What About Those Four-legged Insects?

The Bible contains hundreds of passages that can, debatably, be pronounced erroneous.  Some of these passages are more obvious and others less. Some are so clear as to be irrefutable, even by the most experienced apologist. The book of the Old Testament known as Levitucus has many curious verses, misrepresenting the nature of certain animals.  Among these verses are statements that there are insects that crawl around on 4 legs.

This simply is not true. All insects have 6 legs. Spiders, which are not insects, but arachnids, have 8 legs. If the bible is the revealed Word of an all-knowing God, then why does it have this rather obvious and primitive error?

Some apologists have attempted to argue with me that the verses don't actually state that, but they do.  Others claim that these verses are merely a translator's error, and that other, more accurate versions of the bible have corrected for this.

Let's investigate this claim.  We will go through six major translations of the bible, and look at what's actually written in Leviticus Chapter 11.

First, the New International Version (NIV).

20  All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be detestable to you.
21  There are, however, some winged creatures that walk on all fours that you may eat: those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground.

22  Of these you may eat any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper.

23  But all other winged creatures that have four legs you are to detest.


Next, the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

20   "All the winged insects* that walk on all fours are detestable to you.
21   "Yet these you may eat among all the winged insects which walk on all fours: those which have above their feet jointed legs with which to jump on the earth.

22   "These of them you may eat: the locust in its kinds, and the devastating locust in its kinds, and the cricket in its kinds, and the grasshopper in its kinds.

23   "But all other winged insects which are four-footed are detestable to you.

* Footnote with the literal translation as "Swarming things with wings".

Next, the Young's Literal Translation (YLT) Bible:

20   Every teeming creature which is flying, which is going on four -- an abomination it [is] to you.
21   Only -- this ye do eat of any teeming thing which is flying, which is going on four, which hath legs above its feet, to move with them on the earth;

22   these of them ye do eat: the locust after its kind, and the bald locust after its kind, and the beetle after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind;

23   and every teeming thing which is flying, which hath four feet -- an abomination it [is] to you.


And NEXT.... the Revised Standard Version (RSV)

20   All winged insects that go upon all fours are an abomination to you.
21   Yet among the winged insects that go on all fours you may eat those which have legs above their feet, with which to leap on the earth.

22   Of them you may eat: the locust according to its kind, the bald locust according to its kind, the cricket according to its kind, and the grasshopper according to its kind.

23   But all other winged insects which have four feet are an abomination to you.


And next is the Darby Version:

20   Every winged crawling thing that goeth upon all four shall be an abomination unto you.
21   Yet these shall ye eat of every winged crawling thing that goeth upon all four: those which have legs above their feet with which to leap upon the earth.

22   These shall ye eat of them: the arbeh after its kind, and the solam after its kind, and the hargol after its kind, and the hargab after its kind.

23   But every winged crawling thing that hath four feet shall be an abomination unto you.


And finally, the King James Version (KJV):

20   All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you.
21   Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth;

22   Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.

23   But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.


It is quite clear what they're talking about here.  Eating INSECTS.  Jehovah  told them they could eat locusts, grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, even beetles, but not any other kind of insects... especially the ficticious and non-existent 4 footed kind.  Try as they might, they could never find, never set eyes upon, an insect with four legs.  So why the prohibition against eating something that doesn't exist?

Some apologists insist that the King James Version's "fowls" implies that they are speaking about birds. But anyone can clearly see, by looking at it "in context", reading the surrounding verses, that this is not the case.  But EVEN IF they are right and the bible is talking about birds... there still aren't any birds with 4 legs.  

Someone once tried arguing with me that crickets use their front limbs for manipulation, so that those limbs could be considered "arms", therefore leaving the other four limbs to be called legs. Nice try. But crickets DON'T use their front two limbs in a way that could classify them as arms. Those front two limbs are used for locomotion, thereby making those insects go around on six legs.

In any case, what does it matter if people eat four-footed flying things, or cloven hoofed animals, or animals that chew the cud...  are you telling me that with starvation, wars, pestilence, human abuse, pain and suffering and injustice in the world.... that the All Powerful Creator and Govenor of the Universe really concerned himself with whether or not they ate rabbits and pigs? That's rather pathetic.

So, what can one conclude from this?  First of all, the bible has at least this error.  It is wrong.  No claim can henceforth be made that the bible is "inerrant", or without mistakes.  But the more one reads the bible, the more it is clear that this error is only one of countless others.

If there is a Creator God of the universe, then he must know every fact, every science, the nature of all animals and all substances.  If the bible is an inspired book, the word of God, then it must be in accord with the things we know to be true.  If it contains statements contrary to known facts, it's validity as the "Word of God" is undermined.  Even one blatant error confirms the fact that this collection of writings did not come from the mind of the creator of all things.  When the many errors get compounded with contradictions that are so numerous as to be surpassed only by the number of moral repugnancies, not only does the bible's validity become destroyed, but the book gains the epitaph of obscenity.

About the Bible Versions:

New International Version (NIV)
The New International Version is a translation of the Bible made by over a hundred scholars working from the best available Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. The goals of the translators were to produce an accurate translation that would have clarity and literary quality. The NIV had its beginning in 1965. The NIV New Testament was published in 1973, and the Old Testament was finished in 1978. The NIV is considered a bible written by Evangelicals for Evangelicals, and tends to "soften" many difficult biblical situations.

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
While preserving the literal accuracy of the 1901 ASV, (the ASV has long been regarded as the most literal translation of the Bible. While the KJV was translated entirely from "western manuscripts," the ASV was influenced also by the older "eastern manuscripts" that form the basis for most of our modern English translations), the NASB has sought to render grammar and terminology in contemporary English. Special attention has been given to the rendering of verb tenses to give the English reader a rendering as close as possible to the sense of the original Greek and Hebrew texts.

Revised Standard Version (RSV)
The Revised Standard Version (New Testament, 1946; Old Testament, 1952) is one of the most widely read translations of the Scriptures. Formally, the RSV is a revision of the AV (Authorized Version of 1611, otherwise known as the King James Version) and the ASV (American Standard Version of 1901), utilizing the best texts available at the time.

King James Version (KJV)
In 1604, King James I of England authorized that a new translation of the Bible into English be started. It was finished in 1611, just 85 years after the first translation of the New Testament into English appeared (Tyndale, 1526). The Authorized Version, or King James Version, quickly became the standard for English-speaking Protestants. Its flowing language and prose rhythm has had a profound influence on the literature of the past 300 years.

Darby Translation
First published in 1890 by John Nelson Darby, an Anglo-Irish Bible teacher associated with the early years of the Plymouth Brethren. Darby also published translations of the Bible in French and German.

Young's Literal Translation (YLT)
The Bible text designated YLT is from the 1898 Young's Literal Translation by Robert Young who also compiled Young's Analytical Concordance. This is an extremely literal translation that attempts to preserve the tense and word usage as found in the original Greek and Hebrew writings. The text was scanned from a reprint of the 1898 edition as published by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids Michigan. The book is still in print and may be ordered from Baker Book House.