the speed of light = 299 792 458 m / s
A reader of Rational Islam? has asked me to look at a surprisingly common miracle claim: that the speed of light is foretold in the Qur'an. "Varma", whose blog has the admirably succinct title, Debunking Bucailleism, and which I thoroughly recommend, referred me to this Islamic miracle seeker site, Miracles in the Qur'an and to this miracle claim in particular.
Here's the introduction:
We know from Einstein that my clock and your clock will not run at the same rate. Time (or rate of our clocks) depends on acceleration and/or gravity. If my clock accelerates and/or is in a strong gravitational field then it will run slower than your clock. So time is relative. Quran 22.47 compares time of Earth with time at Paradise/Hell (1 day vs 1000 years); while Quran 70.4 compares time on Earth with time in wormholes (1 day vs 50,000 years).And here's 70:4:
The angels and the Spirit ascend to Him in a day, the measure of which is fifty thousand years.Now, call me an old nit-picker if you wish, but I don't spot any mention of worm-holes here. But perhaps I'm just being too literal ... expecting to read the phrase worm-hole when a claim is made that "the Qur'an compares time on earth with time in worm-holes". Anyhow, let's see how the miracle claim continues. (Don't worry - it's not as bad as it looks!)
Here angels will experience 1 day while humans will measure it as 50,000 years (time vs. time and not time vs. distance as the other lunar verse). This can happen if:1) Angels accelerate to relativistic speeds.2) Angels are in a strong gravitational field.1) Outside gravitational fields: This agrees with Einstein’s theory of special relativity, which says that a faster moving object appears to experience slower time. Moslems use Einstein’s theory of special relativity with the following verse in the Quran to check whether those angels really accelerate up to the speed of light or not. Given this time difference (time dilation) we can calculate the speed at which that object traveled. We can verify if those angels really accelerate up to the speed of light, as claimed by Moslems, or not. Outside gravitational fields this speed turned out to be 99.99999999999981% of the speed of light:(Where ∆to is the time measured for a mover by a mover; ∆t is the time measured for a mover by a stationary frame; v is the velocity of the mover relative to the stationary observer):∆to is the time experienced by angels (1 day).∆t is the time as measured by humans (50,000 lunar years x12 lunar months/lunar year x 27.321661 days/lunar month).v is the velocity of angels in this case (which we intend to calculate and then compare to the known speed of light).c is the nominal speed of light 299792.458 km/s.From the above equation we can solve for the unknown velocity: This time dilation (time difference) shows that angels indeed accelerate to relativistic speeds; outside gravitational fields this is the same speed calculated from the previous lunar verse also outside gravitational fields.We cannot calculate our local speed of light from this time dilation however we can calculate at what percentage of the speed of light those angels are traveling relative to an observer on Earth. By this we can compare a time dilation (50,000 years vs. one day) with a speed (12000 Lunar Orbits/Earth Day). We can do this by translating both of them to a common speed in km/sec. Outside gravitational fields 50,000 years vs. one day shows angels traveling at 12000 Lunar Orbits/Earth Day; it is the same speed in km/sec.Oh boy! Where do we start? This all looks a bit daunting doesn't it? Isn't easier just to accept what we're being told and BELIEVE? That's exactly what the miracle seekers expect you to do...
I'll try to keep this simple.
The equation states that the speed of angels is equal to the speed of light divided by 1 minus the sum of: 1 divided by 16,392,000 (50,000 x 12 x 27.32) squared.
Let's do the math (as the Americans say):
One divided by a very large number is a very small number - so one divided by 16.4 million is very, very small number indeed.
If we then square a number smaller than 1 we get an even smaller number.
If we take an exceptionally small number away from 1 we will always get very, very, very nearly 1.
In other words, the very large number we start with (which the miracle seeker in this case has taken from a random verse in the Qur'an) can be just about anything over 100 and you will arrive at the desired answer (depending on how close to 1 you want to get).
If you don't believe me, let's put a totally different set of numbers into the equation and see if we come up with... the speed of light!
Here's a verse from the Holy Book of Spinoza which describes how long a day is for my magic hamster:
His Magic Hamster ascended to him in a day - the measure of which 37 years37 x 365 = 13, 505.
1 divided by 13, 505 = 0.000007405.
Now let's square that ...which equals 0.000000000007505.
Now lets take that away from 1. Wow - it's very nearly 1 (0.9999999999245)!
Now if we times the speed of light by 0.9999999999245 we get....
299 792 547. 977 m/s!
So I am now claiming my magic hamster miraculously travels at very nearly the speed of light and therefore you must worship me!
Either the author of this miracle claim knows no maths whatsoever, or he (and I'd bet my house it's a he) is a lying charlatan who knows full well what he's doing - which is trying to mislead gullible, vulnerable people into believing Islam is rational and scientific.
What a despicable b*stard.
PS If you're a Muslim and still believe the speed of light is contained in the Qur'an do please get in touch.
Or failing that, you could try thinking for yourself.