The Christian Perspective

I don't think it was disingenuous in the slightest, but thanks for asking.

Here is your argument as I understood it:

1. The 1500 BC Hebrew word "'owph" has to have the exact same meaning as the 21st century English taxonomical classification "Aves".
2. The 1500 BC Hebrew word "'atalleph" has to have the exact same meaning as the 21st century English taxonomical classification "Chiroptera".
3. Moses claimed that the 'atalleph is part of the group 'owph.
4. Therefore Moses claimed that the Chiroptera is part of the group Aves.
5. Modern scientists have arbitrarily decided to define the group Aves in such a way that it excludes Chiroptera.
6. Therefore Moses was wrong.

As I explained in my response to your original question, this argument is horribly flawed in more ways than one.

First, if premise (1) does not hold, we can obviously throw out the rest of the argument, and premise (1) does not hold, as I have already explained. 'owph is a Hebrew designation of a particular group of animals. It is probably just as arbitrary as the modern English designation of Aves. Someone just decided that certain creatures would be grouped together for whatever reason and be called "'owph" back in Hebrew-land, thousands of years ago. It worked for them and their purposes. God used that cultural classification because it was what the people he spoke to were already familiar with. We are under no obligation (as far as I know) to use the same system of creature classification that the Hebrews arbitrarily developed and used, and in fact, we do not. Instead, we have developed our own arbitrary creature classification system. In our arbitrary system that we have developed based on whatever principles we felt like using at the time, we decided to refer to bats as Chiroptera and to classify them distinctly from Aves, or what we commonly call "birds".

This brings us to a second tremendously enormous flaw in the argument, namely, the pretense that because some modern people decided to categorize animals in a certain way that seemed good to them, they are absolutely "right" and any conflicting categorization system by any other groups or individuals is absolutely "wrong".

These particular categorizations (both modern and ancient) are, as I have said repeatedly, arbitrary. What this means is that they are not predetermined by objective and unchanging truth, but rather, they are based on the whims and personal preferences of individuals, cultures and people groups. Why should one system of classification be preferred as "correct" over another? There is no real reason.

Moses apparently grouped large flying creatures into a single group. Birds, bats, and maybe even flying squirrels would fit into this category. Perhaps it excluded the ostrich, since the ostrich does not fly. In other words, it is just an arbitrary grouping that his people used and were familiar with.

We, on the other hand, group together creatures with wings and feathers that lay eggs. This excludes bats and includes ostriches, but it is just as arbitrary a grouping.

Neither is "right" and neither is "wrong".

It's really utterly absurd to suggest that Moses must have had our arbitrary 21st century animal classifications in mind as he was writing Exodus, and that he used our not-yet-invented classifications incorrectly.

So, in conclusion, we see that there is no reason to say that Moses was "wrong" simply because he used a different classification system than we do, any more than there is reason to say that we are "wrong" because we use a different classification system than Moses did.

God bless, and thanks for the follow-up question.

The Original Question and Answer