Did the Bible Writers Commit Biological Blunders?
In our scientifically advanced age of cloning, biomimetics, Pentium processors, and the Internet, Americans’ skepticism of biblical inerrancy appears to have reached an all time high (see Gallup and Lindsay, 1999, p. 36), especially in regard to matters of the Bible and science. How can a book, parts of which were written 3,500 years ago, have relevant scientific data? How could the Bible writers have made accurate statements about the heavens, long before the invention of telescopes and satellites? How could they have correctly classified animals before the development of Linnaean taxonomy? How could their references to zoology, botany, astronomy, and human anatomy be trustworthy?
Although the purpose of the Bible is not to provide a commentary on the physical Universe, Christians rightly conclude that, if the Bible was truly given “by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16-17; see Butt, 2007), then it should be free from the kinds of errors that books written by uninspired men contain (see Lyons, 2005, 2:5-25). The Bible may not be a textbook of biology, geology, or chemistry (the Bible is about God and redemption through Jesus Christ), but “wherever it deals with these fields, its statements are true and dependable” (MacRae, 1953, 110:134). At least common sense demands such, if the writers really were “carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21, NIV).
According to many outspoken skeptics, the Bible writers made several scientific slip-ups. In a 1991 article titled “Scientific Boo-Boos in the Bible,” Christian-turned-skeptic Farrell Till alleged: “One thing the Bible definitely is not is inerrant in matters of science.... [T]he Bible is riddled with mistakes” (1991a). Elsewhere Till challenged Christians to explain
why a divinely inspired, inerrant book has so many obvious scientific errors in it. And if the Bible is riddled with scientific errors, they should wonder too about the truth of that often parroted claim that the Bible is inerrant in all details of history, geography, chronology, etc., as well as in matters of faith and practice. It just ain’t so! (1991b).
After criticizing the sacred writers for making various “mathematical miscalculations,” Dennis McKinsey, author of The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy, began a section titled “False Science,” in which he stated: “A second major area in which the Bible fails miserably concerns the large number of statements that are patently erroneous from a scientific perspective. On numerous occasions the Bible makes statements that have little or nothing to do with scientific accuracy” (1995, p. 213). According to McKinsey,
Few topics activate biblical critics more than that of biblically based scientific contradictions and inaccuracies. That is readily understandable, in view of the fact that the book is a veritable miasma of poor science, bad math, and inaccurate geography, all with a heavy overlay of mythology and folklore.... Scripture is a veritable cornucopia of scientific inaccuracies, falsehoods, and blunders (1995, pp. 209,230).
After listing 21 alleged scientific blunders in the Bible, McKinsey declared: “So that is biblical ‘science.’ Can you conceive of a more discordant deluge of deceptive delusion! Saddest of all is that most of Christianity’s most prominent spokesmen are fully cognizant of these biblical inanities, but have spared no effort to avoid them or minimize their importance” (1995, p. 216, emp. added).
The truth is, faithful, Christian apologists have no reason to avoid McKinsey’s or anyone else’s questions about the reliability of the Bible. We may find many of the alleged discrepancies quite trifling (e.g., “Judas died twice;” “Jesus was a thief;” cf. McKinsey, 2000, p. 236), and wonder why such allegations would even be made, but we will not avoid questions about the Bible’s inspiration and inerrancy out of fear that the Bible may not be the Word of God. In fact, this issue of R&R addresses McKinsey’s first four scientific slip-ups supposedly found in Scripture—four alleged mistakes that McKinsey believes are some of the very best proofs of the Bible’s errancy. We think you will be both disturbed and impressed by the answers—disturbed by the arrogance of skeptics’ allegations, yet impressed with how easily the truth can be discovered and error refuted.
ARE BATS BIRDS?
Everyone knows that a bat is not a bird. Bats are beakless, give birth to live young, and then nurse their young with milk until they are self-sufficient. A bat’s wings are featherless, and its body is covered with hair. Based upon such characteristics, scientists classify bats as mammals, not birds. So what does the Bible have to say about these creatures?
Bats are mentioned specifically only three times in Scripture. Isaiah warned Israel of the time when their idols would be cast away “into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth...to the moles and bats” (2:19-20). The other two occurrences are found in the Pentateuch amidst laws regarding clean and unclean animals. In the book of Leviticus, Moses wrote:
“[T]hese you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, the kite, and the falcon after its kind; every raven after its kind, the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind; the little owl, the fisher owl, and the screech owl; the white owl, the jackdaw, and the carrion vulture; the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat” (11:13-19, emp. added).
Deuteronomy 14:11-18 also lists the bat among “birds.” But bats aren’t birds; they are mammals.
According to skeptics, the Bible’s classification of bats as birds represents one of the “scientific difficulties in the Bible” (Petrich, 1990). Such categorization is supposedly “an obvious contradiction between the Bible and Science” (Khalil, 2007). Since “the bat, is, of course, a mammal, not a bird,” McKinsey listed Leviticus 11:19 as a “superb verse to use...to take enlightenment to the biblically benighted” (1995, pp. 744,14, emp. added; see also McKinsey, 2000, p. 213).
Was Moses, who “was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22), so uninformed that he could not tell the difference between bats and birds? Was the God, Whom the Bible claims created bats and birds, unable to classify them properly? How is this not “an obvious contradiction between the Bible and Science,” as Ibrahim Khalil asserted?
The elementary answer to these questions is simply that God did not classify animals 3,500 years ago according to our modern classification system. As far back as Creation, God has divided animals into very basic, natural groups. He made aquatic and aerial creatures on day five and terrestrial animals on day six (Genesis 1:20-23,24-25). Similarly, in the first 23 verses of Leviticus 11, God divided the creatures into land animals (11:2-8), animals “that are in the water” (11:9-12), “birds” (11:13-19), and flying insects (11:20-23). He did not divide animals into mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. In fact, the group of “creeping things” mentioned later in Leviticus 11 (vss. 29-30; cf. Genesis 1:24-25) includes both mammals (e.g., mice) and reptiles (e.g., lizards). Clearly then, God divided animals according to their locomotion and environment rather than whether or not they have hair, lay eggs, and nurse their young.
Still, some may question why the English word “bird” is used for the category in which bats are listed. Why not simply call this group of animals “the flying creatures”? Actually, the term “bird” in Leviticus 11:13 (as well as Genesis 1:20-30) is translated from the Hebrew word ‘ôp, which literally means “flying creatures” (Harris, et al., 1980, p. 654; cf. Brown, et al., 1993). It is derived from ‘ûp, meaning to “fly, fly about, fly away” (Harris, et al., pp. 654-655). That this word is not used solely for “birds” is evident from Leviticus 11:20-23, where it is used with sherets in reference to “winged creeping things” (ASV), i.e., flying insects.
Admittedly, bats and birds have many differences, but one major commonality—the ability to fly—is the very characteristic God used to group them together. Why are no other mammals included in this list? Because “bats are the only mammals capable of true flight” (Jones, n.d.)—another reason why Bible translators have chosen to use the term “birds” in these passages, instead of the more general terms “flying creatures.” The rationale among translators seems to be, “if 99.9% of all ‘flying creatures’ are birds, then we will use the term ‘birds’ to translate the word (‘ôp).” Since Bible students should be very familiar with the figure of speech known as synecdoche (“by which a part is put for the whole”—“Synecdoche,” 2009; see Dungan, 1888, pp. 300-309; cf. Genesis 8:4; 21:7), they should have little trouble understanding why translators continue to use the term “birds” to categorize all the flying creatures, including bats. After all, bats make up a very small percentage of all of the animals that fly.
What’s more, notice that bats are placed at the end of the list of birds and just before the list of flying insects. This placement is entirely proper for the only living “flying creature” that is neither a true bird nor an insect.
To accuse God or the Bible writers of categorizing animals incorrectly based upon Linnaeus’ taxonomy in Systema Naturae (1735), or any other modern method of classifying animals, is tantamount to criticizing people for not organizing their wardrobe or cataloging their books according to your own methods. Whether a person chooses to organize his books alphabetically, sequentially, or topically, according to the Dewey Decimal Classification System or the Library of Congress Classification System, is a matter of judgment. Likewise, it is extremely unfair to judge ancient classification systems according to modern man’s arbitrary standards. Skeptics are wrong for imposing their preconceived standards back onto an ancient text. Frankly, placing bats in the category of “flying creatures,” rather than with the land animals, “all that are in the water,” or the “creeping things,” makes perfectly good sense. Bats are, after all, “the world’s most expert fliers” (Cansdale, 1970, p. 135, emp. added), not walkers, crawlers, or swimmers. For Moses’ allusion to bats to be a true error, he would have had to say something to the effect of, “bats are not flying animals.”
Sadly, one significant question often left unexplored in a discussion of the Bible’s treatment of bats and birds is why God classified bats as “unclean.” Was this simply due to many bats’ eerie outward appearance, or that they are nocturnal cave dwellers? Could there be something more? Kyle Butt addressed the wisdom of God’s instruction about bats in his book, Behold! The Word of God (2007). The fact is,
...bats often carry rabies. While it is true that many animals are susceptible to rabies, bats are especially so. The American College of Emergency Physicians documented that between 1992 and 2002, rabies passed from bats caused 24 of the 26 human deaths from rabies in the United States (“Human Rabies...,” 2002). In the Science Daily article describing this research, “Robert V. Gibbons, MD, MPH, of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, MD, reviewed the 24 cases of humans with bat rabies.” From his research, he advised “the public to seek emergency care for preventive treatment for rabies if direct contact with a bat occurs” (“Human Rabies...,” 2002, emp. in orig.). Moses’ instruction to avoid bats coincides perfectly with modern research. Once again, the super human wisdom imparted through Moses by God cannot be denied by the conscientious student of the Old Testament (p. 124).
ARE RABBITS REALLY RUMINANTS?
Not only is Moses ridiculed for classifying a bat as a “bird,” but supposedly he made another mistake when he categorized the hare (or rabbit, NASB, NIV) as an animal that “chews the cud” (Leviticus 11:6; Deuteronomy 14:7). Cows, goats, sheep, and deer all have three- or four-chambered stomachs and bring already-chewed and swallowed vegetation up into their mouths to masticate once more. These animals “chew the cud” and are known as ruminants (“Ruminant,” 2009). A rabbit, however, does not have a three- or four-chambered stomach, nor does it bring previously swallowed food directly back up from its stomach to its mouth to chew again. For these reasons, skeptics have repeatedly criticized the Bible’s categorization of a rabbit as an animal that “chews the cud” (cf. Morgan, 2009; Wells, 2009; McKinsey, 1995, p. 214). [NOTE: Skeptics have also charged the animal mentioned in Leviticus 11:5 (Hebrew shaphan) of not being a cud chewer. Since, however, there is disagreement over the identity of this animal (translated “coney” in the KJV, ASV, and NIV, “rock badger” in the NASB and RSV, and “rock hyrax” in the NKJV), our discussion will center solely on the rabbit. If the shaphan resembles the rabbit, as some believe (see Day, 1996), then whatever arguments made for the rabbit’s inclusion in this list, might also apply to the shaphan.]
In an article titled “Bible Biology,” Farrell Till alleged: “The Leviticus writer made a serious biological error in describing them [rabbits and shaphan, which he contends are coneys—EL] as cud chewers.... [T]hey have no cuds to chew” (1991b). Elsewhere Till addressed this issue while simultaneously commenting on the scientific foreknowledge argument that Christians sometimes use as one of the proofs for the Bible’s inspiration:
Something that has long perplexed me is the way that inerrancy proponents can so easily find “scientific foreknowledge” in obscurely worded Bible passages but seem completely unable to see scientific error in statements that were rather plainly written. There are too many to discuss, but Leviticus 11:5-6 can serve as an example....They [rabbits and coneys—EL] do not have compartmentalized stomachs that ruminants must have in order to be cud-chewers. Inerrancy champions have stumbled over these passages with various attempts to explain them....Yet after all has been said on the matter, the fact remains that hares and conies are not cud-chewers. But “Moses” said that they were.
One would think that if God were going to arm his inspired writers with scientific foreknowledge...he could have easily programmed them to know the simple fact that hares and conies aren’t cud-chewers” (1990; cf. Butt, 2007, pp. 103-130).
Once again, we are told the Bible is wrong. And, if the Bible is wrong about something as basic as whether or not rabbits “chew the cud,” how could anyone really believe that it was “given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16)?
First of all, critics must acknowledge the fact that we frequently describe things as they appear to take place and not necessarily as they actually happen. Meteorologists talk about the sun rising and setting, even though they know very well that actually the Earth is moving around the Sun, rather than vice versa. Doctors refer to a pregnant woman’s “water” breaking, when actually the liquid is amniotic fluid, and not merely H2O. Furthermore, the amniotic fluid does not break, rather the sac containing the fluid bursts. The Bible writers also referred to things as they appeared. Paul, for example, in his discussion of Jesus’ resurrection, described some of the Christians who had died as having “fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:6). Did Paul know that these Christians had died, and not merely “fallen asleep”? Most certainly. Did the Bible writers know that the bat is not a blue bird? Of course. But what about the rabbit? Why is it listed among the cud chewers? It may be simply because rabbits “appear to chew their food very thoroughly like true ruminants, and this is what the law is insisting on” (Wenham, 1979, p. 172, emp. added). Rabbits move their jaws and wiggle their noses in a way which looks like they are ruminating (Harris, 1990, 2:571). In fact, so convincing is this appearance that, according to Walter Kaiser, “Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778), to whom we owe the modern system of biological classification, at first classified the coney and the hare as ruminants” (Kaiser, et al., 1996, p. 158; cf. Keil and Delitzsch, 1996). In short, it may be that rabbits were listed as “cud chewers” based on simple observation.
Interestingly, though the rabbit (or hare) does not have a three- or four-chambered stomach from which it directly regurgitates previously swallowed food for a second chewing, it does practice what modern scientists call “refection.” In his classic work titled All of the Animals of the Bible Lands, George Cansdale addressed this process:
[A]t certain times of the day, when the hare is resting in its “form,” it passes droppings of different texture and appearance which it at once eats again, swallowing them after little or no chewing. It thus seems to be eating without taking any green stuff into its mouth. This is not, of course, the same thing as chewing the cud, but it has a similar effect. Like the ruminants, hares feed on bulky vegetable matter of which only a part can be digested, and the yield is largely the result of bacterial action inside the gut; the process of breaking down in to assimilable substances is started on the first passage through and taken a stage further on the second (1970, pp. 131-132).
According to biologist Leonard Brand, “Lagomorphs [hares and rabbits—EL] produce two kinds of fecal pellets which are produced at different times during the day. When the animals are active and feeding they produce the familiar hard pellets. When they cease their activity and retire to their burrows or resting areas, they begin producing soft pellets which they eat as soon as they are passed” (1977). So although rabbits do not regurgitate previously swallowed food, they do swallow their partly digested food a second time. In fact, rabbits reingest more than half of their feces (Brand, 1977).
Still, the skeptic contends that the refection of rabbits is not rumination. To compare the two supposedly represents a
complete failure to explain away the biological error of the Leviticus writer. After all has been said about what hares appear to be doing and how their reingesting of caecotrophic materials [caecal feces—EL] achieves the same purpose as cud-chewing, the fact still remains that hares do not chew the cud.... [T]he Leviticus writer was wrong when he said that hares and coneys “chew the cud” (Till, 1991b, emp. added).
But what did Moses mean when he used the phrase “chew the cud”? The word “cud” (Hebrew gerah) appears only 11 times in all of Scripture: seven times in Leviticus 11 and four times in Deuteronomy 14—every occurrence is in the two passages that give lists of clean and unclean animals. The rabbit is mentioned in each list as one that “chews the cud” (Leviticus 11:6; Deuteronomy 14:7). Therefore, if the only sections in Scripture where specific animals are mentioned that “chew the cud” include rabbits, then it is entirely proper to conclude that Moses simply defined “cud chewers” more broadly than modern scientists. Today, “cud chewers” (called ruminants) may be strictly defined as animals that “swallow their food without chewing it very much, store it temporarily in one of their stomach compartments, then later regurgitate it and rechew it thoroughly, and then swallow and digest it” (Wenham, 1979, pp. 171-172). It would be completely unjust, however, to force present-day definitions on a 3,500-year-old document. “As with Moses’ classification of bats as ‘birds,’ the modern definition of terms does not take away from Moses’ ability, or even his right, to use words as he sees fit to use them” (Kaiser, et al., 1996, p. 158). What’s more, as Jonathan Sarfati concluded: “It is inconceivable that someone familiar with Middle-Eastern animal life would make an easily corrected mistake about rabbits, and also inconceivable that the Israelites would have accepted a book as Scripture if it were contrary to observation” (1998, 20:56), especially when the Book has so many negative things to say about the Israelites.
ARE FOUR-LEGGED FOWL FOR REAL?
Following the section in Leviticus 11 where various unclean birds are listed, verse 20 begins a new category with these words: “All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you” (KJV, emp. added). Fowls on four legs? “Whoever heard of four-legged fowl?” (McKinsey, 1995, p. 213). Surely Bible believers would agree with critics who contend that “there are no birds that go around on four legs” (Morgan, 2009), unless, of course, they are mutants. So why does Leviticus 11:20 refer to birds with four legs?
The problem in Leviticus 11:20 is not with God or His inspired writer, but with the King James Version’s translation of the verse. Moses was not referring to “birds,” but to “flying insects.” The Hebrew sherets ‘ôp is more accurately translated “winged creeping things” (ASV), “winged insects” (NASB, ESV, RSV), or “flying insects” (>NKJV, NIV). Interestingly, in Deuteronomy 14:19, where these same creatures are discussed, the King James translators used the phrase “creeping thing that flieth” to translate the same Hebrew words (sherets ‘ôp) used in Leviticus 11:20. That this alleged contradiction is merely a translation issue has even been admitted by certain skeptics, including Farrell Till. Although Till chides the Bible writers elsewhere in his writings, he freely admits in this instance that “[f]our-legged fowls...would be a biological blunder indeed, but since the context clearly indicated insects in this passage, we won’t hold bibliolaters responsible for a translation flaw” (Till, 1991b, emp. added).
[NOTE: Although four-legged “fowls” are only found among mutated birds, we must not dismiss all “four-legged” flying creatures as biological impossibilities. Bats, mentioned one verse earlier (Leviticus 11:19), “crawl on all fours, with their long arms and flexible legs splayed out to the sides” (Zimmer, 1994, emp. added). What’s more, both history and the fossil record reveal that extinct flying reptiles also had arms and claws attached to membranous wings (cf. Lyons and Butt, 2008, pp. 13-46). Though scientists believe these flying reptiles mainly walked upright, at the very least their “hands” would have been used for climbing trees and handling food (Zimmer)—they would have used “all fours.” While we certainly believe that the “four-footed-fowl” difficulty surrounding Leviticus 11:20 is merely a translation problem, and not a mistake by the inspired writer, some flying mammals and reptiles currently have (or had in the past) four limbs.]
GRASSHOPPERS DON’T WALK “ON ALL FOURS,” DO THEY?
All flying insects that creep on all fours shall be an abomination to you. Yet these you may eat of every flying insect that creeps on all fours: those which have jointed legs above their feet with which to leap on the earth. These you may eat: the locust after its kind, the destroying locust after its kind, the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind. But all other flying insects which have fourfeet shall be an abomination to you (Leviticus 11:20-23, emp. added).
Skeptics admit that Leviticus 11:20 is not referring to four-legged fowl, but to “flying insects.” However, as critics have repeatedly noted, insects have sixlegs, not four. About these verses, Dennis McKinsey asked: “Whoever heard of four-legged insects? In fact, whoever heard of any four-legged creeping things that fly?” (1995, p. 213). He then listed this alleged discrepancy as another “superb verse to use” when talking with Christians about the blunders in the Bible (pp. 749,14). Steve Wells, author of The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, wrote mockingly: “You’d think that since God made the insects, and so many of them (at least several million species), that he would know how many legs they have” (2009). In her article titled “Scientific Errors in the Bible,” Loren Petrich declared: “There are...scientific difficulties in the Bible.... In the part of Leviticus which lists proscribed animals, we find that...grasshoppers have four legs.... [B]ut the number of legs possessed by grasshoppers should have been easy to find, since several people in the Bible reportedly ate grasshoppers, and one can always count the number of legs a grasshopper has before eating one” (1990). Farrell Till had much to say about the wording of Leviticus 11:20-23 in his article about “Bible Biology”:
Many of the biological mistakes in the Bible were anatomical in nature. The Leviticus writer...was so unobservant, for example, that he apparently thought insects were four-legged creatures....
An immensely greater problem than linguistic and translation flaws in this passage is the fact that whoever wrote it consistently referred to winged insects as four-legged creatures, a mistake that practically any modern-day elementary student would know better than to make. What educated person today doesn’t know that insects have six legs? We have to wonder why God, who so routinely gave scientific insights to his inspired writers, couldn’t at least have opened the eyes of his earthly messenger in this case and had him count the legs on a grasshopper....
What is there about insects that would warrant writing a description (like the one in the Leviticus passage) that mentions only four of their six legs?...[T]hese insects don’t “go on all fours”; they go on all sixes. That’s a strange oversight from an author writing under the direction of an omniscient deity who routinely gave marvelous scientific insights to his inspired
As one can see, critics of the Bible’s inerrancy are not at a loss for words when they discuss the Bible’s references to insects that “creep on all fours.” But are the critics right?
Yes and no. The skeptic is right to conclude that insects such as locusts, grasshoppers, and crickets have three pairs of legs, not two pairs. But the skeptic is not correct in assuming that God or the Bible writers were unaware of this fact. The very idea that the Israelites, who during various plagues saw untold millions of insects at a time (e.g., locusts; cf. Exodus 10:1-20; Joel 1:4; Amos 4:9), were clueless about how many legs these creatures had, is outlandish—“people in biblical times could count legs just as easily as people today” (Hutchinson, 2007, p. 57), probably much easier. As Petrich mentioned, the Israelites not only saw insects, but they ate them (cf. Mark 1:6; Leviticus 11:22), which means they would have seen them “up close and personal.” Are we to believe that when the Israelites caught, cleaned, and put locusts up to their mouths, they never realized how many legs these insects had? The writer of Leviticus would have known this as surely as Americans know that beef comes from cows which walk on four legs.
So why did Moses use the term “four” to describe creatures with six legs? Likely for the same reason we refer to certain arthropods as having 100 or 1,000, legs—Moses was using a colloquial expression like one might hear on a farm; he was not writing a technical, scientific paper on the anatomy of insects. Idiomatic expressions were as prevalent in ancient times as they are in modern times. Today, we identify certain creatures as centipedes (meaning “hundred feet”), yet the “total number of legs in most species is closer to 30 than to 100” (“Millipedes and Centipedes,” 2008). We refer to other arthropods as millipedes (meaning “thousand feet”), but no millipede has ever been reported as having anywhere near the number of feet suggested by its name. The “most leggy” millipede discovered in modern times had only 750 legs (see “Most Leggy...,” 2006), while the vast majority of millipedes have fewer than 400 legs (“Millipede,” 2009). Yet, we still call these creatures millipedes. Why? Because numbers are often used as more of a designation than a literal number. (Have you ever purchased a “2 x 4,” only to find that it was more like a “1½ x 3½”?) Just as the terms centipede and millipede signify “no more than that such insects have a great number of feet” (Clarke, 1996), the phrase “creep on all fours,” could reasonably refer to something other than insects that have literally only four legs.
Consider another example of the flexibility of names and numbers. In George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm (1946), the pigs gave the farm animals “Seven Commandments.” The first two commandments were as follows: (1) Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy; (2) Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.” Later, as the story goes, when the pigs realized that the “slower” animals (e.g., sheep) were unable to learn the Seven Commandments, they summed up the commandments of the farm with a single maxim: “Four legs good, two legs bad.” Did the pigs suddenly mean to exclude the birds from the good, four-legged animals? No. The pigs explained that by “two legs,” they meant “man,” and by “four legs,” they meant “animal” (regardless of whether the animals had four legs, or two legs and two wings).
The skeptic must admit the fact that numbers often represent something more than a literal number. But if this is the explanation to Moses’ use of the term “four” in Leviticus 11:20-23, then what did he mean? Why did he use the expression “winged creeping things that go upon all fours” (Leviticus 11:20, ASV, emp. added)? The fact is, he did not define the expression for us (though his contemporaries surely knew its meaning). The phrase likely means that, in contrast to birds (listed just previously—Leviticus 11:13-19), which walk upright, “winged creeping things” walk horizontally—they “go upon all fours.” Skeptics may not like this explanation (as it exonerates the Bible writer of any discrepancy), but they cannot argue with the fact that we often use similar language. If Farrell Till, Steve Wells, or other Bible critics have ever referred to centipedes and millipedes, one wonders why they would have a problem with Moses referring to the flying things that walk horizontally as “winged creeping things that go upon all fours.”
What does it say about skepticism when one of its leading voices over the last few decades gives four “superb” examples of Bible discrepancies that are then logically explained rather easily using everyday, common sense? McKinsey and others claim to “take enlightenment to the biblically benighted” (2000, p. 14) with the type of “discrepancies” discussed in this article. However, it is the skeptic who needs to be enlightened concerning the simple, easy-to-understand truths of God’s Word. Yes, even those statements about bats, birds, and bugs, rabbits, rodents, and rumination, are truthful, defensible, and understandable.
All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (John 1:3-5).
For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light (John 3:20-21).
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