No Platypuses, Polar Bears, or Cassowaries in the Bible?

The Bible: Divine origin or man-made creation?

Posted Nov 23, 2011

The Bible is the best-selling book in the history of mankind. For billions of people throughout the world, its origins are considered divine. For many intellectuals who are otherwise non-believers (e.g., Richard Dawkins), the Bible is construed as a valuable compendium of literary narratives, worthy of study without needing to imbue it with a divine tag. So, does the Bible derive from divine origin or are its time-specific and geo-specific contents indicative of a more lowly man-made creation?

There are several ways by which one might tackle this grand question. For today's post, I'd like to explore the types of animals mentioned in the Bible and see whether this information might shed light on the matter at hand. Estimates place the total number of species mentioned in the Bible at around 120. A quick perusal of these species leads one to the incontrovertible fact that these were all indigenous to the region. In other words, the Bible does not mention animals from other regions of the world, or animals that had long been extinct. To put it more concretely, the Bible does not mention contemporary animals such as the platypus (Australia), the giant Harpy eagle (Venezuela), the Amazon River dolphin (South America), or the leopard seal (Antarctica). It also fails to mention extinct animals such as Tyrannosaurus rex, Fukuiraptor, or Dimetrodon.

One might argue that given that roughly one billion species have ever existed, it would be infeasible (if not impossible) to mention all living and extinct species in any text (notwithstanding its divine nature). Fair enough. However, one would think that a few animal references that extend beyond the geographic and temporal myopia of Bronze Age people from the Middle East might have gone a long way in demonstrating the divine origins of the Bible. Realizing the existence of this important conundrum, many believers have sought to reinterpret specific words in the Bible in the hope of demonstrating that "dinosaur" was indeed mentioned. Needless to say, the veracity of these analyses leaves much to be desired ("behemoth" is interpreted as diplodocus...nice!).

I urge readers who wish to offer comments, especially those who are "offended" by this post, to remain respectful. In a free society, people have a right to question and debate your religious beliefs.

Interested readers may wish to view my recent interviews with Reason TV and Kill Mag on my recently released book The Consuming Instinct (I briefly address the issue raised in this post on p. 48):

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