Creationist Wisdom #1,043: Birds Fly, Therefore …

Today’s letter-to-the-editor (it’s actually a column) appears in Daily Sentinel of Pomeroy, Ohio, population 1,852. It’s titled Search the Scriptures: God taught the birds to fly, and the newspaper has a comments feature.

Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name — but today we’ve got a preacher. It’s Jonathan McAnulty, minister of the Chapel Hill Church of Christ of Gallipolis, Ohio. We’ll give you some excerpts from the rev’s column, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, some bold font for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]. Okay, here we go:

Birds are fascinating creatures, delighting with their many colors, but most especially with their aerial abilities. For as long as anyone can remember, mankind has delighted in watching birds fly, and there is a lot of delight to be had in such an endeavor. Birds are marvelous pilots, though we may not always appreciate just how much skill they are exhibiting as they fly here and there, swooping and tumbling about. Yet consider the skill it takes for a song-bird to swoop into a tree, avoiding the many branches, before coming to alight upon the single one branch it had chosen, going from a break-neck speed to a dead stop in just a matter of seconds.

Okay, birds are amazing. So are dung beetles. Now what? The rev says:

How do birds do it? Birds, we observe, are perfectly built for flight, from their feathers to their light bone-structure to their aerodynamic wings, bodies and tails. Yet physical properties alone cannot explain the remarkable aerial stunts engaged in by birds. Birds also have an innate instinct for flight. This instinct, exhibited by birds as soon as they begin trying to flap their wings, is what allows the myriad species of feathered flyers to perform their many astounding aerial feats.

Where is the rev going with this? Oh, here it comes:

Instincts, such as those possessed by birds, are one of the many glaring holes in the theory of evolution. [What?] There is no known mechanism by which a creature can pass on learned knowledge to its offspring, and, in fact, it is generally understood that learnt behavior is never passed on. So, the question remains, how did birds learn how to fly so well?

Wowie, it’s a mystery! Perhaps the rev can explain it. He continues:

The biblical answer is, of course, that God designed and created birds to fly from the beginning [Yes!] and that every flying bird that has ever been hatched came into the world with instincts already programmed into its biological makeup. “God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good (Genesis 1:21; ESV).” When we consider the creation of God, and its many marvels, we can agree with God that it was indeed good.

Okay, we all agree. Now what? Let’s read on:

Now consider that the same God who taught the birds to fly, is willing to teach us. [Teach us what?] … He wants to care for us, and He wants to raise us up. One of the beautiful promises made by God to His people is found in the prophet Isaiah: “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:31a; ESV).”

What is the rev saying? Here’s another excerpt:

Unlike the birds, we are not born knowing all we need to know to soar spiritually. God has designed us so as to require actual instruction. We must learn to trust. We must learn how to obey. We must learn to love one another as God has commanded. Yet, if we will receive instruction, the results are no less remarkable than the flight of any eagle or songbird. Spiritually, God has created us to have the capability to rise to heights greater than any bird has ever flown. … He has given us the capacity for a joy greater than any expressed by a bird in song, and He has promised us that if we will but follow Him, He will guide us to a heavenly and eternal home.

There’s a bit more, but this is a good place to end. Our question for you, dear reader, is simple: What did he say?

Copyright © 2020. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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18 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #1,043: Birds Fly, Therefore …

  1. Why do birds fly?
    Birds fly because there is carnivory on the world. Birds fly either to be predators or to escape being prey.

  2. Somebody should ask the rev why the kiwis don’t fly, despite having wings. Bad design?

  3. Michael Fugate

    No critical thinking, though.

  4. Dave Luckett

    TomS has quoted Galileo on birds, for which I am in debt to both of them: “Surely, God could have caused birds to fly with their bones made of solid gold, with their veins full of quicksilver, with their flesh heavier than lead, and with their wings exceedingly small. He did not, and that ought to show something. It is only in order to shield your ignorance that you put the Lord at every turn to the refuge of a miracle.”

    So the Rev is merely admitting to ignorance. He does not know how birds acquire the knowledge to fly. A more careful observer would have seen that fledglings take some time to become proficient, but the quicker they do it the more likely they are to survive, and thus might ascribe some of their proficiency to practice, and some to selection. That observer might also have seen that different species of birds develop different flying abilities, depending on environment and economy, thus leading to the possibility that those are the selection agents. Who knows where this path of thought might lead?

    But the Rev is content with his ignorance and his wonder. He doesn’t know, but he’s perfectly happy not to know. “God did it” is all he needs.

    Galileo had to contend, and to suffer under, the Inquisition. It would seem churlish not to put up with the Rev, who is, like Earth, mostly harmless. Nevertheless, on bad days I find it difficult to suffer fools gladly.

  5. chris schilling

    SC wonders: what did the rev say?

    Near as I can make out, he came on like the coach at half-time to give the team a much-needed pep talk: “Now get out there and stop playing like a bunch of Darwinists!”

  6. ” how did birds learn how to fly so well?” I know I know. An unknown supernatural beard man in the sky poofed every single bird into existence AND miraculously the birds learn to fly because of miraculous unexplainable forces emanating from the all powerful entity whose origin is unexplainable. What other explanation could there possibly be ? Plus my explanation is so much easier than learning to think and getting an education……. you just have to keep repeating this concept to yourself….Thanks ! It IS a great letter SC !!

  7. @Dave….thanks for sharing that. Really super. (I got a B in paleontology sadly). But at the time I was fairly proud of that ..

  8. Preacher Jonny is impressed: “Birds are fascinating creatures, delighting with their many colors,”
    Ah yes, like house sparrows, which are light brown, medium brown and dark brown – in two words: boring brown.

    “but most especially with their aerial abilities.”
    Especially pinguins and ostriches have splendid aerial abilities. They are marvelous pilots indeed. They are perfectly build for flight, sure, with highly aerodynamic bodies. Their aerial stunts, resulting from their innate instinct for flight, never fail to impress me.
    That or perhaps the instincts already programmed into their biological makeup contain some serious bugs.
    Or – and that’s my bet – preacher Jonny is talking from the lower end of his digestive system. He seems to realize it himself, given “every flying bird that has ever been hatched”.

    “He wants to care for us, and He wants to raise us up.”
    The creep.

    Our dear SC begs for clarification: “Our question for you, dear reader, is simple: What did he say?”
    Simple. Become a creacrapper and you will be superior to all birds.

  9. Laurette M

    Please, Creationists, tell me one thing–ANYTHING–that was not designed. And explain how do you tell the difference. I’d like to know so that I, too, could make these determinations.

    Or, are you saying that absolutely EVERYTHING has the appearance of being designed? So please just say that so we can be done with this charade.

  10. @och will
    Thnak you for the full explanation for bird flight.
    That puts to rest any matherialist failure to explain flight in terms of the theory of flight – and it is only a theory – in terms of forces like weight and lift and propulsion and drag. Birds defy the law of gravity because they are intelligently designed. Only intelligent design can defy the laws of nature. (We know that, because we know that we cannot design things which defy the laws of nature, so it must take even more design.)

  11. @Laurette M
    Your question got me to thinking about what might be an example of non-design.
    First of all, according to standard Christian theology, everything is a creature of God.
    So we have to think of things which don’t exist. But the only things which we can think of which don’t exist are imaginary things, like flying horses or square circles or a mile high building. And those most certainly are designed.
    And that leads us to a puzzle. Being designed is not enough to account for existence.
    Could it be that “intelligent design” does not explain even mere existence?

  12. Explaining penguins: They fly in the water. God is showing his omnipotence by desinging birds which can fly in any medium.
    Explaining ostriches: God is demonstrating the fact that he does not need to make birds fly. Flight is a option.

  13. chris schilling

    Explaining the tyrannosauroid Yutyrannus hulai: God put (proto) feathers on a creature that was simply too big and terrestrial to be capable of flight.

    God must have had a surplus of designed feathers left over from birds proper, and decided they shouldn’t go to waste.

  14. @TomS says “Birds defy the law of gravity because they’re intelligently designed” Of course ! Of course ! Thats it ! Hallelujah !! I’m breaking out the champagne !!

  15. Thanks to Dave Luckett and TomS, I looked up that quotation and found a very interesting discussion of the issues involved in Santillana’s Crime of Galileo. The Pope’s argument against Galileo, now referred to as the argument from the unthought-of alternative, Is irrefutable, if one is willing to reject the explanatory power of science in favour of a belief in the infallibility of Scripture.

    As for Jonathan, he doesn’t know the half of it. Who taught him to walk? Who taught his heart to beat, or his hair to grow? Or ice to crystallise in such a way that it floats on top of water?

  16. @Paul Braterman
    Long ago, I heard the question about how the bee knows how to build the most efficient form of the hive.
    One can also ask how the light ray knows how to take the shortest path in the most complex arrangement of lenses and mirrors, let alone solve the equations of general relativity.

  17. I always laugh and laugh and laugh when you bring up logic.