One common argument in favor of the Quran being legitimate revelation goes like this:
In the Holy Quran, God speaks about the stages of man’s embryonic development, 1,400 years before modern day scientists ‘discovered’ important information on creation of man and his development:
We created man from an extract of clay. Then We made him as a drop in a place of settlement, firmly fixed. Then We made the drop into an alaqah (leech, suspended thing, and blood clot), then We made the alaqah into a mudghah (chewed-like substance)… [Noble Quran 23:12-14]
[…] How could Muhammad (peace be upon him) have possibly known all this 1,400 years ago when scientists have only recently discovered this using advanced equipment and powerful microscopes which did not exist at that time? (source)
There are two assumptions here: 1) that men did not know about the development of embryos and 2) that they could only know from revelation from the creator. But, here’s why this argument is rather weak.
Job beat Muhammad to the punch
The very first book of the Bible ever written was the Book of Job (yep, it’s even older than Genesis). Job, whom even Islam recognizes as a prophet, says:
Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust?
Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese?
You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews.
(Job 10:9-11 ESV)
With this passage in mind, the question is no longer, “How could Muhammad know all this 1,700 years before the microscope?” but, “How could Job know what Muhammad knew 2,600 years before Muhammad was born?” Well, one answer that would promote Christianity could be, “God told him…” but I think there is an even simpler answer than that.
It doesn’t take a prophet
It simply doesn’t take a prophet to catch on to these phases of development. Ever since humans have been being born, people have noticed first-hand that semen is a milk-like substance required for pregnancy…
But even the following phases could have been easily observed through the unfortunate process of miscarriages. A husband and wife could have a pretty good idea of when the pregnancy began, but if it ended suddenly within a few weeks, the embryonic child would be discharged and people could see that he looked like a blood-clot, or cottage cheese, or a leech, or a chewed substance. With enough miscarriages people could soon realize that children in the womb first develop skin and then bones. God certainly could have told Job, but He probably didn’t have to.
It’s reasonable to think that Muhammad knew doctors that had this information when he wrote the Quran. If not, he could have simply read the Bible and reworded things. Of course, this doesn’t prove or disprove the authority of the Quran (nor the Bible for that matter), but it does mean that folks should stop using this passage to prove that the Quran is legitimate revelation.