Atheism 101: Atheism and the Koran


My last post discussed the Bible. This one will focus on the Koran. So what does the Koran have to say? And why don’t atheists agree with it? Please keep in mind, this post is about the Koran and not about how terrible Islam is. Please do not leave Islamaphobic comments. And, if you are a Muslim and are unwilling to read criticism of your Holy book, please do not read this post (though I’m assuming I’ll have a lot less people automatically jumping to the conclusion that I don’t know what I’m talking about with this post).

For one, non-believers are treated as criminals deserving of death simply for not believing. Sura 2:191 says “You may kill those who wage war against you, and you may evict thems whence they evicted you. Oppression is worse than murder. Do not fight them at the Sacred Masjid, unless they attack you therein. If they attack you, you may kill them. This is the just retribution for those disbelievers.” Basically this is saying that it is okay to kill non-believers. Now, this isn’t exactly an odd thing for a religious book to say: Deuteronomy 17:2-5 says “If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant, And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.” However, the concept that a person is deserving of death simply for not believing is incredibly problematic. Sura 4:101 parrots the view that unbelievers deserve to be killed. It says “When ye travel through the earth, there is no blame on you if ye shorten your prayers, for fear the Unbelievers May attack you: For the Unbelievers are unto you open enemies.” The act of simply not agreeing with your religion makes us enemies? That’s a scary thought. Though, what’s even scarier is that some people actually agree with this passage. I can’t help but feel that any person who believes that my disagreeing with them makes me the enemy is dangerous, because I don’t know what they might do to me. Sura 5:33 says “Those who wage war against God and His Messenger and strive to spread corruption in the land should be punished by death, crucifixion, the amputation of an alternate hand and foot or banishment from the land: a disgrace for them in this world, and then a terrible punishment in the Hereafter.” What constitutes waging war? If this is referring to actual physical attacks, then, while I don’t agree with the methods, I do agree that defending oneself is acceptable. However, I do not agree that anything less than physical attack is deserving of this kind of treatment. The problem with this passage is that it doesn’t clarify what making war means, and earlier passages suggest that simple non-belief is enough to be considered the enemy. Sura 9:29 adds to this concern by stating that “Fight those who do not believe in Allah-until they pay the tax in acknowledgement of superiority and they are in a states of subjection with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.” Basically, attack non-believers for no better reason than because they are non believers, and make them submit to your will and become your slave. Apparently making people believe like this is easier than, I dunno, revealing yourself to the world? Sura 9.123 goes so far as to say “O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you.” Really? Kill your loved ones for no better reason than because they don’t agree with you? That seems a bit harsh.

The Koran also has some problematic things to say about the rights of women. In Sura 2:282 it says “Call in two male witnesses from among you, but if two men cannot be found, then one man and two women whom you judge fit to act as witnesses.” Basically, women are only half as trustworthy as men. And Sura 4:34 says “Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and forsake them in beds apart, and beat them.” This is saying that women are created to be the slaves of men. Women are not allowed to be self-sufficient and instead must rely on men, and they must do as the men bid them do. Again, this is not an odd concept for a Holy book. 1 Peter 3:1 says “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.” And 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 says “For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” The problem with this type of passage isn’t the context, it’s that people still believe it today. People still believe that women should be subservient to men. This is why these passages are a problem.

Like the Bible, the Koran also has some issues with its scientific accuracy. In Sura 12:4 Joseph apparently saw eleven planets in a dream he had. There aren’t 11 planets in our solar system. There are 8 planets and possibly as many as 100 dwarf planets (though there are at least 5). Sura 21:33 claims that the sun floats in an orbit around the earth. We know that this is not true. And Sura 27:61 says that the earth is fixed and does not move. Again, we know this is not true. The earth revolves around the sun. Like the Bible, these are only issues for those who take the Koran literally. However, there seem to be a larger percent of Muslims who claim that the Koran is scientifically accurate then there are Christians who say the same of the Bible.

All of the problems I presented are reasons why atheists don’t agree with the Koran. Thugh the biggest reason is simply that we don’t find the god claim compelling. We do not believe that there is enough evidence to support believing in Allah, just like we don’t believe the Bible provides enough evidence to believe in God.

https://atheistforums.org/thread-5493.html
http://the-militant-atheist.org/quran-quotes.html
https://godkillzyou.wordpress.com/2009/03/12/an-atheist-me-reviews-the-quran/
http://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Science/
http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/quran/science/long.html

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23 responses to “Atheism 101: Atheism and the Koran

  • reintrovert

    I haven’t read all the comments, but I just want to say that it is never a respectful undertaking to write about something without knowledge.

    First, all the surahs you quoted in your second paragraph should be interpreted only in the context of war. While those verses were being revealed, there was a war raging in Mecca between Muslims and those who were hostile towards them because of what they were preaching (ie. One God). There were only a few Muslims on Earth at that time, so every person besides them was considered a non-believer. The verses you quoted only call for the Muslims to kill only those who waged war against them and attacked them. No Muslim is EVER allowed to harm or kill anyone unprovoked or without just cause, Muslim or non-Muslim alike, unless in self defense or unless they have been charged with a crime (with witnesses). Are criminals not still put to death in the Western world today, when they have been convicted? Only in that case, witnesses are not required, just the judgement of a jury of random people.

    Second, the Quran was revealed in the Arab world 1400 years ago. The society was different then, so it is difficult for anyone aside from scholars on that time period to grasp the full roles of men and women at that time. However, did anyone ever wonder why in 2015 the fight for women to be equal to men is STILL going on? Why aren’t they equal yet?! Clue: because women and men simply are not the same and never will be. So much drama has occurred throughout the world as a result of a never-ending struggle for men and women to be equal in all aspects of society. Is hasn’t come about yet, not surprisingly, because they are not the same and never will be. The sooner people accept that, and embrace the differences between the sexes and live with them, the sooner many things will improve in society in general, for men and women both.

    I’m not sure which Qur’an you are reading (by the way, no one writes Koran anymore – there is no K in Arabic), but:

    – Surah 12:4 reads: “(Remember) when Yusuf (Joseph) said to his father: “O my father! Verily, I saw (in a dream) eleven stars and the sun and the moon, I saw them prostrating themselves to me.”

    Joseph said he saw eleven stars in a dream. There is no claim that there are eleven planets, nor is there a claim that it is fact… just a dream.

    – Surah 21:33 reads: “And He it is Who has created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon, each in an orbit floating”

    It does not say that the sun floats in an orbit around the earth. It clearly states that they are existing each in its own orbit, something unknown to the scientific world in 600AD.

    – Surah 27:61 reads: “Is not He (better than your gods) Who has made the earth as a fixed abode, and has placed rivers in its midst, and has placed firm mountains therein, and has set a barrier between the two seas (of salt and sweet water).Is there any ilah (god) with Allah? Nay, but most of them know not.”

    This verse does not say that the Earth is fixed in the Universe, it says that Allah made Earth a fixed abode for mankind. A fixed and chosen place that man can live on, that is safe for him.
    Interestingly, this verse also mentions the “barrier between the two seas (of salt and sweet water)”, a phenomenon not discovered until recently.

    Surah 55: 19-21 also says: “He has let free the two bodies of flowing water, meeting together. Between them is a barrier which they do not transgress. So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?”

    There is nothing wrong with sharing our ideas, discussing, or debating, but it has to be done with KNOWLEDGE. And by that I do not mean information scraped together from Google. These accusations about the Qur’an and Islam are false, therefore can not even be discussed fairly.

    Liked by 1 person

  • D.T. Nova

    “However, there seem to be a larger percent of Muslims who claim that the Koran is scientifically accurate then there are Christians who say the same of the Bible.”
    That’s not really because of an actual difference between the religions or their books, though. It’s just that most of the predominantly Muslim countries have much poorer education than most predominantly Christian countries.
    (In the middle ages it was the opposite.)

    Liked by 1 person

  • The Brain in the Jar

    What are ‘Islamophobic’ comments? These passages are exactly why ISIS, Hamas, Taliban etc. aren’t that extremist.

    It’s important to remember that the Bible is a collection of books, not all of which are written by the same person. It took time to compose. The Quran is considered to come straight from God. If I were more knowledgeable I could explain the importance of this but I’ll have to make do.

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    • hessianwithteeth

      Though lets not get into calling the Koran worse then the bible, they each have their glaring problems and culturally and morally backward adherents. It’s best to try not to compare them too closely trying to determine which one is worse. They both have separate issues.

      We like to demonize thing we can not familiar with while ignoring the harms of things we are familiar with. And people love saying how horrible the Koran is when the Bible (and several other holy texts) is just a different kind of bad, but one we’ve grown accustom too.

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      • The Brain in the Jar

        This is my experience:
        The people who claim the Quran is terrible tend to write encyclopedias about Islam (Robert Spencer, TheReligionofPeace)
        People who claim neither is worse tend to rely on “Well Muslims may feel bad”.
        These books aren’t holy. They can be compared and contrasted. I do not have the information to do it now, but nothing I read of the Quran makes me think it’s any good, also compared to other religious texts like Egyptian Book of the Dead.

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        • hessianwithteeth

          Well i was susifcally talking about how it contrasts the the bible where trying to claim one is better hen the other is missing the point that they have seprate issues and a simple comparision is largelybmeaning less. If you want to compare them in a compehensive manner fine by me. I will admit I could have been clearer though. As for other texts its bot something that can be generlized. All I was really trying to get at is that board generliztions compaaring the bible and koran tend to be better at showing the biàses of the writer then actually comenting on the texts.

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          • The Brain in the Jar

            Perhaps, but if these books aren’t holy – we’re both non-religious here – I don’t see why I can’t compare them. A superficial comparison is superficial, but it’s not harmful when I admit it’s superficial.

            These books contain ideas, stories and prose. They can contain worthwhile content even if you’re not of the religion. They can contain terrible or shallow ideas. What I pointed out, in fact, points favor at the Bible. Since it’s a collection of books, it means it’s a collection of perspectives and perhaps explores a lot more ideas, and more deeply in the Quran.

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  • Atheism 101: Atheism and the Koran | Christians Anonymous

    […] Source: Atheism 101: Atheism and the Koran […]

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  • luciemuses

    I feel any ideology which makes people believe that there is only one truth is dangerous. If all the others are wrong, is it our duty to make them see their error of judgement by any means? Religion, political ideology, even passionate atheism or ecology and other beliefs, for me, there has to be a space for doubt and for tolerance of people who do not feel the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Allallt

      But there is only 1 truth. I don’t know what it is, but reality is actually only one way.
      The danger is the people who claim to know the truth. You’re right, really it is about “a space for doubt”. Doubt should be encouraged in all places.

      Liked by 2 people

      • luciemuses

        Depends what your definition of “truth” is. Even scientific truth changes with new discoveries. No, I don’t believe that there is only one truth.

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        • Allallt

          I would define truth as that which comports to reality, and there is only one reality. The rest is understanding. But we may have just entered the realm of sophistry.

          Liked by 1 person

          • luciemuses

            Yes. I won’t enter sophistry. Just in case. 😊

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          • hessianwithteeth

            Is there really only one truth? Does reality boil down to one thing? Is reality such that we can say there is only one truth about it, one state that is exists within? If so how can we be certain that there is only one reality, and in what way?

            Absolute claims are tricky things and are to be careful around.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            well, I think it’s a truth that a human who grabs a white hot bar of iron with their bare hand will be in a serious amount of trouble.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            I was writing you a reply but then it got deleted, so I have decided to turn the idea into a post, but the short of it is. Absolute statements are not to be thrown around carelessly. Saying there is one truth, that reality exists in one way. Particularly when they way you say it has ambiguous meaning such as how Allallt said it.

            It’s a bold claim, and one the is not obviously true. While yes I’d agree putting you bare hand on a white hot piece of steel is going to end up badly for you. When you start looking at partly indeterminate processes in the world like the weather and radioactive materials which we can not predict. It’s hard to say that reality is one way or has to be one way. Further can we honestly say we can boil down reality to a single truth of some kind?

            Again there was some ambiguity in meaning so I’m hesitant to assert which meaning was implied. However, it still the case that when you make an absolute statement you need to be ready on some level to back it up with some good evidence.

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          • clubschadenfreude

            I have no problem in saying that I have no desire to be near a radioactive source at all. Quantum theory does say that they are indeterminate, but there is no evidence of this occurring in a macro scale, just as there is no evidence of all of the air molecules in a room suddenly leaving it or only being on one side, resulting in a vacuum. Quantum theory says it can happen. Does it happen? That does not seem to be the case. Cobalt 60 sources are deadly. We can predict that with little error.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            Well I’ll expet your argument on radioactive isotopes, but weather is a largely indetemrinate process, we can make certain prediction, but we can’t actually know what will happen, and there is some indication that quantum phenomion can play a role.

            And if we look at the more theoretical side of physics you find discussion od quantum fluxation in the sort time the universe was tiny which explains that shape and structures of the clusters of galaxies which while not particularly important to us now, would have allowed for our solar system to have formed in the first place. Though I will restate that such fluctuation are still hypothetical.

            Though I think we are talking past one another rather then actually discussing a topic. I have nothing against suggesting that there is a state in which the universe actually exists or in that was the universe happens to be. I just don’t like the language being used as it is ambiguous and some interpretations lead to problematic ares where you need to provided supporting evidence. Where if one avoids the absolute claim in the first place then one would not longer that problem.

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          • Allallt

            I’m not sure what the ambiguity is in what I said. Take your example about predictions relating to the weather: said prediction can be said to be right or wrong, because the weather was only doing one thing.
            I don’t understand the alternative idea: that reality can be two or more things at once, that A could be not A at the same time. Reality is what reality is and utterances that comport to that are truth.
            In reality we don’t deal with “truth”, it’s not accessible. Instead, we deal with reasoned claims and evidence. Many of our reasoned claims based on evidence are likely to comport to reality with amazing accuracy. But we’re still only deal with defensible claims, not “truth” itself.
            If reality were not only one way, and ontological relativism were actually a valid view point, then God could actually exist in reality if you are Jenny but not if you are Josephine; GM products could be harmful to public health if you are Joanna but perfectly safe if you are Jon. All discussion would be pointless.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            Ah I’m glad you commented back. We don’t disagree I was taking things done more of a determinism indeterminism path where it seem to be all you saying is that things that happened happened a certain way. Which I not something I take issue with. The clarification is appreciate regardless.

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          • Allallt

            Ah, I see the confusion. Glad I clarified.

            Liked by 1 person

      • luciemuses

        BTW what a fantastic blog- thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

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