Mountains as tent pegs...


One of the more persistent miracle claims, and one that seems to over-excite a certain type of believer, is the role of mountains in the Earth’s geological processes, as apparently described in the Qur’an. “Kevin” had suggested some time ago that these references in the Qur’an to mountains were an example of miraculous divine knowledge and had recently sent me some material from (you’ve guessed it) the iERA. Before we examine this material and the claims in more detail, let us look at the qur’anic verses that refer to mountains. I have gone with YusufAli’s translations as this appears to be the version preferred by believers for this particular miracle because of the word peg (Pickthall prefers “bulwarks” and Shakir “projections” for example).
78:6-7: Have We not made the earth as a wide expanse,
78:7: And the mountains as pegs?
(88:17-19 : Do they not look at the Camels, how they are made?-
 And at the Sky, how it is raised high?-)
 And at the Mountains, how they are fixed firm?-
79:32 : And the mountains hath He firmly fixed;-
21:31 : And We have set on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with them, and We have made therein broad highways (between mountains) for them to pass through: that they may receive Guidance.
(I include 88:17-18 as well as 19 purely to give context and so that you may wonder, along with the believers, at “how camels are made”...)
In summary then, we have mountains as pegs, which are firmly fixed and which apparently stop the Earth from shaking.
You may wonder if, like me, you are a non-believer and thus destined to be tortured for an eternity by the merciful Allah, what all the fuss is about. There appears to be little here to convince one of a divinely inspired, omniscient author. In fact quite the opposite, as there is a  rather obvious error in that mountains don’t prevent the Earth from shaking (one has only to look at the number of earth quakes in geologically active mountainous areas such as Japan to see this). So let’s see how the iERA deal with this...

The Qur’an always mentions nature as a sign for God’s existence, power and majesty. Every time these are mentioned, they are expressed with a great accuracy, and they also give us information that could have never been known at the time of the Prophet Muhammad. One of these signs includes the function and structure of mountains. The Qur’an mentions that mountains have “peg” like structures and that they have been embedded into earth to stabilise it, a concept known in Geology as isostasy. The Qur’an mentions: “We placed firmly embedded mountains on the earth, so it would not move under them…” and “Have We not made the earth as a bed and the mountains its pegs?” The Qur’an’s eloquent renderings of the facts mentioned above are confirmed by modern science which only came to be understood by the end of the 20th Century. In the book Earth, by Dr. Frank Press, former president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, states that mountains are like stakes, and are buried deep under the surface of Earth. With regards to the vital role of mountains, it was formerly understood that mountains were merely protrusions rising above the surface of Earth. However, scientists realised that this was not actually the case, and that the parts known as the mountain roots extended down as far as 10 to 15 times their own height. With these features, mountains play a similar role to a nail or peg firmly holding down a tent, which has been discovered by modern geological and seismic research, a concept known as isostasy.  In conclusion, how can we explain this in the light of the fact that this is relatively recent science (with no one at the time of the revelation knowing this information)? What does this tell you about the author? Again, there is no naturalistic explanation.
Here is what I sent to “Kevin”.
Thanks for the reference to mountains as pegs. I was disappointed but not surprised to learn the name of the expert quoted.
In the same way that one particular edition of one book by Keith Moore has been used by the miracle-seekers hoping to give some semblance of respectability to their claims for embryology, so I have discovered that Dr.Frank Press appears to be fulfilling much the same role for the mountains as pegs miracle. As far as I can ascertain, he seems to be the go-to guy to support the idea that mountains act like pegs and help stabilise the Earth. Put another way, wherever one looks to get to the bottom of this, Frank Press's 24 year-old book is there on ALL THE ISLAMIC SITES. If the scientific geological community thought that mountains acted like pegs you'd have thought that it would have appeared somewhere else...
There is a further problem. The page referred to in all the Islamic sites (413) DOES NOT say mountains are like pegs or act to stabilise the Earth as far as I can tell. It all looks a bit suspicious - please watch the video for more information.
And by the way, the reference to isostacy in the paper you gave me does nothing but reveal either the ignorance of the authors or their intellectual dishonesty. Isostacy does NOT mean what they say it does.*

The Qur’an states that mountains are like pegs in that they help stabilise the earth. You state that in some modern scientific research, mountains have indeed been shown to act as pegs that anchor the crust of the earth to the mantle, and thereby reduce the slippage of the crust over the mantle. This is, as you say, a clear statement easy to prove or disprove. (I note that Muslims have retreated from the position that mountains reduce earthquakes, since that was clearly untenable.) You have thus far quoted one page from one 24 year-old book that in any case appears to have been fraudulently edited/changed and one diagram that makes no claim about mountains acting as pegs.
Before we enter into protracted correspondence on the reliability of sources, perhaps we ought to sort out some geological terms and processes. Would you agree that the lithosphere is solid and attached to the crust, both of which float on the lower mantle (asthenosphere) which is not solid? Would you further agree that isostasy can most simply be explained by reference to “the principle of buoyancy where an object immersed in a liquid is buoyed with a force equal to the weight of the displaced liquid”, to quote the article in Wikipedia where you found your illustration. The mountain “roots”, which islamic sites are so keen to hold up as proof of a miracle, do not descend into the asthenosphere. How can they then “act as pegs” or “anchors”? If we look at the attached illustration,

you will see exactly how the mountain folds descend no further than the uppermost layer. (I fail to see what your illustration is supposed to prove – the “mantle” into which the mountain “root” descends, is itself floating on the asthenosphere.)
Please show me independent geological evidence which plainly states that mountain pegs or roots anchor the Earth. As far as I know, NO MEMBER OF THE GEOLOGICAL COMMUNITY HAS EVER SAID THIS because logic dictates that it IS IMPOSSIBLE.  
Just because the mountains are themselves stabilized by isostacy does not mean that the mountains stabilize the earth or the crust by isostacy. Prof David A Young

Isostasy is not a process or a force. It is simply a natural adjustment or balance maintained by blocks of crust of different mass or density [...] Greenland is an example of isostasy in action. The Greenland land mass is mostly below sea level because of the weight of the ice cap that covers the island. If the ice cap melted, the water would run off and raise sea level. The land mass would also begin to rise, with its load removed, but it would rise more slowly than the sea level. Long after the ice melted, the land would eventually rise to a level where its surface is well above sea level; the isostatic balance would be reached again, but in a far different environment than the balance that exists with the ice cap weighing down the land. http://www.enotes.com/earth-science/isostasy
The iREA leaflet you sent said the following: mountains play a similar role to a nail or peg firmly holding down a tent, which has been discovered by modern geological and seismic research, a concept known as isostasy. NO...IT...IS...NOT. That is FACTUALLY INCORRECT
I thus continue to maintain that the article in the iREA leaflet is TOTALLY MISLEADING – whether this is by design or ignorance I leave others to decide.

And after a reply from “Kevin” (that he would rather I didn’t publish) this is what I sent back: