in law all the worst excesses of the Bronze Age tribes of the time. The result? Islam is so broken that its followers can’t even see that it’s broken.

Posted: June 19th 2011

See all questions answered by brian thomson


I’m pretty sure that there’s a book titled “Tom Sawyer” that is the word or Mark Twain (or, more specifically, Samual Clemens…)

I’m not really sure what the phrase “word of god” means. From what I’ve been able to gather, whenever anybody uses the term, what they means is that there is a book written by men (and perhaps very rarely, women) who have said that what they are writing is the word of god, but I haven’t seen any evidence behind their claim.

It is clear that there are numerous conflicting versions of the word of god that different people believe quite strongly are true, and it’s just as clear that they can’t all be true.

Posted: June 19th 2011

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Paula Kirby www

How can someone who does speak Arabic know if the Quran is or is not the word of God?

Surely they would have to know what the word of God sounds/looks like before reading the Quran in order to recognise it in the Quran, even supposing it were there? It’s not good enough for a book merely to say, 'This is the word of God’, because the person who actually wrote the book could have been lying or deluded.

What makes you think a human would be able to recognise the word of God anyway?

Many humans have written achingly beautiful literature. Many humans have lied. Many humans have been mentally ill (or taken drugs) and have heard voices in their heads that never really spoke or seen visions of things that weren’t really there.

How can a human know, when reading literature or listening to a story or hearing about something strange, that in this one case, the real answer is 'God’ and not just human ability or human frailty, as in all the other cases?

Your question assumes a giant leap. It assumes the existence of an entity that you call God, which was able to write the Quran. Atheists don’t make that assumption. Before you will find us worrying about what, if anything, a god has chosen to say to us and which book, if any, it has said it in, you will have to demonstrate to us that a god exists at all. Simply pointing at a book and claiming it as the word of God won’t wash, I’m afraid – no matter what the language it was written in.

Posted: June 18th 2011

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Ophelia Benson www

I’m not sure I do think I know if the Quran is or is not the word of God. I’ll tell you some things I do think.

I think I don’t know of any reason at all to think the Quran or any other book is the word of “God.”

I think no one else has any good reason to think the Quran or any other book is the word of “God.”

I think the whole idea that any book is the word of “God” is fairly absurd.

I think people who think some book is the word of “God” would have a hard time explaining how they know the book in question is the word of “God.”

Posted: June 18th 2011

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Tauriq Moosa www

1. How can anyone who does not speak Egyptian, or as worshippers of Ra would say classical Egyptian, think they know if the mythology of Egypt is or is not the word of Ra?

2. Not all Muslims speak Arabic. Supposedly, 90% of all Muslims do not speak Arabic as their native language (though I don’t know where this statistic comes from). Nonetheless, a significant number do not. It is therefore irrelevant even to these many Muslims whether the Quran is in Arabic, Sumerian or Hindi. It’s the religion itself and what it professes. Also note that many might speak Arabic, but there is a difference between speaking Arabic and understanding it. I learnt the entire Quran and can read Arabic, but don’t understand a sentence in it. That’s how most madrassahs work and nothing has changed that.

3. If an argument is wrong, if the facts are not true, putting it in another language does not change that. For example, if all the evidence points to the sun being very hot, disagreeing in a different language does not give any credence to your bizarre statement.

Posted: June 18th 2011

See all questions answered by Tauriq Moosa


Following your perspective, then many Muslim believers have no reason to bother with god in the sense of it existing or not existing because they can’t read the Quran in classical Arabic either.

Posted: June 18th 2011

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