Ask an Atheist with Sam Mulvey

Scripture Says… What? for the Week of November 20th

open bibleIn this week’s look at the funny, the scary and just plain weird passages in humanity’s holy texts, we look at the Bible’s poor grasp of simple facts.

Often, people excuse the Bible for saying things that its authors’ contemporaries could not have possibly known, given their limited Iron Age knowledge. This week, we look at not just one, but two passages that the authors had little excuse to get dead wrong. Even in the days of yore.

Leviticus 11:1-6, New International Version:

 1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: 3You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud.

 4 “‘There are some that only chew the cud or only have a divided hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you. 5 The hyrax, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is unclean for you. 6 The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is unclean for you.

Deuteronomy 14:11-18, New International Version:

11 You may eat any clean bird. 12 But these you may not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, 13 the red kite, the black kite, any kind of falcon, 14 any kind of raven, 15 the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, 16 the little owl, the great owl, the white owl, 17 the desert owl, the osprey, the cormorant, 18 the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat.

Where to start…. Well, first of all rabbit don’t chew cud. That is to say, they don’t regurgitate food out of their stomach and re-chew it as cows do. It boggles the mind that a people who live in greater proximity to animals and work with them on a daily basis could ever get this one wrong.

The funniest thing that keeps popping into my mind is the image of a fundamentalist who can’t handle reality not playing along with his beliefs to the degrees that he forces a rabbit to chew cud via the Heimlich Maneuver. “Eat it! EAT IT!”

And you don’t have to think look hard to realize that a bat isn’t a bird. It’s got fur, not feathers. Its wings don’t look anything like the wings of a bird. Now I don’t expect a group of merchants and shepherds of thousands of years ago using the Linnaean classification system, but c’mon!

My brain hurts.

If you have a passage of holy scripture that you find funny, scary or just plain weird, send it our way. Whether it’s from the Bible, the Qur’an, the Bhagavad Gita, the Book of Mormon, or even Dianetics, click on the big, red, shiny button at the top of the page and we may even read it on the show!

About the Author: Mike Gillis

Mike Gillis is co-creator, and co-host of Ask an Atheist. He hosts the Radio vs. the Martians! and Mike and Pól Save the Universe! podcasts. He also enjoys comic books, the Planet of the Apes, and the band Queen.

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Camels have cloven hooves.


Too funny! Thanks for this section, I love pointing out to christians the inspired word that they believe in. Keep them coming, along with the show this is my favourite part of you site

Flappy the Bat

Rabbits to chew cud, kinda. From Wikipedia “Rabbits are herbivores that feed by grazing on grass, forbs, and leafy weeds. In consequence, their diet contains large amounts of cellulose, which is hard to digest. Rabbits solve this problem by passing two distinct types of feces: hard droppings and soft black viscous pellets, the latter of which are immediately eaten. Rabbits reingest their own droppings (rather than chewing the cud as do cows and many other herbivores) to digest their food further and extract sufficient nutrients.” So they don’t chew cud directly but they do in a round about, Bunny Centipede… Read more »

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