The Instigator
Husker
Pro (for)
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0 Points
The Contender
redinferno
Con (against)
Winning
7 Points

The Koran clearly states that the Earth is flat

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/9/2010 Category: Religion
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,825 times Debate No: 12005
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (13)
Votes (1)

 

Husker

Pro

My argument is that the Koran clearly states that the Earth is flat, casting serious doubt on the notion that it 'came from God'.

The main argument that Muslims use in defence of this is that the word used to describe the shape of the Earth, 'al-udhu'wa' , could be defined as either 'flat' or 'ostrich egg', hence it definitely means ostrich egg and therefore the Koran knew way ahead of time that the Earth is in fact not only round but an oblate spheroid. These are the problems with this contention:

1. Muslims claiming this ostrich egg/flat controversy are neglecting to mention that the Koran describes the Earth as flat with a variety of different words. The word 'al-udhu'wa' is only used on some occasions, while several other words that mean flat and flat alone are used elsewhere. The ostrich egg argument can only be used for those few occasions when that particular word is used. When, for example, the word "madadnaha" is used, there is no other way to interpret it other than flat.

2. Even if we accept the 'ostrich egg' argument, the Earth is NOT the shape of an ostrich egg. The egg is a clear oblong. The Earth is very slightly oblate, but only VERY SLIGHTLY. The tolerance for making a spherical billiard ball is 0.22%. The Earth's shape deviates from being a perfect sphere by only 0.17%, i.e. less than a billiard ball. Given the level of scientific depth in the Koran it is unlikely that it would go to the trouble of explaining that the Earth is oblate by 0.17%. It would have made much more sense to simply describe it as round or as a sphere.

3. In describing the Earth's shape these words meaning 'flat' are accompanied by all sorts of similes evoking the concept of flat: 'spread out like a carpet', 'spread out like a bed'. It seems unlikely that someone would describe an ostrich egg as 'spread out like a bed'.

4. There are points in the Koran where spheres ARE described using Arabic words meaning 'sphere'. There is a point at which it is said the Sun will one day 'become a sphere'. Not only is this clearly wrong since the Sun isn't flat either, but the Sun ALSO is an oblate spheroid. Why wasn't the ostrich egg word used to describe the Sun as well?

5. There are numerous tales about Mohammed traversing the world that depict it as flat, i.e. walking from one end to the other to find where the Sun rose and set. This is impossible on anything other than a flat-Earth model.

6. The flat-Earth reference is but one scientific inaccuracy in the Koran. Others include the Earth starting out as water; the Sun orbiting the Earth; the Earth being at the centre of the Universe.

So....my contention is that the Koran tells us the Earth is flat and modern-day Muslim scholars are creating a false controversy to retrodict prescient science into the Koran to 'prove' its divine origin.
redinferno

Con

The arabic language is a very complex language. A single word can mean many things depending on how its used and Arab used to be masters of poetry, manipulating the language to compose very eloquent poetry. The Quran was far more eloquent than even the best of their poems and none of them could compose poetry more eloquent than the Quran.

Verse 79:30 of the Quran has multiple meanings and uses. One is that the earth is egg shaped and the other is that the earth was 'streched out', 'evened out'. The beauty of it is that all meanings can be applied. It has been discovered that the earth is expanding and it is egg shaped. My opponent asks the Quran doesn't describe the earth as round since it would be more accurate. There is wisdom behind describing it as egg shaped.

Narrated Abu Huraira: "I heard Allah's Apostle (The Prophet Muhammed) saying, "I have been sent with Jawami al-Kalim (i.e., the shortest expression carrying the widest meanings), and I was made victorious with awe (caste into the hearts of the enemy), and while I was sleeping, the keys of the treasures of the earth were brought to me and were put in my hand." Muhammad said, Jawami'-al-Kalim means that Allah expresses in one or two statements or thereabouts the numerous matters that used to be written in the books revealed before (the coming of) the Prophet. (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Interpretation of Dreams, Volume 9, Book 87, Number 141)"
We can understand from this that the Quran conveys alot of information with few words as is with verse 79:30.

My opponent states "There are numerous tales about Mohammed traversing the world that depict it as flat, i.e. walking from one end to the other to find where the Sun rose and set. This is impossible on anything other than a flat-Earth model."

The Prophet Muhammed (SAW) did not know everything. The Quran says:
"And they ask you (O Muhammad SAW) concerning the Rooh (the Spirit); Say: "The Rooh (the Spirit): it is one of the things, the knowledge of which is only with my Lord. And of knowledge, you (mankind) have been given only a little." (The Noble Quran, 17:85)"

The Prophet Muhammed (SAW) was merely unaware of the fact that the earth was round himself. There is wisdom behind this as well. If the Prophet Muhammed (SAW) claimed that the earth was round, that underneath us there are other people and we are on the side of the earth, some of his companions who had to to endure all of the pain and sacrifice that they had to go through from losing their wealth, family and everything they had in life for the Message that he brought to them would have had second thoughts about him.

That is why Allah chose to speak in the language of notions so that the right interpretation would slowly and surely be discovered by man as man keeps developing in knowledge and technology. Dahaha back then meant expanded, which is also scientifically true. Now we know that the earth is indeed egg shaped, merely not as oblate as an egg, but oblate nonetheless. This was part of the wisdom of describing it as 'egg shaped'. This is a sign that the Quran is from Allah.

My opponents sixth point about other scientific inaccuracies being in the Quran is not relevant to the debate.

The Resolution of the debate is "The Koran clearly states that the Earth is flat".
The only support pro has given for this apart from what the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said so far is that the Quran uses the word "Madadnaha" and uses certain similies. I ask pro to quote which verses these come from and I'll respond to them in the next round.
Debate Round No. 1
Husker

Pro

Your argument seems to me to be the equivalent of saying "heads I win, tails you lose." Muslim clerics are claiming that there is prescient science in the Koran 'proving' its divine origin. What you are saying is that irrespective of whether it says 'egg shaped' or 'flat' it is STILL correct. Yet neither is the Earth egg-shaped NOR flat.

If the Arabic language is so complex, and words have multiple meanings, then surely this discredits the Koran as a guide to our knowledge since any one person could interpret it any way they wanted. Nostradamus used similar techniques in 'predicting' future events. He made his predictions so vague and ambiguous that one could claim a win for a prediction irrespective of what actually happened. This is the exact same technique that modern day TV 'psychics' employ. Make your prediction vague and probable and then retrofit them to events as needed.

It seems rather absurd to me that you would claim that the full knowledge of the Earth's shape was left out of the Koran in order not to provoke 'second thoughts' in Muhammed's followers. The Koran is claimed as the source of all truth, and it is claimed that Muhammed acquired followers due to his distinctly and obviously divine nature. The Koran's proclamations are supposed to be divine. If Muhammed was a genuine prophet in direct communication with God Himself, then why would the small problem of telling people the real shape of the Earth discourage his followers? Are you saying that Muhammed's followers' faith in his divinity was so tenuous that if he told them the true shape of the Earth they would have said "right....that's it.....I'm off.....you're obviously a charlatan"? Was there nothing else in the Koran to convince them thoroughly enough of its divine origin that the roundness of the Earth would not instantly obliterate their faith?

A further problem with this is that the idea of a round Earth had been around since the days of Ancient Greece, centuries upon centuries before the emergence of Islam. To any contemporary of Muhammed it was well known that there were two possible options...either the Earth was round or it was flat. Why then would the notion of a round Earth have been so shocking to Muhammed's followers?

All of this also seems to sidestep the very real problem that the Earth is simply not egg-shaped. Why would the Koran describe it as so? It is oft said of the Koran in response to challenges from science that the Koran is not a scientific textbook....that it was designed to be simplistic for the people of the time. Why, then, would a book with such scant scientific depth suddenly feel the need to allude to a minuscule 0.17% deviation from a perfect sphere that is completely undetectable to anything other than a precise scientific instrument? The Earth is not really an oblate spheroid but an imperfect sphere. An ostrich egg deviates from being a symmetrical oblate spheroid by more than the Earth deviates from being a perfect sphere, hence the Earth is closer to sphere than the egg is to oblate spheroid. So why would anyone invoke such an oblate object as a comparison? An orange is an oblate spheroid but one massively closer in shape to the Earth. Furthermore it is clear that the poles of an egg are where it tapers, meaning that the irregular oblate spheroid that is an ostrich egg is also the opposite way around to the Earth in terms of its dimensions.

I would argue that the presence of other scientific inaccuracies in the Koran is relevant to this question. Muslim clerics are concentrating on the ostrich egg comparison as a sign of divine origin. It is relevant to this debate that they have cherry picked this claim and conveniently ignored the fact that the Koran's universe has the Sun orbiting the Earth and the Earth at the centre of everything. If there are other factual mistakes in the Koran it lends further credence to the idea that the ostrich egg word was intended to mean 'flat'.

Similes and verses that also allude to the concept of a flat Earth include:

"...And a route he followed, until when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it to set in a miry fount; and hard by he found a people...Then followed he a route until when he reached the rising of the sun he found it to rise on a people to whom we had given no shelter from it." (Sura 18:83-89).

"He hath spread the earth as a bed, and hath traced out paths for you therein, and hath sent down rain from Heaven, and by it we bring forth the kinds of various herbs..." (Sura 20:55).

"And God hath spread the earth for you like a carpet,
That ye may walk therein along spacious paths." (Sura 71:18-19).

"It is He who hath made the earth level for you: traverse then its broad sides, and eat of what He hath provided. -- Unto Him shall be the resurrection." (Sura 67:15).

"It is God who hath given you the earth as a sure foundation, and over it built up the Heaven, and formed you, and made your forms beautiful, and feedeth you with good things." (Sura 40:66).

If the ostrich egg word means 'ostrich egg' and not 'flat', why are there so many other allusions to the concept of 'flat' and none whatsoever to the concept of 'roundness'?
redinferno

Con

redinferno forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Husker

Pro

Husker forfeited this round.
redinferno

Con

My opponent seems to be under the impression that the word Madadnaha can mean either flat or ostrich egg. This is clearly wrong as I showed in the previous round. In addition to meaning egg shaped. It can also mean spread/streched. This is also true. The earth has been expanding[1]. I didn't say that only one application is correct here. One application was assumed in the past. It was later discovered that another application could apply. This is the nature of the Quran. This is an example of how Allah Almighty uses scientific notions in the Noble Quran when He talked about how He created certain things. He gave words that had multiple meanings and interpretations to them to make the Noble Quran truly be for all times and all places, and show it has deeper meanings.

My opponent states "It is oft said of the Koran in response to challenges from science that the Koran is not a scientific textbook....that it was designed to be simplistic for the people of the time. Why, then, would a book with such scant scientific depth suddenly feel the need to allude to a minuscule 0.17% deviation from a perfect sphere that is completely undetectable to anything other than a precise scientific instrument?"

Here my opponent shows a misunderstanding of the reason that the verse states that the earth is egg-shaped. As I stated in the last round, it is a book of signs and and not a book of science. An ostrich egg is an oblate spheroid. It is clearly oblate acting as a sign for us that it is from Allah. The Quran does have a small scientific depth. That's why the sphere, orange or egg would all be close enough for the Quran. Saying the earth is like an egg shows that the earth is oblate. Saying its a sphere or orange would not and people could just say that the The Prophet Muhammed (SAw) copied the greeks. The egg is visibly oblate unlike the earth.

The reason that the shape of the earth is even mentioned in the Quran is for it to be a sign as we can see, not so we Muslims 1400 years ago would know it's size. Egg is better suited as a describtor.

My opponent says that other supposed mistakes of the Quran are relevant to this debate because they further suggest that the verse 79:30 means flat and not egg shaped. I have shown that verse 79:30 does not have any meaning suggesting that the earth is flat. As such they are all irrelevant.

In response to what my opponent said about the the faith of the followers of the Prophet Muhammed.

Most of the companions had unshakeable faith and were willing to die for the sake of Islam. They would even jump into an ocean if the Prophet Muhammed (SAw) commanded them to. The some and the people he was calling to Islam already considered him a Madman and mocked him. In addition embracing Islam would mean subjecting themselves to persecution. If the Prophet told them that the earth was round and they were on the side of the earth and far underneath them were other people what would those people have thought? My opponent has still not mentioned the tale of the Prophet Mohammed traversing a flat world.

Below I address the only arguments of my opponent that support his assertion. The ostrich egg argument does not support his assertion because even if he could prove that it does not mean ostrich egg, the other meaning isn't anything indicating it as flat.

"It is God who hath given you the earth as a sure foundation, and over it built up the Heaven, and formed you, and made your forms beautiful, and feedeth you with good things." (Sura 40:66)..
I cannot see which part of this verse indicates that the earth is flat. It means that the heavens are far above our planet the earth. Perhaps my opponent confuses heavens with skies. Heavens are above the earth. That's all it means.

"Until, when he reached (بلغ) the setting of the sun, he found it (وجدها) set in a spring of murky water (تغرب في عين): Near it (the

water) he found (ووجد عندها) a People: We said: "O Dhul-qarnain! (thou hast authority,) either to punish them, or to treat them

with kindness."

1. This verse seems to indicate that he reached the place that the sun sets. The word used for reached is 'Balagh' لغ. This

word is used for time determination as clocks did not exist back then.

2. The word جدها 'Wajadaha' has multiple meanings, which among them is "to see" or "saw". Wajada وجد here means that the sun

disappeared from Dhul-Qarnayn's naked eye, especially since the neighborhood was mountainous. It would make no sense to

apply any other meaning here. The word Wajadaha is also used in many other parts of the Quran to mean 'saw':

1. In Verses 43:22-24, 31:21, 26:74, 21:53, 18:93, 12:65, 10:78, 7:44, 7:28, 5:104 and 3:37 the pagans used

this word to say "we saw our fathers do idol worship". The English translations use the word "found", but the

context of the Noble Verses clearly speak about these people were doing what they saw their fathers do in the past.

In Verses 93:7-8 and 38:44, Allah uses this word to state that he saw. Again, the English translations use the word

"found", but the context of the Noble Verses clearly speak about Allah Almighty seeing the deeds. Allah Almighty Knows

everything, and hence, He doesn't have to go out His Way to find things. Finding something means that it was missing from

you, or it was unknown to you. Nothing is missing from Allah Almighty, nor is anything unknown to Him, not even an atom of

things.

Clearly, the setting of the sun, is a figurative speech indicating that he reached a town with a spring or lake in it, and

he meditated through the beautiful view of the setting of the sun on that town.

I'll answer to the earth being like a bed and like a carpet with the same argument:
"He hath spread the earth as a bed, and hath traced out paths for you therein, and hath sent down rain from Heaven, and by

it we bring forth the kinds of various herbs..." (Sura 20:55)."

"And God hath spread the earth for you like a carpet,
That ye may walk therein along spacious paths." (Sura 71:18-19).

A similar message is repeated in Surah TaHa:

"He Who has made for you the earth like a carpet spread out; has enabled you to go about therein by roads (and

channels)...." The Holy Quran, Chapter 20, Verse 53

The surface of the earth i.e. earth's crust is less than 30 miles in thickness and is very thin as compared to the radius

of the earth which is about 3750 miles. The deeper layers of the earth are very hot, fluid and hostile to any form of life.

The earth's crust is a solidified shell on which we can live. The Quran rightly refers to it like a carpet spread out, so

that we can travel along its roads and paths.

Carpet is generally put on a surface, which is not very comfortable to walk on. The Quran describes the earth crust as a

carpet, without which human beings would not be able to survive because of the hot, fluid and hostile environment beneath

it. The Quran is thus not only logical, it is mentioning a scientific fact that was discovered by geologists centuries

later.

"It is God who hath given you the earth as a sure foundation, and over it built up the Heaven, and formed you, and made

your forms beautiful, and feedeth you with good things." (Sura 40:66)."
How does this indicate that the earth is flat?

"It is He who hath made the earth level for you: traverse then its broad sides, and eat of what He hath provided. -- Unto

Him shall be the resurrection." (Sura 67:15).
I believe that is a translation error. 15.
"It is He Who has made the earth manageable for you, so traverse ye through its tracts and enjoy of the Sustenance which He

furnishes: but unto Him is the Resurrection. "

My opponent
Debate Round No. 3
Husker

Pro

Husker forfeited this round.
redinferno

Con

redinferno forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
Husker

Pro

Husker forfeited this round.
redinferno

Con

My opponent has failed to respond to my arguments.
Debate Round No. 5
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Mirza 6 years ago
Mirza
[Qur'an 55:5] "The sun and the moon follow courses (exactly) computed;"

This verse tells us that the sun and moon follow courses exactly computed for each of them. No single verse in the Qur'an says that the sun orbits around the Earth. People used to believe that the sun and moon orbited around the Earth, but it is not true. However, the Qur'an states that they follow their own courses.

[Qur'an 21:33] "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."

[Qur'an 36:40] "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)."

The Qur'an clearly places a distinction between the sun and the moon with regard to their paths. No other book or person mentioned it before the Qur'an. It would be obvious had it had any scientific errors, or some similar to one of the Greeks. If you read the Bible, you will realize that some scientific errors are the exact same that Greeks also made.

We Muslims also use the Lunar calendar, which is the most accurate one.
Posted by Kinesis 6 years ago
Kinesis
'The sun and the moon [move] by precise calculation'

To claim that's some kind of amazing scientific revelation is absurd. If it had actually GIVEN the physical calculations that describe the path of the moon or sun, that would be impressive.

It is also hopelessly vague. The moon's orbit around the earth? The moon's obit around the Milky way? The sun's orbit around the milky way?

Of course, that the moon and sun moved around the earth in a precise, uniform manner was believed by all the ancients, so this is nothing any other book from antiquity could tell you.
Posted by redinferno 6 years ago
redinferno
Some of the translations for 55:5

Yusuf Ali:
The sun and the moon follow courses (exactly) computed;
Pickthal:
The sun and the moon are made punctual
Sher Ali:
The sun and the moon run their courses according to a fixed reckoning.
Shakir:
The sun and the moon follow a reckoning.
Sale:
The sun and the moon run their courses according to a certain rule:

None of them seem contradictory.
Posted by Kinesis 6 years ago
Kinesis
lol. Typing that into google turns up about 10 different translations, some directly contradictory to one another.
Posted by Mirza 6 years ago
Mirza
Yes, see: Qur'an 55:5
Posted by Kinesis 6 years ago
Kinesis
' many scientific subjects that modern scientists are just figuring out that people couldn't figure out for centuries. Where could such knowledge come from 1400 years ago? I think you know the answer...'

Care to give examples instead of baseless claims?
Posted by InsertNameHere 6 years ago
InsertNameHere
Definitely an interesting debate. Keep it up! As a muslim, I'll like to say that the Qur'an addresses many scientific subjects that modern scientists are just figuring out that people couldn't figure out for centuries. Where could such knowledge come from 1400 years ago? I think you know the answer...
Posted by redinferno 6 years ago
redinferno
Sorry, I was busy and couldn't finish my argument. I was going to post saying I would post next round, but missed the timer.
Posted by Husker 6 years ago
Husker
To my way of thinking the Koran either tells us the Earth is flat or it is ambiguous on the subject and could be interpreted either way. Plato's 'The Republic' predates the Koran by about a thousand years. It has been translated from the immensely turgid language of Ancient Greek. Yet we don't see the sort of controversy and ambiguity in his works because he clarifies his position and pedantically disseminates each of his points in such a way as we know what he is saying and exactly why he is saying it. The meaning of Plato's works easily transcends the immense gap of time, culture and language because it is delivered with clarity. I submit that if the Koran's stance on the shape of the Earth is ambiguous it has nothing to do with language but with the fact that it is ambiguous. If it is ambiguous then it is wrong to claim that it is a source of prescient science, nor should it be used as the one source of all truth.

You argue that God is pulling the night 'around' the Earth. Well that isn't accurate either, is it? The night happens because the Earth turns to face away from the Sun. Nothing is being pulled around anything. This could have been said in a simplistic way but it wasn't. It seems to me that there are no similes as clear as 'spread out like a carpet' or 'stretched out like a bed' or 'visiting the place where the Sun rises and then visiting the place where the Sun sets' that suggest roundness as starkly as these similes suggest flatness. All of the allusions to the concept of flat seem quite stark and obvious, while the supposed allusions to the concept of round are all ambiguous, obscure and tenuous.

I would never claim to know exactly what the Koran is saying but I would say there are two options: either it tells us the Earth is flat or it tells us the Earth is flat in one breath and then round in another. The only thing I am 100% certain about is that it is not telling us clearly that the Earth is round and telling that alone.
Posted by Mirza 6 years ago
Mirza
Thank you.

The Qur'an mentions that the earth is stretched out. I think we agree on that. However, it also says:

[Qur'an 13:3] "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 draws the night as a veil over the Day. Behold, verily in these things there are signs for those who consider!"

As you can see, in only one verse are two important things mentioned. One is that the earth is spread. The another one is very interesting. "He draws the night as a veil over the day" - The word "draw" is best translated as "wrap", because the Arabic translation is "takwir". It literally means "to wrap one thing around another." In fact, the same word is used for describing a turban being wrapped around a head.

When the Qur'an says that God wraps the night around the day, it describes the Earth as being round. How can you wrap something around another thing this way, if it is not round? So what the Qur'an does it to say that the earth is spread/stretched out, and then move on to say that it is round. The same word is used to wrap a turban around the head, and it is being wrapped over something round, hereby the head. That is why the Qur'an has no wrong view about the shape of the Earth. In fact, even the verse I quoted can assemble a spherical Earth.

I would also like to note that I have never heard the beloved Prophet say that the Earth is flat, or anything similar.

As for Qur'an, chapter 18, verses 83-89, it does not speak about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It speaks about a whole other person. Here is a very detailed explanation on that (there are character limits in the comments): http://www.answering-christianity.com...

Also, the Qur'an does not say that the sun is orbiting around the Earth. The verses are clear on that. I can explain it in a new comment if you want.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Yvette 6 years ago
Yvette
HuskerredinfernoTied
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