Critics of the Bible often attempt to discredit God’s word by claiming that it contains scientific inaccuracies and so could not have been written by an omniscient being, God or otherwise.
One such criticism is leveled against this passage from the Pentateuch:
All winged insects that go on all fours are detestable to you. 21Yet among the winged insects that go on all fours you may eat those that have jointed legs above their feet, with which to hop on the ground. 22Of them you may eat: the locust of any kind, the bald locust of any kind, the crickets of any kind, and the grasshopper of any kind. 23But all other winged insects that have four feet are detestable to you. The Third Book of Moses, called Leviticus 11:20–23
In our time of scientific enlightenment, most of us have been taught one of the characteristics of insects is that they have six legs. Most children are likely aware of this fact, so what was Moses thinking when he penned those words?
What are we to do with this Bible verse which states that some insects have four feet? Do we seek to correct the Scriptures and in so doing admit that an all-knowing intelligence had nothing to do with them, or do we acknowledge that there are some insects which get around in a quadrupedal motion?
Our passage allows the Jews to eat a particular type of flying insect, specifically the hopping insects (e.g., locusts, grasshoppers).
But don’t those insects have six feet? In scientific classification, of course they do! Notice, though, the distinction made by the Leviticus passage: the legs used for hopping are considered separately from its other feet.
In many flying insects, the first pair of legs seem to extend forward while the second two sets extend backward; to the Jews, that distinction may allow the phrase “go on all fours” to apply to insects without any thought of contradiction.
Or perhaps the phrase was used figuratively for horizontal locomotion.
In any event, simply because we would have worded a phrase or description differently in our day, we should not assume that the phrase was inaccurate nonsense in the context of when it was written.
The Bible is not a science book, nor is it a handbook on creation itself. It contains only that information which God desired that we should know — nothing more, nothing less.
What we should not do is expect the Scriptures to fit with, well, our expectations. Sometimes it will, but often it won’t. That much we should expect!