Jacob's Branches and Genetics: Bible Error


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    JosephAlward posted Sun, 13 Oct 2002 18:32:00 GMT(10/13/2002)

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    About a year ago I raised this issue of the Bible-writers' apparent belief that the color of one's offspring is determined in part by what you're looking at while you're mating. We didn't obtain then what I considered a satisfactory resolution of this problem, so I'm presenting it once again for the forum's consideration:

    Jacob's Branches

    The Genesis writer tells the story of Labans agreement to give as wages to Jacob, the tender of his goats and lambs, all light-streaked goats and dark-streaked lambs born while the flocks were in his care. To increase the birth rate of streaked animals, Jacob made white stripes on brown tree branches by peeling away dark strips of bark to expose the blond wood underneath, and put these branches in the animals drinking troughs, where they came to drink when they were in heat. After the animals had mated in front of the branches, they bore young that were streaked; the normally brown goats were streaked white, and the normally white lambs were streaked brown.

    Its hard to believe that this story can actually be found in the Bible, but it can. Here it is:

    "Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted." (Genesis 30:37-39)

    There is no evidence that this didnt happen, of course. But, if its true that streaked goats and lambs were born, it certainly couldnt have happened because their parents were looking at streaked tree branches as they mated. The editors of the New American Bible seem to be admitting that. Heres what they say in a footnote:

    "Jacob's stratagem was based on the widespread notion among simple people that visual stimuli can have prenatal effects on the offspring of breeding animals."

    The Genesis writers explanation of the birth of streaked goats and lambs may have made perfect sense to him, for he could not have known anything about the science of genetics. However, if the writer was inspired by a god to record and explain this event, that god evidently either didnt understand genetics, or else it didnt care whether generations of Bible readers would have a childish notion of pre-natal influences. Either way, the Bible contains blatantly false teaching, and is therefore certainly not inerrant. If we cannot trust the Bible in one place, how do we know we can trust it in other places? Joseph F. Alward
    "Skeptical Views of Christianity and the Bible"

    back2dafront posted Sun, 13 Oct 2002 21:29:00 GMT(10/13/2002)

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    if this were true most people on the earth would be black cuz most people do it in the dark.



    i can't believe i missed that scripture in my mandatory reading of the bible my first year in bethel.

    Actually, I never made it through Daniel.

    goatlike posted Sun, 13 Oct 2002 22:09:00 GMT(10/13/2002)

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    and my mom was spooked by a donkey so i look like an ass

    it must be an evolutionary reference. they noticed how many animals were so well suited to their habitats.

    M JosephMalik posted Mon, 14 Oct 2002 00:34:00 GMT(10/14/2002)

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    Here we go again. The text states: Genesis 30:37-39

    :37 And Jacob took him rods of green poplar, and of the hazel and chesnut tree; and pilled white strakes in them, and made the white appear which was in the rods.

    Jacob released the white sap in the rods and contaminated their water supply like this:

    :38 And he set the rods which he had pilled before the flocks in the gutters in the watering troughs when the flocks came to drink, that they should conceive when they came to drink.

    This would cause defective coloring and in this case produced ringstraked, speckled and spotted offspring during this critical time of conceptioin which he later used for breeding stock for the rest of his flock.

    :39 And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted.

    John Gills expositor states: Austin asserts {t}; and it may be observed, what is affirmed by some writers {u}, that sheep will change their colours according to the different waters they drink of at the time of their being covered; and that some rivers drank of will make white sheep black, and black white, and others red and yellow. But as Jacob was directed of God to take this method, this is sufficient to justify him, and upon his blessing and providence the success depended,

    And Jacob then used the process of selection after that to acquire such spotted sheep for himself.

    There is no need for Jacob to know genetics. All he needed to do was follow the instructions given to him by someone who did. Today women are warned against taking ceartain drugs during pregnacy. Some are banned in fact. Many drugs come from trees and plants. Fancy that.


    M SixofNine posted Mon, 14 Oct 2002 02:56:00 GMT(10/14/2002)

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    Joseph Malik, you're pathetic.

    Sad, just sad.

    M Goshawk posted Tue, 15 Oct 2002 08:34:00 GMT(10/15/2002)

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    But you must remember that women are also told to take certain vitamins and minerals while they are pregnant. And they come from plants, trees, and rocks.

    Maybe the brand of vitamins or minerals will influence the hair-color of the child because of the type of picture on the label?

    Lets not even get into the role of hormones in the development of the child, or how some medicines will change those levels.



    M JosephMalik posted Tue, 15 Oct 2002 15:20:00 GMT(10/15/2002)

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    Sure but we are discussing specific compounds found in green poplar, and of the hazel and chesnut tree not vitamins or thalidamide. And the result was simply the mottling of the fur. Stronger animals were then bred from this stock. Worked for him. Not a problem with scripture is it? And the procedure put the animals in close proximity to the compounds so that they would rub up against them and ingest them. Perhaps this point is being missed?


    Edited by - JosephMalik on 15 October 2002 11:22:27

    M rem posted Tue, 15 Oct 2002 15:51:00 GMT(10/15/2002)

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    So, are you saying that you believe in Lamarkism?


    M Goshawk posted Tue, 15 Oct 2002 15:52:00 GMT(10/15/2002)

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    ROFL.... That settles it ole JM needs a sarcasm light installed on his 'puter.


    M JosephMalik posted Tue, 15 Oct 2002 17:53:00 GMT(10/15/2002)

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    All I am saying is that reason should prevail. Jumping to unfounded conclusions does not cut it. Even if the events were simply a test of faith and the results were a miraculous product of that faith so what? This is not a problem is it? No, and there is no contradiction or error. No one has yet proved the verses wrong have they? If so where? All I get are snide comments but no proof. Sounds about right for the mix on this net.


    M rem posted Tue, 15 Oct 2002 18:20:00 GMT(10/15/2002)

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    The contradiction is that the verses in question are completely impossible scientifically. Genes don't work this way. The story sounds like an ancient, ignorant goat herder trying to control heredity without any working knowledge of how such traits are inherited. It does not sound like a story from god, who would know exactly how traits are inherited.

    Taking the story as it stands, it breaks the laws of genetics and therefore is either an inaccurate account, or is just a fictional fable about a supposed miracle. From reading the account, Jacob didn't seem to think of it as a miracle... he viewed the method as just common sense of the time. Since the Bible is promoting this "common sense", which we know contradicts known scientific facts, it is wrong.

    You can prove to yourself that this account contradicts the facts by running the experiment yourself. The exercise is left to the reader.


    RWC posted Tue, 15 Oct 2002 18:33:00 GMT(10/15/2002)

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    Joesph A., Where in the Genesis account does it say that it is intended to be a genetics lesson on the mating habits of Goats and Sheep? The purpose of the account is Jacob's way, with God's help to keep Laban from continuing to cheat him from his wages. It is not God saying in order to have speckeled sheep you must use striped branches. The lesson that is trying to be taught by God is not one of science but that he has shown favor to Jacob as his chosen people. Don't try to create a problem by reading more into the account than what is there.

    God Bless

    JosephAlward posted Tue, 15 Oct 2002 18:35:00 GMT(10/15/2002)

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    JOSEPH MALIK wrote:

    "Even if the events were simply a test of faith and the results were a miraculous product of that faith so what? This is not a problem is it?"

    JOSEPH ALWARD responds:

    I think it IS a problem, Joseph, because nowhere in the Jacob's branches passage is there the slightest indication that what had happened was extraordinary; there's no clue given to the reader that they should understand that what had happened was a miracle. There's no reference to the intervention by Yahweh, or the Holy Spirit, or any other supernatural agent, so readers are left to assume that what had happened was NATURAL , so if they trusted the Bible writer they would conclude that the color of offspring is influenced by what their parents were looking at when they mated. This is obviously ridiculous; no one on this forum believes that if their parents had mated under the tree on Christmas Eve they would have been born striped red and white, like the candy cane.

    If the Bible writer had known that this was not possible, he would have gone out of his way to make sure that the readers knew that a miracle had occurred; the fact that he didn't do this is strong evidence that he actually believed such as thing was possible, and expected us to believe it, too. This means that the Bible is in error. If it can be in error in this place, it can be in error anywhere.

    Joseph F. Alward
    "A Skeptical View of Christianity and the Bible"

    Edited by - JosephAlward on 15 October 2002 18:33:16

    M JosephMalik posted Tue, 15 Oct 2002 22:24:00 GMT(10/15/2002)

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    Joseph Alward,

    As I said it makes no difference. These were not instructions for others to follow. It is not necessary therefore to include every detail. You have no valid argument.

    But you did say this: so readers are left to assume that what had happened was NATURAL, so if they trusted the Bible writer they would conclude that the color of offspring is influenced by what their parents were looking at when they mated.

    I would not come to this conclusion because the text says no such thing. What it does say is that the animals were positioned in such a was as to intervene with the sap or rods by putting them close to their faces and eyes of course so that they would contact them on their own. Jacob would not force them as this would violate his promise but he did make it an easy task for them to do it on their own. Look at the text again:

    :4 0 And Jacob did separate the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the ringstraked, and all the brown in the flock of Laban; and he put his own flocks by themselves, and put them not unto Labans cattle. 41 And it came to pass, whensoever the stronger cattle did conceive, that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the cattle in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods.

    That is all it said. Where does it say that their view caused such changes? You added the incorrect interpretation yourself. The rods were placed strategically in front of their FACES or EYES but not forced upon them. And they conceived among the rods. It is the proximity to the rods not what they saw with their eyes that affected them. Why not create an argument that whatever you face effects offspring? The verses do say face also do they not?


    Edited by - JosephMalik on 15 October 2002 18:33:47

    JosephAlward posted Tue, 15 Oct 2002 22:39:00 GMT(10/15/2002)

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    JOSEPH MALIK wrote, "It is the proximity to the rods not what they saw that affected them."

    JOSEPH ALWARD responds:

    So you believe that the writer of this story wanted readers to believe that mating while rubbing up against striped branches caused striped offspring, and that this was a natural occurrence? Any geneticist will tell you that this is a preposterous notion.

    Edited by - JosephAlward on 15 October 2002 18:39:20

    M JosephMalik posted Tue, 15 Oct 2002 22:53:00 GMT(10/15/2002)

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    You know that is not what I meant. But now everyone can see how you distort information. Thanks.


    M ballistic posted Tue, 15 Oct 2002 23:21:00 GMT(10/15/2002)

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    What Joseph Malik forgets is that the only college education we need is from the bible and Awake magazine. We learn all about Science such as the earth being round and this is just another example of that. We have to take the bible at it's word instead of twisting it. It is obviously true that whatever you look at during conception affects the characteristics of one's offspring. If Malik feels so strongly about this I guess he has to blame his looks on something else.

    M rem posted Wed, 16 Oct 2002 01:11:00 GMT(10/16/2002)

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    Joseph, I'm truly not understanding what you are getting at. I thought J Alward (I forgot there are two Joseph's on this thread!) summarized your thoughts well. If that is not what you meant, then please correct us.


    M A Paduan posted Wed, 16 Oct 2002 01:14:00 GMT(10/16/2002)

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    It's a story Joseph A. - a story - you know . Even if based on real characters, it's a story - and it has meanings and teachings in it.

    It appears that you want this story to be an undisputable historical fact, or else be "wrong" and can't fit. What is that about?


    Edited by - a paduan on 15 October 2002 21:14:58

    M JosephMalik posted Wed, 16 Oct 2002 01:26:00 GMT(10/16/2002)

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    I already did, just scroll up a few posts. It is near the top. Have fun.



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