Is the Bat a Bird? (Leviticus 11:13-19) | Bible Answers

Is Leviticus 11:13-10 wrong when it says that the bat is a bird? Does this mean the Bible is not inerrant or infallible? Here's the solution to this problem.
Bible "contradictions"
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Quick answer

The Bible is simply defining "bird" as an animal that flies and not according to our modern, technical definition of "bird." The Bible does not claim to be a scientific or technical manual, so there is no problem with this classification.

The argument

Some argue that the Bible is incorrect when it says that a bat is a bird in Leviticus 11:13-19, so it cannot be infallible or inerrant.

Leviticus 11:13-19 - 13 “And these you shall detest among the birds; they shall not be eaten; they are detestable: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, 14 the kite, the falcon of any kind, 15 every raven of any kind, 16 the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the short-eared owl, 18 the barn owl, the tawny owl, the carrion vulture, 19 the stork, the heron of any kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.

The answer

The Bible is simply defining "bird" as an animal that flies and not according to our modern, technical definition of "bird." The Bible does not claim to be a scientific or technical manual, so there is no problem with this classification.

It is completely natural to think of a bat as being a bird because it flies. However, today, we have narrowed the definition of "bird" so that it is distinct from "mammal," so we now classify a bat as being a mammal instead of being a bird. However, someone who was unaware of how we classify animals today would naturally consider a bat as being a kind of bird.

"I don't buy that explanation"

Some people have trouble accepting possible explanations to alleged contradictions in the Bible, especially ones that they consider a stretch. For example, Dan Barker, president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, says this:

I have received numerous replies from Christians who think that these contradictions are either trivial or easily explained. Yet not a single "explanation" has been convincing.

Fact vs Opinion

The fact is that there are plausible explanations for every alleged contradiction in the Bible. That there is a plausible explanation for an alleged contradiction does not mean that it is definitely the correct explanation for the alleged contradiction.

However, as long as a possible explanation has been suggested, then it has been objectively demonstrated that there is no necessary contradiction regarding the Bible verses and passages brought up.

When people like Dan Barker say that they don't find a particular explanation for a contradiction "convincing," then that is merely their opinion. A plausible explanation has been suggested that eliminates the necessary alleged contradiction. They simply don't like it, which is not at all a relevant argument against the explanation.

Additional Resources

To read more about solutions to Bible contradictions and difficulties, check out Norman Geisler's The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation. While we do not agree with some of Geisler's theology, particularly concerning his view of predestination, this book is still an excellent resource. It is thorough and filled with research.

Another book to check out is Tim Chaffey's Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions: Exploring Forty Alleged Contraditions, which also answers many alleged contradictions in the Bible.

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