Observe the excellent use of scientific evidence here when Allah (swt) says:
(… أَلَمْ يَرَوْا كَمْ أَهْلَكْنَا مِن قَبْلِهِم مِّن قَرْنٍ) (Have they not seen how many generations We destroyed before them …): For the sight is the master of all evidence. There is a difference between hearing and seeing. When something is heard, it could be incorrect, but when it is seen, no further evidence is required, as the eye does not deceive.
(… أَلَمْ يَرَوْا) (Have they not seen…): This verse refers to the polytheists who went for the summer and winter travels and saw things with their own eyes. So, what is it they see? The answer is:
(… كَمْ أَهْلَكْنَا مِن قَبْلِهِم مِّن قَرْنٍ… ) (…how many generations We destroyed before them …): The word used here is (generations), which means a big number of years which consists of a whole generation of people. It is commonly taken to be a hundred years. Therefore, Allah (swt) tells them to look at the previous generations, which were present at certain periods of time.
(… مَّكَّنَّاهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَا لَمْ نُمَكِّن لَّكُمْ… ) (…which We had established upon the earth as We have not established you?…): In their travels, they might pass by the ruins of ‘Aad, the people of Prophet Hud (PBUH), the ruins of Thamud, the people of Prophet Soleh (PBUH) and the ruins of the tribe of Seba. So, with their own eyes, they have seen these ruins, which serve as lasting witnesses of what happened to these groups of people. These people once had power, architecture and civilization on the earth more than what you have.
(… وَأَرْسَلْنَا السَّمَاءَ عَلَيْهِم مِّدْرَارًا وَجَعَلْنَا الْأَنْهَارَ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهِمْ… ) (…And We sent [rain from] the sky upon them in showers and made rivers flow beneath them;…): We sent rain from the sky to bring about goodness and blessings for them. All the above-mentioned goodness and blessings are from Allah (swt).
(… فَأَهْلَكْنَاهُم بِذُنُوبِهِمْ… ) (…then We destroyed them for their sins ): All of these were not of benefit to them, for they disbelieved and denied the blessings of Allah (swt). So, He made them taste the consequences of this denial.
( وَأَنشَأْنَا مِن بَعْدِهِمْ قَرْنًا آخَرِينَ … ) (…and brought forth after them a generation of others.): Other generations came after them and other civilizations succeeded them, after all they had established. Therefore, human beings need to learn lessons from the previous generations, namely: Did any of them live eternally? Did any of them stay on? Did any of them remain established?