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:
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"