One of the primary arguments that Muslims give to the critics of their religion Islam, in order to establish the authenticity of their religion, is to try to show that their Holy Book (the Qur’an) actually contains scientific miracles. One of their favorite examples of a scientific miracle in their Qur’an is to try to show that the Qur’an miraculously writes about the existence of the seven layers of the atmosphere hundreds of years before scientists discovered and verified the existence of the seven layers in the atmosphere. This claim by our Muslim friends is usually extrapolated from one of the two following verses in the Qur’an;
“It is He Who created everything on the earth for you and then directed His attention up to heaven and arranged it into seven regular heavens. He has knowledge of all things.”(Qur’an, 2:29)
“Then He turned to heaven when it was smoke. In two days He determined them as seven heavens and revealed, in every heaven, its own mandate.” (Qur’an, 41:11-12)
Indeed, you can see Muslims arguing for such a thing here and here. These seven layers of the atmosphere predicted by the Qur’an, according to the Muslims, are the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, exosphere, ionosphere, and the magnetosphere. Because there are seven layers in the atmosphere, the Qur’an must be right and contain a scientific miracle.
Immediately, we can see a major error in this interpretation. For one, how exactly are the ‘seven heavens’ meant to be interpreted as seven layers in the Earth’s atmosphere? The idea that the Qur’anic heavens is meant to translate to the atmosphere levels of the Earth is a rather absurd idea from the get-go, and really, rather than a scientific miracle, it seems like a Muslim is trying to connect a rather vague verse in the Qur’an with modern science.
Secondly, according to NASA’s website, there are only six layers in the atmosphere. In other words, this connection is entirely non-existent in the first place. Unlike the diagram above, NASA does not include the magnetosphere. Indeed, what the magnetosphere actually is, is a region surrounding any astronomical body, such as our Earth, in which is dominated by the astronomical bodies magnetic field. It isn’t a later in the atmosphere.
Unfortunately for the Muslims, the problems don’t end there. On the off chance that the magnetosphere really is part of the atmosphere, Islam is actually a false religion, not a true one. Take a look at what else the Qur’an has to say about the seven heavens:
“So He ordained them seven heavens in two periods, and revealed in every heaven its affair; and We adorned the lower heaven with brilliant stars…” (Qur’an 41:12)
According to this verse, the Qur’an is telling us that the lower heavens possess the stars. So, according to the Muslims who believes that the seven heavens are the layers of the atmosphere, this verse must mean that the stars are actually located in the lower layers of our atmosphere — which is totally ridiculous. The nearest star is nowhere close to our atmosphere, let alone inside of it, for the nearest star to our Earth is the sun, which is nearly 150,000,000 kilometers away from Earth. If the stars were anywhere near the Earth, let alone right there in our atmosphere, we would all be incinerated. So, either the seven heavens in the Qur’an has nothing to do with the atmosphere, and Muhammad is off the hook, or the seven heavens is talking about the layers of our atmosphere, and Muhammad is a false prophet for revealing this fake information. The Muslim gets to choose which option he goes with.
Anyhoo, fact is, historians of ancient cosmology know what the Qur’an really means when it references the ‘seven heavens’, and that is because such a concept was actually common during the Qur’ans period, and more then a thousand years beforehand. The ancients believed that the universe had seven heavens, and these heavens were the moon, sun, Mercurcy, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn (as in the seven astronomical bodies that the ancients were aware of existing). Indeed, these were the ‘seven heavens’ according to pre-Copernican theory. Sadly for Muhammad though, he had no idea about the existence of Uranus and Neptune, two planets he missed from his counting of heavens. In other words, we know that when the Qur’an is talking about the seven heavens, it’s actually talking about outdated cosmology that modern scientists laugh at, not the atmosphere or any sort of other scientific phenomenon.
Are we done? No, there’s still another nail that we need in this coffin. Indeed, we shall entirely concede that the concept of the seven heavens WAS INDEED a scientific miracle, only obtainable to the people that lived before this scientific discovery because of knowledge given to them by God. So, what do we do now? Convert to Islam? No. Why? Because the notion of seven heavens PREDATES Islam. Indeed, the Martyrdom of Isaiah, for example, possesses the concept of the seven heavens and dates several hundred years before the Islamic religion came about. In fact most of the Martyrdom of Isaiah revolves around the concept of the seven heavens. The polytheists are the ones who originally came up with the idea of the seven heavens, and so by Muslim logic, the polytheists are the true believers of God because God obviously gave them this miraculous scientific knowledge thousands of years before they could have possibly known it. Hallelujah!
Seriously, though, the idea of the seven heavens is just ancient cosmological fiction.. and now it’s in the Qur’an.
UPDATE: Recently, there have been a number of excellent posts in a series on the Rider on the Clouds blog debunking more alleged scientific miracles in the Qur’an. Here they are:
No that’s not a miracle: 1, the Big Bang, No that isn’t a miracle: 2, the sky dome, No that’s not a miracle 3: Invisible pillars, No that’s not a miracle 4: Water from the sky, No, that’s not a miracle 5: In the beginning, part 1, No that’s not a miracle 6: Black holes, No that’s not a miracle 7: Bible Edition, No that’s not a miracle 8– Creation from clay and water