Firstly, thank you for making this website and authoring the book “Is there a God?” Especially for the book, I found it to be faith-strengthening as well as enriching my knowledge in “explaining” God of the Bible from a scientific perspective. I have two questions about Qur’an and Hindu cosmology. My questions will be regarding the book [ie. Is There a God, available at www.ipibooks.com] chapter 7. I cross checked Sura 21:33 and the translation only said (Sahih international) “And it is He who created the night and the day and the sun and the moon; all [heavenly bodies] in an orbit are swimming.” I didn’t find the information how you can conclude from this verse or chapter (I read the entire chapter) that the heavenly bodies revolve around the earth. Could you please elaborate?
About Hindu cosmology, Carl Sagan said in his book Cosmos (1985), “The Hindu dharma is the only one of the world’s great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths. It is the only dharma in which time scales correspond to those of modern scientific cosmology. Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion years long, longer than the age of the Earth or the Sun and about half the time since the Big Bang.” If this were true, would this mean that there are some sort of “inspiration” involved? FYI, I’m a Catholic but I found it interesting that other “scriptures” appear to have scientific accuracy in them.
The quote from the Qur’an states that the sun and the moon and the heavenly bodies all orbit. Around what? Well, obviously around the earth. This is the clear implication. In any case, the sun certainly does not orbit, so the implication is of geocentrism, not heliocentrism. Although the passage does not literally say “around the earth,” the only reasonable conclusion, and I am certain the conclusion of all readers of the Qur’an in ancient times, was that the orbit was around the earth. Therefore, I believe my criticism of the scientific accuracy of the Qur’an based on Sura 21:33 stands.
About Sagan, first of all, his is incorrect. Jaina and Buddhist cosmologies also have an immense, infinite number of deaths and rebirths. However, the fact that Sagan is incorrect in his facts does not change the fact that the Hindu cosmology has the universe being an eternal cycle of creations and destructions, with “God” being coexistent with the universe. I am not sure how Sagan finds this to be in any way, shape or form similar to what is observed by science. What is observed by science corresponds to a single creation, not multiple creations and destructions. What is observed by science implies a single creation, before which even time itself did not exist. It is a creation, not by recycling the old stuff of the universe, but from nothing (Hebrews 11:3). This scientific view accords fully with the Genesis creation account and cannot possibly be made to align with Hindu cosmology. “an infinite number of deaths and rebirths,” as Sagan describes it, is NOT congruent with what appears to be true from science.
Sagan describes a cycle of 8.64 billion years. Well, this is not correct, according to science, which says that the current “cycle” (which is not even a cycle) is about 13.5 billion years long, with no sign of it ending soon. This does NOT agree with Hindu cosmology. The Bible does not specify a length of time, and the “days” of creation are metaphorical in nature. The Bible does not give an age for the universe, therefore, by definition, it cannot be in contradiction to what appears to be true from science.
My conclusion is that, if there is any inspiration going on here, it is certainly not with the Hindu scripture which Sagan quotes (by the way he does not quote any scripture, which makes it hard to confirm his numbers).
The scientific accuracy, as I see it, is in the Bible.
By the way, although I do not agree with your conclusion, I applaud your willingness to look at other religions and consider their cosmologies and the truthfulness of lack thereof of such cosmologies. Many believers simply ignore other religions and do not even consider whether their scriptures have the marks of inspiration. Good job.