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Photo caption: photodune

5 amazing scientific miracles in the Quran

By Shariq Hafeez

TMO Contributing Writer

At the time it was revealed, the Quran described fantastic, marvelous pictures of gigantic solar bodies, endless oceans, individual cells, and many other wonders that exist in God’s domain.

“We will show them Our signs in the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. But is it not sufficient concerning your Lord that He is, over all things, a Witness?” (Quran 41:53)

 

  1. Mountains
Photo credit: photodune

Photo credit: photodune

Mountain formation is often simplified as the collision of two tectonic plates pushing mass upward. However, it is often overlooked that this collision produces an equally important downward protrusion. This is known as the mountain’s deep root. Often larger than the above-ground portion of the mountain, the root extends into the high-density composition of the mantle. The shape can best be described as a peg or as imagined in chapter An-Naba, “Have we not made the earth a resting place? And the mountains as stakes?” (Quran 78:6-7). The mountains are even described and being “set firm” and as stabilizers. Once again, modern science has led us to believe that mountain root structure helps keep tectonic plates firm and less shake-able.

 

  1. Embryonic development
Photo caption: photodune

Photo credit: photodune

A process as intricate as prenatal development has marveled scientists for ages, and our understanding of its complexities still remain malleable as we continue to learn more. The Quran, however, has forever kept the same vivid description which has always seemed to have been corroborated by scientific evidence. In chapter Al-Mu’minun, the descriptions even include the point of fertilization by saying “Then we placed him as a sperm-drop in a firm-lodging” (Quran 23:13-14). From here, the stages of the embryo are described as starting as a “clinging clot”. The word used, alaqah, also has the literal meaning of leech and suspended object. Unsurprisingly, an embryo suspended in the womb bears close resemblance to the shape of a leech. The eloquently versed telling of development, including details starting at notochord development and ranging until flesh development, has proved that the one who knows creation the best is the Creator himself.

 

  1. Clouds
Photo caption: photodune.

Photo credit: photodune.

Most of us likely remember learning about clouds in our childhood and elementary education. One may recall memories of classifying clouds based on simple patterns and shapes. However, such a deep understanding of clouds has only become so widespread due to the invention of new, convenient technologies. Cumulonimbus clouds, or rain clouds, have a particularly interesting dynamic. New developments in meteorology and aerial drones have helped us to observe that when clouds form tall columns when the come together and join. This upward elongation then stimulates the falling of rain. The Quran, proving itself to be the encyclopedia of meteorology as well, describes this as, “Do you not see how Allah drives the clouds? He brings them together, then He makes them into a mass, and you see the rain emerge from within it” (Quran 24:43). The verse goes on to mention hail also, but, more importantly, it makes mention of flashes of light which imply lightning. Now you may be asking what does hail have to do with lightning. Recent research has shown that the collisions of hailstones, rain droplets, and ice crystals is responsible for this association. The collision of hailstones and ice crystals transfers electrons to the hailstone. A similar effect occurs with super-cooled raindrops within the cloud. In the end, these two negatively charged units cause the bottom of the cloud to be negatively charged, a primary indicator of soon-to-be lighting.

 

  1. Composition of life
Photo credit: photodune

Photo credit: photodune

The Islamic Golden Age is responsible for some of the most amazing developments in modern medicine. Nevertheless, a whole slew of biological maxims had already been laid out in the Quran. Some of these amazing truths cannot only be found regarding general body sciences but also at a level of cellular biology. In a time before microscopes and X-rays, it was revealed in chapter Al-Anbiya, “We … made from water every living thing” (Quran 21:30). Even going beyond a human being’s innate dependence on water, we see that everything from cell membranes, respiration methods, tertiary protein structures, and cytoplasm all revolve around a central component of water.

 

  1. Orbits
Photo credit: photodune

Photo credit: photodune

It took many centuries till the scientists could even agree that the earth rotated around the sun. It took many, many more years before the idea of an orbiting sun was even considered. It is only a miracle of god that centuries before the exploration of space that a book predicted “And it is He who created the night and the day and the sun and the moon; all [heavenly bodies] in an orbit are swimming” (Quran 21:33). To think that a people well before so many technological developments could confidently stand by a truth that would only be discovered much later in history is quite amazing. It is almost as amazing as the fact that an unlettered Arabian man in the middle of the desert was perhaps the most reliable source on planetary science to date.

The Texas Unmiracle

By Paul Krugman

As expected, Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, has announced that he is running for president. And we already know what his campaign will be about: faith in miracles.

Some of these miracles will involve things that you’re liable to read in the Bible. But if he wins the Republican nomination, his campaign will probably center on a more secular theme: the alleged economic miracle in Texas, which, it’s often asserted, sailed through the Great Recession almost unscathed thanks to conservative economic policies.

And Mr. Perry will claim that he can restore prosperity to America by applying the same policies at a national level.

So what you need to know is that the Texas miracle is a myth, and more broadly that Texan experience offers no useful lessons on how to restore national full employment.

It’s true that Texas entered recession a bit later than the rest of America, mainly because the state’s still energy-heavy economy was buoyed by high oil prices through the first half of 2008. Also, Texas was spared the worst of the housing crisis, partly because it turns out to have surprisingly strict regulation of mortgage lending.

Despite all that, however, from mid-2008 onward unemployment soared in Texas, just as it did almost everywhere else.

In June 2011, the Texas unemployment rate was 8.2 percent. That was less than unemployment in collapsed-bubble states like California and Florida, but it was slightly higher than the unemployment rate in New York, and significantly higher than the rate in Massachusetts. By the way, one in four Texans lacks health insurance, the highest proportion in the nation, thanks largely to the state’s small-government approach.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts has near-universal coverage thanks to health reform very similar to the “job-killing” Affordable Care Act.

So where does the notion of a Texas miracle come from? Mainly from widespread misunderstanding of the economic effects of population growth.

For this much is true about Texas: It has, for many decades, had much faster population growth than the rest of America — about twice as fast since 1990. Several factors underlie this rapid population growth: a high birth rate, immigration from Mexico, and inward migration of Americans from other states, who are attracted to Texas by its warm weather and low cost of living, low housing costs in particular.

And just to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with a low cost of living.

In particular, there’s a good case to be made that zoning policies in many states unnecessarily restrict the supply of housing, and that this is one area where Texas does in fact do something right.

But what does population growth have to do with job growth? Well, the high rate of population growth translates into above-average job growth through a couple of channels. Many of the people moving to Texas — retirees in search of warm winters, middle-class Mexicans in search of a safer life — bring purchasing power that leads to greater local employment. At the same time, the rapid growth in the Texas work force keeps wages low — almost 10 percent of Texan workers earn the minimum wage or less, well above the national average — and these low wages give corporations an incentive to move production to the Lone Star State.

So Texas tends, in good years and bad, to have higher job growth than the rest of America. But it needs lots of new jobs just to keep up with its rising population — and as those unemployment comparisons show, recent employment growth has fallen well short of what’s needed.

If this picture doesn’t look very much like the glowing portrait Texas boosters like to paint, there’s a reason: the glowing portrait is false.

Still, does Texas job growth point the way to faster job growth in the nation as a whole? No.

What Texas shows is that a state offering cheap labor and, less important, weak regulation can attract jobs from other states.       

I believe that the appropriate response to this insight is “Well, duh.”

The point is that arguing from this experience that depressing wages and dismantling regulation in America as a whole would create more jobs — which is, whatever Mr. Perry may say, what Perrynomics amounts to in practice — involves a fallacy of composition: every state can’t lure jobs away from every other state.

In fact, at a national level lower wages would almost certainly lead to fewer jobs — because they would leave working Americans even less able to cope with the overhang of debt left behind by the housing bubble, an overhang that is at the heart of our economic problem.

So when Mr. Perry presents himself as the candidate who knows how to create jobs, don’t believe him. His prescriptions for job creation would work about as well in practice as his prayer-based attempt to end Texas’s crippling drought.

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