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Writing under the pen name of Dr. Lactantius, a Christian author who describes himself as a practising medical doctor in the United Kingdom, alleges that the descriptions of human prenatal development as mentioned in the Qur’an had been plagiarised from the writings of ancient Greek physicians, notably Galen. Such writings were said to have been transmitted to the Prophet Muhammad through his companion al-Harith bin Kaladah, who is said to have studied medicine at an old and noted medical school at Jundishapur (southern Persia) where instruction in all of the Greek disciplines could be obtained. (For a detailed refutation of these theories see Was al-Harith bin Kaladah the Source of Prophet Muhammad’s Medical Knowledge? and Did the Prophet Muhammad Plagiarise Ancient Greek Embryology?).

Dr. Lactantius supports his essay by way of illustrations, diagrams and quoted authorities. But the good doctor has, as it seems to me, deliberately falsified a number of illustrations in order to justify his theory of plagiarism and scientific error in the Qur’an as we see below:

Fabricated illustrations by Dr. Lactantius?

After consulting a number of texts I can only conclude that there are no textbooks of modern embryology that contain such crude, dismal or forged illustrations of the like he presents to us here. It would seem that these wretched drawings were made by him or for him on his instruction, with the obvious intention to deceive the reader. Only illustration A could remotely be regarded as a likeness to an embryo, yet one has to wonder why Lactantius is unable or unwilling to furnish a single photograph or authentic illustration? In contrast he is well able to present to us images of Hippocrates and Galen – no crude, dismal or forged illustrations there.

Images of Aristotle and Galen from Dr.Lactantius’ essay. No fabricated images here!

The true extent of his scam becomes manifest when we actually compare the original illustrations at full size showing all their wrinkles, imperfections and blemishes. Note that I have not retouched nor resized any of the following images:

(A) Lactantius’ sketch of an embryo 24-25 days.

(B) Lactantius’ sketch of an embryo 26-27 days. What on earth is this?

(C) Lactantius’ sketch of an 11 week fetus. Note the cracked skull and demon-like claws of the fetus. The upper left limb appears to be detached from the trunk while the lower right limb is missing altogether.

It is truly laughable to consider these as aids to help one visualise the stages of embryological developmental. Dr. Lactantius truly believes that his embryo drawings are faithful representations of real stages of embryonic development in comparison to published embryos we see in medical textbooks. Compare the following photograph of an 11-week fetus with Lactantius’ Mickey-Mouse cartoon sketch of the same embryo:

Compare the photograph of an 11-week fetus (from Moore, Keith L. The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Saunders, 1982. p. 97) with Lactantius’ Mickey-Mouse cartoon sketch of the same embryo.

That Dr. Lactantius dare present these grotesque sketches as scientific illustrations is truly unbelievable. But worst still, he perceives no problem in doing so!