FIRST PART of Bob's online article, "Is Genesis Wrong About Snakes Eating Dirt?":
Classified by critics in the Bible's "bad science" department: Gen. 3:14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: Critics say that this verse offers a herpetological inaccuracy, saying that snakes do not eat dirt. In my view, it is enough to point out that snakes do take particles into their mouths on their tongues to "taste" the air. That's their sense of smell, and if this isn't "eating dirt" literally, it certainly is figuratively!
ED's critique of the first part of Bob's article:
Bob says, "it is enough..." Enough for someone like Bob apparently. But how is tasting "air" the same as tasting "dust?" And does Bob wonder or ask why the serpents are tasting the "air?" And does Bob expect everyone who reads his article to believe as he does that the words "eat dust" in Genesis 3:14 were placed there to demonstrate Godís advanced knowledge of herpetological behavior to people living 2,500 years later? Why did God say that serpents "eat" rather than "taste" the dust? (The word, "taste," is more precise and would have demonstrated "greater knowledge.") And, wouldnít the gain of a "super tasting"skill be viewed as a "blessing" rather than a "curse?"
Speaking of the "tasting" ability of snakes, Dr. William R. Teska, a biology professor at Furman University who specializes in snakes informed me that snakes "taste" both dirt and air to navigate. However, other senses, like sight, sound, smell (in some species), and heat sensing (in vipers), probably play even more important roles in their navigation. Moreover, some snakes live in lakes or even oceans, and could hardly be described as "dust eaters." Others live high in the branches of tree-canopied rain forests, and seldom if ever rub their bellies on the ground and "eat dust." Besides, virtually all animals "eat" or swallow "dust" or dirt, either voluntarily or accidentally. So, Bob's "apologetical belief" that the Scriptures must jive with modern herpetological science is based on selectively emphasizing only some herpetological observations, ignoring others, viz., stretching the meaning of an obvious literary put down to mean something "scientific sounding," i.e., "tastes" the air. Such a method of defending the Bibleís truth and accuracy is fallacious in the extreme.
Futhermore, like all "Bible believers," Bob only takes seriously and scientifically the passages he wants. For instance, a mere 13 verses away, Gen. 3:1 states, "Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he [the serpent] said to the woman [it spoke]..." To the best of my knowledge herpetologists have not proven that "the serpent is more crafty than any beast of the field," neither have they discovered a talking serpent. Such descriptions make Genesis read more like a fable from Aesop than the "truth."
While Iím discussing the tale of the poor cursed serpent, I should add that there isnít the slightest evidence that the "serpent" had any connection with "Satan." Thatís a later Christian invention. "Satan" is not even mentioned in the whole book of Genesis, not when Cain kills Abel, nor when the "whole world" turns away from God prior to "the Flood," nor at "the tower of Babel" incident, which also "displeased" God. No mention of "Satan" anywhere. (Of course regardless of the fact that Genesis nowhere mentions "Satan," Christian apologists still have no trouble finding "Satan" wherever and whenever they need to. In fact they find "Satan" lurking behind everything going on in the world today, and of course also find him hiding inside that serpent mentioned in Genesis, except they do not want to take seriously every verse concerning that serpent, namely that "Satan" was "craftier than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made," and "Satan," was "cursed more than any beast of the field, more than all cattle...to go upon his belly and eat dust all the days of his life."
Itís plain to see there is no mention of "Satan" in the original Hebrew fable***, just a "crafty talking serpent," whom Yahweh curses by washing its mouth out with dirt for the rest of its life - a fable in the most Aesopian sense of the word.
***And why indeed, with an event of such incredibly monumental significance as the "war in heaven" between God and the fallen angels (that Milton wrote of so eloquently), why did neither the authors of the creation stories, nor later editors of Genesis think to mention such a "war" even though they were allegedly inspired by God to write their "God's eye view" of "the beginning" of all things. Neither did the author of Job (with his "God's eye view" of matters) in which he saw "Satan" entering God's holy court unmolested, mention any such "war." Satan back then was just God's chief accuser, a sort of heavenly D.A. Even the earliest reference in the Bible to a fall of "Lucifer" isn't speaking of Satan, but the word "Lucifer" was a loan word referring to an ancient god of a rival culture. Only after a period of centuries in the development of Hebrew religious conceptions did people start talking about "Satan's" "fall from heaven," and make him "prince of this world," "prince of the power of the air," etc. In fact, the intertestamental Book of Enoch is the first to eloquently explain "Satan's" "fall from heaven," before even the N.T. mentioned such a thing.
(The Book of Enoch also explained other things as well, to the great embarrassment of whomever connected the name of a revered Biblical partriarch with a collection of utter nonsense. Oh, and the Book of Enoch and Jude's endorsement of a direct quotation from it, attributing it to "Enoch, the seventh from Adam," is yet another source of embarrassment for "Bible believers." It's interesting that the intertestamental Book of Jubliees circa, 200 B.C. was the first to mention the biblical patriarch "Enoch" as a writer of many books, and soon after that or perhaps contemporaneously with that, the earliest writings attributed to "Enoch, the seventh from Adam" began appearing, various portions of them dated anywhere from 150 A.D. to the late first century A.D., and later collected into what is now known as 1st Enoch.)
SECOND PART of Bob's online article, "Is Genesis Wrong About Snakes Eating Dirt?":
In fact, though, the sense probably is figurative: The idea of eating dust is associated with abject humilation elsewhere - cf. Ps. 72:9 ("They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust."), Is. 49:23 ("And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet") and especially Mic. 7:17 ("They shall lick the dust like a serpent".) I should add that the word here, "lick," was not unknown (it is used in Numbers), but the word "eat" was chosen as a poetic counterpoint to the profession of Adam and Eve that they did "eat" of the tree.
ED's critique of the second part of Bob's article:
Duh, yes, Bob it is obvious that being "cursed" to "crawl on your belly" and "eat dust" are ancient Near Eastern curses or "put downs" rather than descriptions of God blessing the serpent with some new additional sense, i.e., a new heightened "tasting" sense: "And the Lord God said to the serpent, `Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle [Please Bob, tell us when cattle were first Ďcursedí and why that story isnít in the Bible], and more than every beast of the field; on your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life.í" (Gen. 3:14)
However, the question remains, why curse the serpent to "go on its belly" and "eat dust" if it was already doing so? In other words how was the serpent "getting along" if it wasn't already moving via its belly? Did it have wings, or legs? Today there are species of amphibians and reptiles and even some lungfish that are long and serpentine with tiny legs/appendages, so were are only "half-cursed?"
Final bonus question: Compare the way Isaiah employed a very similar phrase to the one found in Genesis: "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and DUST SHALL BE THE SERPENT'S MEAT. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord." Isa. 65:25 (KJV) In this verse the "dust" the serpent eats is its literal "meat," and not a metaphor at all. Though I wonder by what miracle a serpent or snake will be able to eat "dust" as its "meat." That sounds more like an earthworm than a serpent or snake. So the serpent does finally "eat dust," and in quite a literal fashion, but only in the coming kingdom. Amazing how one Scripture writer built on another's use of a phrase, but in a way in which one Scripture writer so twists another's earlier words that you wind up being reminded of the head twisting scene in THE EXORCIST. It is apparent that apologists like Bob lack both knowledge, and the fearless curiosity to continue asking questions. Maybe he needs to take another bite out of the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge and start over?
ADDENDA by former fundamentalist, Harry McCall...
Great reply to Tektonics, Ed,
It is also important to point out that God -- not the serpent -- is the liar; the serpent told the truth! Gen. 3:3-4 "God said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.'" And the serpent said to the woman, "You surely shall not die!" In a modern court of law God would be guilty of perjury and the serpent (who in this section is smarter than God) tells the "God Honest Truth." (Concerning the immediately of the "death threat" see: Gen. 2:17 "...but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for WHEN YOU EAT OF IT YOU WILL SURELY DIE." (NIV translation) And, Exodus 10:28 "Then Pharaoh said to him, 'Get away from me! Beware, do not see my face again, for in the day you see my face you shall die!'")
Secondly, "Cursed are you more than all cattle" came to a head in Jonah 4:11 where, after Jonah preaches in Nineveh, both people and cattle repent! So, like the serpent, cattle evidently could speak and (understand) Hebrew!
Bob screws up again!