At one time, Michael Johnson was the fastest man alive. He once covered the last 100 meters of a 200-meter race in 9.6 seconds (“The Fastest Man...,” 2007). A human running at a speed of 28 mph is quite impressive, but neither Michael Johnson nor any other human can maintain such a speed for more than a few seconds. Marathon runners may be able to run 26.2 miles without stopping, but no one averages more than 13 mph while running great distances. Although the human body is a meticulously designed “machine” (see Jackson, 2000), which functions perfectly for its intended purpose on Earth, there are limits to what a person can do. When these limits are compared to the speed and distance a particular bird recently flew, one gains a greater appreciation for God’s wondrous creation.
In February 2007, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey fitted 16 shorebirds, known as bar-tailed godwits, with satellite transmitters. One of the godwits, dubbed E7, made its way from New Zealand to Alaska over the next three months, flying 9,340 miles with one five-week-long layover near the North Korea-China border (Hansford, 2007). After nearly four months, the godwit began its uninterrupted flight back to New Zealand. Amazingly, this little bird, which normally weighs less than one pound, flew 7,145 miles in nine days without stopping, averaging 34.8 mph. Without taking a break to eat, drink, or rest, the godwit flew “the equivalent of making a roundtrip flight between New York and San Francisco, and then flying back again to San Francisco without ever touching down” (“Bird Completes...,” 2007). Equally impressive, the godwit’s approximately 16,500-mile, roundtrip journey ended where it began. Without a map, a compass, or even a parent, godwits can fly tens of thousands of miles without getting lost.
Scientists have studied the migration of birds for decades and still cannot adequately explain this “age-old riddle” (Peterson, 1968, p. 108). Their stamina and sense of direction is mind-boggling. In his book Unsolved Mysteries of Science, evolutionist John Malone reported how much progress man has made over the last few centuries in understanding how birds are able to journey thousands of miles with pinpoint accuracy (2001, pp. 114-122). Yet, he concluded his chapter on bird migration, saying:
Partial explanations abound, but every book or scientific article on bird migration is full of conditional words and phrases: “It may be...but it also might not be.” We know more about how birds might achieve their epic flights around the world, but there are still far more mysteries than there are explanations. The tiny songbird that reappeared to build its nest in the apple tree outside your window—and we know from banding that it can indeed be exactly the same bird—has been to South America and back since you saw it last. How can that be? This is one case where it may be nicer not to know—simply allow yourself to be swept up by awe and wonder (p. 122, emp. added).
Try as they might, evolutionists attempting to explain the complexities of bird migration can only offer woeful (and often contradictory) theories, at best (Peterson, p. 108). How can a person reasonably conclude that non-intelligence, plus time, plus chance equals a one-pound, bar-tailed godwit flying 7,145 miles in nine days without stopping for food, water, or rest? The “awe and wonder” to which John Malone alluded should be directed toward neither mindless evolution nor the birds themselves, but to the “great and awesome God” (Daniel 9:4) Who has done “wondrous works” and “awesome things” (Psalm 106:22), including endowing birds with the amazing trait we call “instinct.” Truly, it is not by evolution or man’s wisdom that a bird “soars, stretching his wings toward the south” (Job 39:26). Rather, “the stork in the sky knows her seasons; and the turtledove and the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration” (Jeremiah 8:7, NASB), because all-knowing, all-powerful Jehovah is the Creator of them all.
“Bird Completes Epic Flight Across the Pacific” (2007), ScienceDaily, September 17, [On-line], URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070915131205.htm.
“The Fastest Man on Earth?” (2007), [On-line], URL: http://www.eis2win.co.uk/gen/news_sprintrecords020805.aspx.
Hansford, Dave (2007), “Alaska Bird Makes Longest Nonstop Flight Ever Measured,” National Geographic News, September 14, [On-line], URL: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/09/070913-longest- flight.html.
Jackson, Wayne (2000), The Human Body—Accident or Design? (Stockton, CA: Courier Publications).
Malone, John (2001), Unsolved Mysteries of Science (New York: John Wiley & Sons).
Peterson, Roger (1968), The Birds (New York: Time-Life Books).
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