Friday, September 28, 2012

Objection 1 to Embryology in the Quran: Much Ado about Nothing

For a longer list of objections and replies to Embryology in the Quran: Much Ado about Nothing, see the following page,

1. Objection: The word "nutfah" can mean "sperm-drop" since many modern translations of the Qur'an have translated it so; therefore "nutfah" means "sperm-drop". They knew Arabic better than [captaindisguise] therefore they cannot be wrong! Also, "nutfah" in modern Arabic means "sperm". (09/24/2012)

Reply: This is an especially ironic objection given that Hamza Tzortzis himself has stated the following;

"Therefore, a translation will never be a representation of the original text and anyone who seeks total equivalence is chasing a mirage"[i]
Nevertheless, this objection is flawed in every shape and form. The objection can be put into the form of the following argument; (Let “X” = a word and “Y” = a modern scientific term)

1) The Qur'an contains “X”
2) In the 21st century, “X” is translated as “Y”
Therefore, the Qur'an means “Y” when using “X”
For the thinking Muslims, such an objection should seem a bit blasphemous given that Muslims seem to be forced to defend their Qur'an against allegations of error by depending upon the new definitions given to ancient Arabic terms by modern day humans.

On a serious note, the above argument is not even valid. It does not follow from a Qur'anic term having a particular definition in the 21st century that the same definition existed in the 7th century. First and foremost, it completely ignores the simple fact that words acquire new meaning.[ii]

The Islamic premise seems to be that the
 “The meaning of a word that exists at some point in time can be considered to be the meaning of the word at any point in time.”
 This quite clearly is nonsensical and factually incorrect. For example, consider the word “proton” which is derived from Ancient Greek. The word can be seen being used as early as Aristotle.[iii]

Is there any rational person who would conclude that Aristotle was referring to the subatomic particle when he uses the word “proton” merely due to the fact that the word “proton” refers to a subatomic particle in the 21st century? Of course, not!

As such the Islamic premise is false. Thus the argument presented is unsound and this objection can be rightfully dismissed.

The emphasis on how much knowledge anyone has is irrelevant as it would merely constitute the fallacy of appealing to authority. However, if one is bent on appealing to arbitrary authorities, then translations and explanations presented in the paper Embryology in the Qur'an: Much Ado about Nothing are based on the definitions found in academic and classical lexicons and dictionaries that are far more authoritative than any modern translator.

In summary, the objection is flawed as the premise is factually wrong and thus can rejected.

Also see - The Etymological fallacy

[i]. Tzortzis, Hamza 2012. Embryology in the Quran: A Scientific-Linguistic Analysis of Chapter 23. Version 2.1b. page 69
[ii]. Adrian Akmajian et al. 2001. Linguistics, 5th Edition: An Introduction to Language and Communication. MIT Press. Page 25.

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