A Common Sense Understanding of Our Universe through the Qur’an and Science
By Dr. Basheer A. Khan
Garden Grove , CA
Pure religion and perfect science are never in conflict with each other or with common sense. In fact, they complement each other. The conflict that we see between religion and science is because of the impure religion we follow and the imperfect science that we promote.
Because of his intrinsic inquisitiveness and intellect, man has always been pondering about the origin of our universe and our life on it. The Hedron Collidor Experiment conducted recently in Europe has renewed this interest. Consciousness of man has always been vacillating between the religious doctrine of Creation and the multitude of intellectual assumptions on the subject which have gained credence because of the names and publicity associated with them. Some believe that this universe is ancient which has always been there, without a beginning and therefore without an end. All these beliefs about the universe have an impact on our attitude towards it and therefore need critical scrutiny. While the religious doctrine propounded by the Qur’an makes us tread on it responsibly, our credulous assumptions about it cause only confusion. The belief that this universe is eternal and infinite has been at the center of our behavior which has led to its wanton destruction.
The Old Testament which was revealed to mankind when its consciousness was not mature enough to imbibe the complex realities, nothing more could be told to them than: God ordered the earth to be and it became. God said that let there be light, firmament, waters, the day, the night the seasons, etc and it all became. Jesus, peace be upon him, told before his ascension, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Sprit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth for he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear (from God), that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come” (John Ch 16 V 12 – 13). In accordance with this prophesy, Muhammad SA was sent as the final messenger and he told a lot more about our universe and its creation.
With mankind progressing on its march towards greater consciousness through the observations and experiences of millennia, it was appropriate that Prophet Muhammad SA was sent not with miracles like the earlier prophets but with the command: “Read with the name of your Most Bounteous Lord who created you from a clot and taught you with pen what you knew not, and don’t become rebellious against Him (after getting this knowledge) forgetting its consequence when your return to Him” (Verse 1-8 Ch. 96). Giving few outlines about the facts of creation, Qur’an left the rest for the mankind to ponder and research and come to their own conclusions. This was appropriate to satiate the inquisitive nature of man and also his instinct to believe in what he discovers rather than what he is commanded.
Qur’an says about the creation of the universe: “Don’t the disbelievers see that the celestial objects and the earth were one and We caused them to asunder” (Verse 30 Ch. 21). From the assumptive theories of Stone Age and Dark Age about the creation of the universe, to its correct understanding in light of this verse, mankind had to go down the trail of history for another fourteen hundred years.
Fearing the fact that by associating the fleeting and imperfect human understanding of the complex scientific facts with Qur’an might discredit the final message of Qur’an, Muslims abandoned the understanding and interpretation of Qur’an beyond the exegesis of Ibne Katheer and Ibne Jareer, etc. While the intellectuals in Abbasid caliphate were quibbling over non-issues, the remnants of Umayyad in Spain were helping Europe to emerge out of its dark ages. This led a Belgian Roman Catholic priest to expound the real meaning of the verse cited above with regard to the creation of the universe. Using the powerful telescopes available and armed with the astronomical observation, George Lemaitre described the beginning of universe in 1930 as “a burst of fireworks, comparing galaxies to the burning embers spreading out in a growing sphere from the center of the burst”.
In 1998 astronomers from Berkeley observing the supernovae of exploding stars found that the universe was ever expanding. This confirmed another verse of the Qur’an which says: “In accordance with the destiny set for it by the Mighty Wise Allah, the Sun is moving towards its destiny” (Verse 38 Ch. 36). There is a difference of opinion amongst the scientists about the destiny of this universe. While Stephen Hawking believes that gravity will overtake this expansion and the universe will fall back over its center, others believe that even if it shrinks, it shrinks to the point where another Big Bang will occur. In contrast with this Lemaitre opines that the universe will expand continuously and the Big Bang was one unique event,
In light of the above what becomes clear is that by observing the burst of Novae and expanding universe, the scientist have confirmed the Qur’anic view of the creation of this universe with a Big Bang: “The Earth and the celestial bodies were sewed together and Allah ripped them apart” (Ch 21 V 30). While Hawking believes that the universe will fall back over its center because of overpowering gravity, Lemaitre and others believe in its eternity. The belief that universe will shrink by overpowering gravity only to expand again with a Big Bang is closer to the Qur’anic concept given in verse 48 of Ch.14: On that day (of resurrection) Almighty Allah will replace the earth and the sky with a different one.
Logically what has got a beginning must also have an end. One who made this universe once should be able to create it again with greater ease after it ends. But this perfectly logical proposition is not acceptable to many a human being who loath to accept God governing their life and before Whom they could be accountable for their mischief. These paragons of presumptuous rationality exhibit their irrational mindset when they contemptuously discount this religious belief as irrational or euphemistically term it as supra-rational.
The atomic and subatomic science has shown the forces binding the atoms and the energy unleashed by their fission. This should give us an idea about how Allah swt created this universe by a-sundering the enigmatic Nebula in the natural reactor of space available to it then, and created the various planets, stars, and other celestial objects. These are spinning in the limitless space as they are moving in it. Their distance between each other is kept constant preventing their collision because of the gravitational pull they exert on each other proportional to their masses. The rate of their spin and direction of its axis in relation to the Sun, give us our days and nights and our seasons. It is common knowledge that when the force used to spin a top wanes it falls. Likewise when the force unleashed by the Big Bang and the subsequent bursts of Novae wane this universe as we know it will also collapse into the Nebula from which the New Universe of The Hereafter will arise from it.
Coming to the Hederon Collider Experiment which was conducted in the 27 miles of circular tunnels deep in the mountainous French-Swiss border at a cost of 10 billion dollars: Two counter rotating beams of protons at great speed were led into head-on collisions in this tunnel, creating microscopic bursts of energy to simulate the conditions that existed a fraction of a second after the Big Bang. The physicists who until recently had to be content with computer simulations of particle collisions, had their chance to do it actually in these tunnels. Many physicists are certain they will find the Higgs boson, also known as the “God particle”, which supposedly gift the particles their mass.
The scientific temperament of the modern day man motivates him to go to any extreme in pursuit of knowledge which is not jut theoretical but also tangible. Therefore this experiment with all its cost and the anticipated dooms day scenario was perfectly justifiable. The champagne bottles opened after this experiment suggest its success, but the actual success will rest on the result of the analysis of the data and material obtained through this experiment and how they support or contradict the stated objectives of this colossal experiment which will take a much longer time to be revealed.
To believe that the 27 mile long tunnel will mimic the condition existed at the time of the original Big Bang when this universe was actually created is fooling ourselves in the hope of fooling others. To believe that Higgs Bosons even if it is identified can be used to create matter from nothing is more of a fantasy than fascination.
Even if the result of this experiment recreates the condition that existed a fraction of a second after the Big Bang and helps us identify the Boson with all the qualities we are attributing to it, it will not substitute God, but will only confirm Him; for we as His fantastic creation will be able to recognize Him, His wisdom, His planning, and His power behind the immaculate creation of our vast universe and running it so smoothly over such a long period without spending a dime from the treasuries of the world. But our failure to get the required results in this experiment does not disprove the Big Bang origin of our universe and its Creator, because the universe with its immaculate and undoubted existence will then stare sarcastically at us.
Explaining the reason behind the creation of this universe Allah swt is reported to have told Prophet Muhammad: I was a hidden treasure. I wanted that I be recognized. For this I created the universe and everything in it. If God gives us a little understanding about the wonders of His universe through such experiments, it should only foster greater understanding and love for Him; on the contrary to believe that we do not need Him anymore in our life is an attitude of arrogance which has no place in the parlance of serious scientific endeavors. That is why Nobel Laureate Dr. Abdus Salam in his interview with BBC Urdu after winning his award said: It is only scientists who can understand and enjoy the true meaning of this verse of Qur’an: He is the Best of all creators (V14 Ch 23).
It is unfortunate that instead of recognizing Allah in our discoveries we are digressing on non-issues which have no bearing on our real life, like the age of the universe, etc. In one of his articles, astronaut Senator Glenn was forthright in his praise of God more than the inventions when he said: If God had not kept the principle of magnetism in His universe we would not have got our compass without which all our fantastic machines like airplane and spacecraft would be useless and all our travels impossible.
Most of the important scientific discoveries with far reaching benefits for mankind were effortless, made in a moment of chance when realities dawned upon the person upon whom they were destined to be revealed. Newton, Faraday, Fleming did not have the billion dollars laboratory, or projects to make their epoch-making discoveries. All of them made their chance discoveries in that auspicious moment when their minds were in unison with the one to whom all knowledge belongs. Newton in that chance moment discovered gravity, Faraday discovered electricity and Fleming discovered penicillin to benefit posterity for all time to come.
The world is waiting for the day when we stop to sensationalize and commercialize science and use it in all earnestness for the universal good of entire mankind.