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Snails Kill Thousands

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

When we consider deadly animals, we normally think about venomous snakes, ferocious sharks, crocodiles, or bears. You might be surprised to learn that the animals or organisms most deadly to humans don’t match our mental picture of dangerous creatures. The creature that kills the most humans per year (between 750,000-1,000,000) is the lowly mosquito. Because of the various diseases it spreads, such as malaria, mosquitoes are the animal kingdom’s leading human killers. Another creature that has proven to be extremely deadly is the harmless looking freshwater snail. Freshwater snails are host to dangerous parasites known as cercariae that cause an infection in humans known as schistosomiasis. Millions of people each year ingest this parasite through contaminated water,1 and about 10,000 die every year.2 While contamination from water is the most common cause of the infection, another way the parasite can spread is when a person consumes raw or undercooked snail meat.

The fact that many snails carry parasites that are harmful to humans turns out to be another piece of evidence that shows the Bible is the inspired Word of God. When we look at the food regulations written by Moses in approximately 1450 B.C., we find that the Israelites had specific laws about what they could and could not eat. One of those regulations dealt with animals found in water. The Law permitted the Israelites to eat any animal that had both fins and scales, but any creature without both fins and scales was “an abomination” to the Israelites. They were told not to eat them or touch their dead bodies (Leviticus 11:9-12). Land-living snails were also prohibited (Leviticus 11:41-42). Some people contend that the food laws had nothing to do with health regulations and were merely ceremonial, religious rituals. We have documented at length that such is not the case and that the food regulations were specifically designed to help the Israelites avoid many of the diseases that plagued the nations around them.3

When Moses led the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, there were approximately 603,000 males ages 20 years old and above (Numbers 1:46). By adding to that the number of women of the same ages, along with those who were younger, we arrive at an estimated two million Israelites exiting Egypt. Due to their disobedience, they wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years. Many of the laws found in Exodus-Deuteronomy were sanitation, quarantine, hygiene, and disease regulation designed to keep the Israelites healthy and safe during their wilderness wandering and their future lives in Canaan. These regulations exhibited a scientific knowledge that was far beyond any nation’s ability at the time to have acquired through the natural course of human understanding. This characteristic is referred to as scientific foreknowledge and is an attribute of divine inspiration. In short, there is no possible way Moses could have known the science that lies behind the food, hygiene, and sanitation regulations in the books he penned.

Snails provide an excellent example of scientific foreknowledge. Both water-living snails and land-living snails are highly susceptible hosts to numerous parasites. In an article titled “Some Health Risks With Eating Giant African Land Snail,” entomologist Paul Skelley stated, “Most of the infections and deaths from snail-transmitted diseases apparently come from eating raw or undercooked snails or ingesting slime residue left on fresh fruits and vegetables.”4 Skelley went on to say, “In my opinion, eating wild snails should only be done in an ‘eat-snail-or-die’ survival situation” due to the high probability that most snails host dangerous parasites. The CDC put out a blog about snails and slugs carrying a parasite called the rat lungworm that can cause meningitis, blindness, and death in humans. The author said, “Humans become infected by ingesting raw or undercooked mollusks.”5

With two million Israelites moving around in the wilderness, it would have been extremely difficult to properly cook all the food they consumed. There were no meat thermometers that could be used to guarantee that snails, pork, or oysters were cooked to the necessary temperature to kill parasites. Since God provided manna every day for the Israelites to eat, they were not in any type of “eat-snail-or-die” situation. The consumption of meat and animals would have been for the purpose of providing variety to their diets and not at all necessary for survival. Therefore, the best approach to what should or should not be eaten would be to prohibit the consumption of any creatures that had a high probability of carrying parasites or diseases.

Moses could not have taken a microscope to meat samples to identify which animals carry tiny parasites or which animals (such as bats, see Leviticus 11:196) are remarkably prone to diseases such as rabies. We might expect that Moses could have guessed a few such instances correctly. But to have accurately listed numerous regulations that contain in them safety measures that were not understood by any nation until literally thousands of years after the books were written? That is superhuman. That is Divine! It is not surprising that Moses told the Israelites, “Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to posses. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people’” (Deuteronomy 4:5-6).

Endnotes

1 Christopher Stephens, “10 Creepy Snails that Will Ruin Your Day,” Listverse, http://listverse.com/2015/01/30/10-exceptional-creepy-or-dangerous-snails/.

2 “What Kind of Health Risks Do Snails Pose?” https://www.curejoy.com/content/diseases-caused-by-snails/.

3 Kyle Butt (2007), Behold! The Word of God, Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/Behold%20the%20Word%20of%20God.pdf,  pp. 103-130.

4 Trina Sargalski (2013), “Health Risks With Eating Giant African Snails,” http://wlrn.org/post/some-health-risks-eating-giant-african-land-snail.

5 Alex de Silva (2009), “Snails, Slugs, and Semi-Slugs: A Parasitic Disease in Paradise,” Center for Disease Control, https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2009/04/snails-slugs-and-semi-slugs-a-parasitic-disease-in-paradise/.

6  Butt, p. 124.





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