Penguin Eggs Tragedy

Penguin Eggs Tragedy

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but end thereof is the way of death.  (Proverbs 14:12)

Antarctica-5froze2death.publicdomain

Collecting a few penguin eggs, in Antarctica, sounds like a “cool” adventure (pardon the pun), but the adventure is not worth dying for.  Even moreso, dying in a quixotic quest to “prove Darwin right” is beyond merely reckless  —  it both foolhardy and tragic.

Here is my limerick, followed by a link to my earlier article “Penguins to Die For“, which appeared in ACTS & FACTS, 44(10):20 (October 2015), about how 5 Darwin fans froze to death, down under, for their error   —  trying to “prove” Darwin’s “natural selection” phylogenetic theory of biological origins.   (Sad and foolish at the same time.)


PenguinEggs2Die4.publicdomain

DARWIN’S  FANS  DEAD WRONG  DOWN  UNDER

Darwin’s theory, as “science”, was bad

But, in England, it soon was a fad;

Seeking eggs, as its proof

Gambling all, for a goof  —

So 5 froze, to death  —  and that’s sad.

For more, see “Penguin Eggs to Die For“, posted at http://www.icr.org/article/penguin-eggs-die-for/ .

[See also, on this blog-site, regarding the Emperor Penguin, “Flag that Bird! — Part 2”, posted at https://leesbird.com/2015/04/13/flag-that-bird-part-2/ .]


 

Trinidad Tanagers Contradict Competition “Law” Proposed by Darwinists

Speckled Tanager (Tangara mexicana) ©WikiC

Speckled Tanager (Tangara mexicana) ©WikiC

Trinidad Tanagers Contradict Cutthroat Competition “Law” Proposed by Darwinists

CAN TWO WALK TOGETHER, EXCEPT THEY BE AGREED?  (AMOS 3:3)

“Survival of the fittest” has been a dominating tenet of Darwinian evolution for more than 150 years now. But a trio of colorful birds, living on islands off Venezuela’s coast, provides debunking evidence that, as Dr. Steve Austin would say, Darwin was wrong, when he alleged that do-or-die competition was the fundamental force that shapes nature. So how do these birds dispute Darwin? By eating!

PAS-Thra Bay-headed Tanager (Tangara gyrola) by Michael Woodruff 2

Bay-headed Tanager (Tangara gyrola) by Michael Woodruff

Three varieties of Trinidad tanagers share bugs on the same trees as they silently undermine the “natural selection” myth’s survivalism principle. Without wasteful confrontations over limited food resources, found on the same trees that each of these birds forage upon: (1) speckled tanagers pick off bugs from tree leaves, (2) bay-headed tanagers prefer to eat bugs from under large branches, and (3) turquoise tanagers snap up bugs from twigs.1

Admitting that adversarial competition was lacking, these evolutionist scientists reported the following:  “In the 1960s, two ecologists made careful [empirical] studies on the island of Trinidad of the niches of eight coexisting species of tanager–brightly colored songbirds of the New World tropics. Of the eight species, three, the speckled (Tangara guttata), the bay-headed (T. gyrola), and the turquoise tanager (T. mexicana), were extremely closely related.  They all belonged to the same genus, lived in the same trees and bushes, and fed on insects and fruit. This suggests little in the way of division of resources, for all three species seemed to be using the same ones.  More detailed field observations, though, showed up the niche differences, as is clearly demonstrated by considering one aspect of the pattern of resource division.  In hunting for small insect prey in vegetation, the speckled tanager almost exclusively searches the leaves themselves.  It clings to them upside down, picking off insects, or it walks along small twigs, picking off insects from the leaves above it.  The other two species only rarely feed like this.  Instead, both obtain most of their insect prey form the undersides of branches.  The bay-headed species does this mainly on quite substantial branches, hopping along and leaning over each side alternately to reach under it for insects.  The turquoise tanager, in contrast, almost always takes insects from fine twigs, usually those less than half an inch in diameter.  It also has a predilection for the insects found on dead twigs, which are usually untouched by the other two species.  These detailed observations show that insect food resources and specific feeding areas on the island of Trinidad are neatly split even between very closely related birds.” [Quoting from Whitfield, Moore, & Cox, THE ATLAS OF THE LIVING WORLD  — see endnote #1 below.]

In other words, illustrating what ecologists call noncompetitive niche positioning, this tanager trio avoids antagonistic competition.1 To appreciate how this peaceful prey sharing upsets the presumptions of Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, and their modern ilk, it’s helpful to review why Darwin’s ideas were welcomed so fervently by academics who scoffed at Genesis.

Turquoise Tanager (Tangara mexicana) ©WikiC

Turquoise Tanager (Tangara mexicana) ©WikiC

Generations before Darwin’s “natural selection” theory first became popular, deists (people who essentially believed in a God yet rejected the Bible) like Charles Lyell and James Hutton, effectively laid the groundwork for the acceptance of evolution’s survivalism themes.  (Neither deists nor Darwinists anchor their research on Scripture, yet they also oppose each other.)

Both deists and Darwinists have misreported living conditions on Earth, yet they do so in opposite ways. Deists err on the “see no evil” extreme, underestimating the terrible fallenness of creation.2 Darwinists, however, overemphasize “conquer or be conquered” survivalism—even nominating death as nature’s hero and means of “progress”, instead of recognizing death as the terrible “last enemy” to be destroyed.3 Both extremes misrepresent nature as they actively oppose and/or passively ignore the facts of Scripture.   Unsurprisingly, the true portrayal of nature’s condition is found in holy Scripture, starting in Genesis, a Mosaic book that Christ Himself endorsed as authoritative (John 5:44-47).

The deists’ approach produces worthwhile observations of natural beauty, orderliness, and efficiency but then fails to account for how Earth “groans” after Eden.2  What about birds that peck other birds to death, while fighting over food and territory?  That’s not beautiful!  In the first half of the 1800s, deism failed to explain such ugly forms of competition, so many academics sought a humanistic theory that explained Earth’s uglier features—disease, deprivation, dying—without resorting to God’s revealed answers in Genesis.

Enter Charles Darwin’s magic mechanism of “natural selection”!—an animistic theory invented to substitute for God role as Creator.  This now-popular form of quasi-polytheistic animism often uses the alias “survival of the fittest.”

Darwin and his followers imagined the global ecosystem as a closed “fight-to-the-death” arena, swarming with vicious creatures scrapping for limited resources.  In a one-sum game (“red in tooth and claw,”4 adopting a phrase from Tennyson to fit Darwin’s theory), gain by one competitor meant loss to another.  This selfish competition was quickly heralded as “nature’s law”, so explaining wildlife interactions soon required interpretations based on that brutal assumption.2

But real-world data routinely refuse to fit the evolutionary paradigm. Yet like today, the  embarrassing and uncooperative facts were routinely dismissed and ignored during the 1800s and 1900s.5

Embarrassing Darwin’s theory, even moreso than a lack of wasteful competition, is the prevalent reality of mutual aid, also called mutualistic symbiosis, where different life forms help each other, such as algae and fungus coexisting as lichen or bees pollinating the flowers from which they harvest nectar. Like noncompetitive eco-niche positioning,1 mutual aid doesn’t harmonize with Darwin’s antagonistic competition “song,” so mutual reciprocity (and self-sacrificing altruism) displays are also censured from or marginalized by academics who are gatekeepers of science education curricula.6

Consequently, field studies are often skewed by researchers who quickly jump to conclusions that endorse antagonistic survivalism—as if “natural law” always requires adversarial competition.

Even today, modern Darwinians (both atheistic and theistic), lauding mystical “natural selection”, trumpet creation’s fallenness as Earth’s foremost feature — all the while discarding or disparaging or detouring the historical documentation that God has provided in Genesis regarding what triggered Earth’s undeniable fallenness.

Meanwhile, creatures like tree-snacking Trinidad tanagers make a mockery of Darwinian dogma, as they peaceably share food.

References

  1. Philip Whitfield, Peter D. Moore, & Barry Cox, The Atlas of the Living World (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989), pages 100-101 (quotation taken from page 100; picture portraying non-competitive eco-niche positioning on page 101).
  2. Deists believe in an intelligent Creator God, so they expect Him to make a “perfect” creation. However, because they dismiss the Bible, they imaginatively philosophize about what they think a perfect God would do with His creation—as they self-confidently assume that they know how a perfect God would think and act. Accordingly, deists are quick to recognize God’s caring handiwork in nature; they see orderliness, logic, beauty, and many good things — but they totally miss God’s wisdom as it is displayed in allowing Adam’s choice to trigger the earth’s present “groaning”, which is a temporary condition that (due to redemption in Christ) will be succeeded by a better-than-the-originally-perfect situation (that then needed no redemptive restoration by Christ). See James J. S. Johnson, Misreading Earth’s Groanings: Why Evolutionists and Intelligent Design Proponents Fail Ecology 101. Acts & Facts. 39 (8): 8-9 (August 2010).
  3. 1 Corinthians 15:26.
  4. Darwinists hijacked this phrase from Lord Alfred Tennyson, In Memoriam A. H. H., Canto 56 (1849).
  5. James J. S. Johnson, Jeff Tomkins, & Brian Thomas. 2009. Dinosaur DNA Research: Is the Tale Wagging the Evidence? Acts & Facts, 38 (10): 4-6 (October 2009); James J. S. Johnson, Cherry Picking the Data Is the Pits, Acts & Facts, 44 (7): 19 (July 2015).
  6. Gary Parker, 1978. Nature’s Challenge to Evolutionary Theory, Acts & Facts, 7 (10), July 1978; James J. S. Johnson, “Providential Planting: The Pinyon Jay”, Creation Ex Nihilo. 19 (3): 24-25 (1997); Steve Austin, Grand Canyon: Monument to Catastrophe. Santee, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 1994), pages 156-159.

Dr. James J. S. Johnson formerly taught ornithology/ avian conservation, as well as courses in  ecology, limnology, and bioscience, for Dallas Christian College, and continues to be a “serious birder”.  A condensed version of this creation science article appears as James J. S. Johnson, Tree-Snacking Tanagers Undermine Darwin, Acts & Facts, 45 (6):21 (June 2016).

*

Balancing High Risks: Mountain Climbing and the First Amendment

Balancing High Risks:  Mountain Climbing and the First Amendment

By James J. S. Johnson

When an American astronaut reverently quotes from Psalm 24, and is promptly faulted by a critic—for “violating” the so-called “separation of church and state”(1)—it is time to learn a lesson about balance, from the agility of mountain goats, adroitly ambulating alpine ascents of the Rocky Mountains.

Mountain Goat in Rocky Mountain

Indeed, mountain goats provide creation science “gems”, plus a picture of how we need balance in the political arena, where Christians are routinely shoved—and told to shut up, to avoid “offending” non-Christians.  (Of course, it is offensive to Christians when they are told to “shut up”, but since when did unbelieving critics care about “offending” Christians?)

Why are mountain goats a picture of this problem? Because safely balancing a mountain goat’s body, on steep alpine slopes—and safely balancing individuals’ civil liberties (such as an astronaut’s religious freedom and free speech rights)—are both examples of high-stakes balancing acts. To appreciate this comparison (in this introductory review of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment), mountain goats must be matched to their intended natural habitat, just as the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment must be matched to its intended political context.

A female mountain goat with two babies on a rock mountain in Glacier National Park, Montana.

Consider, first, the agility of a mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus), the sure-hoofed bovid that habituates the heights of North America’s Rocky Mountains and Cascade Range.(2)

“For those of us who admit to some fear of heights, the Mountain Goat is an animal to be admired … This shaggy animal, its back hunched in a manner somewhat suggestive of a Bison, is a master at negotiating the steepest of precipices. Mountain Goats are truly alpine creatures. They commonly rest on high-elevation snowfields and find most of their food among the plants of alpine meadows. Their hooves are structured to [optimize] balance and grip; the outer hoof is strongly reinforced and the bottom is lined with rubbery material, making the whole structure rather like a good hiking boot. These animals nonchalantly cross dizzying ledges, sometimes even at a trot.”(3)

In fact, the high-altitude dexterity of the mountain goat is so phenomenal that it routinely spends most of its time on precipitous terrain steeper than a 40o angle, and sometimes at pitches steeper than 60o!, especially during winter.(4)

Furthermore, the leg bones of the mountain goat are engineered to maximize a functional mix of precision balancing (such as perching all four hooves on a small spot), front-forward pulling power, propulsion leverage and maneuverability (for running and jumping), and stability (due to a low center of gravity) against tipping over.(4)

“A mountain goat climbs with three-point suspension. … Lifting one limb at a time [it] frequently pauses to assess the situation, tests the footing, and if needed turns back and selects a different route. Slow, sure consistency allows life on rock steeper than the angle of repose. Because they are most likely the ones to find themselves in a tight spot, kids do most of the go-for-broke climbing. Although a kid might take four or five missteps per year, it salvages the situation almost every time.”(4)

Mountain Goat Kids Juming ©TMLee

Mountain Goat Kids Juming ©TMLee

Thus, the mountain goats are aptly designed for moving on rocky slopes. Mountain goats are instinctively careful, and they apply their characteristic agility, as they test their environment. (Indeed, when predatory cougars try to attack them, the God-given instinct of mountain goats to flee, successfully, is often implemented by their agility and speed in and up these jagged rocky slopes and precipices!)

Mountain Goats in Danger in Mountain

But without the right physical traits for maintaining balance on rugged rocks—traits which God installed on Day 6 of Creation Week—mountain goats could not thrive, as they do, upon the harsh talus slopes and felsenmeer of their high-elevation habitat.

“The [mountain goat hoofprint] track’s squarish imprint is created by the hoof’s spreading tips. The sides of the toes consist of hard keratin, like that of a horse hoof. Each foot’s two wraparound toenails are used to catch and hold on to cracks and tiny knobs. … The front edge of the hoof tapers to a point, which digs into dirt or packed snow when [it] is going uphill. In contrast to a horse’s concave hoof, which causes the animal to walk on the rim of its toenail, a [mountain] goat’s hoof has a flexible central pad that protrudes beyond the nail. The pad’s rough texture provides [skid-resistant] friction on smooth rock or ice yet is pliant enough to impress itself into irregularities on a stone. Four hooves X 2 toes per hoof = 8 gripping soles per animal. As [mountain] goats descend a slope the toes spread widely, adjusting tension to fine-tune the grip. … This feature makes them more likely to catch onto something. It also divides the downward force of the weight on the hoof so that some of the animal’s total weight is directed sideways. Because there is less net force on each downward [pressure] line, the foot is less likely to slide. Think of it as the fanning out of downward forces over numerous points of friction.”(4)

In a word, BALANCE.  God purposefully designed high-elevation mountain goats for balance, because living life among high alpine rocks is a high-risk lifestyle.

Agile Mountain Goat Jumping across River

Yet the same is equally true to balancing religious liberty rights (and responsibilities) in American society.  Legitimate needs of both “church” and “state” are deliberately balanced with the God-given personal liberty rights of individuals. Like a mountain goat perched atop a precarious precipice, safeguarding those God-given religious freedoms is no lackadaisical endeavor.  The securing of those fundamental freedoms was not (and is not) easily obtained, nor is it easy to maintain those freedoms amidst the ubiquitously power-greedy politics of both “church” and “state”.(5)

In a word, the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment is purposefully designed for BALANCE.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”. (5)

It is to this legal text that the “separation of church and state” concept is frequently attached. However, not all opinions are equal, regarding what that phrase of 16 words (in the First Amendment) mean. Why? Because, as a matter of honesty and valid interpretation, the real meaning of any message must be matched to the message-composer’s intent.(6)

Thus, the only legitimate understanding of the First Amendment’s meaning is the understanding that matches the meaning assigned to it by the (human) source of its words.(5),(6),(7)

Signing Document

Yet, as a text drafted by statesmen of the late 1700s (principally by James Madison, who condensed an earlier version by George Mason), the authorial intent balanced a rejection of government-“established” church organizations, with affirmation of peaceful expression of individual religious beliefs and moral values.(6)

In other words, the First Amendment anticipated that Christians may freely express their religious viewpoints, at the personal level—yet Congress shall not officially endorse (“establish”) any specific ecclesiastical organizations, such as Baptists or Presbyterians or Anglicans or Methodists. This balancing of freedom and order—free exercise of religion, without any federal sponsorship of a particular religious denomination or hierarchy—fits the overall checks-and-balances equilibrium designed in 1791.(6)

“The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance, Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national establishment which should give to a [religious] hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government.”(8)

To put it mildly, this political balancing act is neither easily obtained nor easily maintained.  But this balance was carefully planned for–intended—by America’s founding fathers. Yet now the phrase “separation of church and state” is used to force-fit an off-balanced understanding of the First Amendment.  How did that happen?

In short, the constitutional jurisprudence of America became “evolutionized”, during the late 1800s, upsetting the proper balance between religious liberty and governmental interference.(5),(6),(7),(8),(9)

“Twentieth-century jurisprudence is based on a Darwinian world view.  Life [supposedly] evolves, men [supposedly] evolve, society [supposedly] evolves, and therefore laws and constitutions [supposedly] evolve.  According to the Darwinian principle, the Constitution’s meaning evolves and changes with time. … [Thus modern judges, implementing evolutionary humanism as jurists, my disagree about what a law “now means”] — But neither the majority nor the minority [of such evolutionary law judges] deny the basic evolutionary interpretation.  They merely question at which stage of the evolutionary scale we are!  This is not the way the founding fathers viewed constitutional interpretation.  They saw the Constitution as the supreme law, and also as a covenant or contract.  The Constitution like all legal documents was viewed as a fixed document, to be interpreted according to its plain meaning.  And if its meaning was ambiguous as applied to a specific situation, it was to be interpreted according to the intent of those who wrote it, signed it, and ratified it.  James Madison expressed this view when he wrote, ‘(If) the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the Nation … be not the guide in expounding it, there can be no security for a faithful exercise of its powers’.”(9)

How evolutionary thinking infected American law will be reviewed, God willing, in a sequel to this introductory article.(10) Meanwhile, don’t believe it when someone tells you that the First Amendment “prohibits” an individual astronaut from reverently reading his Bible in space—or from sharing that personal fact via Facebook.(1)

And, as you appreciate the originally intended balance, designed in the First Amendment, don’t forget to thank God—for how He equipped agile mountain goats, to inhabit some of the most precarious places in the Rocky Mountains, as He exhibits (and we enjoy learning about) His creative glory and bioengineering genius.(2)

References

(1) On April 3rd of AD2016, via Facebook, U.S. astronaut Jeff Williams said: “We finally have a quiet Sunday and I’m reading, ‘The Earth is the LORD’s and all that fills it’ in Psalm 24 and viewing this sight [referring to photographs of Earth, seen from the International Space Station].  No matter how long you’re here [in space], the grandeur strikes and the wonder never fades.”  To this posting a God-hating protest retorted, on Col. Jeff Williams’ Facebook page:  “Jeff Williams could you please leave your personal religious views out of your public posts.  You are a government employee.  In America we have a separation of church and state.  Don’t use your publicly funded position to promote personal views.  Teachers shouldn’t and neither should astronauts.  I enjoy the photos from space.  I have followed astronauts photos for over two years without religious bias in the captions.  Your post elevates (no pun intended) man’s divisiveness on Earth to Space.  Please keep it private and keep posting these wonderful scientific pictures without the religious OPINIONS.”

(2) The rope-like “backbone” ridge chain of North America’s West is called the Western Cordillera. Included in its geographic system are the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Range, the primary high-elevation range of most North American mountain goats. George Constanz, Ice, Fire, and Nutcrackers: A Rocky Mountain Ecology (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2014), page 215.

(3) John Kricher, A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain and Southwest Forests (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998), pages 235-236. As illustrated in Job 39:1, Israel’s mountain goat is named for how this bearded climber masters its rocky alpine habitat:  ya‘alê-sâla‘   literally means “ascender of cliff-rock”. See also Psalm 104:18a.

(4) Constanz, Rocky Mountain Ecology, pages 224-226, with quotes frompages 225-226.

 (5) U.S. Constitution, First Amendment (Free Exercise and Establishment clauses), ratified 1791. The vast majority of the world’s nations prohibit the “free exercise” for religious liberty, either by establishing a specific religion to the prejudice of others, or by persecuting theistic religions in general.  The most thorough historical analysis of the First Amendment is provided in Rector, etc., of Holy Trinity Church v. United States, 143 U.S. 457, 12 S.Ct. 511 (1892), by Justice David Josiah Brewer.  To bypass the jurisprudential relevance, of the Holy Trinity Church ruling, is to demonstrate careless misunderstanding of what the First Amendment was originally designed (and originally used) to accomplish. The balancing of civil government powers, ordained by God’s delegation, with jurisdictional limits to facilitate religious freedom, accords with relevant Scriptures, e.g., Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:1-4; Daniel 2:21 & 4:25—and with Israel’s separation of religious offices (tribe of Levi) from the monarchy (tribe of Judah).

(6) George Mason’s religious liberty tenet, which he had drafted (12 years earlier) for the Virginia Declaration of Rights, became the precursor for Virginia’s proposal (to Congress) to approve a religious freedom amendment for the “new” Constitution: “That Religion or the Duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by Reason and Conviction, not by Force or violence, and therefore all men have an equal, natural, and unalienable Right to the free Exercise of Religion according to the Dictates of Conscience, and that no particular religious Sect or Society of Christians ought to be favored or established by Law in preference to others.” Notably, the entire Bill of Rights (i.e., Amendments 1 through 10) limited federal government powers. Ironically, most of the Constitution’s later amendments have expanded those powers. John Eidsmoe, Institute on the Constitution: A Study on Christianity and the Law of the Land  (Marlborough, NH: Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1995), pages 71-73. See also John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of our Founding Fathers (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1987), pages 77-178, especially pages 93-112. Ironically, Thomas Jefferson (author of the phrase “separation of church and state”) was undeniably absent—in France!—during the Constitution’s drafting and early ratification (which processes prompted the Bill of Rights amendments), so his opinion of the First Amendment’s “intent” is interpretatively irrelevant.

(7) Importantly, the First Amendment’s meaning is contextually blended to the axiological fabric of the Declaration of Independence (referring to our “Creator”, “Nature’s God”, “the Supreme Judge of the world”, and “Divine Providence”), and to the Christian worldview evidenced by the U.S. Constitution’s Article VII (which refers to Jesus  Christ as “our Lord”).

(8) Eidsmoe, Institute on the Constitution, page 76, quoting Justice Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (Boston: Hilliard, Gray & Co., 1833), vol. II, page 593.

(9) John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of our Founding Fathers (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1987), pages 391-392, quoting James Madison.

(10) The evolutionary mantra-phrase, “natural selection”, promotes animistic powers to inanimate elements of “nature”, not dissimilar from the polytheistic nature-worship of the ancient pagans.  See, e.g., James J. S. Johnson, “Norse and Germanic Mythology”, Chapter 14 in World Religions and Cults, Volume 2 (Green Leaf: Master Books, 2016, edited by Bodie Hodge & Roger Patterson), especially at pages 271-272 & 287-288.  See also, accord, James J. S. Johnson, “How Can a Mechanical ‘Cardinal’ Make ‘Selections’?For a thorough analysis of this “bait-and-switch” tricky-terminology problem (of “science” falsely so-called), see generally Randy J. Guliuzza’s “Darwin’s Sacred Imposter:  Natural Selection’s Idolatrous Trap“, Acts & Facts, 40(11):12-15 (November 2011).

Mountain Goats on Rocky Hill

How Can a Mechanical ‘Cardinal’ Make ‘Selections’?

How Can a Mechanical ‘Cardinal’ Make ‘Selections’?

For we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. (1st Corinthians 4:9b)

But what about birds: can they be spectators?

What about fake birds:  can they “select” when to sing?

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) Male and Female ©WikiC

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) Male and Female ©WikiC

This unusual bird-watching report begins with a “no-brainer” observation that most birders already know well:  we humans like to watch birds!

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) Male and Female ©WikiC

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) Male and Female ©WikiC

Luzon Bleeding-heart by Dan

Orni-Theology

In fact, it seems (based on a survey done by wildlife ecologists in Maryland) that we humans like to watch birds — moreso than any other kind of wildlife.  People love birds, and well they should!  Specifically, according to a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service officer, birds are the main attraction when it comes to people viewing wildlife.  “The 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation noted that 71.8 million American participated in some kind of wildlife-watching recreation, including observing, feeding or photographing [wildlife].  Birds attract the biggest following of all U.S. wildlife.  Approximately 46.7 million people observed birds around the house and on trips in 2001.  A large majority, 88 percent (41.3 million), observed wild birds around the home, while 38 percent (17.8 million) took trips away from home to observe wild birds.  Home birders averaged 119 days, while away-from-home birders averaged 13 days.”  (Quoting from Kathy Reshetiloff, “Services Provided by Migratory Birds Don’t Come Cheaply”, Chesapeake Bay Journal, 24(3):1 (May 2014).  As noted previously, birds often don’t notice when we are watching them – and that is when we see them acting true to character. [See https://leesbird.com/2014/10/06/busy-hummingbirds-oblivious-to-spectators/  ]

A plastic “toy” cardinal can make you wonder about motion sensitivity.  (More on that below.)

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) Male and Female ©WikiC

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) Male and Female ©WikiC

The Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), a/k/a “redbird” is a beauty to behold – and to hear.  Cardinals are so highly appreciated that seven states claim it as their official state bird:  Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia!

Cardinals are songbirds that are easily seen (especially the males), due to their colored plumage contrasting with the green foliage of spring and summer, — or with the bright white of winter snow.

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) Male and Female ©Zanawer

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) Male and Female ©Zanawer

Surely a view of cardinals, eating safflower and sunflower seeds (or other cracked corn, peanuts, or even raisins!), will make you wonder at God’s creative genius and love of beauty, when He chose to make (see Genesis 1:21) the male and female of that beautiful songbird species!

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) Male and Female ©WikiC

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) Male and Female ©WikiC

“The cardinal is a favorite bird of many people and it’s easy to see why.  The brilliant scarlet plumage of the male and the subtle shades of the female, combined with their clear melodic song, make them enjoyable to watch (and to listen to] in any season.”  [Quoting from Donald Stokes & Lillian Stokes, A Guide to Bird Behavior, Volume II (Little, Brown & Co., 1983), page 247.]

But, could it be that birds also like to watch humans?  And could it even be that mechanical “birds” appreciate humans who move around in front of them?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/251378388026?lpid=82&chn=ps

Plastic Cardinal from ebay.com

[ plastic cardinal image  from  http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/251378388026?lpid=82&chn=ps ]

Lately my wife have been having fun at my expenses, using a “toy” cardinal.  The cardinal was given to her by Marcia Webel (of Florida, wife of Chaplain Bob Webel).  It is a smaller than life-sized bird shaped and colored like a male cardinal, and it can make “vocal” noises like one, too.  But it is a “motion-activated” machine.  In other words, it is “selective” in when it “chooses” to sound off its recorded chirping sounds (which do sound like a real cardinal).  But it’s not really making decisions about when to chirp; it’s just a programmed machine that is designed with receptor features that sense motion nearby, and the inventor designed the machine to “trigger” its recorded sounds whenever its receptors “recognize” such motions.

So far, so good.

But here is the puzzle:  my wife moves in front of the “cardinal” and he chirps for her, just like the toy’s inventor designed him to do.  Then I dance (not in public, of course, — just in the privacy of our kitchen) in front of the “cardinal” and he is silent.  Silent!  So I dance again.  Silent, silent!  So I try a few Tae Kwon Do maneuvers (kicking, punching, whirling, bowing) – and he is still silent. If proving my body’s mobility was dependent upon the “cardinal” chirping I would be diagnosed as paralyzed or unconscious.

It seems like the “cardinal” is “selective” regarding which human he is “willing” to chirp for.  But that can’t be, you say, and you are right.

A lifeless machine – even one that looks like and sounds like a male cardinal – cannot really “select” anything.

The very idea that anything lifeless can “select” anyone or anything is silly, because the English word “select” necessarily includes the actions of thinking and choosing.  (Of course, the preprogrammed actions of the machine do reveal the thought and choices of the machine’s inventor.)

By now I’m sure you see the parallel to God our Creator, Who programmed all of creation to perform according to how He invented His creatures and the world that He put them in.  (He made the planning and programming choices needed to invent all the birds, and ourselves, and everything else  —   God did it, not “nature”.)

It is both silly and deceptive to use the phrase “natural selection” to imply that nonliving substances (like sunlight, wind, rain, snow, lightning bolts, etc.) are a kind of “natural selection” that orders “nature”.   In fact, the phrase “natural selection” is a science-fiction example of “bait-and-switch” [See “Bait and Switch”, at http://www.icr.org/article/bait-switch-trick-used-by-both-anglerfish ]

Yet that very misleading phrase (“natural selection”) is spun as a secular God-substitute, to explain the origin of species that inhabit our fine-tuned planet.  [See “DNA and RNA:  Providential Coding to ‘Revere’ God”, at http://www.icr.org/article/dna-rna-providential-coding-revere ]  Obviously, the mechanical “cardinal”, with its puzzling actions that “react” to some (but not all) motions, was invented by a clever inventor.  How much moreso is our Creator-God a clever inventor!  It is God Who selected how to make our bodies, to eat food (Acts 14:17) and to grow (Psalm 139) and to do so many other amazing things during our earthly lives.  And He also invented the real cardinals!  (And sometimes real cardinals watch me, so there!)

Maybe I don’t have the kind of “walk” that causes a mechanical cardinal to “sing”.  As we all know, you need to have the “walk”, not just the “talk”.

So who do you watch?  If you only sang a song if and when someone walked in front of you, but not if he (or she) merely talked, who would you sing for?

The best sermons are role-modeled – those who “walk” their “talk” are truly the best communicators!  When we consider the “talk” and “walk” of other Christians, as we do without consciously trying, we are evaluating which Christians we think are moving in step with God’s Word.  Some are.   Others aren’t.  (And some we can’t be too sure about – see 1st Timothy 5:24.)

Meanwhile, as we move through this world, from day to day, are our own lives worth watching?

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  (Matthew 5:16)

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Orni-Theology

James J. S. Johnson

Cardinalidae – Cardinals, Grosbeaks and allies

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Interesting Things – A Few Questions For Evolutionists

Interesting Things from Smiley Central

“He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong.” Job 5:13

Why do giraffes have long necks or kangaroos have pouches? Evolutionists answer that natural selection has favored the development of certain characteristics while discouraging and eliminating other features. But if this is what happened, we who believe in creation have a few questions.

Giraffe skeleton on exhibit at The Museum of Osteology, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (PD)

Giraffe skeleton on exhibit at The Museum of Osteology, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (PD)

Giraffes have long necks, say evolutionists, because conditions favored the development of long-necked creatures that could feed on higher parts of the tree. But then many other grazing animals live side by side with giraffes and manage to get by. The horse, according to evolutionary explanations, has crowned teeth in order to survive in its environment. And yet the cow, with its uncrowned teeth, survives quite well in the same environment.

Some evolutionists say that plants developed berries so that their seeds, inside the berries, would be carried far and wide by hungry birds, thus ensuring the plants’ survival. Why then did some plants develop poisonous berries? And if the maternal instinct evolved to preserve the next generation, why do creatures like the stickleback fish, seahorse, and midwife toad, to name a few, leave total care of the young to the male?

The truth is that natural selection does not offer a clear and consistent explanation for the living world. The diversity of the created world does not bear witness to evolutionary principles, but to the artistry of our Creator God.

Prayer:

Dear Father, You confound those who are wise in their own hearts and give wisdom and clear vision to those Whom You have made pure through the blood of Christ. Let the wisdom and vision I seek be that which You provide. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Notes:
Photo: Giraffe skeleton on exhibit at The Museum of Osteology, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (PD)
©Creation Moments 2014

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