Bible critics are quick to point out that bats are incorrectly grouped with the birds in Leviticus 11:19 and Deuteronomy 14:18. Since bats are mammals, what do you say about this contradiction?

This is only a surface contradiction. The Levitical food laws (kosher regulations) included a number of unclean flying animals, such as herons, hawks, storks, owls, and bats. The list is not strictly ordered in zoological categories, but rather in phenomenological ones. (Things are described as they appear to the human observer.) A bat looks like a bird, and so is included in the same place. Now it would have been quite a different matter if the OT claimed the bat was a bird and not a mammal. But the word “mammal” does not even appear in the Bible. Consider, for example, Peter’s vision in Acts 10:12. There we read of “four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air.” Notice the classification. Most mammals would fall into the first category since they are tetrapods. But then there are also a good number of four-footed creatures that are also reptiles (lizards, skinks, and crocodiles, to name a few).

You can easily see that no claim to zoological precision is being made. It would be unfair to criticize the text for not being a science book, especially when the meaning is perfectly clear.

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