Monday, March 8, 2010

Insects as Crustaceans -- Its Theology Explored

According to a recent paper in Nature, a close reading of the genomes reveals that insects are crustaceans. Jerry Coyne has summarized the findings, which begin with the recognition that

Insects (“Hexapoda”) are not a sister group of crustaceans, as was indicated by some molecular studies. Nor are they the sister group of myriapods, the traditional arrangement supported by morphology. Instead, insects are nested within crustaceans (see Figure 1). In the same sense that birds are dinosaurs, then, insects are crustaceans.
All those flies, gnats, moths, butterflies, bees, wasps, grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles you've hosed out of your car's grill and besmeared with windshield wiper fluid have been terrestrial lobsters all along. Land shrimp stalk your very home and place of business. You've been swarming with crabs your whole life.

I don't think I need to spell out the grave theological implications of this, which are obvious enough, but a blogger has certain responsibilities. Also, I feel I should write something to justify having posted that fantastic chart of arthropod taxonomy (click to embiggen).

This scientific finding implies that the Bible's explicit ban on the eating of crustaceans (Leviticus 11:9-12) has always applied to the eating of all bugs, notwithstanding the exceptions of edible insects listed a few verses later.* It turns out that passage was a trap all along, which every careful Bible believer should have seen in the obviously-planted error of listing insects as having four legs rather than six. Leviticus 11:20-23:
Don't eat insects that have wings and walk on all four feet; they also are to be hated. But you may eat certain insects that have wings and walk on four feet. You may eat those that have legs with joints above their feet so they can jump. These are the insects you may eat: all kinds of locusts, winged locusts, crickets, and grasshoppers. But all other insects that have wings and walk on four feet you are to hate.
The upshot, again, is obvious and inescapable: large numbers of dead relatives you previously thought were lounging in heaven are, in fact, roasting in the fires of hell, since even those who abstained from the deliberate consumption of bugs were almost certainly guilty of unintentional entomophagy (Cf.), and the book of Leviticus lists no exceptions for involuntary consumption of creatures abominable to god.

But the news isn't all good. You will need to put a stop on your recent order of chocolate covered crickets if there is to be any chance for your eternal soul.

* According to my current mood swing -- a mood swing with a longstanding and respectable pedigree among believers -- when the Bible contradicts itself, the harsher, less reasonable, more damnation-productive reading wins.


Dorothy Rimson said...

This was an interesting blog. Loved reading it.

Serah B. said...

He's pretty tricksy, that God of the Israelites. Fortunately, I'm a vegan, so I won't burn in hell for this (and also because there's no such thing as hell).