Qur'an Predicted Land Decreasing

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This article analyzes the apologetic claim that the Qur'an correctly predicted that land is decreasing due to the movements of tectonic plates.

Apologetic Claim[edit]

Dr. Al Zeiny, PhD, claims a so-called ‘proof’ of Qur'anic Science by positing the proposition that the Qur'an correctly predicted the geological fact that land is decreasing due to the movements of tectonic plates. He cites verses 13:41 and 21:44 as evidence.

Land is decreasing due to the movements of tectonic plates.

Don’t they See that We gradually reduce the land from its outlying boundaries? Where God commands, there is none to put back His command (Quran 13:41)

Indeed we gave the good things of this life to these men and their fathers until the period grew long for them; don’t they see our ability in reducing the land from its outlying borders? Is it then they who will win? (Quran 21:44)
Mohamed and Quran on Trial
Dr. Al Zeiny, Ph.D. in Civil Engineering, Koranic School Graduate, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Evansville

Surah 13:41 and 21:44[edit]

Yusuf Ali: See they not that We gradually reduce the land (in their control) from its outlying borders? (Where) God commands, there is none to put back His Command: and He is swift in calling to account.

Pickthal: See they not how we aim to the land, reducing it of its outlying parts? (When) Allah doometh there is none that can postpone His doom, and He is swift at reckoning.

Shakir: Do they not see that We are bringing destruction upon the land by curtailing it of its sides? And Allah pronounces a doom -- there is no repeller of His decree, and He is swift to take account.

Sher Ali: Do they not see that WE are visiting the land, reducing it from its outlying boarders? And ALLAH judges; there is none to reverse HIS judgment. And HE is Swift at reckoning.

Khalifa: Do they not see that every day on earth, brings them closer to the end, and that GOD decides their life span, irrevocably? He is the most efficient Reckoner.

Palmer: Did they not see that we come to the land and diminish the borders thereof? God judges, and there is none to reverse His judgment, and He is swift at reckoning up!

Sale: Do they not see that we come into [their] land, and straiten the borders thereof, [by the conquests of the true believers]? When God judgeth, there is none to reverse his judgement; and he [will be] swift in taking an account.

Rodwell: See they not that we come into their land and cut short its borders? God pronounceth a doom, and there is none to reverse his doom. And swift is He to take account.

"Progressive Muslims": Do they not see that We come to the land and reduce it from its ends? And God gives judgment and there is none to override His judgment. And He is quick to reckoning.

Transliteration: Awa lam yaraw anna na/tee al-arda nanqusuha min atrafiha waAllahu yahkumu la muAAaqqiba lihukmihi wahuwa sareeAAu alhisabi
Yusuf Ali: 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?

Pickthal: Nay, but We gave these and their fathers ease until life grew long for them. See they not how we aim to the land, reducing it of its outlying parts? Can they then be the victors?

Shakir: Nay, We gave provision to these and their fathers until life was prolonged to them. Do they not then see that We are visiting the land, curtailing it of its sides? Shall they then prevail?

Sher Ali: Nay, WE provided those and their fathers with the good things of this world till life grew long for them. Do they not see that WE are visiting the land, reducing it from its outlying borders? Can they even then be the victors?

Khalifa: We have provided for these people and their ancestors, up until an old age. Do they not see that every day on earth brings them closer to the end? Can they reverse this process?

Palmer: Nay, but we have granted enjoyment to these men and to their fathers whilst life was prolonged. Do they not see that we come to the land and shorten its borders? Shall they then prevail?

Sale: But we have permitted these [men] and their fathers to enjoy [worldly prosperity], so long as life was continued unto them. Do they not perceive that we come unto the land [of the unbelievers, and] straiten the borders thereof? Shall they therefore be the conquerors?

Rodwell: Yes! we have given these men and their fathers enjoyments so long as their life lasted. What! see they not that we come to a land and straiten its borders Is it they who are the conquerors?

"Progressive Muslims": It was Us who gave luxury to these and their fathers, until they grew old with age. Do they not see that We come to the land and make it shrink from its edges? Will they be able to win?

Transliteration: Bal mattaAAna haola-i waabaahum hatta tala AAalayhimu alAAumuru afala yarawna anna na/tee al-arda nanqusuha min atrafiha afahumu alghaliboona

Analysis[edit]

The Theory of Plate Tectonics[edit]

The presumption is that continental land is decreasing due to convergence of tectonic plates, leading to either subduction or continental collision. What Dr. Zeiny neglects to mention is that, according to the Theory of Plate Tectonics, convergence must equal divergence. This is particularly true if the size of the earth is constant (though some earth scientists believe an expanding earth hypothesis).[1]

Secondly, the tectonic plate map shows that subduction is by far the more common convergence phenomenon (compared to continental collision). Subduction occurs only with oceanic lithosphere as only oceanic lithosphere is dense enough to be subducted. Therefore, in subduction the colliding continental crust is not significantly reduced, and may increase due to subduction-related volcanic activity. [2]

In fact, partial melting of the subducting lithosphere leads to the production of andesite, which is the major building block of continental crust. In other words, continental crust was produced by subduction activity.[3]

Thirdly, while continental collision may reduce land surface due to elevation of the continental crust on impact, it is unclear whether this leads to overall reduction in land surface area if rift activity is taken into account.

Therefore, in theory, convergence of tectonic plates may not reduce land surface area. Further, Dr. Zeiny also neglected other geological processes including erosion, sedimentation, sea-level fluctuations due to climactic changes, and volcanism due to mantle plumes. These also affect the continental land area.

How Does The Theory Match Practical Observations?[edit]

Some scientists claim that the supercontinent Pangaea covered about a quarter of the earth’s surface by the end of the Permian Period about 200 million years ago.[4] Contrast this to the fact that at present 29.1% of the total earth’s surface area is land.

Therefore it seems the ‘land’ is not decreasing after all, or has not changed much in surface area in the past 200 million years (with some fluctuations due to ice ages etc.)

Here is further scientific proof that land has not been decreasing at all over the past billion years.

In the geological record, there are indications that the relative proportion of land and ocean, and the average depth of the world's oceans, has remained relatively constant for at least the last one billion years of the Earth's history. This is inferred from the fact that the maximum thickness of undisturbed marine sedimentary deposits has remained essentially the same, around 50,000' [~15 km], for that span of time.
Changing Paleoclimates and Mass Extinctions, The Climatic Models
Donald L. Blanchard, June 1, 1997, updated November 2004

The explanation for the relative constancy of the earth’s land surface area is given as follows:

Plate Tectonics is now generally recognized as the ultimate cause of orogeny (mountain building). Orogeny, by whichever mechanism, represents a process of thickening continents vertically. If the volume of continental material is to remain constant, vertical thickening must represent a reduction in their surface area. If the surface area of continents is reduced, then the area covered by oceans must increase, which, if ocean volume is also constant, represents a lowering of sea levels. Over the long span of geological time, this shift in area from land to ocean is balanced by the forces of erosion.
Changing Paleoclimates and Mass Extinctions, The Climatic Models
Donald L. Blanchard, June 1, 1997, updated November 2004

Conclusion[edit]

The geological facts do not support Dr. Zeiny's case that land is decreasing as the Qur'an supposedly suggests. In fact, they prove that the geological information contained in the Qur'an is in error.

Land has not been decreasing at all over the past billion years. At present 29.1% of the total earth’s surface area is land. However, by the end of the Permian Period 200 million years ago, the supercontinent Pangaea covered only about a quarter of the earth’s surface.

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See Also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Oceanography I Chapter 3: Earth Structure and Plate Tectonics - Edison State College
  2. Astronomy, Geochemistry, Geology, and Meteorology - Oswego State University of New York
  3. Topic 5: The Earth - Department of Geology, University of Maryland
  4. Dr. Kent Murray - Historical Geology - Chapter 14 - University of Michigan-Dearborn