### An islamic web site claims that the Qur'an gives an accurate value for the speed of light. What do you think about this?

Question:

I was at an islamic apologetic web site which claimed that the Qur’an has
a correct value for the speed of light, which supposedly proves the Qur’an
is inspired by Allah. Below is the quote.

299,792.458 km/sis the speed of light in vacuum. However, according to
Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, the speed of light appears to
vary with the intensity of the gravitational field.

But 1400 years ago it was stated in the Quran (Koran, the book of Islam)
that angels travel in one day the same distance that the moon travels in
1000 lunar years, that is, 12000 Lunar orbits / Earth day. Outside
gravitational fields 12000 Lunar orbits / Earth day turned out to be the
known speed of light!

This particular Muslim site is trying to say that there is no way an
illiterate man would know that the universe is expanding (51:47, 21:30.)
The Commentators’ site this also as being a reference to the “unitary
universe” expanding from “one single element, namely hydrogen.

First of all, let me show you the passage in the Qur’an this apologist is
referring to. It is:

He rules (all) affairs from the heavens to the earth: in the end will (all
affairs) go up to Him, on a Day, the space whereof will be (as) a thousand

Let me do the calculation. 1 lunar orbit = 2 pi x 240,000 mi x 12,000 =
1.81×10^10 miles/24×3600 = 210,000 miles per second. Pretty close!
(186,000 mi/sec is the actual value).

This passage does not say anything about the speed of anything. It sounds
quite similar to the saying in 1 Peter that to God a day is like a
thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. I think someone just
found an interesting pseudo-coincidence and ran with it. This is an
example of a person who is scanning the Qur’an, looking for “evidence” it
is inspired without any regard whatever for the rules of hermeneutics
(interpretation). Absolutely no one reading this passage in the Qur’an
would conclude that the author is trying to tell the reader the speed with
which light travels. This is a matter of a person using wishful thinking
to read in something which is simply not there.

With regard to the examples you use, here is Sura 51:47 51:48And the
earth have We laid out, how gracious is the Spreader (thereof)!

The Qur?an does not say that the universe is expanding. Using this kind
of hermeneutic, I could very easily find dozens of similar examples in the
Bible. Hopefully, I will spare you such nonsense. The writer is using
simple, normal poetic language (very similar to Isaiah) God spread out
the heavens. It is being used in the past tense, but even if it were
not, this is poetry!! To such apologists, I say please!!!

About sura 21:30, here it is. Do the unbelievers not realize that the
heaven and the earth used to be one solid mass that we exploded into
existence? And from water we made all living things. Would they believe?

I have two possible takes on this. I can forgive the writer of this sura
for his blatant scientific error on the grounds that this is poetry, or I
can say that this is a blatant scientific error. Either way, it is not
evidence of inspiration. If this is a reference to the big bang (
extremely dubioius, to say the least) then it is totally in error.

The Qur?an is jammed full of such blatant scientific errors. The Bible is
not.

John Oakes, PhD