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"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable,  and perfect, will of God."   -Romans 12:2


Do Talking Snakes Exist?

by Rusty Entrekin

In this brief excerpt from the mockumentary Religulous, read how Bill Maher slyly entrapped unsuspecting Arkansas Senator Sen. Mark Pryor. My comments are interjected in blue.

Maher began with the question, "Do you believe in evolution?"

Senator Pryor answered, "You know, of course, I don't know. Clearly the scientific community is a little divided on some of the specifics of that, and I understand that -"

Maher (interrupting): "I don't think they are."

Senator Pryor: "No, I uh, well-"

Maher (again interrupting): " I think they pretty much agree."

The truth is that Senator Pryor was right. in saying they are a little divided. According to a 1991 Gallup poll, about 5 percent of all scientists and 1 percent of biologists believe in special creation. About 40 percent of scientists are theistic evolutionists, believing that God guided evolution. Among those who believe God played no part, there is still much conjecture and disagreement regarding the specifics of how it could have happened. Comparing DNA sequences has only deepened the disagreement, since most of the sequence comparisons do not match Darwin's concept of the tree of life. This was Darwin's idea that all life is descended from a common single-celled ancestor.  

Senator Pryor: "I don't know how it all happened. I mean, I'm certainly willing to accept -"

We weren't there when it happened. So how could we really know how it all happened... unless we had a truthful and trustworthy eyewitness account to rely on? Wait a second! Isn't that what Christians and Jews believe God has provided for us in the Genesis creation account? In his next comment, however, Maher makes it quite plain that he doesn't think that account can be relied upon.

Maher (interrupting once again): "It couldn't possibly have been Adam and Eve 5000 years ago with a talking snake in a garden, could it?"

Within this simple question, there is a lot of communication and implication going on. Maher could have been more direct and asked something like, "You don't actually believe Jesus rose from the dead, do you?" but expressing disbelief in a talking snake is a much less sacred target, and less likely to offend. The intended effect of the question is the same, however, and that is to engender doubt.

By saying, "It couldn't possibly," Maher is making it clear that he thinks the dominant philosophy of the day in science, metaphysical naturalism (the belief that there is no supernatural) is the only rational thing to believe. That old logical fallacy so commonly used by clever protagonists in debates, argumentum ad populum (if most people believe it, then it must be true) is being put to quite skillful use here. And so is another technique, an appeal to fear. With the question framed in that way, Senator Pryor might have thought, "What will people think of me if I admit to believing the Genesis Creation account?" For this reason, Senator Pryor's next statement took some courage.

Senator Pryor: "Well, it could have possibly been that."

Right again, Senator Pryor. If there is a God and there is a devil, then it could have possibly been that. Isn't it downright conceited and arrogant of metaphysical naturalists to imply that their view is the only one that could possibly be true? Without having the divine quality of omniscience themselves, how can they honestly claim to know that there is no God or supernatural, and therefore that all accounts of the supernatural and miraculous could not possibly be true? On the other hand, if God were to truly reveal himself to someone, then that person could honestly claim to know that there is a God without one iota of arrogance or conceit, just as he could claim to know that his mother exists without any presumption at all. Theists, it seems, do have an upper hand in that respect.

Maher: "Come on. See this is my problem, I'm trying -"

Senator Pryor: "Yes -"

Maher: "I mean, you, you're a Senator. You're one of the very few people who are running this country. It worries me that people are running my country who think, who believe in a talking snake. Um -"

Now I wonder, how many times did Senator Pryor get asked about talking snakes in town hall meetings when he was running for office?

We're having enough trouble enforcing the constitutional qualifications for office that already exist. We can't get Obama to show us his long-form birth certificate to prove that he is a natural-born US citizen, for instance. He's spending a small fortune on attorneys to keep it and his educational documents concealed. Nor can we get our government officials to require him to verify that he meets this qualification - I suppose because they are so enamored with him. Who cares about qualifications, as long as he's so good looking and such a smooth talker? (Many naive young ladies have ended up in disastrous marriages by following that philosophy, by the way.) And now Bill Maher wants to add yet another qualification - disbelief in the Genesis creation account - to this list that we can't enforce?

I can actually think of valid qualities to look for in our elected leaders. Things like whether or not they will fight for the poor and needy; whether or not they are just and moral persons; and whether or not they will refuse bribes. Since the Bible teaches that political leaders and judges ought to have these character qualities, we have some hope of finding them in men and women who accept the Genesis creation account. 

In fact, when I come across a politician who rejects the Bible, I naturally wonder, is this person a moral relativist? And if so, just how flexible and "convenient" will his or her morality be when tempted or under pressure?

A person who believes the Genesis account holds that man is created in the image of God, and that human life is therefore of great value. An evolutionary leader, on the other other hand, could adopt the mentality, just as Stalin and Mao did, that human life is expendable because we are merely evolved animals. While most evolutionists value human life more than that, there still seems to often be a devaluing of human life that occurs when one accepts evolutionary theory. It seems to me that those who accept the Genesis creation account are the most active in pro-life causes, but those who do not are more inclined to to accept abortion. The abolitionist movement against slavery was also permeated with devout Christians. 

I feel much safer with elected representatives who believe in the Genesis Creation account, because I know they will at least verbally acknowledge the value of high moral standards, and we might even find some who, by the grace of God, manage to live by them. And I think a significant percentage of the American people feel much as I do about it. That is why it is tough for an openly atheistic candidate to get elected. So politicians who are closet atheists, and I suspect there are more than we realize, pay lip service to belief in God, but with no concern at all for actually obeying Him.

Senator Pryor (laughing and interrupting): "You don't have to pass an IQ test to be in the Senate though." 

What a humble and humorous reply!

Later, Bill Maher described Senator Pryor as "As a very nice man" on the Larry King show. And he really does appear that way in the interview. But did that stop Bill Maher from putting this interview in Religulous?

If you want to hear this interview excerpt first hand, a link to it is available here.

So there you have it. Living proof, caught on video, that talking snakes do still exist, at least of the species comedian reptibillious maherhisser!

The full video has positive points, poking fun as it does of cults and their leaders, money-grubbing televangelists, faked manifestations of spiritual gifts and violent Islamic fanaticism. But to me, these positive aspects are far outweighed by the negatives. I recommend that you avoid renting it (I'm quite sorry I did), since Maher indiscriminately throws the baby of true undefiled religion out with the bathwater. I doubt he thinks such a thing even exists, though it was exemplified by Jesus and the first century martyrs, and by other sincere believers since then. The video is also laced with inaccuracies, profane language and images. In it, the tragically depraved condition of Maher's heart is unveiled, and I found that to be the most disturbing thing of all. Furthermore, despite his claims, it seems quite obvious in the video that Maher is not on an honest quest for truth, but rather a Quixotic mission to advance his agnostic worldview, which comes suspiciously close to being outright atheism.

Is it really irrational to think that there was a talking snake in the Garden of Eden? I should like to say a few words in defense of the multitudes of people, including myself, who do not think so.

Orchestrated Symbolism

You may recall that in the Genesis creation account, God placed two trees in the garden of Eden:

And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. - Genesis 2:9

Allegory and symbolism do not necessarily rule out historicity. God knew that man would eventually sin in one way or the other. Knowing this, could He not have intentionally planned the circumstances, and the striking symbolism, of that tragic event? 

Think of the two trees, for instance. One was designed to grant eternal physical life, and the other to bring about aging, suffering and death. Could not these things, along with the serpent, have been actual historic objects and events, planned and intended by God to import symbolism and deep meaning?

Of course, sly and cunning men aside, reports of talking snakes seem to be quite rare. And the obvious intelligence of the writer of Genesis compels us to believe he recognized that snakes, though crafty, do not, under normal circumstances, speak. And so we quite reasonably suspect that the writer of Genesis intended us to infer a sinister intelligence and power behind the serpent. 

As we read the Bible, our suspicion is confirmed. And lest there be any doubt, the very last book of the Bible makes the identity of that sinister intelligence very clear:

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. - Revelation 12:9 

So come on, Bill Maher, let's be fair. We all know that snakes can't speak by themselves. The real question is, "Could the most powerful and majestic of God's created angels, like a puppeteer with a puppet, have utilized a serpent as his mouthpiece?"

Many snake species today produce audible hisses. When I was a boy, exploring a pasture behind my Grandmother's home in Jackson, Mississippi, I came upon a huge snake near a creek. If I have identified it correctly, it was a dark, poisonous pit viper called a cottonmouth (but known to us as a water moccasin). As best as I can estimate, he was five feet or more in length, which would make him one of the larger specimens of his species. Coiled and ready to strike, I may not have seen him in time had he not warned me with loud, audible, frightening hisses.

The normal amplitude of human speech is about 60 dB. A study was recently performed which determined that the rattlesnake - another pit viper - produces a hiss at the very same amplitude. Most snakes hiss at an average frequency of  7,500 Hz, higher than the human speech frequency range. But some species hiss at a frequency that is lower.  The frequency range of the rattler is from 400-4,700 Hz.  The average frequency of the Cobra hiss is 600 Hz. The frequency spectrum of human speech ranges from 80 to 1100 Hz .

Therefore, the hiss of the cobra and rattler do overlap the frequency range of the human voice. Is this starting to sound more within the realm of possibility now? There's more.

While serpents themselves do not have the cognitive ability to produce human speech, that brilliantly clever and powerful chief of the fallen angels, who in Job 1:17-19 caused fire to fall from heaven and a mighty wind to bring down a house, could have caused certain structure(s) of the serpent's breathing passages, such as the tracheal diverticula, which function as resonating chambers in certain species of snakes, to vibrate in intelligible frequency patterns as it hissed, either by controlling nerve impulses, as the demons did when they caused the herd of swine to run into the sea in Matthew 8:32, or by direct manipulation. 

Or, Satan could have simply made the air vibrate within the serpent's mouth.

Though scripture teaches us that Satan's hands are handcuffed by God, and He can only perform such deeds when granted leave, do not think that he is not fully capable of a limited degree of control over the physical creation when permitted. It is an ignorant mistake to underestimate the power or the intelligence of the angels, whether fallen or unfallen. One day, Scripture foretells that Satan will perform similar events again to promote the Antichrist, healing that man after a death wound, causing an image of him to speak, and making fire to rain down from heaven.

So why, you may be wondering, have you heard no reports of fallen angels causing snakes to speak today? Reading the first few chapters of the book of Job, it appears that God does not, under normal circumstances, permit them to do such things. But even if God were to permit it, I suspect that in our modern secular society, Satan would be much too clever to do so in any way that could be verified. That would prove skeptics like Bill Maher wrong, and why would the Devil want to do that? Besides, Satan doesn't need to go to all that trouble now. He has plenty of men who are more than willing to speak for him, and some who are even capable of doing so without a teleprompter or a speech writer! 

Yes, the real power behind the talking snake in the Garden of Eden is also behind the many men and women who speak with a forked tongue today! And although this might have surprised the Indians of colonial days, it's not just the white man who sometimes speaks with a forked tongue. Although the devil can't find that many Bible believing folks willing to go to work for him, he is an equal opportunity employer, looking for and hiring willing mouthpieces from every race, sex, tongue, tribe, and  man-made religion.  And lest we be politically incorrect, let's especially not forget gender orientation.

Was Satan trying to wrest control of the physical creation from Adam and Eve by tempting them to sin? If so, when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he indicated that he had achieved that aim:

And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. - Luke 4:5 -7

What was intended to be ours was robbed from us when the human race was very young, like an inheritance from an unknowing toddler. But even then, God told the serpent that He would not endure this injustice. 

And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel. - Genesis 3:15 

This verse foretells the virgin birth, because Adam's seed is not mentioned. Furthermore, the seed is called a "He" who will bruise the serpents head. This is a reference to the Messiah, who would descend from the woman.

Regarding this, Matthew Henry wrote, "Christ baffled Satanís temptations, rescued souls out of his hands, cast him out of the bodies of people, dispossessed the strong man armed, and divided his spoil: by his death, he gave a fatal and incurable blow to the devilís kingdom, a wound to the head of this beast, that can never be healed."

Who Are You Descended From?

Earlier, we spoke of how the Genesis creation account has deep symbolism and meaning. In Genesis 3:15,  it goes even deeper than you might think. Note that the serpent is also said to have "seed". This, some Christian theologians believe, signifies more than simply the natural physical descendents of the serpent. Both kinds of seed signify two lines of spiritual descent:

1. Those who follow the serpent's example, spurning, disobeying, ignoring, or challenging their Creator.

2. Those who follow the Messiah's example, faithfully loving, obeying and worshipping their Creator, even to the death.

Since Jesus came, the seed of both the serpent and the Messiah truly continue to this day, do they not?

What about you? Which of these two categories of seed do you consider yourself to be in?

That of the serpent? I sure hope not, because the Bible teaches that side will ultimately lose. When Jesus returns, this world will be wrested from the serpent's seed, and given to the Seed of the woman. Then that old serpent will be thrown into prison:

And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. - Revelation 20:1-3

At that time, all of the politicians, kings and judges who disregard God - just the kind Bill Maher seems to be looking for - will also be in for a rough time:

Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. - Psalm 2:10-12

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited. -Isaiah 24:21-22

Christian theologians call this thousand year reign of Christ (which may be symbolic of an even much longer period of time) the Messianic Kingdom, or the Millennial Kingdom of Christ. When it begins, I sincerely hope that through faith in Jesus the Messiah, you too, dear reader, will have a place in it. I hope that for Bill Maher, too, even though in fun, I did call him a comedian reptibillious maherhisser for what he did to Senator Pryor.

For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. - Psalm 37:9 

Please, take the psalmist's advice. Don't side with the evildoers. Stick with the good guys - those who wait upon the Lord. That sage advice applies to you too, Bill Maher! If you have read this, Bill, I hope I've gotten you to think of the talking snake account as within the realm of  possibility. Or failing that, to regard it more along the lines of plausible-sounding  science fiction than silly myth. 

As for me, I am not at all ashamed to freely admit that I believe every single word of it. Yes, every single word, and for many more good reasons than I have gone into here. Instead, what sounds like silly myth to me are the ideas that evolutionists and naturalists are promoting nowadays. Ideas like, 

  • The entire universe, complex life and all, springing into existence from... a vacuum!

  • The exact, precise mathematical values and laws needed for life in the universe originating by... pure coincidence!

  • The right kind of Sun, the right planetary mass, the right distance from the Sun, the right size and distance moon, the right chemical constituents, the right magnetic field needed to support life, all occurring... also by sheer coincidence.

  • The mind-boggling complexity required for the even the simplest conceivable self-replicating cell happening... all by chance!

  •  Intelligence and consciousness arising from... unconscious matter!

  • The moral sensibilities of mankind having no basis in the dictates of a thoughtful Creator, but being relative to cultural convention. If that is the case, then who are we to say the Nazis were wrong? That was their morality, by cultural convention!

Mathematically, it is exceedingly improbable that any of these things should have happened in any given universe, as most scientists freely admit. They have to hypothesize a vast number of universes (a multiverse) to bring the odds down. And yet, we really don't know if there are any other universes.  So believing in them is, well - a matter of faith. There is only one universe that we know to exist, and in that one, we know that all of these things are very, very, very, very improbable. (And by the way, if  those four adjectives seem tryingly repetitive, there aren't nearly enough of them. Truthfully, a million would still be inadequate to describe the odds.)

Do you want to trust in what you know - that it is highly improbable that a universe like ours could arise naturalistically - or in the hypothetical speculations of metaphysical naturalists?

So Bill Maher, I'm going to ask you a question similar to the one you asked Senator Pryor. "Come on. Do you really believe in something so highly unlikely? You wouldn't invest your money in a company that had only one chance in a thousand of succeeding, would you? Then why bet your very soul on odds we know to be vastly - and I do mean vastly - implausible?"

But back to the Messianic Kingdom. The Bible says it will be a time of universal peace, even in the animal world:

The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock. - Isaiah 65:25a 

And what of the snake? What will he eat? Dust!

And dust shall be the serpentĎs meat. - Isaiah 65:25b  

Now doesn't that sound fitting?

~

 
 

Rusty Entrekin is a theology graduate of Louisiana College. He and his wife Julie have seven children, with four still at home, and four grandchildren. Currently, he resides in Kennesaw, GA. He writes apologetic and theological articles to help people come to know Christ and grow closer to the Lord. If this article has blessed you, and you would like to free him up to write more, you may make a donation below.

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Rusty previously decided not to apply for 501c3 ministry status, so that he can write about political matters without worrying about government interference. Because of this, your gifts will not be tax deductible. However, you will receive a far greater reward for your donation:  treasure in heaven!