Mythical Critters and Scoffers

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

An interesting and timely question prompted this article. Earlier, I wrote again about how facts alone can be incomplete. Giving information and evidence is good, but addressing worldviews and presuppositions are very important, and can give a more complete answer to a question or challenge.

To briefly recap, everyone has a worldview based on presuppositions (things they assume to be true). When presented with evidence, we naturally use our worldviews to interpret it. When someone has an anti-Bible bias, he or she can easily reject evidence supporting the Bible (and especially biblical creation science).

Some people think they are clever by mocking archaic words in old Bible translations. Their mockery shows their own lack of research, integrity and intellectual honesty. Worldviews color our perceptions.

Cockatrice drawing by Oliver Herford, 1912 at Reusable Art
Here is the question that I was given this morning (writing this the day before I publish it) at The Question Evolution Project on Facebook:

If you can't make out the text in the picture, he wrote, "Hey again. Question for you. In Isaiah when it mentions cocktracies and satyrs what do you think it is referring too. Probably not two legged dragons and goat men."

Well, this question made me work, it wasn't a quick answer that I could look up and crank out.

When looking these things up, I saw that there are several anti-theist sites that were taking ancient words like unicorn, cockatrice and satyr, and assigning modern conceptions to those words. Those tinhorns had the assumption that not only was the Bible worthless, but deserved mockery. Posts with the tone of, "You gotta believe in satyrs, unicorns and cockatrices because the Bible sez so, haw haw haw!" are plentiful. If they had bothered to do some research instead of indulging in prejudicial conjecture, they would not have been making such foolish utterances.

One thing that should embarrass these people is that in 1860, Samuel Wilberforce wrote a review of Darwin's Origin of Species. In this, he quoted Henry More's remarks, "And of a truth, vile epicurism and sensuality will make the soul of man so degenerate and blind, that he will not only be content to slide into brutish immorality, but please himself in this very opinion that he is a real brute already, an ape, satyr, or baboon..." To be consistent, these Christophobes should be mocking other authors who used some of these same words, yes?

Unlike the unicorn, which was a real animal (basically, it's a sort of extinct rhinoceros), the cockatrice is completely mythical. Cockatrice appears in the King James version, and the original word is translated correctly in modern Bible versions. Translators did not quite understand the word that was in the original manuscripts.

Similarly, the word dragon appears in the King James version more often than in other translations. It is usually rendered as "snake", "cobra", "adder" and so on, except in places like Revelation where dragon means Satan. If you want a biblical creationist view of dragons as dinosaurs (and remember, "dragon" was a known word, and dinosaur had not been coined until Richard Owen did that around 1842), you can read "Dragons — Fact or Fable?" and the additional information linked on that page.

The satyr (and this is being published on Satyrday...oh, that was bad) is a bit more difficult to deal with. Again, this is found in older Bible versions. (The KJV copied from earlier Bibles.) Modern translations and commentaries differ on the meaning of satyr. Some use "hairy beast", others refer to a kind of desert demon in which the neighbors of the Jews believed. Because of demonic and goat-like associations with the word, "satyr" may actually be a good representation of demonic worship. Just like when God said not to bother with idols who are not gods, who do not walk, speak or anything, but worshiping them was still evil, I think this means for Hebrews not to fear or deal with the demons that others worshiped. Anyway, the original word seems uncertain, and the desert demon interpretation may be the most reasonable.

Again, it is not just a matter of evidence, but of worldviews and presuppositions. If someone has an irrational worldview like materialism or evolutionism, and especially when it is dominated by negative emotions rather than reason, he or she is prone to giving ridicule and making excuses rather than accepting the evidence. The atheist worldview is incoherent, lacking the necessary preconditions of human experience. Only biblical Christianity can do this, and can make proper sense of evidence and the human condition.