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Posted on November 21, by Scott Alexander I. Jonah got swallowed by a whale. But the Bible says Jonah got swallowed by a big fish.
So the Bible seems to think whales are just big fish. Therefore the Bible is fallible. Therefore, the Bible was not written by God. For all we know, Jonah was swallowed by a really really really big herring. The second problem is that if the ancient Hebrews want to call whales a kind of fish, let them call whales a kind of fish.
Suppose you travel back in time to ancient Israel and try to explain to King Solomon that whales are a kind of mammal and not a kind of fish. So you try again and say that a whale is a behemah, not a dag. You try to explain that no, Solomon is wrong, dag are actually defined not by their swimming-in-sea-with-fins-ness, but by their genes.
Who died and made you an expert on Biblical Hebrew? You try to explain that whales actually have tiny little hairs, too small to even see, just as cows and sheep and pigs have hair.
Solomon says oh God, you are so annoying, who the hell cares whether whales have tiny little hairs or not. The Ministry of Dag is based on the coast and has a lot of people who work on ships.
The Ministry of Behemah has a strong presence inland and lots of of people who hunt on horseback. So please he continues keep going about how whales have little tiny hairs.
It says so right here in this biology textbook. You can point out how many important professors of icthyology in fancy suits use your definition, and how only a couple of people with really weird facial hair use his.
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There are facts of the matter on each individual point — whether a whale has fins, whether a whale lives in the ocean, whether a whale has tiny hairs, et cetera. But there is no fact of the matter on whether a whale is a fish.
The argument is entirely semantic.
So this is the second reason why this particular objection to the Bible is silly. If God wants to call a whale a big fish, stop telling God what to do.
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