Thursday, December 23, 2010

Numerology in the Quran

Some claim that numerology is proof that the Quran is the divine word of Allah. Here is a sampling of the evidence (taken from here):

  • The statement of “seven heavens” is repeated 7 times. “The creation of the heavens (khalq as-samawat)” is also repeated 7 times.
  • The word “Day (yawm)” is repeated 365 times in singular form, while its plural and dual forms “days (ayyam and yawmayn)” together are repeated 30 times.

Those are kinda neat, but would be trivial to implement. It's a shame that the word "Day (yawm)" couldn't be repeated exactly 365.256363 times.

Now for the amazing number 19!! Again, just a sampling:

  • The first verse of every sura (chapter) known as “Basmalah” (bismillah al-rahman al-rahim) consists of 19 letters.
  • The Quran consists of 114 suras, which is 19 x 6.
  • The total number of verses in the Quran is 6346, or 19 x 334.
  • 6234 numbered verses & 112 un-numbered verses (Basmalahs) 6234+112 = 6346. Note that 6+3+4+6= 19.
  • The Basmalah occurs 114 times, despite its conspicuous absence from Sura 9 (it occurs twice in Sura 27) & 114= 19 x 6.
  • The Zakat charity is mentioned in [a number of verses that] add up to 2395. This total does not quite make it as a multiple of 19; it is up by 1.
    The Hajj Pilgrimage occurs in 2:189, 196, 197; 9:3; and 22:27. These numbers add up to 645, and this total does not quite make it as a multiple of 19; it is down by 1.
    Thus, Zakat and Hajj, together, give a total of 2395+645 = 3040 = 19×160.

  • ... yadda yadda yadda ...

The list goes on and on, quoting many MANY quantities that are divisible by 19.

It occurred to me that every 19th number is divisible by 19.

Moreover, suppose you have 100 different quantities that you tabulate in a document (eg. number of chapters, or times a word is used). If you consider all possible combinations of those quantities, you'll get about 1030 values. In combinatorial notation, that’s

   (100 choose 1) + (100 choose 2) + … + (100 choose 100).

If one out of every 19 of those is divisible by 19 (as one would expect), then you’re left with more than 1028 “coincidences”… combinations of quantities that are divisible by 19. In fact, there will be a comparable number of “coincidences” for 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, etc.

These numerology "miracles" are statistically unimpressive, and certainly not proof that the Quran is the divine word of Allah.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mohammed vs Jesus

I'm taking part in a little online convo over at Extraordinary Claims. The entry on Allah has quite a few comments. In the latest round, I couldn't help noticing the Quran talking smack about Jesus. In one comment, commenter "atom" includes a litany of quotes from the Quran. Allah drones on about those who reject his revelations, "We will make his punishment long and terrible." [19:79] Blah blah blah.

But this seems a little unfair...
Those who deny Our Revelations are deaf and dumb, living in many layers of darkness. Allah confounds whom He wills, and guides to the Right Way whom He pleases. [6:39] ... Those who deny Our revelations, We draw them step by step closer to destruction in ways that they do not realize,[7:182] and even though I grant them respite; My plan is surely effective.[7:183] ... None can guide those whom Allah confounds and leaves them blundering about in their rebellious transgression.[7:186]
Oh great! So, not only am I going to hell, but no one can stop me, not even myself. That's not fair.

I managed to stay awake long enough to come across the text,
Those who say: “The Compassionate (God) has begotten a son,” certainly preach such a monstrous falsehood,that the very Heavens might crack, the earth might cleave asunder and the mountains might crumble to pieces – at their ascribing a son to the Compassionate (God), It is not befitting to the Compassionate (God) that He should beget a son.[19:88-92]
Soooo... I guess Jesus is out of the question. Couldn't help wondering what the Christians might have to say about that. And it seems that the New Testament is not an "enlightening Book",
Yet there are others among people who wrangle about Allah, though they neither have knowledge nor guidance, nor an enlightening Book, twisting things around in order to lead others astray from the Path of Allah – for such persons there is disgrace in this life, and on the Day of Judgment we shall make them taste the punishment of burning fire,[22:8-9]
Oh good, so it's not just me, but all Christians too.

Hmmm... which religion is right? Which one should I choose?