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WHAT CAME FIRST THE HEAVENS OR THE EARTH?
ALLEGED CONTRADICTION: Surah 41:9-12. States that Allah created the earth first and finished the earth and second: created the heaven, which was vapor from the big bang theory and finished the heavens and third made the stars. Science tells us that first: the vapor in the big bang theory came, second: stars and third: the earth.
ANSWER: The skeptics will argue that because verse nine begins with a general description of the earth followed by verse ten which elaborates the creation of the earth in verse nine that a sequential series of events is being established and thus verses eleven and twelve follow the sequence. We shall see how this statement falls flat on its face in light of all the evidence!
First, The Quran does not lay down a definitive sequence of events in 41:9-12 or any other place in the Quran. For example, it does not say First he did this, Second he did this, Third he did this, Fourth he did this, Fifth he did this, and Sixth he did this, giving us the total of the 6 periods of creation mentioned in many places in the Quran (7:54, 10:3, 11:7, 25:59, 32:4, 57:4, 50:38). Incidentally, each time we are told that creation is completed in six periods the word heaven always precedes the word earth.
Second it is interesting to note that Surah 41:9-12 is probably the most descriptive Surah with regard to the creation of the Universe. However, the statement that creation was completed in 6 periods is never reiterated at the beginning of 41:9-12 or any other place in this chapter. Consequently, the statement appears seven times in the Quran, thus suggesting that these verses were not intended to be viewed as A COMPLETE SEQUENTIAL ACCOUNT (see below) of creation. If it were, one would expect the statement to appear again at the beginning of verse nine or at the very least somewhere in the chapter, but it doesnt; I wonder why.
Wait it gets better, the Quran did not intend for these verses to be interpreted sequentially because if one does the math the periods add up to eight and not six (2+4+2), thus, rendering these verses a mere description of non-sequential overlapping events. Surely, Allah could count to six. Hence, because we have overlapping events we must take this into account when we try to put together an account (see below) of the creation process.
Fourth, the earth could not possibly be the first thing created in the sequence because 79:27-30 states that in no uncertain terms beyond a shadow of a doubt that Allah created the heavens before the earth. Hence, these verses are not a sequential account of the 6 periods of creation and thus must be viewed both jointly and severally in relation to the whole Quranic account of creation. The word "then" in verses 2:29 and 41:11 is "Tumma"; it can mean "and also or moreover." Many translators of the Quran incorrectly use the word "then." The sentence structure clearly breaks and the facts are separate accounts.
Critics also state that since the six periods of creation is identical to the number described in the biblical version of creation that it must be wrong. However, the Arabic word for periods is Yaum, and it can mean a series of time that varies (See 32:5, 70:4). Moreover, Muslims never claim that the bible has no truth to it. What probably happened was a prophet of thousands of years ago was told about the 6 periods of creation and the story was subsequently changed to what we presently see to be clearly incorrect; this is nothing new from the Muslim position, since we see these insertions and deletions in the Bible over and over again!
The following are some key verses that deal with creation in the Quran. It must be remembered that many of these verses would be occurring non-sequential and concurrent just as 41:9-12 implies.
POSSIBLE DESCRIPTION OF EVENTS
THE BIG BANG CAME FIRST -The big bang occurred as a result of massive energy. Plasma eventually was formed.
21:30 "Do not those who disbelieve see that the heavens and the earth were joined together, but we have opened them."- Translation M.H. SHAKIR, YUSAF ALI
(THE HEAVEN AND EARTH WERE IN A FORM (PLASMA) AND DEFINITELY NOT IN THE FORM WE PRESENTLY SEE THEM OTHERWISE HOW COULD THEY HAVE BEEN JOINED? HOWEVER ALLAH INSISTS ON ADDRESSING THEM AS EARTH AND HEAVEN. THUS, IT FOLLOWS WHEN ALLAH SPEAKS OF EARTH AND HEAVEN THEY ARE NOT NECESSARILY TO BE CONSTRUED AS FULLY DEVELOPED ENTITIES AS WE KNOW THEM, FOR THEY WERE IN AN "OPENED" STATE.)
THEN CAME A VAPOR/GAS THAT WAS DESTINED TO BE THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH DURING THIS "OPEN" STATE -Plasma later cooled to gases (helium and hydrogen).
41:11 Moreover, he directed himself to the heaven and it is a vapor, so he said to it and to the earth Come both, willingly or unwillingly. They both said: We come willingly." Translation M.H. SHAKIR, YUSAF ALI
(THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH ALL BEING PART OF THE SAME GAS/VAPOR (OR "OPENED" ENTITY) AS DESCRIBED ABOVE WERE DESTINED TO "COME WILLINGLY" INTO EXISTENCE. MOREOVER, SINCE WE ARE TOLD IN 79:27 THAT THE CREATION OF THE HEAVEN CLEARLY PREDATED THAT OF THE EARTH, THE EARTH MUST HAVE BEEN PART OF THIS PRIMORDIAL MATTER AND DEFINITELY NOT DEVELOPED. NO SKEPTIC CAN RATIONALLY DENY THIS, OTHERWISE THE SENTENCE WOULD NOT MAKE SENSE: SHALL WE SAY THAT WHEN ALLAH SAID, "DO YOU COME WILLINGLY" HE INTENDED TO RE-IMPLODE THE BIG BANG!)
PERIODS 3 AND 4
THE CREATION OF THE HEAVENS -Eventually, the gasses condensed into the stars.
41:12 "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 and made it to guard; that is the decree of the Mighty, the knowing." -Translation M.H. SHAKIR
67:3 "God is the one who created seven heavens one above another." - Translation M.H. SHAKIR
THE EXPANSION OF THE UNIVERSE
51:47 "With power and skill did we construct the heaven: For it is we who expand the vastness of Space." -Translation YUSAF ALI, MAURICE BUCAILLE.
PERIODS 5 AND 6
EARTH IS COMPLETED AFTER THE HEAVENS -Stars eventually exploded and recondensed over numerous cycles, forming the heavy elements that later condensed into planets.
79:27-30 "Are you the harder to create or the heaven? He made it. He raised high its height, then put it into a right good state. And he made dark its night and brought out its light. And the earth, he expanded it after that." -Translation M.H. SHAKIR
41:9 "Say: What! Do you indeed disbelieve in him who created the earth in two periods, and do you set up equals with Him? That is the Lord of the Worlds." Translation M.H. SHAKIR
41:10 "He set on (the earth). Mountains standing firm, High above it, And bestowed blessings on the earth, and measured therein all things to give them nourishment in due proportion, in four periods, in accordance with (the needs of) those who seek (sustenance)." -Translation YUSAF ALI
(THE FOUR PERIODS DESCRIBED IN THIS VERSE COULD BE SUB-PERIODS OF THE PRIMARY TWO PERIODS DESCRIBED IN 41:9)
A DESCRIPTION OF HOW GOD CREATED THE EARTH AND A SEPARATE DESCRIPTION OF HOW HE CREATED THE HEAVEN. NO SEQUENCE OF EVENTS IS ESTABLISHED FROM THIS VERSE.
2:29 "He it is who created for you all that is in the earth (I.E 41:10); and also he directed himself to the heaven, so he made them complete seven heavens (I.E 41:12)" Translation M.H. SHAKIR
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