No, Atheists, the Oldest Koran isn’t Necessarily Older Than Muhammad
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Carbon dating suggests ‘world’s oldest’ Koran could be older than the Prophet Muhammad, states misleading headline crafted specifically to make atheists jizz their pants.
Let me start by saying that Muhammad definitely didn’t get any divine instructions to pass down any message ever, because there is no god. But some people believe that, anyway. Even though they’re wrong, this isn’t the evidence you’re looking for if you want to prove Muslims that their religion is baseless.
The University of Birmingham has a really old Koran, and some researchers there had it radiocarbon dated at a University of Oxford lab. Radiocarbon dating can be really fantastic for archaeologists and anthropologists to place certain organic materials within certain time periods within the past 50,000 years. It’s pretty accurate, but there are still error bars. In this case, the researchers found that the parchment probably dated between 568 and 645 A.D.
Muhammad supposedly got his revelation between 570 and 632 A.D. So right there, you have a lot of overlap that supports the current understanding that the various parts of the Koran were written down after Muhammad’s death. He died in 632, and this parchment could date to around 645. Done.
Even if that overlap wasn’t there, if the carbon dating showed the parchment must have been created, say, before 570 AD, it still wouldn’t prove the Koran was created before Muhammad. A parchment could have been created long before someone decided to write something on it.
And parchment basically means an animal skin. Radiocarbon dating works by measuring the amount of carbon left in something, which allows researchers to count backwards and see when that animal stopped consuming carbon, i.e., when they died, because the carbon isotope leaves the body at a reliable rate. So we know that the animal died between 568 and 645, but we don’t know when that animal was skinned, and when that skin was turned into parchment, which is a pretty interesting and painstaking process.
And then we don’t know how long that parchment was around before it was written on. Testing the ink may get us a little closer to pinpointing the date, but that’s really difficult, since ink only tends to have tiny amounts of carbon and it’s usually going to be co-mingled with carbon from the parchment.
It’s really fascinating how researchers use various techniques to pinpoint dates like this. That’s the story, here, and also the fact that this manuscript may be the oldest portion of the Koran we have. That’s really cool and it helps us form a better picture of how Islam began and grew.
But there is no sense in taking this interesting little finding and forming an atheist circlejerk around it. It misrepresents the scientific research and just makes atheists look like ignorant assholes, and we don’t need another reason for theists to think that about us.