Over the past few weeks I’ve seen the above graphic on several atheist posts and I think that it is worth taking time to look at it and respond to it as the clear fallacious argument that it presents.
There’s a number of fallacies in it, a clear straw man to begin with that is visible to anyone familiar with the account being presented in Genesis 30:25-43, but that it ultimately presents a false dilemma: that one has to choose between scripture and science. Let’s deal with the misrepresentation first.
Notice how the meme phrases the objection: how did animals get their stripes? It poses it as an etiological question. The objection hinges on a matter of causation, asking a legitimate scientific question: by what means did the totality of animals get a particular physical feature instilled in them? It then gives what appears to be a reasonable scientific hypothesis. It then cherry picks a particular set of verses, from a particular account, about a specific event, and then implies that this is somehow relevant to the question. (Just as a point, if you were going to make this argument you would need to go to a creation account not some point well after creation. Just saying.)
Now the passage itself that is quoted is somewhat vague in what it is referring to as “herds”, but it is clearly not the entirety of animals as the question the meme poses implies, so simple logic should immediately cause the thoughtful person to stop and go, “wait a minute, there’s something else going on here and it doesn’t have to do with all animals, but a specific group of animals.” And they’d be correct, that is if they have been taught some basic reading comprehension skills.
I could go much, much deeper into this talking about the role of sympathetic magic and what Jacob believed about it in regard to breeding sheep and goats (the “herds” in reference), but simply reading the story itself demonstrates that there is a false assertion being made by the atheist. The account from Genesis isn’t making a universally applicable etiological statement or claim, but is referring to a specific incident and specific circumstances.
Bad argument. Bad logic.