The Myth of Science in the Quran
By Adrian Reddy
In 1976, a book was published which claimed that the Quran “..does not contain a singlestatement that is assailable from a modern scientific point of view”. The book: ‘The Bible,the Quran and Science’  had been written by a French doctor, Maurice Bucaille, whobecame interested in Islam after he was appointed family physician to King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. In the early chapters, Bucaille proclaims articulately, enthusiastically andwith apparent sincerity that the scientific accuracy of the Quran is such that “I could notfind a single error…“ and that “…there can be no human explanation” for its contents.Such a claim was not new. Something similar had been expressed in the 13th centuryby the Islamic scholar Al-Qurtubi (see e.g. ), but here was an educated Western non-Muslim putting forward a detailed and, seemingly, carefully argued case that, more than700 years after Al-Qurtubi, the science in the Quran still stood up to scrutiny. To theIslamic world, frustrated by centuries of failure to convince the non-Muslim world that theQuran was miraculous, the book was enthusiastically received. It became a best seller and its existence fuelled the growth of the ‘Science in the Quran’ movement, amovement that is supported today by the enthusiasm of countless individuals on theInternet, each endeavouring to push the claim even further and to publicise new‘discoveries’ of scientific predictions in the Quran’s enigmatic verses.As summarised above, the book itself does not make a feature of claiming that theQuran contains new information. It mostly promotes only the weaker claim that there isno contradiction between the Quran and modern science and so falls short of the claimsof Bucaille’s many successors. Nevertheless, it is perhaps a surprise that such a claimcan be made at all for a book nearly 1400 years old, so it is worth attempting todetermine how at least the illusion of scientific compatibility came about. This articletherefore presents a brief review of Bucaille’s approach and an assessment of selectedQuranic statements. It is by no means the first critique of Bucaille’s work (e.g. [3,4]), buthas been compiled without reference to previous reviews, so the thoughts below are atleast original, if not particularly profound. This review also discusses the evidence in thebook for Bucaille’s guilty secret, of which more later.
The Quran contains many statements urging people to be grateful to (or fearful of) theBiblical God (‘God’) for various natural phenomena. Not surprisingly, given the desertlocation of Mecca and Medina, where Islam began, the Quran emphasises theimportance of water in such verses as (Q39: 21) (i.e. Quran, Sura (Chapter) 39, Verse21):