Ramadan: God's Words and Worlds Are Revealed

During the month of Ramadan, the first of God's words were revealed to Prophet Muhammad by the angle Gabriel. Islamic tradition offers several different specific dates, all of them in the last two weeks of the month of Ramadan, for the initial revelation. In truth, no human except Muhammad knows the exact date of the first revelation because ultimately, revelation is a process beyond time and place.

In a somewhat similar way, the growing body of human knowledge slowly brings us to greater and greater comprehension of the universe God created. Both the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an teach that the Living God created the whole universe to be conducive to the universal evolution of life. Recent astrophysical studies discover ever more evidence of the truth of this Biblical and Qur'anic view.

Space may be vast, but it isn't lonely. New research indicates the Milky Way is teeming with billions of planets like ours, circling stars just like our sun.Astronomers calculate that in our galaxy alone there are at least 8-9 billion stars (22%) like our sun with Earth-sized planets that are 'not too hot or not too cold' for life to develop.

The Zabur of David says, ÒYour kingdom is a kingdom of all worlds; and Your dominion is for all generations." (Zabur-Psalms 145:13); and the Qur'an says, ÒWe have not sent you but as a blessing for all the worlds." (Al-Anbiya 107). Muslim commentators say this refers to the 18.000 inhabitable worlds created by Allah. Our world is but one of them. (Mir'at-e-Kainat, vol.1, p.77)

In the 20 years since the discovery of the first extrasolar planet around a star we have learned that most stars have planets of some size orbiting them, and that Earth-size planets are relatively common in close-in orbits that are too hot for life.

But even if only one in a thousand earth size planets are in the habitable zone just right for life to develop, there are millions of them.

NASA launched the Kepler space telescope in 2009 to look for planets outside the solar system. From among the 150,000 stars photographed every 30 minutes for four years, NASA's Kepler team reported more than 3,000 planet candidates.

As Summer 2014, the total number of confirmed newly discovered planets outside our solar system was over 1,700.

Most of these are much larger than Earth -- ranging from large planets with thick atmospheres, like Neptune, to gas giants like Jupiter -- or in orbits so close to their stars that they are roasted. The astronomers estimate that 22 percent of all sun-like stars in the galaxy have Earth-size planets in their habitable zones.

All of the potentially habitable planets found in the team's survey are around K stars, which are cooler and slightly smaller than our sun. But the researchers' analysis shows that the result for K stars can be extrapolated to G stars like our sun. Had the Kepler space telescope survived for an extended mission, it would have obtained enough data to directly detect a handful of Earth-size planets in the habitable zones of G-type stars.

"If the stars in the Kepler field are representative of stars in the solar neighborhood, ... then the nearest (Earth-size) planet is expected to orbit a star that is less than 12 light-years from Earth" the researchers wrote in their paper.

Each new discovery in astronomy yields new evidence of God's wisdom and power. As the Qur'an says, ÒVerily in the heavens and on the earth are signs for those who believe." (Qur'an 45:3) And prophet David says, ÒThe heavens declare the glory of God. The universe proclaims God's handiwork." (Zabur-Psalms 19:2)

Perhaps this why Jews and Muslims are so open to learning about new scientific discoveries. During Medieval times Christian theologians accepted the Ptolemaic earth centered Greek view of the universe as an absolute universal truth. The Catholic Inquisition even punished those who dared to voice other ideas. Some Christians still think that human beings must be at the literal center of God's creation.

Thus, even in America today, many Christians avoid learning about new scientific discoveries. According to a recent (February 2015) study "Religious Understandings of Science", among members of non-Christian religions; 42 percent of Jews, and 52 percent of Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus (taken as a group) are twice as interested in new scientific discoveries compared to only 22 percent of Protestant evangelicals.

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