Answering “Questions Christians Can’t Answer” #22 Mythical Creatures?

R.E. Pucket was a faithful Christian for much of his life. However, as he began to expand his reading and investigate arguments against faith, he became convinced that faith was irrational. This impression was strengthened by the fact that Christians with which he interacted largely told him that he should believe for belief’s sake, and that faith trumped rationality. 

Pucket now spends a significant amount of time interacting with born again Christians who he feels are trying to convert him and win his soul. He rebuffs these attempts by presenting arguments that seem to stymie these Christians who in turn make vague appeals to “God’s Plan” and blind faith. 

In his article, “Top 50 Questions Christians Can’t Answer” on Yahoo voices, Pucket lists out some of the arguments he has found that Christians seem to have no rational, logical answers for, and invites the readers to inspect their faith in light of these questions. Says Pucket: 

“Don’t get me wrong, they will have an answer for them. You will find, however, that their answers have no basis in verifiable fact or evidence whatsoever, and will be largely based in their blind faith forsaking all reason.” 

This series of articles will examine all fifty of Pucket’s questions, five per article, and offer responses to these questions.  

One of the important things that the Pucket list teaches is the danger of dogmatism. If a system of belief stands or falls on every minute doctrine or teaching within the system, then disarming one of these causes the whole thing to fall.Christianity has undergone inspection by hosts of intelligent and thoughtful people over its 2000-year history. Some, like Pucket, have come to the conclusion that it was untenable. Many more have explored different ways of thinking about and applying Christian ideas that do not involve abandoning the system. The very fact that Christianity is a system of thought that allows individual thinkers to explore it, rather than to blindly embrace it, at least suggests that it is not a system of intellectual tyranny. 

This author suggests that many of things about Christians popularly believe may be found faulty without the entire system being destroyed. For Christianity to be untrue, it would have to be shown beyond a reasonable doubt that either humans do not require some sort of salvation from evil and suffering, or that no such salvation has been provided. 

The answers provided to the questions in this series may not always be punchy rejoinders, magic bullets, or truth bombs. They may be far from convincing to a skeptic; however they do show that Christianity is at the very least internally consistent and existentially plausible. 

A variety of the Christian views that Pucket attacks in these questions are held by a very specific sect of Christian believers, and by no means characterize the whole of Christian views. The questions also occasionally make broad statements which either mischaracterize Biblical teachings, or are backed up with no supporting evidence. Where these mistakes are made, the responses are largely aimed at correcting these mischaracterizations. This is not to say that the attack has no merit, but the attack would need to be re-worked to fit a proper representation of that belief. 

Finally, it is worth noting that the questions are sometimes phrased in highly emotive or sarcastic forms. These articles will attempt to respond to the fundamental objection being raised, rather than the tone in which they are presented, however the questions themselves will be presented in their original form. 

 

Why don’t we see evidence of creatures from the Bible?

Source

22 – Christians argue evolution by asking why there aren’t any half-ape/half-men walking around today, right? Why don’t we see giants, fiery talking serpents, talking donkeys and many other mythical creatures that are described in the Bible? 

Firstly, it is important to note that the argument this question attributes “Christians,” is by no means representative of an argument that all Christians everywhere would make. In fact, Christians vary widely in their views on evolution, from Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis who adopts a literal six-day, fully formed creation model, to Francis Collins of BioLogos who believes that God used the process of evolution over millions of years in order to create.
Dr. William Lane Craig of Stand to Reason notes that there is significant genetic evidence for common ancestry in biological organisms, but a curious lack of evidence in the fossil record for “transitional forms” otherwise known as “missing links.” Consequently, the evidence for evolution in the sense of one species of organism turning into another species is somewhat inconclusive.
Secondly, there are no “mythological” creatures in the Bible.
The Bible makes it fairly evident that the “talking snake” of Genesis is an incarnation of Satan (2 Corinthians 11:3Revelation 12:920:2), not a species of animal. Similarly, the book of Numbers says that “the LORD opened the mouth of [Balaam’s] donkey.” Since this was a one-time miraculous act credited to God, it’s unreasonable to expect the ability to speak to be passed along genetically to future donkeys. It’s also something that God could presumably do at any time to any animal.
The “giants” mentioned in the book of Genesis (the Hebrew here has also been translated “mighty men” instead of giants) are not really described in terms of size. If they are anything like the description of Goliath in the book of 1 Samuel, they were large men, about seven or eight foot in size. Men of this size are rare, but not entirely fictional, and this does not make them mythological creatures
The book of Job describes two different animals of unknown taxonomy: “behemoth” which it describes thusly:

“Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you; he eats grass like an ox. Behold, his strength in his loins, and his power in the muscles of his belly. He makes his tail stiff like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are knit together. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like bars of iron. He is the first of the works of God; let him who made him bring near his sword! For the mountains yield food for him where all the wild beasts play. Under the lotus plants he lies, in the shelter of the reeds and in the marsh. For his shade the lotus trees cover him; the willows of the brook surround him. Behold, if the river is turbulent he is not frightened; he is confident though Jordan rushes against his mouth. Can one take him by his eyes, or pierce his nose with a snare?”

…And “Leviathan” which is described this way:

“Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook or press down his tongue with a cord? Can you put a rope in his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook? Will he make many pleas to you? Will he speak to you soft words? Will he make a covenant with you to take him for your servant forever? Will you play with him as with a bird, or will you put him on a leash for your girls? Will traders bargain over him?
Will they divide him up among the merchants? Can you fill his skin with harpoons
or his head with fishing spears? Lay your hands on him; remember the battle—you will not do it again!”

Since the book of Job is an extremely ancient text written in a dialect of Aramaic that is not used in any other ancient text still available (and is somewhat difficult to translate) the names “Behemoth” and “Leviathan” do not necessarily refer to mythological beasts, but may be ancient words for known species such as elephants, hippopotamuses, or crocodiles. It is difficult from these references to make a strong case that these are mythological creatures, especially since these are the only references to these animals in ancient texts, and the descriptions are general enough to fit a number of known animal species.
Any other mythological creatures mentioned in scripture are part of apocalyptic visions and are used by the writer as symbolism, not as descriptions of what they thought were real animals.

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