Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Job 39: 1-12 comments: God, the Bible, unicorns, taxonomy, and evolution

1 ¶  Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth? or canst thou mark when the hinds do calve? 2  Canst thou number the months that they fulfil? or knowest thou the time when they bring forth? 3  They bow themselves, they bring forth their young ones, they cast out their sorrows. 4  Their young ones are in good liking, they grow up with corn; they go forth, and return not unto them. 5  Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? 6  Whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land his dwellings. 7  He scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he the crying of the driver. 8  The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth after every green thing. 9  Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib? 10  Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee? 11  Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? or wilt thou leave thy labour to him? 12  Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed, and gather it into thy barn?

God continues to speak to Job with rhetorical questions asking him questions for which the obvious answer is no. Mankind has studied the gestation periods of animals but did not create those time-lengths. He can alter or interrupt with drugs or environmental stimuli but he is altering something that he did not create. God determined how long gestation periods are for kinds of beasts in general and He determines when an individual animal will give birth. This is out of Job’s hands and not in his power. Solomon, the great scholar of all things in the natural world, did not have God’s power over it.

1Kings 4:31  For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about. 32  And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. 33  And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. 34  And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.

 The instinct, the imparted wisdom, of an animal is implanted by God. The wild ass eventually leaves the care of his mother and is no longer dependent upon her for anything. This ability of animals to care for themselves rather quickly is the understanding given by God through imparted wisdom implanted in each creature. In De Witt Talmage’s 19th century sermon on evolution entitled, “Evolution,” he pointed this out as one of the problems with the atheistic scientist linking human beings with other animals.

The animal in a few hours or months comes to full strength, and can take care of itself. The human race for the first one, two, three, five, ten years, is in complete helplessness. The chick just come out of its shell begins to pick up its own food. The dog, the wolf, the lion, soon earn their own livelihood and act for their own defense. The human race does not come to development until it reaches twenty or thirty years of age, and by that time the animals that were born the same year the man was born – the vast majority of them – have died of old age. (42)

As verse 7 indicates, wild animals are wild animals and it is well known that it is difficult or impossible, in many cases, to make them domestic animals useful for man’s purposes. One of the results of the change in the earth after the great flood of Noah’s time was that wild animals would become wary of man and afraid of him generally, as man’s diet was now changed to include flesh. Remember what God said to Adam;

Genesis 1:29 ¶  And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 30  And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

And then, after the flood, to Noah and his sons;

Genesis 9:1 ¶  And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. 2  And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. 3  Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

Many skeptics have made hay over a word found in verse 9, the word,” unicorn.” A review of over 200 lexicons from the Early Modern English Database reveals that a unicorn was understood to be an animal with one horn.(43) Sounds understandable. The technical name for the Indian Rhinoceros is Rhinoceros Unicornis. Marco Polo, the famed Venetian traveler of the Medieval Period of Western European history, referred to the Javan Rhinoceros as a unicorn among other one-horned animals. (44)  

The ancient Greeks referred to unicorns, not in their mythologies, but in their natural histories, and although Ctesias made the earliest mention of unicorns in his book, Indika, it was obvious he was just going on legend and had not seen them with his own eyes. He described a wild ass colored white, red, and black. Such a fanciful description was carried on by Aristotle and Strabo, and it was not until Pliny the Elder in his On the Nature of Animals that he describes something realistic, an Indian ox, a monoceros, which in all likelihood was the Indian Rhino.

It is generally understood by the existence of them in the Lascaux cave paintings in France that the Rhinoceros once had a much larger range of living than it does today, the mythological horse with a horn being a totally separate concept from the reality spoken of here in Job, evidenced in later Greek writings, or found in nature and cave paintings.

The Rhinoceros is a wild animal, a wild beast, Job. He’s not going to pull your plow, plant your fields, or submit to your will. Go ahead, and try to harness him up, if you think you can.

This brings to mind a point that must be made about the Bible and its discussion of animals. Much is made by the creationist minded and the fundamentalist about the phrase, “after their kind,” in Genesis 1:21,25; 6:20; & 7:14. The word, “kind,” contrary to what is said often, does not refer to an individual species, whichever of the many definitions of species you use (45), whether it be a local, isolated group of finches or something like the, “breed,” of Animal Husbandry’s dog breeding. (Although there are significant differences between breed and species they are also not from the same disciplines so the issue is basically one about definition of terms that refer to similar but not identical things.)

 One of the things Charles Darwin was against was the popularly preached by clerics and many pre-Darwin biologists view that every species of animal that existed in his day was said to have come down from an original ancestor just like them in a doctrine called, “the immutability of species.” If there are a hundred species of a type of bird today then those species would have existed back to Noah’s Ark, goes the idea. This is, of course, absurd as mankind created many breeds of dogs in the last two hundred years alone. If you regarded a breed and a species as having similar meanings but under different types of scientific disciplines, Zoology versus Animal Husbandry, then you can imagine speciation, the process where different breeds or species of dogs, cats, horses, or birds came about taking place rather quickly in history.

 But the word, “kind,” doesn’t mean species at all. It is more like a general type of creature. Many species of cats came from the first cat creatures on Noah’s Ark. The problem with evolution is that the cat never became a dog, the pea never became a chrysanthemum, and an ape-like creature never became a man. There is no evidence of such a thing occurring without twisting the evidence into knots and the whole popularly understood concept of evolution in that regard, called macroevolution, is a fairy tale for atheists and in complete opposition to the Bible and reality.

Modern taxonomic classifications of living things are purely man-made and are totally subjective to what man chooses to include as a characteristic of the creature being named. God classifies animals differently based on characteristics that would be understood by men without microscopes. For instance, fowls fly, so the bat is a fowl in Leviticus 11:19 and Deuteronomy 14:18 and the Hebrew could not eat fowl with certain characteristics. The words reptile and mammal were classifications created by man for his own convenience and study. The Bible speaks of, “beasts of the field,” domestic animals, and, “beasts of the forest,” wild animals. It speaks about animals in the way of their usefulness generally to agricultural man or military man, not their peculiarities to the curious, modern man. Trying to force man’s definitions of everything from beasts to sin on the Bible’s definitions is futile and arrogant. When you argue allowing your opponent to control the definitions of words you are surrendering all leverage to them. Finally, a whale is a large creature that swims in the sea and therefore can be called a great fish, because fish are creatures that swim in the sea. Compare Jonah 1:17 and Matthew 12:40. The order, Cetacea, for whales, is not a concern of the Bible. A whale simply signifies a Leviathan, a large creature which, like all creatures, came first from the sea and then from the earth. (Genesis 1:20-24) Human taxonomic classifications are different language for a different purpose.

Don’t read your own definitions, preferences, or opinions any more than your own personal fears, hatreds, or bigotry back into the Bible.

(42) Thomas De Witt Talmage, The Life and Teachings of Rev. T. De Witt Talmage D.D.  (New York: D.Z. Howell Publishers, 1902), 74. (accessed 1.12.2015).

(43) “Lexicons of Early Modern English,” (Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 2015),, (accessed 1.13.2015).

(44) Henry Yule, ed. & transl. The Book of Ser Marco Polo (London: John Murray Publishers, 1903), 285. (accessed 1.13.2015).

(45) John S. Wilkins, “A List of 26 Species “Concepts”, Science Blogs: Evolving Thoughts, (accessed 1.14.2015).

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