Bible Reading Blog — February 13, 2016

13 Feb

Today’s Readings — Deuteronomy 12-16 & Mark 9:9-13

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy, there is a section where Moses is recounting God’s command about what animals are acceptable to eat. In the section about birds, there are all sorts of birds listed. Most are well-known but a few are obscure (hoopoe, anyone?). At the end of the list of birds is the bat. “But wait” says the modern skeptic, “the bat is not a bird, it is a mammal!” In its most extreme form, the thought goes that God didn’t know a bat was not a bird and this indicates the ignorance of the Bible and why we shouldn’t trust it when it can’t even get basic science facts right.

Well, the truth is that God knows what He has created and in this case, as in many other cases in Scripture, God is accommodating Himself to the understanding of the people to whom He is speaking. How much depth does God have to go to in order to be scientifically correct? Did the people of Moses’ day make different distinctions in the animal kingdom than we do? Yes, if you take the account in Genesis as representative of their way of classification, they divided animals into classes based on their primary domain (land, air or sea). Thus to the original readers of Genesis, to place the bat in the category of the flying things makes perfect sense. This doesn’t mean the Bible is not scientifically accurate, it just means that God accommodated His language to the understanding of His original hearers.

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