The Wright Brothers Studied Birds, Therefore …

Creationists are always surprising us. Back in 2009 we wrote The Scientific Case Against Powered Flight. Using creationist logic — the best kind of logic! — we decisively proved that powered flight is impossible.

But now, to our amazement, powered flight is being used to prove the bible by the creation scientists at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom, Their article is titled Bioinspiration: The Birds Will Tell You.

It was written by Jerry Bergman — that’s ICR’s bio page on him. His resume sounds impressive — until they say he “joined ICR in 2018 as Research Associate.” We’ve seen occasional creationist references to him, but this is the first time we’ve blogged about one of his articles. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Humans have been endeavoring to soar like birds for millennia. After multiple failures, many people felt that manned, mechanized flight was impossible. After three years of test flights, Wilbur and Orville Wright’s first successful airborne attempt finally achieved the dream of mechanized flight in 1903, and it changed the world. And “throughout the story of the Wright brothers…birds figure prominently.”

Jerry has a footnote regarding the source of that quote about birds. We haven’t bothered to check it — or any of the several other alleged quotes he provides throughout his article. Then he says:

They were no doubt inspired by the mention of birds 53 times in the Bible, such as “ask…the birds of the air, and they will tell you.” [Footnote to a scripture reference.] The brothers were largely self-taught but voracious readers who experimented with mechanical things throughout their lives. Their church had long been openly creationist and very opposed to Darwinism.

Were the Wright brothers inspired by the bible? Jerry has no source for that statement. We don’t see any source for that claim about their church either. We sense that Jerry is building a rickety case for claiming that their work is some kind of creation science. He tells us:

Wilbur and Orville realized that if birds could fly, humans could copy their design and likewise be able to fly. … The brothers recognized a critical factor was the bird wing’s shape, which they endeavored to copy. Observing birds was one way their approach to flight differed significantly from contemporary experimenters whose focus was on developing more-powerful engines. The brothers focused on wing design. … Their notebooks include detailed notes on bird flight that help historians determine what they learned from birds.

Perhaps so. Where is Jerry going with this? We’ll soon find out. He continues:

The human engineering of devices inspired by design in the natural world is called bioinspiration, a field that has grown both in size and importance in the years since the famous flight. The Wright brothers’ example is only one of thousands.

Ah, we see where he’s going. The Discoveroids used to make that kind of argument all the time — a typical example is in Humans Copy Nature, Therefore Intelligent Design! Here’s another one: Discoveroids: Science Copies Nature, Therefore …. Is recycling that old nonsense the best ICR can do? Apparently so. Let’s read on:

From “studying God’s creation in the form of bird-flight, they were helped to develop their own creation of a better aircraft.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! And now we come to the end:

Indeed, very few men have changed the world in greater ways than the Wright brothers, and they started by watching “the birds of the air.” We can see God’s engineering genius even in this pale imitation of His created avian wonders.

As feeble as that was, it’s probably going to delight the Discoveroids. They’re always hoping their “science arguments” will have some influence, and now their wish has come true. Unfortunately for them, their argument has influenced only another creationist outfit.

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21 responses to “The Wright Brothers Studied Birds, Therefore …

  1. Icarus flew like a bird long before the Wright bros. DaVinci in his many writings also preceded the Wrights by many years.

  2. For his next ‘bioinspired’ trick, Jerry will show how the invention of powered submarines was triggered by creationists observing that fish could apparently hold their breath under water for very, very, very long periods of time.

    And armored tanks were inspired by a keen creationist naturalist observing a caterpillar and dung beetle joining forces to steamroll over the ranks of worker ants.

  3. Bergman has a long history in creationism, diploma-mill qualifications, and lying about his credentials.

  4. The cleverest of designers – people like Leonardo – could not come up with a design for a flying machine. The only thing that they could think of was to copy nature.
    That is not a good argument for design.

  5. Michael Fugate

    Ever get the feeling that it is not about intelligence, but about having access to magic words? If we only had the proper incantations, we could animate anything. God supposedly has them, but where did they come from? Why do words hold power?

  6. How exactly do the wings of an airplane resemble the wings of a bird?

  7. Hello Curmudgeon. I think you should check out Diane Douglass in Arizona. Nasty creationist stuff going on there.

  8. I don’t really believe our dear SC when he writes “But now, to our amazement ….”
    He himself has shown numerous times that creacrap is “proven” by everything and anything.

    “From “studying God’s creation …..”
    Oh yeah, this is good. Joking Jerry argues that the Wright brother did better than the god they believed in. So much for “God’s engineering genius”. TomS’ “That is not a good argument for design” is the understatement of the month.

  9. I am trying to think of where in nature is the concept of the wheel?

  10. @Douglas E: how about the rotary flagellum? Irreducible, if not in its complexity (sorry, Behe), at least, perhaps, in its flagellicity.

    Yes, we can and do learn from nature. Biomimetics is a long standing technique in science, particularly in the synthesis of composite materials. And remember Orgel’s Second Law: “Evolution is smarter than Leslie Orgel”; and people as smart as Orgel are very few and far between

  11. Certainly agree that we can learn from nature. One of my favorite machines is the Na K ATP pump.

  12. One word for Bergman, “Ostrich”.

    one word for

  13. Ooops! One word for me!

  14. Nature is smarter than design.

  15. OMG, Bergman! Old Jer’s been around for a LOOOOOOONNNNNNGGGGG time. Dyed-in-the-wool YEC from the good old days. A crackpot’s crackpot. Always wrong but never in doubt. Master of the Gish Gallop and quote mining. Complete with fake PhD from a non-accredited correspondence “university,” Bergman was denied tenure and terminated from Bowling Green State University. Bergman sued the school citing “persecution” but lost his case because he had been dismissed on ethics charges that he claimed to have a degree that he didn’t have. Ethics, what a surprise!

  16. And the Wright brothers’ study of birds is exactly why every flying machine today has flapping wings! Why hasn’t everyone else (including idiot Bergman) noticed this??

    By the way, to add to Bergman’s credibility, he was terminated from Bowling Green because they also noticed that he had written a rediculous quantity of exceptionally low quality papers to pad his resume.

    Bergman also wrote papers claiming that gays can be discriminated against since there is no biological link to gayness, the secular scientific community framed the Catholic church in the Galileo affair, and a host of other jaw droppingly ignorant papers. Of course these particular papers only got published in creationists journals and websites.

    And Bergman is also an “expert” science teacher by the way, only at Christian schools of course. One can only imagine the horrors peddled in his “science” classrooms. If Bergman were twice as smart he would only reach the idiot level.

  17. How did he ever get hired by Bowling Green, which I thought was a pretty reputable place?

  18. The Wright brothers were devout Methodists, and Methodism has always had its fundamentalist/Biblical literalist elements. I can’t find any source that attests to their creationism, however. They certainly never tried, as other early attempts did, to copy the shape or action of bird wings. This does not, however, argue that they didn’t think that God had created the birds on the fifth day of a six-day creation. Maybe they did think that – but I certainly wouldn’t take the word of a creationist for it, or for anything else.

  19. Icarus flew like a bird long before the Wright bros. DaVinci in his many writings also preceded the Wrights by many years.
    And aircraft based on daVinci’s designs have been successfully flown in modern times, though they had to be made from strong light-weight materials unavailable in Leonardo’s time (and use pedals, taking advantage the strength of human leg muscles, which are much stronger than those of the arms–flapping won’t do the trick).

  20. This whole article is one hilarious load of codswallop in its poor thinking, poor reasoning, lack of any competent research, lack of understanding what one reads and it’s also a great example of a very bad example in making a mountain out of a molehill and using ones own lack of competent thinking to push ones own bigotry.

    But then, it’s typical, shallow, incompetent Darwinian tripe.

  21. Michael Fugate

    @Hitch, Coming from a person who claims Hume was an intelligent design proponent – incompetence is something you obviously know about first hand.