This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← Scientific Journal publishes Koranic paper

Scientific Journal publishes Koranic paper - Comments

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 1 by Richard Dawkins

I at first thought that perhaps this paper might be a serious contribution to the history of science, so I went to the trouble of reading it. Indeed, the opening paragraph shows pretensions in that direction. I therefore read the whole thing and have to report that it is nothing but unscientific drivel, not omitting the usual pathetic attempts to show that the Islamic scriptures anticipated modern scientific knowledge. Here's a prize example, which I have met before, on the alleged prescience of the Koran with respect to modern knowledge of embryology.

It is remarkable to note that the descriptions presented in these 7th century texts closely resemble the various stages of the embryo.

"We [God] created man from a quintessence of clay. We then placed him as a nutfah (drop) in a place of settlement, firmly fixed, then We made the drop into an ‘alaqah (leech-like structure), and then We changed the ’alaqah into a mudhah (chewed-like substance, somite stage), then We clothed the bones with lahm (muscles, flesh), then We caused him to grow and come into being and attain the definitive (human) form. So, blessed be God, the best to create”.

“When forty-two nights have passed over the conceptus, God sends an angel to it, who shapes it (into human form), makes its hearing, sight, skin, muscles and bones...”

Having read the paper, I concur that it is an utter disgrace that it should be published in a reputable scientific journal. The Editor of the International Journal of Cardiology is Prof. Andrew J.S. Coats, Norwich Research Park Professor-at-Large, University of East Anglia, UK. His email address is ajscoats@aol.com

Richard

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 09:31:17 UTC | #541885

Dr. monster's Avatar Comment 2 by Dr. monster

it is unbelievable that Elsevier let this one slip past the net. it reads like a children's book. it must be an inside job. i have three papers with Elsevier and each one took much longer that 5 days.

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 09:36:29 UTC | #541887

PeterKofod's Avatar Comment 3 by PeterKofod

This is for real`?!?!

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 09:38:34 UTC | #541889

-TheCodeCrack-'s Avatar Comment 4 by -TheCodeCrack-

Wait, is it April the 1st?

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 10:00:10 UTC | #541893

TheRationalizer's Avatar Comment 5 by TheRationalizer

I don't really know how the peer review process works, but surely a number of objective peer reviews discrediting it would be better than complaining to the editor?

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 10:01:00 UTC | #541894

TheRationalizer's Avatar Comment 6 by TheRationalizer

Richard, I was quite surprised to see you had actually looked at Islamic miracle claims. The statement by Dr Keith Moore about embryology is the jewel in their crown, he said 20 years ago "The process described in the Koran is accurate, some information we have only just discovered, I don't know how he could have known this unless he was told by Allah".

I thought you might find this email interesting that I received from Dr Moore when I questioned him on the subject.

Note two things

  1. He says he stands by what he said about the Quran.
  2. He did NOT convert to Islam.

Now, there's conviction for you :)

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 10:06:15 UTC | #541896

Dr. monster's Avatar Comment 7 by Dr. monster

when you write a paper Elsevier regards you as a recognized expert in the field and you are invited to peer review other peoples work. it is difficult for them to find reviewers and they tempt people with free access to their journals. if enough published religious scientists collaborate then they might be able to get this published. i don't know how the reviewers are picked, that person must be also involved.

i have sent complaint thanks Richard for the address.

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 10:16:24 UTC | #541902

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 8 by Richard Dawkins

I don't really know how the peer review process works, but surely a number of objective peer reviews discrediting it would be better than complaining to the editor?

If the Editor followed the usual practice, it is too late for what you suggest. Scientific journals send submitted papers out to a limited number of referees chosen by the Editor, before publication, and then decide whether to publish. This is sometimes called 'peer review', but 'peer referee' would be a better term because we are used to the idea that books are reviewed after publication. I suspect that this is what has confused you. This disgraceful paper has either not been refereed at all, or else was sent to two incompetent or religiously biased referees. Having edited a scientific journal myself, I could imagine an Editor taking his eye off the ball and sending it to Islamic referees purely on the strength of the title. I cannot believe that a reputable Editor could possibly have read this paper himself with his eyes open, and then decided to publish it.

Richard

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 10:20:41 UTC | #541904

Anvil's Avatar Comment 9 by Anvil

No, no, this is all true! Everything is in the Koran. It's the only book you'll ever need! It's not just embryology either: Astrology, Geology, Plate Tectonics,The Tube Map, The Big Bang, Pilates! It's even actually where the English language comes from!

For those who are not blind yet cannot see:

We changed the ’alaqah into a mudhah...

Two pints ’alaqah, and a packet of crisps.

Holy Mary, mudhah of God.

See! It really is one holy mudhah phukha of a book! Read it and hweep!

Anvil.

Edit: para 1: I meant to say Astronomy not Astrology. You would not get anything as superstitious as Astrology in the Koran. Apologies.

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 10:27:06 UTC | #541906

Tanweer's Avatar Comment 10 by Tanweer

Richard Dawkins

Having read the paper, I concur that it is an utter disgrace that it should be published in a reputable scientific journal.

Yes, the truth is an utter disgrace. How dare anyone present anything that is true! It doesn't matter if a statement is true or not, only the source it comes from matters. Is that your point of view? That the source upsets Richard Dawkins proves that a statement of truth from it cannot possibly be put in a reputable scientific journal!

Grow up.

Oh, by the way, Dr. William Lane Craig is still waiting...

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 10:37:43 UTC | #541913

PeterKofod's Avatar Comment 11 by PeterKofod

@ Tanweer.

Assuming you are serious; what EXACTLY is it you find to be true?? What statement? Did you even read the paper?

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 10:40:57 UTC | #541917

T-Porter's Avatar Comment 12 by T-Porter

Tanweer,

Perhaps you can present a better case by explaining why this should be included as it has instead of telling others to grow up.

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 10:42:30 UTC | #541918

Jim Callum's Avatar Comment 13 by Jim Callum

"That the source upsets Richard Dawkins"

Not the impression I got from the post. The lack of appropriate Peer Review seems to be the issue. I don't see anyone raising an issue with where a fact comes from if it is backed up by evidence and independently verified. This paper does not seem to have had same level of review as other papers in the same publication - it seems that is the issue more than the source.

And how do you know it's true - have you verified it?

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 10:45:26 UTC | #541922

foundationist's Avatar Comment 14 by foundationist

Oh shit, I have a paper in that journal!

Well, I was young and needed the impact points...

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 10:47:03 UTC | #541923

-TheCodeCrack-'s Avatar Comment 15 by -TheCodeCrack-

I created a topic on this kind of thing before, it's called the Religious Interpretation Game, i.e. it's rigged.

You can carry on that type of discussion in there if you wish:

Religious Interpretation Game

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 10:48:44 UTC | #541925

BoltzmannBrain's Avatar Comment 16 by BoltzmannBrain

I'm surprised nobody has acknowledged the elephant in the room -- namely, multicultural appeasement of Islam.

The fact that (a) the paper was accepted, and (b) it took only five days to get accepted, suggests that there's something funny going on here. Could it be that the referee of the paper was a subscriber to the popular opinion in Britain that anything associated with Muslims short of murder in broad daylight is somehow praiseworthy and something to be encouraged?

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 10:55:40 UTC | #541929

Anvil's Avatar Comment 17 by Anvil

Well, I've read the paper, and I can't see anything wrong with it? Who can dispute that:

This (Islamic) supportive attitude towards scientific observation and opinion has resulted in numerous scientific achievements and the adoption of a tolerant attitude toward the expression and discussion of scientific observation and opinion.

...leading to the following important and historic medical discoveries:

...the mu'minun (Believers) have hearts that are alive, the kafirun (the rejecters of faith) have hearts that are dead, and the munafiqun (the hypocrites) have hearts that are diseased.

If that's not true, then what is? Galen, Vesalius, et al, eat your heart out!

Anvil.

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 11:01:07 UTC | #541932

Paweł Fiedor's Avatar Comment 18 by Paweł Fiedor

Comment 8 by Richard Dawkins :

I don't really know how the peer review process works, but surely a number of objective peer reviews discrediting it would be better than complaining to the editor?

If the Editor followed the usual practice, it is too late for what you suggest. Scientific journals send submitted papers out to a limited number of referees chosen by the Editor, before publication, and then decide whether to publish. This is sometimes called 'peer review', but 'peer referee' would be a better term because we are used to the idea that books are reviewed after publication. I suspect that this is what has confused you. This disgraceful paper has either not been refereed at all, or else was sent to two incompetent or religiously biased referees. Having edited a scientific journal myself, I could imagine an Editor taking his eye off the ball and sending it to Islamic referees purely on the strength of the title. I cannot believe that a reputable Editor could possibly have read this paper himself with his eyes open, and then decided to publish it.

Richard

This is precisely the issue, you would expect any reasonable Editor of a scientific journal to be especially cautious when confronted with an article mixing science with religion and to choose reviewers who aren't perhaps fully commited to either side, but are on the sceptical side.

Articles such as this one undermine the trust in peer-reviewed publications for no apparent reason (I just can't think of a good reason why it should be in this journal in the first place).

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 11:16:58 UTC | #541939

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 19 by AtheistEgbert

Further evidence that religion is the enemy to science and everything else.

Although I don't mind science investigating religious claims, but clearly that would be its own field of inquiry.

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 11:20:08 UTC | #541941

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 20 by Richard Dawkins

I'm surprised nobody has acknowledged the elephant in the room -- namely, multicultural appeasement of Islam.

The fact that (a) the paper was accepted, and (b) it took only five days to get accepted, suggests that there's something funny going on here. Could it be that the referee of the paper was a subscriber to the popular opinion in Britain that anything associated with Muslims short of murder in broad daylight is somehow praiseworthy and something to be encouraged?

Yes, I'm sorry to say that is all too plausible. Perhaps the Editor decided it would be "Islamophobic" to reject it.

Richard

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 11:22:38 UTC | #541942

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 21 by Stevehill

It's almost crazy enough to be an April Fool joke.

I'm no cardiologist, but if I were a paid up subscriber to this journal I'd be bloody incensed to open it to find an explanation of how the Koran reveals Mohammed to have been an opponent of noise pollution - and more besides.

This is pure proselytism.

The editor should be fired.

And somebody should seriously check out the "scientific" credentials of the four authors.

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 11:27:33 UTC | #541946

mmurray's Avatar Comment 22 by mmurray

Comment 11 by PeterKofod :

@ Tanweer.

Assuming you are serious; what EXACTLY is it you find to be true?? What statement? Did you even read the paper?

Tanweer is serious. You must have missed Tanweer's earlier posts. You can click on their name and read them.

Michael

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 11:29:12 UTC | #541947

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 23 by Stevehill

By the way, this is not the first time the journal has published an Islamic text.

I detect entryism.

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 11:33:28 UTC | #541949

Jason72's Avatar Comment 24 by Jason72

I can see it now!

Next week: Before Dolly; How Eve Was The First Successful Human Clone.

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 11:33:48 UTC | #541951

Anvil's Avatar Comment 25 by Anvil

Truth is a funny thing, isn’t it? It is one thing to quote Ibn al-Nafis – a thirteenth century physician, who:

...boldly rejected Galen's assertion that there was a direct (but invisible) passage through the interventricular septum between the right and left ventricles (and who) wrote medical, theological and philosophical works, made his greatest contribution in Sharh tashrih ibn Sina (“Explanation of the Dissection of Avicenna”), as he asserted that there was no direct interventricular opening and outlined, for the first time in history, the pulmonary circulation:

“The blood, after it has been refined in this cavity [i.e., the right ventricle], must be transmitted to the left cavity where the [vital] spirit is generated. But there is no passage between these two cavities; for the substance of the heart is solid in this region and has neither a visible passage, as was thought by some persons, nor an invisible one which could have permitted the transmission of blood, as was alleged by Galen. The pores of the heart there are closed and its substance is thick. Therefore, the blood after having been refined, must rise in the arterious vein [i.e., pulmonary artery] to the lung in order to expand in its volume and to be mixed with air so that its finest part may be clarified and may reach the venous artery [i.e., pulmonary vein] in which it is transmitted to the left cavity of the heart. This, after having been mixed with the air and having attained the aptitude to generate the [vital] spirit. That part of the blood which is less refined is used by the lung for its nutrition” [45].

Brilliant! I think I might have come across this Geezer before? Possibly through John Gribbin? Either way it is both interesting and illuminating. The paper then goes on to state that:

Ibn al-Nafis is one of numerous examples of the modern contribution of the teachings of the Qur'an and Hadeeth to modern medicine.... (and, that much) of the scientific discoveries and advancements during the Renaissance were largely influenced by the works of various Islamic physicians and scientists. (my emphasis)

Well there are elements of the last paragraph I can wholeheartedly (no pun intended) agree with. However, it fails to mention, or give reference, specifically, for this is an academic paper, to the name of the actual Angel that told Ibn al-Nafis about this pulmonary circulation of the blood thing?

Then to go from this to the claim that Praying is actually a cardio-vascular workout sent to us from Allah:

The Islamic prayer is performed at least five times a day and consists of a series of movements entailing standing, prostrating, and sitting. When performing prayer, the author of the Qur'an discourages lazily performing prayer as performed by the Hypocrites [34]; thus, a lethargic and carelessness approach to prayer neither obtains any spiritual nor physical benefit to the state of health. Also, the amount of prostrations, and thus physical movement, during a prayer varies from one prayer to the next. We find that increased number of prostrations in a prayer (i.e. physical movement) correlates with the time of day when one usually eats, possibly to help digest food and, in the long run, reduce the chances of thrombus formation. In addition, the author of the Qur'an states, “Truly it is in the remembrance of God that the hearts find peace” [35]. It is said that Mohammad advised people not to go to sleep immediately after meals, for that would lead to a hardening of the heart [36]. It was also advised not to engage in strenuous physical activity after eating.

The physical movements during prayer also help prevent deep vein thrombi. Repetitive standing sitting actions throughout the day activate the muscle pump in leg muscles (such as the gastrocnemius and soleus), which increase the venous return to the heart upon standing and displaces blood from peripheral to central veins, thus preventing edema and decreasing the probability of forming thrombi. Furthermore, Mohammad encouraged the consumption of foods such as white meat of fish that are low in fat and help decrease serum cholesterol levels. He also encouraged the consumption of whole-grain brain for higher fiber intake.

And there I was about to buy a Wii Pad when all I really needed was a Prayer Mat and a bowl of whole-grain brain. Whole –grain brain, eh? Somebody ought to tell Kellogg’s!

Anvil.

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 12:01:44 UTC | #541968

Jason72's Avatar Comment 26 by Jason72

One thing that's been bothering me about the Qu'ran is that if it is indeed the word of God then why did God send down a "lacky" in the form of Gabriel to tell his story? Surely an all powerful, almighty God would just zap the words into Mohammed's brain and he could written it down via automatic writing or something. And wouldn't there be a danger of "chinese whispers" or a mis-translation between God, Gabriel and Mohammed? I mean Angel's aren't the most trust worthy creatures, just look at Lucifer. He was upset that God created Man, gave him free will (something the Angel's were lacking) and then had the audacity to tell the Angel's that they had to serve Man! Look at the things Angel's are asked to do by God - killing babies, destroying cities - what would a creature capable of such atrocities be like? I certainly wouldn't like to meet one.

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 12:23:09 UTC | #541975

1Derek's Avatar Comment 27 by 1Derek

Does this call into question peer reviewed journals within academic research?

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 12:24:13 UTC | #541977

Tanweer's Avatar Comment 28 by Tanweer

you would expect any reasonable Editor of a scientific journal to be especially cautious when confronted with an article mixing science with religion and to choose reviewers who aren't perhaps fully commited to either side

You still don't get it, do you?

My comment did not presuppose recognition of the source of the statement, but the truth of the statement. If a statement is true, it is true. It is irrelevant which source it comes from, whether you disagree with it or not.

I don't particularly agree with Richard Dawkins about a great many things. But if he says something which is true, such as human beings are apes and along with the other apes, are descended from a common ancestor, I am happy to accept this. Why? Because it is true. My opinion of Richard Dawkins doesn't even factor into the equation.

The same, obviously, cannot be said for Professor Dawkins (or the army of minions who have appeared so quickly to his defence on this thread).

mmurray

Tanweer is serious.

Indeed I am, Michael.

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 12:26:21 UTC | #541979

-TheCodeCrack-'s Avatar Comment 29 by -TheCodeCrack-

Please people. Don't forget. Islam has been 'enriching' for British society.

Haven't you guys been constantly told that by a large chunk of the left?

Ok, I'm getting off topic.

Now, how can we manifest a random page of a Harry Potter novel into the next edition?

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 12:26:24 UTC | #541980

rpitchfo's Avatar Comment 30 by rpitchfo

What an embarrasment.

Was the publisher a cardiologist? If so this ties very neatly into whether its a bit of a gamble to have a religious doctor.

The Christian fundies are going to love this.

Wed, 03 Nov 2010 12:30:15 UTC | #541983