1 2 3 4 5

Dāiyah

God of the Gaps Fallacy

Quran answers God of the Gaps argument



 What is the “God of the Gaps” Fallacy?

 

Westerners call it “God of the Gaps” fallacy to believe in existence of a God based upon the conclusions, behind which a rational reason exists but not explained yet due to the gaps in the human knowledge.

 

As an example to this it can be mentioned that the people lived in the Medieval Europe assumed that celestial bodies are moved upon angels’ push and, thereby, believed existence of God based on this assumption.

 

The fallacy of this assumption has not been realized until Newton announced the laws of motion.

 

If the Koran had been the expression written 1400 years ago by someone who was conditioned to see the God in everything he looked at, we should have definitely seen the examples of this situation in it (the Koran).

 

WAYS OF EXPLAINING AN EVENT

 

There are 3 ways of explaining an event:

 

  • Necessity

  • Chance

  • Design

Necessity: These are the events which can be explained by the laws of nature. For instance, standing of cloud in the air... Since cloud is lighter than air, in a more clear way, since its specific weight is below that of the air, it stands in the air.

 

Chance: This is the way of explaining the occurrences which cannot be explained directly by a law of nature. E.g. “turning about winds”... Turning about the winds is a completely chaotic process. Winds may blow almost in every direction and at different intensities depending on numerous conditions.

 

Based upon the words “chaotic” and “chance”, we do not imply that these types of systems completely stands for chaos and are independent from the laws of nature. Chaotic systems are those “extremely sensitive to the initial conditions” and therefore, estimation of their results is, even though not impossible, very difficult. This is known as “butterfly effect”. Butterfly effect denotes that flapping of a butterfly causes minor changes in the atmosphere and afterwards may (or may not) result in the emergence of a tornado.

 

Here, the flapping of butterfly stands for a minor change in the initial conditions of the system (atmosphere). Even this minor change may create great impact on the result of the system by causing a series of events.

 

These types of systems include atmospheric events, movement of earth plates and the solar system.

 

Of course, it can be said that presenting these events as signs/lessons means falling into a kind of “God of the Gaps” fallacy, based upon the association of “chaotic” systems with the laws of nature. However, the interesting point here is that the Koran presents solely the chaotic systems as signs/lessons and attentively avoids by not mentioning “God does it” when it is to present things, which are directly laws of nature, as signs/lessons.

Design: Occurrences which cannot be explained both by the laws of nature and by chance are included in this category. The differentiating point with chance is that the probability of realization is incredibly small and a “purpose” is observed in the event.

For example, birds’ body structure suitable for flying...

 

After “much ado about nothing”, we can say the followings in order to clearly express the difference between necessity and chance/design: “If we cannot completely exclude the chance from our explanation related to an event, that event should be perceived as chance/design”.

 

Indeed, chance can never be excluded completely from explanation of an event. However, humans are used to conceive by making abstraction. When we see a cause/effect relationship, we call it necessity by ignoring all other parameters which create the cause. By chasing the cause/effect relationships back to the big-bang, scientists are eager to find a single parameter which explains everything. But, what will they do when they find it? Presumably, they will become obliged to explain that single parameter with chance.

 

In this article, we will see that the Koran also makes abstractions. For instance, when referring to “bringing down water from the sky”, the Koran presents “rain”, the last step, as a necessity after a certain point. Therefore, in fact, do not confuse your mind by thinking what is necessity, chance or design. Only remember this: The Koran is a holy book inspired for humans and when the Koran would address humans, it exactly follows the abstraction principles human beings use and presents an event as necessity if a definite cause/effect relationship exists. When doing this, it assumes the parameters which create that cause as “given”.

 

REGARDING THE METHOD and VERSES SELECTED

 

This paper is written for the purpose of demonstrating that the “God of the Gaps” fallacy is not fallen in the Koran. Well, what method shall be followed in demonstrating this? For this purpose, the verses in the Koran in which necessity/chance and design are distinguished shall be reviewed and it shall be tried to demonstrate that a distinction is made in attribution of events and phenomena to God in such type of verses. However, it must be accepted that it would be irrational to expect that the God does not mention the creation and/or design of anything we know as “necessity” in a holy book such as Koran. (Here, what we intend with the word “necessity” is the things which can be explained by a law of nature). Because, the Creator will surely say “I created” and the designer will certainly mention that “I designed”. The issue that something is a necessity, i.e. can be explained by a law of nature, does not change the fact it is created by God. Therefore, the existence of such type of verses in the Koran does not mean that the “God of the Gaps” fallacy exists.

 

Therefore, our purpose is to demonstrate with examples that the occurrences are explained according to these 3 types of explanations in the Koran. These examples are sufficient from the point of demonstrating that the author of the Koran is clearly aware of what is chance and what is design. Strict attention to such categorization in the Koran is the indication of the fact that the author of the Koran obviously knows the attribution of what type of occurrences to the God would cause the “God of the Gaps” fallacy.

 

However, it is useful to remind again: We do not expect that such type of categorization is strictly followed throughout the Koran, since the true creator of the events, which are necessities, is also God. What is important is to be able to demonstrate sufficient amount of examples regarding the fact that the author of Koran is aware of such type of categorization.

 

Well, what kind of things do we expect God would attribute to himself and what kind of things would rescue the Koran from falling into the “God of the Gaps” fallacy? The reason of these questions is hidden in the ways of explaining existence of anything... As explained in the previous sections, existence of something can only be explained by the following three ways: Necessity, Chance and Design... So, we expect that the events God attributed to himself in the Koran can only be the events which can be explained by “chance” (chaotic systems) or “design”.

 

For this purpose, the verses we will review are those in which God presents physical events to human beings (human mind) as sign, evidence, lesson, reminder, warning, etc. and/or invites us to think on these events.

 

Let us try to explain our topic with an example, 57th verse of the sura Araf.

 

Araf-57

And He it is Who sends forth the winds bearing good news before His mercy, until, when they bring up a laden cloud, We drive it to a dead land, then We send down water on it, then bring forth with it of fruits of all kinds; thus shall We bring forth the dead that you may be mindful.

This verse is one of the verses suitable for our review from the point that God presents some examples to the human mind as lessons to be drawn. The verse begins by denoting “And He it is Who sends forth the winds bearing good news before His mercy”. Immediately we ask: Is “sending of winds” a necessity? Of course, not! Blowing of the winds is a chaotic process completely based upon chance. The verse continues by denoting “until, when they bring up a laden cloud”. Here, this is a necessity. “Lifting and loading of clouds by the winds” and the fact that clouds are lighter than the air can easily be explained by a law of nature. The interesting aspect is the fact that the Koran also expresses this exactly the same way, i.e. as a necessity. Pay attention, the Koran does not present this as evidence to the mind by saying “God does it”. On the contrary, it emphasizes that this is a necessity! The verse continues “We drive it to a dead land, then We send down water on it”. Sending the clouds to a dead land and bringing down of water there is a chaotic process completely depends on chance. Here, it will be appropriate to cite an important method in order to determine the chance. If an event may happen “in another way”, it means it depends on chance. “The sending of the cloud to a dead land” here is an event which may happen in another way, as well as “raining” there... Clouds may have never gone to that country or may have gone there but there may have never been rain. We will also elaborate on the wording of “sending down water” on this part of the verse, soon. The verse continues by “then bring forth with it of fruits of all kinds”. This occurrence is neither necessity nor chance. So, what is it? Certainly, “design”... The God’s re-growth of the plants from the stems of those dead plants by way of rain is related to its design, i.e. putting the plant’s genetic program into the stems. The verse ends by denoting “thus shall We bring forth the dead that you may be mindful”. The section of the verse ““we will take out the dead like this” is not an example from which a lesson is to be drawn but a herald from the future.

 

We see in this single verse of the Koran that “chance, necessity and design” are used exactly the way they should be and the “God of the Gaps” fallacy is painstakingly avoided.

In the remaining part of this paper, we will review the similar verses within the context of this rationale and try to prove that the “God of the Gaps” fallacy is never fallen. However, we will not repeatedly explain in every verse the already interpreted expressions during this review.

 

Additionally, we should stress another point: it is not important how events we can explain with “chance” or “design” are explained when they are attributed to God in the Koran. In other words, there is no difference for us between “We send the clouds to a dead land” and “Clouds go to a dead land” in the Koran. What is important for us is to demonstrate that the necessity of the things are known by not directly saying that “This is done by the God” for a thing which is a necessity.

 

Now, let us begin to review relevant verses. In doing this, we will first mention the verse(s) and then try to explain them.

 

Nahl/79 and “Design”

 

Nahl/79
Do they not look at the birds, held poised in the midst of the sky? Nothing holds them up but Allah. Verily in this are signs for those who believe.

In this verse, it was said that the birds are kept by God in the sky. This situation is not unbelievable although it seems so. The staying of the birds in the sky is not a necessity, but the outcome of a design. Thus, the one who keeps them in the sky is only the God! This verse is clearly a design argument.

Command”

Nahl-12
He has made subject to you the Night and the Day; the sun and the moon; and the stars are in subjection by 
His Command: verily in this are Signs for men who are wise.

Rum-25

And among His Signs is this, that heaven and earth stand by His Command: then when He calls you, by a single call, from the earth, behold, ye (straightway) come forth.

 

Rum-46
Among His Signs is this, that He sends the Winds, as heralds of Glad Tidings, giving you a taste of His Mercy,- that the ships may sail by 
His Command and that ye may seek of His Bounty: in order that ye may be grateful.

In these 3 verses it was emphasized that events are directed by God with the intervention of the things known as the “laws of the nature”, by the usage of the word “command”. In these verses, the usage of the word “command” and not saying that “God is doing” directly is so meaningful…

Grace” and “Command”

 

Lokman-31

Seest thou not that the ships sail through the ocean by the Grace of Allah?- that He may show you of His Signs? Verily in this are Signs for all who constantly persevere and give thanks.

 

In this verse it is told that “ships are sailing with the grace of God”. If carefully read it will be easy to catch that it is not stated as float. Floating is based on the laws of nature. But the sailing is bound to this law of nature and the “grace”. This “grace” is the wind. Blowing of the wind is an example of the chaotic order and having this chaotic order as a benefit to human beings is a grace of God. The verse below is referring to the “command” of God for the buoyancy of water and its importance in this matter.

 

Rum-46

Among His Signs is this, that He sends the Winds, as heralds of Glad Tidings, giving you a taste of His Mercy,- that the ships may sail by His Command and that ye may seek of His Bounty: in order that ye may be grateful.

 

Alternation of Night and Day

 

Nur-44
It is Allah Who alternates the Night and the Day: verily in these things is an instructive example for those who have vision!

 

Furkan-62

And it is He Who made the Night and the Day to follow each other: for such as desire to be mindful or to show their gratitude.

 

Neml-86

See they not that We have made the Night for them to rest in and the Day to give them light? Verily in this are Signs for any people that believe!

 

Yunus-6

Verily, in the alternation of the night and the day, and in all that Allah hath created, in the heavens and the earth, are Signs for those who fear Him.

 

Yunus-67

He it is that hath made you the night that ye may rest therein, and the day to make things visible (to you). Verily in this are Signs for those who listen (to His Message).

 

Nahl-12
He has made subject to you the Night and the Day; the sun and the moon; and the stars are in subjection by His Command: verily in this are Signs for men w
ho are wise.

 

Ali İmran-190

Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day,- there are indeed Signs for men of understanding,

 

Casiye-5

And in the alternation of Night and Day, and the fact that Allah sends down Sustenance from the sky, and revives therewith the earth after its death, and in the change of the winds,- are Signs for those that are wise.

 

In these verses, alternation of night and daytime of the earth is attributed to God and set forth as a sign. Moreover, in some of these verses, the nature of the sign in this alternation is explained.

 

Alternation of night and daytime as in the case of the earth is not a necessity. Furthermore, such an alternation may have never existed. The very example of this is in the sky. Those having basic knowledge about the moon surely know that one face of the moon is permanently toward the world whereas the other is permanently opposite which is never seen from the world and the reason of this is the fact that rotation of the moon around its axis takes the same time with its one full rotation around the earth.

 

If the same case had occurred also for the world and the sun, one face of the world would have been permanently bright, i.e. daytime, whereas the other permanently dark, i.e. nighttime. Another example is the day and night of the planet Mercury. One day in this planet equals to some 50 world-days. However, the case for the world is not like any one of these examples and night and day continuously follows each other within a period of 24 hours. Surely, there are reasons for this. However, these reasons are by no means necessity, and a clear mind can see God beyond them or a disbeliever may explain this solely based upon coincidences.

 

Additionally, the Koran already explains what kind of a sign/lesson is in the alternation of day and night: Perfect match of the night and day durations with creatures! If night and daytimes of the world had been as in the case of Mercury, i.e. a day corresponds to some 50 days, what would be our situation?

 

The orientation of the Winds

 

Sura-33

If it be His Will, He can still the Wind: then would they become motionless on the back of the (ocean). Verily in this are Signs for everyone who patiently perseveres and is grateful.

 

Rum-46
Among His Signs is this, that 
He sends the Winds, as heralds of Glad Tidings, giving you a taste of His Mercy,- that the ships may sail by His Command and that ye may seek of His Bounty: in order that ye may be grateful.

 

In these verses, the purpose of using the expression of the orientation of the winds is the resign of a benefit for the people from this chaotic system as it was said in these verses again, and this is not a necessity.

Nahl/13

Nahl-13 
And the things on this earth which He has multiplied in varying colors (and qualities): verily in this is a sign for men who are mindful.

In this verse, if it was said “God is painting” for the colors, and if this was presented as a sign, then it would be fallen into “God of Gaps” fallacy. But, it is said that the colorful things was multiplied / produced by God.

Well then, what is there in the colors to be a sign? Here, the important word is “zerae” which was translated as the “multiply”… This word was used always for the living creatures namely the plants, the animals and the human beings. Namely, the Koran presents an event of design as a sign again.

Nahl/65-66-67-69

Nahl-65

And Allah sends down water from the skies, and gives therewith life to the earth after its death: verily in this is a Sign for those who listen.

 

Nahl-66

And verily in cattle (too) will ye find an instructive sign. From what is within their bodies between excretions and blood, We produce, for your drink, milk, pure and agreeable to those who drink it.

 

Nahl-67

And from the fruit of the date-palm and the vine, ye get out strong drink and wholesome food: behold, in this also is a sign for those who are wise.

 

Nahl-69

Then to eat of all the produce (of the earth), and follow the ways of thy Lord made smooth: there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colors, wherein is healing for men: verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought.

 

In all of these verses, “design” is set forth as a “sign to human mind” and no “God of the Gaps” fallacy is adopted.

 

Rad/3

Rad-3 
And it is He Who spread out the earth, and set thereon mountains standing firm and (flowing) rivers: and fruit of every kind He made in pairs, two and two: He draweth the night as a veil o'er the Day. Behold, verily in these things there are Signs for those who consider!

In this verse, since two matters which are emphasized as “done by God” seem like necessity, they should be explained. The first, what is intended by the wording “spreading out the earth” is the formation of earth’s crust. Koran frequently uses the words “spread out, extend” regarding the earth (world). I recommend you to search in Google for these phrases i.e. “sea-floor spreading”, “extended crust”, “expanded earth”, “earth’s crust stretched”, “continental spreading”, “continental drift” etc… In all of them, you will get the results regarding the formation of earth’s crust. The intention of the Koran in using the phrases “spreading out the earth” and “making the earth like a carpet” is this formation. These processes are examined in the science under the title “Plate Tectonics”. Some planets, e.g. Venus, do not seem to have such plate tectonics. Namely, this is not a necessity. In fact, plate tectonics seems unique to earth in the whole solar system.

The second point is the formation of mountains. This is also not a necessity and is again related with the “Plate Tectonics”. In order for mountains to emerge in a planet, there has to be a solid layer, and then these layers have to move. In addition, planet must also rotate around its axis for the formation of mountains, and none of these requisites are necessity. For instance, there are no mountains in Jupiter, which is a gas giant. There are mountain formations in some other planets. However, the important point here is the fact that the mountains of earth are intended in the Koran. Mountain chains on earth are unique throughout the solar system and formed upon plate tectonics. For example, there is no other replication of Himalayas in the whole solar system. (Please see: Role of Plate Tectonics in Mountain Building)

The verses of the Koran regarding the Plate Tectonics are not limited to these. Spreading out the earth, extending the earth and placement of mountains are expressed in many verses. Additionally, the Koran also refers to plate tectonics in some other verses:

Rad/41
See they not that We gradually reduce the land from its outlying borders? (Where) Allah commands, there is none to put back His command: and He is swift in calling to account.

Enbiya/44
Nay, We gave the good things of this life to these men and their fathers until the period grew long for them; See they not that We gradually reduce the land (in their control) from its outlying borders? Is it then they who will win?

The occurrence referred to in these verses by the expression of “reducing the land from its borders” is destruction of earth’s crust at the zones called “subduction zone”. Characteristics of these zones are that they are described as “disruptive / destructive” and at these zones; the crust shrinks through sinking into the mantle. These layers which return to the mantle melt there.

Neml/88
Thou seest the mountains and thinkest them firmly fixed: but they shall pass away as the clouds pass away: (such is) the artistry of Allah, who disposes of all things in perfect order: for He is well acquainted with all that ye do.

 

In the foregoing verse, movement of the earth plates is referred. Together with the movement of these plates, mountains virtually drift on them.

 

Sending down water from the sky” and “Rain”

 

Casiye-5

And in the alternation of Night and Day, and the fact that Allah sends down Sustenance from the sky, and revives therewith the earth after its death, and in the change of the winds,- are Signs for those that are wise.

 

Bakara-164

Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and the day; in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the profit of mankind; in the water which Allah Sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds which they trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth;- (Here) indeed are Signs for a people that are wise.

 

Enam-99

It is He Who sendeth down water from the skies: with it We produce vegetation of all kinds: from some We produce green (crops), out of which We produce grain, heaped up (at harvest); out of the date-palm and its sheaths (or spathes) (come) clusters of dates hanging low and near: and (then there are) gardens of grapes, and olives, and pomegranates, each similar (in kind) yet different (in variety): when they begin to bear fruit, feast your eyes with the fruit and the ripeness thereof. Behold! in these things there are Signs for people who believe.

 

Nahl-65

And Allah sends down water from the skies, and gives therewith life to the earth after its death: verily in this is a Sign for those who listen.

 

Taha-53-54

"He Who has, made for you the earth like a carpet spread out; has enabled you to go about therein by roads (and channels); and has sent down water from the sky." With it have We produced diverse pairs of plants each separate from the others.

Eat (for yourselves) and pasture your cattle: verily, in this are Signs for men endued with understanding.

 

Furkan/48-50

And He it is Who sends the winds as heralds of glad tidings, going before His Mercy, and We send down pure water from the sky,-

That with it We may give life to a dead land, and slake the thirst of things We have created,- cattle and men in great numbers.

And We have distributed the (water) amongst them, in order that they may be mindful, but most men are averse (to aught) but (rank) ingratitude.

 

Rum-24

And among His Signs, He shows you the lightning, by way both of fear and of hope, and He sends down water from the sky and with it gives life to the earth after it is dead: verily in that are Signs for those who are wise.

 

Araf-57

And He it is Who sends forth the winds bearing good news before His mercy, until, when they bring up a laden cloud, We drive it to a dead land, then We send down water on it, then bring forth with it of fruits of all kinds; thus shall We bring forth the dead that you may be mindful.

 

In order to secure the consistency of the article, I stuck to A.Yusuf Ali’s translation for the above verses about water & rain. But I changed his usage of the word “rain” in some verses to “water”. If you look at M.H. SHAKIR’s translation, he always uses the word “water” instead of “rain” in these verses. So, the usage of “rain” in Yusuf Ali’s translation is his interpretation. If you also look at the original Arabic word used in these verses, you will always find the Arabic word “ma” which means “water”, not “rain”. Below is another translation of the verse Nahl/65 by M. Pickthall. You can see that he uses the word “water” in his translation.

 

Nahl/65 (M. Pickthall)

Allah sendeth down water from the sky and therewith reviveth the earth after her death. Lo! herein is indeed a portent for a folk who hear.

 

The main theme presented to the mind as evidence/sign in these verses is the “resurrection of the earth by the water sent down from the sky”. In other words, this should be considered as an argument of design.

 

However, there are clear expressions in the verses such as “God is the one who sends down water from the sky” (please see: Enam/99). Why the expression of “sending down water from the sky” is used? Why the simply “pouring rain” is not used?

 

The reason should be the fact that rain is the last and indispensable phase of sending down water from the sky, i.e a necessity.

 

In order to evaluate this more precisely, we should look at what is covered by this expression... The phases included in the expression of “sending down water from the sky” are defined by God in the verse Nur/43 as follows:

 

Nur/43
Seest thou not that Allah makes the clouds move gently, then joins them together, then makes them into a heap? - then wilt thou see rain issue forth from their midst. And He sends down from the sky mountain masses (of clouds) wherein is hail: He strikes therewith whom He pleases and He turns it away from whom He pleases, the vivid flash of its lightning well-nigh blinds the sight.

 

These phases begin with the dispatch of clouds through winds and also include joining of them, piling them up and finally pouring of the rain. In this verse, the Koran attributes to God all the phases up to the point at which the outcome becomes a necessity and when a necessity emerged, the Koran changes the manner of expression interestingly.

 

By using the expression, “sending down water from the sky” in all these verses, God points out all these phases. However, as we mentioned before, the evidence/sign in these verses is the resurrection of the earth by the water sent down from the sky.

 

Nevertheless, the importance of the usage of the expression “sending down water from the sky” is that this expression includes all the phases and a phenomenon which became a necessity is not directly attributed to God in the verse. This special expression includes not only rain but also all the phases occurred up to the rain and as we saw that in the verse (Nur/43) explaining these phases, they are attributed to God and when the outcome becomes a necessity, the manner of expression is interestingly changed.

 

Thus, if we review the verse Lokman/34, we see that this expression is a special one which is not used with the simple meaning of “pouring rain” in every part of the Koran:

 

Lokman-34

Surely Allah is He with Whom is the knowledge of the hour, and He sends down the rain and He knows what is in the wombs; and no one knows what he shall earn on the morrow; and no one knows in what land he shall die; surely Allah is Knowing, Aware,

 

We can clearly realize the difference. In addition, the following verses are also important from the point that they demonstrate the relationship of the expression of “sending down water from the sky” with the winds.

 

Furkan/48

And He it is Who sends the winds as heralds of glad tidings, going before His Mercy, and We send down pure water from the sky,-

Hicr/22
And We send the winds fertilising, and cause water to descend from the sky, and give it you to drink. It is not ye who are the holders of the store thereof. (PICKTHAL’s translation)

Showing of Lightning for Fear and Hope

 

Rum-24

And among His Signs, He shows you the lightning, by way both of fear and of hope, and He sends down water from the sky and with it gives life to the earth after it is dead: verily in that are Signs for those who are wise.

 

Do you say “Here, this is a mistake”? Actually, although lightning is a product of a chaotic process, it is indeed a necessity from the point that it is the last step of this chaotic process. However, the striking point here is the wording “showing of lightning to you for both fear and hope is one of God’s signs” denoted in the verse. Frankly, what is “sign” here is not the showing of lightning but the human emotions such as fear and hope caused by the view of lightning. Maybe you think this is a forced interpretation. However, this verse is a part of a section beginning with the 20th verse and continuing till the 25th verse of the sura Rum and if we review these verses carefully, the correctness of our point will be seen obviously. For example, let us look at the 21st verse of the Sura Rum which is one of them:

 

Rum-21

And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.

 

Please pay attention to what is said in the Rum/21: “He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs”. What are they if not human emotions? So why do we have to evaluate Rum/24 in another way?

 

In short, what is “evidence/sign” in this verse is not the lightning itself but the human emotions caused by its view. These emotions are the “designs” of our soul. Eventually, a piece of stone does not feel anything like these against lightning. These are the signs presented by God, not the lightning itself.

 

Nevertheless, since there may exist the ones who will evaluate the verse with an extremely strict and normative approach, it should be necessary to add the following: pay attention to the expression in the verse regarding the “lightning”: “showing of lightning”... Yes, lightning is the final phase of a series of atmospheric events which became anecessity. However, it is impossible to consider the expression of “showing of lightning” as a necessity. Because, in order to show lightning to a person, that person should have an eye! This expression includes more information than simply avoiding a necessity and emphasizes that vision is also a deisgn of God. Certainly, we are not in a position to assert that an evidence/sign is presented to us through implying our eyes with the expression of “showing of lightning”. However, this is a delicate expression which conveys our feelings when we see lightning... Even one who attempts to evaluate solely the expression of “showing of lightning” may not claim that this is a necessity. In short, it is impossible to find a “gap” in this verse even for such people.

 

Here, I give the verses Rum/20-25 collectively:

 

Rum/20-25

Among His Signs in this, that He created you from dust; and then,- behold, ye are men scattered (far and wide)!

And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.

And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colors: verily in that are Signs for those who know.

And among His Signs is the sleep that ye take by night and by day, and the quest that ye (make for livelihood) out of His Bounty: verily in that are Signs for those who hearken.

And among His Signs, He shows you the lightning, by way both of fear and of hope, and He sends down rain from the sky and with it gives life to the earth after it is dead: verily in that are Signs for those who are wise.

And among His Signs is this, that heaven and earth stand by His Command: then when He calls you, by a single call, from the earth, behold, ye (straightway) come forth.

 

Nur/43-44

 

Nur/43-44
Seest thou not that Allah makes the clouds move gently, then joins them together, then makes them into a heap? - then wilt thou see rain issue forth from their midst. And He sends down from the sky mountain masses (of clouds) wherein is hail: He strikes therewith whom He pleases and He turns it away from whom He pleases, the vivid flash of its lightning well-nigh blinds the sight.

It is Allah Who alternates the Night and the Day: verily in these things is an instructive example for those who have vision!

These verses are quite interesting and should be elaborated a little deeper. We have seen before that the verse Nur/43 explains the phases in the expression “sending down water from the sky”. The verse also includes the phrase “He sends down from the sky mountain masses (of clouds) wherein is hail”… This expression is an elegant way of escaping from a necessity, namely “sending down hail”.

But, there is a conflict among the translators about Nur/43. Here is another translation of the same verse:

Nur/43
Do you not see that God drives the clouds, then He gathers them together, then He piles them upon each other, then you see the soft rain coming out of them? And He sends down hail from the sky from the mountains to afflict whomever He wills, and He diverts it from whomever He wills, the brightness of the snow almost blinds the eyes.

In this translation, we see that the expression is changed into “He sends down hail from the sky from the mountains to afflict whomever He wills, and He diverts it from whomever He wills.

However, almost all well-known translations stick to the phrase which Yusuf Ali used.

Here, I give the translation of Nur/43-44 in some other well-known interpretations:

Nur/43-44 (Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute translation)
Have you not seen how God drives the clouds, then composes them, then piles them up, whereat you see the rain issuing from the midst of them? And 
He sends down from the heaven out of the mountains that are therein hail, and smites with it whom He will and turns it away from whom He will. The brilliance of its lightning would almost take away the eyes.
God alternates the night and the day. Surely in that there is a lesson for those who see.

Nur/43-44 (Arthur J. Arberry)
’hast thou not seen how God drives the clouds, then composes them, then converts them into a mass, then thou seest the rain issuing out of the midst of them? And 
He sends down out of heaven mountains, wherein is hail, so that He smites whom He will with it, and turns it aside from whom He will; wellnigh the gleam of His lightning snatches away the sight.
God turns about the day and the night; surely in that is a lesson for those who have eyes.

Nur/43-44 (Pickthall)
Hast thou not seen how Allah wafteth the clouds, then gathereth them, then maketh them layers, and thou seest the rain come forth from between them;
 He sendeth down from the heaven mountains wherein is hail, and smiteth therewith whom He will, and averteth it from whom He will. The flashing of His lightning all but snatcheth away the sight.
Allah causeth the revolution of the day and the night. Lo! herein is indeed a lesson for those who see.

Nur/43-44 (M. H. Shakir)
Do you not see that Allah drives along the clouds, then gathers them together, then piles them up, so that you see the rain coming forth from their midst? And He sends down of the clouds that are (like) mountains wherein is hail,afflicting therewith whom He pleases and turning it away from whom He pleases; the flash of His lightning almost takes away the sight.
Allah turns over the night and the day; most surely there is a lesson in this for those who have sight.

Bakara/164

 

Bakara-164

Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and the day; in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the profit of mankind; in the water which Allah Sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds which they trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth;- (Here) indeed are Signs for a people that are wise.

 

  • in the creation of the heavens and the earth”: is certainly not a necessity.

  • in the alternation of the night and the day”: as we showed before, is not a necessity.

  • in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the profit of mankind”: NECESSITY (and Grace)! The ships flow on the sea by the help of the buoyancy of water. It is interesting that the Koran did not say “God performs it” for this event! (also look at the “Grace and Command” section)

  • in the water which Allah Sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds”: none of them are the necessities as we show before. For example, the creation of the animals is a design but the changing of the winds is chaotic process based on the chance.

  • and the clouds which they trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth”: NECESSITY! The cloud is retsing between the sky and the earth because of its specific weight is lighter than the air. The Koran left this event as a necessity also and did not say “God performs it”!

 

In this verse, the chance, the necessity and the design were used in a way that we expect, namely without falling into the “God of Gaps” fallacy!

 

The samples from the other verses in which there is no “God of the Gaps” fallacy

 

Taha-53/54

Who made the earth for you an expanse and made for you therein paths and sent down water from the cloud; then thereby We have brought forth many species of various herbs.

Eat and pasture your cattle; most surely there are signs in this for those endowed with understanding.

 

Rum-22

And one of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and colors; most surely there are signs in this for the learned.

 

Rum-24

And among His Signs, He shows you the lightning, by way both of fear and of hope, and He sends down water from the sky and with it gives life to the earth after it is dead: verily in that are Signs for those who are wise.

 

Enam-99

And He it is Who sends down water from the cloud, then We bring forth with it buds of all (plants), then We bring forth from it green (foliage) from which We produce grain piled up (in the ear); and of the palm-tree, of the sheaths of it, come forth clusters (of dates) within reach, and gardens of grapes and olives and pomegranates, alike and unlike; behold the fruit of it when it yields the fruit and the ripening of it; most surely there are signs in this for a people who believe.

 

Araf-26

O ye Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness,- that is the best. Such are among the Signs of Allah, that they may receive admonition!

 

Nahl/10-11

It is He Who sends down rain from the sky: from it ye drink, and out of it (grows) the vegetation on which ye feed your cattle.

With it He produces for you corn, olives, date-palms, grapes and every kind of fruit: verily in this is a sign for those who give thought.

 

Muminun-21

And in cattle (too) ye have an instructive example: from within their bodies We produce (milk) for you to drink; there are, in them, (besides), numerous (other) benefits for you; and of their (meat) ye eat;

 

Suara/7-8

Do they not look at the earth,- how many noble things of all kinds We have produced therein?

Verily, in this is a Sign: but most of them do not believe.

 

Rum-21

And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.

 

Casiye-4

And in the creation of yourselves and the fact that animals are scattered (through the earth), are Signs for those of assured Faith.

 

Casiye-13

And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that are Signs indeed for those who reflect.

 

Zuhruf-12/13

That has created pairs in all things, and has made for you ships and cattle on which ye ride,

In order that ye may sit firm and square on their backs, and when so seated, ye may remember the (kind) favor of your Lord, and say, "Glory to Him Who has subjected these to our (use), for we could never be able to do it,

 

Yasin-37

And a Sign for them is the Night: We withdraw therefrom the Day, and behold they are plunged in darkness;

 

Zumer-42

It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death; and those that die not (He takes) during their sleep: those on whom He has passed the decree of death, He keeps back (from returning to life), but the rest He sends (to their bodies) for a term appointed. Verily in this are Signs for those who reflect.

 

Rad-4
And in the earth are tracts (diverse though) neighboring, and gardens of vines and fields sown with corn, and palm trees - growing out of single roots or otherwise: watered with the same water, yet some of them We make more excellent than others to eat. Behold, verily in these things there are Signs for those who understand!

All of the above verses are examples of argument from design.


 

Verses in which falling into the “God of the Gaps” fallacy is likely but not occurred

Movement of Celestial bodies

Enbiya-33

It is He Who created the Night and the Day, and the sun and the moon: all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course.

 

Lokman-29

Seest thou not that Allah merges Night into Day and he merges Day into Night; that He has subjected the sun, and the moon (to His Law), each running its course for a term appointed; and that Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do?

 

Yasin-38

And the Sun runs unto a resting place: that is the decree of (Him), the Exalted in Might, the All-Knowing.

 

Yasin-40

It is not permitted to the Sun to catch up the Moon, nor can the Night outstrip the Day: each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit (according to Law).

 

In these verses, movements of the sun and moon are implied and denoted “They are subjected (to command) by the God”.

 

However, what is amazing here is that these movements of the sun and moon are not presented to the mind as evidence through denoting that “God does them”... When it is taken into consideration that people in the Medieval Europe thought that celestial bodies move upon angels’ push and adopted the existence of God based on such thought, the importance of not falling into such a mistake in the Koran can be better understood.

 

 

Zumer/21

 

Zumer-21

Seest thou not that Allah sends down water from the sky, and leads it through springs in the earth? Then He causes to grow, therewith, produce of various colors: then it withers; thou wilt see it grow yellow; then He makes it dry up and crumble away. Truly, in this, is a Message of remembrance to men of understanding.

 

This verse needs a special analysis. The pharase “He causes to grow, therewith, produce of various colors” is clearly a design argument. The verse goes on as “and leads it through springs in the earth”. Is the build up of the underground water resources a necessity?

One quotation of a text that I found on the internet about the underground water reservoirs says ”In order to collect underground water resources it is very important to give water the chance to penetrate beneath the surface by means of cracks and similar openings in the upper levels of soil. Exactly here there is another miracle of creation to be witnessed because the upper surface of soil constitutes of such a kind of sandy layers so that water can easily penetrate below the surface into the deep until it hits another kind of soil which isargillaceous soil. This type of soil serves as a boundary to water and prevents it from diffusing further to the ground and enabling it to collect.” As seen sandy soil and argil have great importance to the underground water reservoirs. According to Wikipedia: “Sand is a granular material made up of fine rock particles most commonly quartz. Sand is a naturally occurring, finely divided rock, comprising particles or granules ranging in size up to 2millimeters.” Its most important element is silicon and no one can say that having the element silicon on earth is a necessity. You can trust to this comment. I have just remembered the following verse of Koran:

Hadid/25
We sent aforetime our messengers with Clear Signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of Right and Wrong), that men may stand forth in justice; 
and We sent down Iron, in which is great might, as well as many benefits for mankind, that Allah may test who it is that will help, Unseen, Him and His messengers: For Allah is Full of Strength, Exalted in Might.

The verse continues as “then it withers; thou wilt see it grow yellow; then He makes it dry up and crumble away”. Drying up and dying of plants is a result of a design. In order to clarify the design lets look at this quote from the encyclopedia Britannica: “In summer, plants make and store food in their roots, stems, or seeds. In winter, they rest. Plants pass the winter in various ways. Annuals flower in the same season that they are planted. Then, transferring all their reserve food to their seeds, the plants wither and die. Meaning that, they die because they are designed to transfer their reserve food to their seeds. This explains the phrase “then He makes it dry up and crumble away”. It is again an argument from design. But more interesting is that the yellowing, withering part is left as a necessity in the verse. Withering of plants during their death as a result of these transfer process is a necessity(according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics). The verse also left this as it is. In this verse, they are emphasized in a fine expression that both death of plant is a design and “decomposition” during this death has an aspect of law.

 

In short, the verse Zumer/21 is a miracle itself!

 

Kaf/6-8

6- Do they not look at the sky above them?- How We have made it and adorned it, and there are no flaws in it?
7- And the earth- We have spread it out, and set thereon mountains standing firm, and produced therein every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs)- 
8- For an insight and a reminder to every servant turning (to Allah).

The fact that there is no flaws in it” which is expressed within the verse is a necessity. Within the verse this phrase is not referred to God and is used solely on its own. But the making and adornment of the skies is definitely referred to God. Actually the making of the skies and “adornment” (the term used for the stars) of the sky is strongly bound to the parameters during the creation of the universe. For example a slight difference in gravity constant or the masses of electrons or protons would make it impossible today for us to talk about stars. Scientists call this “the fine tuning of the universe” and science could not yet prove that these specific parameters were as they were because of necessity.

Examples of verses in which falling into the “God of the Gaps” fallacy is likely but not occurred

Rad/12
It is He Who doth show you the lightning, by way both of fear and of hope: It is 
He Who doth raise up the clouds, heavy with (fertilizing) rain!

Lokman/10
He created the heavens without any pillars that ye can see; He set on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with you; and He scattered through it beasts of all kinds. We send down rain from the sky, and produce on the earth every kind of noble creature, in pairs.

God said “I do” for the things which are necessity in these verses (underlined), however, these occurrences were not presented as evidence to the mind neither in these verses nor in the succeeding ones.

 

Verses of Explanation

 

In the verses we reviewed up to this point, the Koran presents some physical events as lesson / sign / evidence. As we have demonstrated in our analysis, none of these evidences stems from “necessity”. All these evidences provided by the Koran attributes to either a phenomenon of design or chaotic events.

 

Apart from these, there are some other verses in the Koran in which physical events are used again but the true “sign/evidence” is in the “wisdom” behind these occurrences or such events represent a different reality. The four verses given below are proper examples to them:

 

Rad/2

Allah is He Who raised the heavens without any pillars that ye can see; then He established Himself on the Throne; He has subjected the sun and the moon! Each one runs (its course) for a term appointed. He doth regulate all affairs, explaining the signs in detail, that ye may believe with certainty in the meeting with your Lord.

 

Yunus/5 (Shakir)

He it is Who made the sun a shining brightness and the moon a light, and ordained for it mansions that you might know the computation of years and the reckoning. Allah did not create it but with truth; He makes the signs manifest for a people who knows.

 

Enam/97

It is He Who maketh the stars (as beacons) for you, that ye may guide yourselves, with their help, through the dark spaces of land and sea: We detail Our Signs for people who know.

 

Isra/12 (Shakir)

And We have made the night and the day two signs, then We have made the sign of the night to pass away and We have made the sign of the day manifest, so that you may seek grace from your Lord, and that you might know the numbering of years and the reckoning; and We have explained everything with distinctness.

 

In all of these four verses, physical events are used and the wisdom that underlies them or those things they convey us in the name of God are given as “sign/evidence”. For example, the evidence/sign in the Rad/2 is the reality of “God regulates everything”; the evidence/sign in the Yunus/5 is the reality of “our capability to know reckoning and the number of years”; and the sign in the Enam/97 is the reality of “our ability to find direction by way of stars”.

 

Another interesting point is that in all of these types of verses it is communicated that God “explained the signs” which demonstrates that the signs included are not physical events itself but purpose/wisdom that underlie them.

 

Therefore, claiming that the God of the Gaps fallacy exists in these types of verses stands for solely voidness.

 

Conclusion

 

In this paper, we saw that, while the events, which are necessities, presented to the human mind as evidence/ lesson/ sign by Koran and on which the Koran invites us to think, they are somehow designated as necessity and the Koran left these types of phenomena as necessity.

 

Think about the times when the Koran was inspired. During those times, humans even did not know the true explanation of the daytime and nighttime and assumed they emerge from the sun’s rotation around the world. However, as we demonstrated above, although the Koran designates the movement of the sun as a necessity, it defines the alternation of night and day as a “sign”, i.e. presents it as an element of design. In other words, the Koran does not consider it as a necessity. If the author of the Koran thought that the sun turns around the world and thereby, called it necessity, He must have also called the alternation of night and day as necessity. This fact which is simple and obviously comprehensible for today is a clear contradiction when the knowledge of the times when the Koran was inspired is taken into consideration. This demonstrates that the author of the Koran is aware of this fact. Otherwise, it is impossible to explain the alternation of night and day without running into the foregoing contradiction. This inference is also supported by the following verses of the Koran.

 

Yasin/40

It is not permitted to the Sun to catch up the Moon, nor can the Night outstrip the Day: each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit (according to Law).

 

Enbiya/33

It is He Who created the Night and the Day, and the sun and the moon: all swim along, each in its rounded course.

 

The words “each” and “all” in these verses also cover night and day. This verse clearly expresses that the world signed by night and day rotates in an orbit. Additionally, it is also useful to state that the Arabic verb in these verses has a special form unique to Arabic language which is used for more than two objects.

 

As it is seen, the triplet of Necessity -Chance-Design is used appropriately in the Koran. This is true even about the things we can understand by the use of the state of the art scientific knowledge. This pattern in the Koran was created verse-by-verse, word-by-word.

 

These interesting details in the Koran are extremely suitable to the spirit of a holy book which defines itself as “justice”. Because, there have never been such attacks against faith in the history which are supported with robust arguments of today.

 

Yes, the Koran is justice for us, the people of modern times.


Today, there have been 57 visitors (143 hits) on this page!



اللهم صل على محمد وعلى آل محمد
كما صليت على إبراهيم وعلى آل إبراهيم إنك حميد مجيد
اللهم بارك على محمد وعلى آل محمد
كما باركت على إبراهيم وعلى آل إبراهيم إنك حميد مجيد

❄ ❄ ❄ ❄ ❄
وآخر دعواهم أنِ الحمد لله ربِّ العالمين  

Connect