19 June 2006

Which has more good stuff, the Bible or the Quran?

In previous post I compared the amount of cruelty in the Bible and Quran. The Bible had more than twice the number of violent verses (843 vs. 334), but the Quran was about twice as violent when size was taken into account (5.36 vs. 2.71%).

But what about the good stuff? How do they compare? Here's a summary:

Number of good passages
Bible 260
Quran 67

So the Bible has nearly four times as many good verses as the Quran. But then it's about 5 times as big. Here's how it looks when size is taken into account.

Good Stuff Total verses Percent
Bible 260 31102 0.84%
Quran 67 6236 1.07%

So when expressed as a percentage of verses, the Bible and the Quran are about equal. About 1% of the verses in each could be considered good.

At least I consider them good; you might disagree. Is Leviticus 19:18 ("Love thy neighbor as thyself.") good? I think so, but that's just my opinion. How about Quran 5:32 ("Whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.")? I think that's good too. But each person must make up his or her own mind.

I'll try to delve into this a bit deeper in a future post.


keapponlaffin said...


I really appreciated your statistical analysis, but believe that it could be more informative. The current numbers are a bit misleading because the styles and contents of the Qu'ran and Bible are not similar. The Qu'ran is primarily philosophical/theological, whereas the Bible is filled with a significant amount of philosophically uninteresting history. If you would be up for the task, running a statistical analysis on the "deep" verses alone might be much more insightful.

dennyhardy said...


I honestly think that this is an interesting work you are doing. However, I believe you need to equipe yourself and do learn a lot to enable you to arrive into credible analyses and conclusions.
Otherwise you will fall into a kind of 'lost in translation' trap.

It might be easier to find works in English that interprete or translate Bible. Or to meet people who can recite Bible by heart either in English, French, etc. On contrary, Al Quran is only recited, memorized and publicly used only in its original language (Arabic). Its translation to other language remains nothing but an interpretation. There where we can immediately evaluate how 'reliable' is the translation. Often the translations reflect translators' level of knowledge, intelegence, hidden interests, etc..

One of the esiest examples I've found: In Quran 6:38, you put an ABSURDITY note for, 'animal are PEOPLE too'.
In fact, if you have the original version of Al Quran along with your english version, the only ABSURDITY to be noted is your translation of 'UMAMMUN' into 'PEOPLE'.

In my opinion, failing to put the arabic version of Al quran along with your English translation, wont make your site interesting enough to invite more intelectual and fair discussions. The moslems, even if many dont realize, infact preserving the originality of their holy book by using only its original language and use translation as secondary means with carefulness.


Kevin Z. said...

Hmm....it seems that this article is far less provocative than the 'which is more cruel' article.

In the June 6 post, there was outrage and there were people left and right saying "you're interpreting it wrong", or "you've taken these passages out of context", etc.

Here, there's nothing.

Asana Bodhitharta said...

The Bible and the Quaran are derived from the same source. The information that the author of this blog reveals his ignorance of religion as a whole.

Aaron said...

This is interesting, however, there are many good passages in the Bible not included on your list. For instance, a lot of people consider Revelation an epistle for quacks, but that's only because fundamentalists have hijacked it, and only since the 19th century. Rev. 21:4 beauteously reads, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

Also, if one compares the New Testament, which is the new covenant of the Christian faith to the Qu'ran, there is little competition. After reading the entire New Testament and many surahs of the Qu'ran, this is what I found. Also, most Christian Churches, especially mainline Protestant ones, read the word much less literally than most Muslims. For these reasons and more (i.e. sexist segregation of worship), I am much more comfortable in a liberal Protestant Church than the local mosque.

FeatheredCompanion said...

Thank you for all the analysis. This is very helpful for me. I believe in God, but I do not belong to any organized religion as I can't get over the cruft and the banalities associated with the various churches. I prefer an one on one relationship with the Divine, I don't do well in any group situations anyways. Your site helps me understand the good, the bad and the ugly. The bad and the ugly though, in these books, are not too out of line compared to other ancient religions. Before humans understood the weather patterns, the causes of diseases, the reason behind geological changes, etc, they all thought their god(s) was/were mad at them and needed pacifying. Just think of the Mayans, they threw all kinds of things/beings down those cenotes to make their rain god happy! We need to take into consideration who actually wrote these books and the era they were written. Just like children do what their parents do and not what their parents tell them to do, we tend to behave like our Creator, if we believe in one. If we want a peaceful world, we need to believe that our Creator is peaceful. From what I can tell, the hard part is to communicate the peaceful and loving messages in these books when they are all buried under piles of obscenities; one has to go in with hazmat gear, a translator, a historian and an anthropologist. Maybe it is time for these books to be re-compiled/distilled for the modern humans, so that they will be easily understood by all, not to create something new, but to remove the crud and let the light shine.

Jennifer said...


Jennifer said...

You did an excellent job. I have question stuff in the bible countless times and I find religious people are experts at the art of rationalizing the irrational. The more the bible, Quran, or any other holy book is outrages, the more the rationalize and justify what is in it. Like God is some sort of human monster who can do what he want without consequence. If man kills it is against the law.
If God kills IT IS THE LAW!
I hate all of this holy mess!--Brewster

Asana Bodhitharta said...

These books are essential jennifer

Cam said...

There is a small trouble in your analysis:
what is your definition of good and bad stuff?

This need an explanation because what's good for you can be see as bad or neutral for someone else or the contrary.

In the countdown, everything that could described as positive but that is explained in the text by a god intervention has been suppressed and I'm not sure that it's fair.

For the bible part that I know more than the Quran there is no reference to Zacchaeus, the collector of taxes which accept to share his fortune with poor after having met Jesus.

Nothing about the fact that jesus made miracle for everybody without dinstinction of gender, religion nor nationality.

Nothing about the fact that jesus criticed hardly the power abuse of the jewish clergy over the jews.

Nothing about jesus forgiving his killer when he was crucified.

And more what is counted only verses or entire parts? In that count, if there is a good story should we only count the concluding verse or all the verses of the story?

For what I know Quran is less coherent than bible. So it can make sense to count only verses as they are quite independent in the quran. But for bible count only one verse that is a part of an entire bloc doesn't seems relevant to me.

And last remark. As said on a comment upper:beware of Translation.

The English grammar is very different from the grammar of original languages and if would be better to work from original text or at least with a translation annotated by the translator and check a translation in an other language than english to be sure that you're not in front of an incorrect translation or something from the original text that is very difficult to translate in english.

Cutch22 said...

Id like to see the new testament compared (as liberal Christianity has pretty much discarded the old)