This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.Muhammad, when describing the creation of mankind, saw little difference between the initial creation of man and mankind's continued creation in the womb. In both he sees the unstaying hand of God moving in creation. With this, the Jewish scriptures heartily agree. David sang of God, "For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well." (Psalms 139:13-14) Muhammad goes on to tell us of the process of creation that God uses inside the womb.
"We created man of an extraction of [fine] clay, then We set him, a drop [a moist germ], in a receptacle secure [safe abode], then We created of the drop [moist germ] a clot [of blood] then We created of the clot [clotted blood] a tissue [piece of flesh] then We created of the tissue [piece of flesh] bones then We garmented [clothed] the bones in flesh; thereafter We produced him as another creature. So blessed be God, the fairest of creators!" (Koran 23:12-14)
It is interesting to note that in several cases, Muhammad gives an abbreviated version of this process without requiring the fist article of clay and it is uncertain here what part clay plays in the process. "It is He who created you of dust then of a sperm-drop [germs of life], then of a blood-clot [thick blood], then He delivers you as infants, then that you may come of age [full strength], then that you may be old men" (Koran 40:69)
While we can admire Muhammad's insight into this process, we must also acknowledge that, according to our present scientific knowledge, Muhammad was inaccurate in some places, and, completely wrong in others, in his description of the process from conception, to fetal development, and finally childbirth. This should not surprise us for, just as for us today, many surprises of discovery and science still awaited them, including a more accurate understanding of the process of procreation. Many things that were presented to them as sound science, would soon be overthrown with better science (a warning we should heed today as well). This reminds me of a scientific description of the formation of mother's milk as described by Clement of Alexandria in the close of the second century. Here he gives one such opinion of how blood is converted into mother' milk to nourish a child.
"Or if, on the other hand, the blood from the veins in the vicinity of the breasts, which have been opened in pregnancy, is poured into the natural hollows of the breasts; and the spirit discharged from the neighbouring arteries being mixed with it, the substance of the blood, still remaining pure, it becomes white by being agitated like a wave; and by an interruption such as this is changed by frothing it, like what takes place with the sea, which at the assaults of the winds, the poets say, 'spits forth briny foam.' Yet still the essence is supplied by the blood." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter VI)
Muhammad also shows the limits of the scientific knowledge of his age when he describes the forming of the two sexes, male and female, in the womb.
"Was he not a sperm-drop spilled [mere embryo]? Then he was a blood-clot [thick blood], and He created and formed [formed him and fashioned him], and He made of him two kinds, male and female." (Koran 75:37-39)
Muhammad did understand that the sex of a child was determined immediately at the point of conception and not some time later in the womb.
On one hand, we can excuse the scientific inaccuracies of the past knowing they were merely reporting on what was the best science of their day. Who knows what, in future years, people will look back on what we believe and wonder that we could have believed such inaccuracies and errors. However, Muhammad was not claiming to be reporting the science of the day but rather He claimed to be delivering a report directly from God. Muhammad claimed that these verses were direct, word-for-word, communications from God. Therefore, if any inaccuracies occur in them, such as the inaccuracies in the description of the creation of children, then it is not Muhammad who is wrong but God who is in error! One cannot claim their writing to be directly from God and yet show such blatant errors of science for God is all knowing, God is all truthful, and God is the God of science. Any errors, such as the ones we have sown here, are enough to conclude that the Koran is not a word-for-word transcription of the communication of God and that Muhammad is not the prophet he claimed to be.
More to come...