Thanks very much for the links you provided; it's very helpful indeed to have a transliteration. I've enjoyed listening to the various recitations suggested. Khattab's suggestion was pleasant listening - the reciter has a nice singing tone of voice. Sura 44 was interesting too; it seems to be directed at people like me, so a suitable choice!
My favourite recitation of sura 2 was the second, by Mishary Rashid Al-Efasi. The words seem to roll around in his mouth, producing a poetic effect I've never heard before. I particularly like the way verse 3 sounds. Incidentally, does "yu/minoona" mean "believe"? I notice it appears in the text quite often. You'll notice I'm mostly responding to the sounds of the recitation here, because it's difficult for me to associate each sound with a meaning at the moment. I'm enjoying trying anyway.
So the three stages of atmospheric development is brought into the article for the purpose of explaining the alleged contradiction between which was created first, not for explaining the seven layers of the atmosphere.
Oh, I see you were explaining a specific question, rather than a general explanation.
I think the 'firmament' probably confuses the issue more so its best for translations to use heavens.
It is definitely confusing, yes.
The point about science in the Qur'an was never that the Qur'an was a scientific textbook and therefore supposed to explain scientific concepts in clear terms. The Qur'an is a book of guidance from the Creator. The fact is that the Creator's words should not contradict the scientific laws He creator, and they should be able to be interpreted in a scientific light. I used science to help explain these two verses which I would have a difficult time of explaining without our scientific knowledge.
As you would expect from someone sceptical of religious claims, I have great difficulty with the notion that the Qur'an somehow contains advanced scientific knowledge, which in many cases was not discovered by scientists until centuries later. I believe that if you make a text poetic and abstract enough, it will generate meaning for a very long time to come.
Have you ever heard of the Irish writer James Joyce? He wrote two books* which, I think, can be endlessly reinterpreted. There are so many suggestions of meaning in them that they seem to be inexhaustible. Who is to say whether or not, in the future, those books will be seen as having predicted astonishing discoveries or events? Some Christians say they have found a code in the Bible that apparently reveals such wonders. Some psychologists think they see elements of Freudian theory in Shakespeare. There are many examples like this. The point is, it's the facts that matter, and the scientists who discovered them. That some discoveries or theories happen to coincide with certain poetic expressions in the Qur'an, the Bible or Shakespeare does not seem relevant to anything - it doesn't necessarily indicate any foreknowledge
on the part of the author.
Now, I know the Qur'an is not entirely abstract - indeed, many parts of the book (that I've read so far) are written in a clear and direct style - I'm simply pointing out the capacity of abstract writing to generate meaning. And there are elements of the Qur'an which I believe are deliberately confusing, so as to arouse an artificial feeling of awe or wonder - I'm thinking of the abbreviated letters that begin certain suras. I don't want you to think I'm disrespecting the Qur'an here, I'm just trying to air my doubts.
You say you would have a hard time explaining those two verses without scientific knowledge. Were the verses incomprehensible before the scientific discoveries you mention were made? Or is everyone free to make any interpretation, using current scientific knowledge if it fits?
I'm sorry to sound negative about certain aspects of the book that is the centre of faith for so many, but I'm sure these points deserve to be addressed. I'm finding these issues confusing.
Regards, and thank you for everybody's help so far.
and Finnegans Wake
are the titles.