03 May 2008

The Bible and the Quran agree: Insects have four legs

In a previous post, I mentioned that the Bible and the Quran agree on the worth of a woman. A woman is worth about half as much as a man.

Well, here is something else they seem to agree on: insects have four legs.

Here's what the Bible says:

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. But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you. Leviticus 11:22-23

And here's the Quran:

Allah hath created every animal of water. Of them is (a kind) that goeth upon its belly and (a kind) that goeth upon two legs and (a kind) that goeth upon four. Quran 24:45

It's true that neither holy book comes right out and says that all insects have four legs.

But the Bible says that locusts, beetles, and grasshoppers (which are the ones you are allowed to eat) have four legs, while "all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you." So that would seem to include insects in God's "four legged, flying, creeping things" taxon.

The Quran is a bit less clear, but it too seems to imply that insects have either zero, two or (more likely) four legs.

Isn't it nice that the Bible and Quran agree on something?

32 comments:

v_quixotic said...

I can't think of any flying creature with only 4 legs (except possibly flying squirrels, possums and sugar gliders). Bats and birds have 2, insects have 6 so I guess all things with wings are good nosh

C. Mcomish & I. Nicholson said...

I think you'll find dragons and Pegasus the winged horse (and presumably all winged horses) had 4 legs and could fly. Presumably they've been hunted to extinction by starving blasphemers.

Chris Pitcher said...

The front two legs are arms.

Aquaria said...

The front legs of insects are arms? Really?

By that definition, the front legs of land-based mammals, amphibians and reptiles need to be considered arms. Many of them use their front legs as hands, or very much differently than they do their back legs, Some of them can even get on their hind legs. Are we now going to call the front legs of land-based mammals, amphibians and reptiles "arms" and hence classify them as two-legged creatures?

Don't think so.

What about the Dytiscidae or Haliplidae families of beetles, whose back legs have been modified for swimming? Does that mean they have two arms, two legs, and two...paddles?

Er, no.

Insects have six legs. The bible messed up.

Don Cox said...

Some types of butterflies have only four visible legs.

Steve Wells said...

Yes, Don, the brush-footed butterflies (Nymphalidae) have reduced front legs, so they often look four-legged. I guess they are abominations to God.

Jason Macker said...

I don't see a mention of insects in that verse of the Quran. It's talking about creatures in general. I think the best you could say is that the Quran does not mention animals with six legs.

Anon said...

I've seen arguments both ways on the how-many-legs issue. Of all the idiotic things in the Bible, I'd say this is the one that I can actually accept the other side's argument on. I can understand someone thinking an insect's hind or fore legs were different. The preying mantis looks like it has arms, for example.

If insects were really important and you apparently have nothing better to do, why not invent two distinct terminologies for insect legs?

I personally think the numbering issue makes people forget what should be the main issue: why any animals or insects were an abomination to God. I don't want to open the whole "devolution" can of worms again, but didn't God have better things to do than to tell the his followers which insects they should or shouldn't eat based on how many legs/arms/etc. they have?

This time could have been spent on more important things, like "love thy neighbor as thyself" and all that jazz, or sending a savior to redeem everyone. God's chosen people had to wait thousands of years before God got around to sending his only begotten Son to the slaughter to save their souls. But thank goodness God took time out of His busy schedule to tell them which insects were or weren't displeasing to Him.

Whether the number of legs is right or not, these verse prove the good Lord works in dumb--er, mysterious--ways.

Steve Wells said...

I agree, Jason, that the Quran does not say explicitly that insects have four legs. But it does say that "Allah hath created every animal" and that "of them" are animals with 0, 2, and 4 legs (Quran 24:45). Doesn't that imply that "every animal" has 0, 2, or 4 legs?

There are more known species of insects (> 1 million) than all other animals combined. So most animal species have six legs. If Allah created "every animal", you'd think he would know that, wouldn't you?

Jason Macker said...

Steve, I'm not so sure.

It says Allah created every animal, and then among those animals, some have 0, some have 2, and some have 4 legs. It does not say those three choice are the only choices. It only says those are among the choices for the number of legs. But even if it did mention 6 legged creatures, I'm sure you would have said "how come it doesn't talk about centipedes/millipedes/caterpillars/etc."

I don't think Muhammad had the patience to list EVERY kind of locomotive system, as it's irrelevant to the general thesis of the passage; that Allah creates all things as signs.

Seeing as how one of the chapters is named after spiders, I find it highly unlikely that Muhammad was unaware of animals with more than 4 legs.

But I don't think it's fair to consider this sort of omission as blatant as the Bible saying insects have four legs.

Steve Wells said...

You're right, Jason. Since the Quran says that Allah created "every animal" and then lists their number of legs as 0, 2, and 4, why doesn't it include 6 (for insects), 8 (for arachnids), 10 (decapods), or many (centipedes and millipedes)?

membracid said...

Insects are definitely not an abomination--they are good eating!

Just ask John the Baptist, who lived on locusts and honey.
:)

Clearly, some insects are not for eating, but it's pretty unclear from this which ones.

Samireye said...

Insects are not mentioned in the Quranic verse at all. This blog post is distorting the facts completely.

guessme said...

Flying insects have 4 legs? Some birds have 4 legs?

"All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be detestable to you. 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. (Leviticus: 10:20-21)"

These verses claim that there are winged creatures (birds or insects) that go around on all fours.

Note: There are no birds that go around on four legs, and all insects have six legs.

The Super Insect- Mosquito



Allah said in the Holy Qur’an:}Allah disdains not to use the similitude of things, lowest (like female mosquitoes) as well as highest. Those who believe know that it is truth from their Lord; but those who reject Faith say: "What means Allah by this similitude?" By it He causes many to stray, and many He leads into the right path; but He causes not to stray, except those who forsake (the path) [26]{ AL- Baqara

The reason for revealing this verse is what Ibn Abbas said: When Allah spoke about the non-Muslims’ Gods and said: }And if the fly should snatch away anything from them, they would have no power to realize it from the fly [73] { AL-Hajj, and, also, talked about those Gods’ deception and said that it looks like a spider’s flimsy web in its weakness, non-Muslims said: Have you seen what Allah mentioned about flies and spiders in Qur’an sent to Mohamad. What is the use of it? So Allah revealed this verse.

AL-Hasan and Qutada said: “When Allah mentioned flies and spiders in Qur’an and gave examples of those insects, the Jewish sarcastically said: (It does not seem like Allah’s speech” so this verse was revealed.

Those verses show that all creatures of Allah (Praise & Glory be to him), lowest as well as highest, are signs that prove the existence of Allah, even if they seem trivial. Allah (Praise & Glory be to him) has left in them His signs and capabilities which confuse minds. In this verse, Allah (Praise & Glory be to him) disdains not to give an example of mosquitoes that illiterates consider them as contemptible while Allah disdains not to give an example of them to prove the splendid signs in the creation of mosquitoes.

Matt said...

You really can't tackle this problem using modern definitions of these words. For example, the word we translate as sea, to an ancient hebrew could mean an ocean, a fresh water lake, a large bowl of water, or all the nations of the world. If you don't know that before you read the text it will be very confusing.

But let's get to this four legs problem. The four front feet being referenced are the four front feet. (They are not called legs in the Biblical text) What about the back to legs? They are different. They serve a purpose different from walking. Their purpose is different from the front limbs.

The text names four edible kinds of bugs (e.g. "creeping things") that fly and have four feet. But in our modern minds we think this is nuts, because insects have 6 legs. That isn't the way the ancient Hebrews saw it.

An axiomatic principle used in the interpretation of the Bible is that "scripture interprets scripture". You gave the text of Lev. 11:23 but did not give the text of Lev. 10:20-21. If you had you would have see the meaning of 11:23. Here it is:

"All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be detestable to you. 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."

What does this text say?
1. All winged creatures that walk on "all fours" are out. This means dragon flies, blue bottle flies, mosquitoes, swarming termites, and every other flying bug.
2. But there is an exception. The bugs that have hind legs designed for hopping.

I s this beginning to make some sense to you? I hope so. But you might be thinking, what about bees? Their hind legs are different, they are desingned for hopping. And I'd say, well, kind of. The are definitely different from the front four. But they aren't for hopping along on the ground. And bees are not named in 11:23 which, while restating the general rule about "all-fours", limits the number of edible bugs to those named.

One other thing, we have great difficulty identifying many of the animals named in the Bible. But we have that problem with modern names for animals, too. Just think about the word "tuna" and how many species that includes. There are an awful lot of kids of fish that wind up in cans marked tuna.

Antero said...

Today, we see insects as having 6 legs and humans and apes as having 2. However, from this perspective humans and apes should have 4. From their ancient perspective, humans had 2 feet and insects 4. They considered the front two as arms and hands. No surprise that you would conveniently overlook that in order to make an ignorant, worthless, point.

twillight said...

I agree that based upon the examples the Bible talks about insects.

But was ever the two for-leggs called arms in the cases of insects? Certainly not.

If you want to go technical do not forget, that insects have 2 more pairs of leggs: their wings.

Also:
According to Lev.11.27. normal animals (like bears, horses etc.) walks on four legs. Lev. 11.42. (*29-31) is even more clear on this.

rocktheshow7 said...

Regarding insects and four legs here's a note from the NIV Study Bible on Leviticus 11:20:

"Although insects have six legs, perhaps people in ancient times did not count as ordinary legs the two large hind legs used for jumping."

In mostly all translations it's always "...the locus, katydid, cricket or grasshopper."

godseeker said...

Please go back and read the passage in context, including verses 21 which says,

"Yet these you may eat of every flying insect that creeps on all fours: those which have jointed legs above their feet with which to leap on the earth."

The Hebrews of that day regarded the larger legs "above the feet" as jumping legs and the four smaller legs as those used for walking. The Bible did not mess up.

mayon said...

Allah hath created every animal of water. Of them is (a kind) that goeth upon its belly and (a kind) that goeth upon two legs and (a kind) that goeth upon four. Quran 24:45

How can you say Qur'an as wrong? It is saying about animal. And we truely know animal has four leg (e.g. cows, lions, tigers, dogs etc).

hakim said...

Real funny. The word "creatures" means any animal. The Bible clearly mentions four-footed flying insects - try and find one. The word "creatures" in the Koran (and if you'd ever studied Biology you'd know this) does not refer specifically only to insects.

hakim said...

Real funny. The word "creatures" means any animal. The Bible clearly mentions four-footed flying insects - try and find one. The word "creatures" in the Koran (and if you'd ever studied Biology you'd know this) does not refer specifically only to insects.

Amar said...

This blog should be named 'errors in the Bible', the person who posted this blog clearly wanted to drag the Quran down with the Bible even though the Quran has no errors, to every non-Muslim, read the Quran, even from the back if you want where the chapters are very short and as you read, you will know that its impossible that Muhammad (pbuh) wrote the Quran.

Peace

Vila said...

The Holy Bible is inerrant! It is very precise when describing insects, and using the phrase "on all fours" is reference to 'walking around' vs jumping, such as grasshoppers, whose 2 large hind legs are different in appearance, size, and function from the front four legs. Their front legs are used for "crawling, clinging, and climbing," while their back legs rest "above" their front legs and feet, and are used for "jumping." The Biblical description turns out to be exactly anatomically correct!

Vila said...

The Holy Bible is inerrant! It is very precise when describing insects, and using the phrase "on all fours" is reference to 'walking around' vs jumping, such as grasshoppers, whose 2 large hind legs are different in appearance, size, and function from the front four legs. Their front legs are used for "crawling, clinging, and climbing," while their back legs rest "above" their front legs and feet, and are used for "jumping." The Biblical description turns out to be exactly anatomically correct!

Vila said...

The Holy Bible is inerrant! It is very precise when describing insects, and using the phrase "on all fours" is reference to 'walking around' vs jumping, such as grasshoppers, whose 2 large hind legs are different in appearance, size, and function from the front four legs. Their front legs are used for "crawling, clinging, and climbing," while their back legs rest "above" their front legs and feet, and are used for "jumping." The Biblical description turns out to be exactly anatomically correct!

Khawar Nehal said...

Yes this verse 24:45 is being misrepresented to no avail.
http://quran.com/24/45
It mentions animals and creatures. But does not even mention insects.
The quran is true and God has vowed to defend it. How can a human expect to win against God.
As a human, only some freedom is allowed up to the time limit provided in life and also restricted by the resources inside the universe and the technology available at the time. The human or jinn should make the most of what time they have to praise God instead of thinking their limited freedom is there for fun. Making fun of God is not going to be funny after you meet him for judgement after death. Those who make fun of God do not believe in the day of judgement. That is the real test of life.
Regards,
Khawar Nehal
http://atrc.net.pk
http://dubai-computer-services.com

Takka said...

Firstly, the word "fowl" is in the King James Bible. Leviticus 11:20 says "All fowls that creep, going upon all fours" Modern versions often translate the Hebrew "oph" as "insects".

Even better, as suggested above, would be "winged creatures". However, in Leviticus 11:20 the "winged creatures" are qualified by the Hebrew "sheretz" meaning creeping things. Hence the reference is to winged creatures that creep i.e. insects.

Today we refer to an insects six appendages as "legs". The ancient Israelites had a different convention. They distinguished the front four appendages from the two rear appendages. The front four they called "feet", the two to the rear they called "legs". This distinction probably came about because some insects such as grasshoppers leap the two rear appendages are "leaper legs".

"Go on all fours" refers to what the front four feet i.e. front four legs do - they walk. What the rear legs do, whether they contribute to walking or are used for leaping, is excluded from the meaning of "go on all fours".

Some skeptics make fun of the phrase "legs above the feet". However, the leaper legs are longer than the front four legs. When the insect is resting on the ground, part of the leaper legs are higher than the "feet" i.e. higher than the front four legs. In that sense the legs are "above the feet".

There is no profound biological point in all of this is just a case of semantics.

jas said...

heres my four legged insect from last week

https://dl-web.dropbox.com/get/filosofiforum/mystisk_insekt.jpg?w=AACwil8-UbxMYMwBC2G4E4_tdu4aeDuaRuxUEjaavdAHPg

Smoothie said...

Nope the atheists are WRONG again. The Bible doesn't say that "flying insects have four legs" it says that flying insects WALK on four legs. The insects that are
mentioned such as grasshoppers YES they have six legs BUT they DO WALK on four legs and their OTHER two legs in the back are made for hopping and jumping so THEREFORE the Bible is ACCURATE and CORRECT in what it says.

Smoothie said...

These atheists want to call themseleves "scientists" but yet couldn't even answer a basic question on insects. These atheists like to twist Scripture just like their father SATAN who is the Father of Lies(John 8:44) in order to decieve people and turn them away from God.

BUT the Word of God is TRUE and Satan is a LIAR and he is headed to the Lake of Fire. And if you don't wanna head down there with him then repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior now before it's too late.

Mike Marsh said...

Maybe this will help:
(1) insects with 4 walking appendages and 2 rear hopping appendages: example--grasshopper
(2) insects with 4 walking appendages and
2 forward holding appendages: example--praying mantis
(3) insects with other modifications of 6 appendages: example--water boatman (swimming)
(4) insects with 6 same size walking appendages: example--90% of the 1.3 million insects that have been identified
(5) insects with only 4 walking appendages: 0--not one single one

During biblical times, there are many publications about nature including a great deal of information about insects. If these insects only had 4 appendages for walking, then Darwin's theory of evolution is correct, because today they do not exist. They have all evolved into 6 appendage creatures! Will we find the missing link with 5 appendages?