Consider the Evidence from the Animal World
THE animal world has to face a problem quite different from that encountered by the plant world. Plants are, for the most part, immobile. Their fixed location makes it essential that they have the adaptability to endure changing and inimical factors in the environment. Then, too, they have to manufacture food from inorganic materials.
Animals usually have great freedom of movement. They cannot make their food, but have to gather it or hunt for it. So they must employ different methods for hunting food and for the propagation and survival of their kind. And these methods vary with species, each being successful.
The bodily structure and the methods used by animals compare well with inventions and devices that man has designed for hunting, protection, and so forth. In fact, man has been able to improve the design of his inventions, such as airplanes, optical equipment, ships and other “advanced” equipment, by studying animal makeup and behavior. Animals are not credited with having the intelligence to devise these things, and certainly they are not able to form or change their own bodies to develop such things. From where, then, did the intelligence come?
Relation of Production of Young to Danger of Extinction
There is evidence that, among oviparousa animals, the number of eggs produced by an individual parent depends on the dangers to which the eggs or the newborn offspring are exposed. For example, the common oyster produces about 50 million eggs at one time. To practically all sea animals these eggs are a tasty dish. And they get opportunity to eat millions of them, for the eggs float for several days before attaching permanently to a site, where they develop to maturity. Though millions of eggs are eaten, enough survive so that the oyster population is maintained. Yet the oyster obviously has no ability to know what happens to the eggs. Similarly, though not as prolific as the oyster, many other sea animals that do not have other means of protecting their eggs lay a prodigious number of them.
On the other hand, the golden eagle lays one to four eggs at a time, and the bald eagle one to three eggs. These birds build nests that are very high and difficult of access, and with their flying ability and their strong talons they can protect their nests. Therefore a great number of eggs would be superfluous.
With regard to the overall effect of such varied production on the part of different species of animals, the Encyclopædia Britannicab states:
“Most animal populations are not, on the average, either increasing or decreasing markedly, and in such populations . . . the natality or reproductive rate equals the total mortality of eggs, young, and adults.”
Some believers in evolution hold that the equality or balance between natality and mortality is an evolutionary mechanism to prevent overpopulation. Others argue from the viewpoint of natural selection. But when a person thinks of all the factors involved—climate, procreation, food supply, and others—can he really believe, on any logical basis, that nonintelligent forces assessed and directed this extremely complex situation with such eminent success?
An example of the intricacy in keeping a balance in the ecology is the turtle, which lays 100 or so eggs a year. The female comes ashore in the dark and digs holes in the sand, where she deposits her eggs and covers them. She then leaves them on their own. When hatching time arrives, the young turtle feels the urge to break out of his shell. For this escape he has a special hard point on his head by which he pierces the shell. Then he digs out of the sand and, without hesitation, flaps hurriedly toward the sea. On the way he is in great danger of being caught by predators, especially birds. Though he does not know this, he, nevertheless, urgently moves over all obstacles, and, if picked up and turned around, immediately turns back to get to the protection of his natural element, the sea. Even there he is in danger, and many baby turtles are eaten by fish. Birds and fish therefore are furnished a share of their food by the turtles, but a sufficient number survive to ensure the continuation of the turtle population.
Could blind chance direct every turtle so unerringly and determinedly toward the sea? How does he know that he must break out of his shell and his sandy incubation place? Did it just happen that he has been provided with special equipment to break his shell? Every one of the devices, from his mother’s coming ashore in the dark and burying the eggs so that they are safe from most predators, until the turtle reaches the sea, is essential. If one link in the chain were to fail, the turtle species would be extinct within a very short time.
The cacique bird of Central America has a way of protecting its young that even the most intelligent human would find a test of his brain power. Forest cats, giant lizards and raccoonlike animals all could easily raid the caciques’ nests, even those built high in the trees. But these birds foil their enemies by enlisting the help of an ally, without the ally’s invitation. They build a colony of nests, often 50 or more, on a single branch of a large tree. They select a branch that holds a large nest of tropical wasps. The wasps do not seem to be annoyed by the nests, or by the activities of the birds, but woe to the intruder that tries to reach the nests!
The caterpillar of the West African moth has dangerous parasitic enemies. These parasites bore through the side of the caterpillar’s cocoon and lay their eggs in the caterpillar’s body. When the caterpillar is full grown, the parasitic larvae devour it. Then, as the parasitic larvae bore their way out of the cocoon, they spin tiny, frothlike cocoons for themselves. So the caterpillar, when spinning the cocoon initially, produces some frothy bubbles, which are attached to the outside, so that it appears that its home has already been invaded. This is an attempt, which no doubt often succeeds, at discouraging the parasitic enemies. How could chance direct the instincts and give this caterpillar’s body the ability to make such a clever camouflage?
A small Caribbean fish named Anableps dowei likes to feed on tidbits floating on the water’s surface. He must be able to watch both above the surface for food and below the surface for enemies. This would be impossible for eyes with a single focus. But Anableps has “bifocals.” By means of two pupils, he can see above water through the short dimension of the lens and under water through the long dimension of the lens. By this means he takes care of the fact that light travels at different speeds through air and water. To keep the upper pupils moist, he ducks his head under water every few minutes.
Another fish that is equipped marvelously for overcoming the light diffraction property of water is the archer fish. Almost everyone has noticed that an object under water appears to be closer to the viewer from above the water, or that a pole stuck into the water at an angle looks bent. If one should aim an arrow or a gun at a small object in the water one would need to make quite a complex calculation to hit the object. The archer fish has this problem in reverse. He sees an insect on a hanging branch. He quickly projects his head, or just his mouth, out of the water and shoots down the insect as by “antiaircraft” with a stream of water. In order to do this, he must take aim as he is coming to the surface of the water, compensating for the water’s diffraction as he does so. Is this ability for instant mathematical computation built into the archer fish by design, or did a complex pattern of many factors just happen to imprint itself in some early archer fish’s bodily mechanism and thereafter stay with all his descendants?
Much study has been made of the aerodynamics of bird flight. Each kind of bird is equipped according to the part it plays in the ecological arrangement. Arctic terns fly 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers) in their migratory flights. Such migratory birds are equipped for high speeds. Some birds’ wings have a propellerlike action for forward flight. Some stay in the air for hours on soaring or glider wings. On the downstroke, the feathers in a wing flatten out or close together, for the maximum “push” on the air. On the upstroke, the feathers twist and open up to allow the wing to be brought up easily. A group of feathers at the leading edge of the wing prevent turbulence that would cause loss of lift. Men have copied this device on airplane wings.
The hummingbird, while its wings have some features similar to those of other birds, hovers in flight by the “helicopter” principle. But instead of rotating as do a helicopter’s blades, its wings scull back and forth, making up to 60 or 70 strokes a second. Each wing turns at the shoulder joint, the leading edge facing forward on the forward stroke, and swiveling almost 180 degrees so that the leading edge faces backward on the backstroke. Actually, the wings describe a horizontal figure-eight pattern. Each stroke gives lift but no propulsion. By this means the bird can hover motionless while sipping nectar from a flower.
A Marvel of Heat Regulation
The Mallee fowl of Australia accomplishes a feat that humans would find practically impossible without the use of modern sophisticated devices—he makes his own incubator.
In the dry semidesert that is his home, where temperatures range from 17 degrees Fahrenheit (−8 degrees Celsius) to 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius), the male Mallee fowl buries leaves during the winter while they are still moist so that they will not dry out but will decay. In May, with the approach of winter, he digs a hole 15 feet (4.6 meters) in diameter and 3 to 4 feet (1 to 1.2 meters) deep, raking in the leaf litter from as far as 40 yards (36.5 meters) around. Then, in the cold of August, he covers the heap with soil up to two feet (.6 meter) thick. The female then lays eggs in a hole in the top of the mound.c
A researcher on this matter, H. J. Frith, as reported in Scientific American, August 1959, pp. 54-58, says:
“In the spring [the male Mallee] must reduce the amount of fermentation heat reaching the eggs. He visits the mound before dawn each day and digs rapidly until he nears the egg chamber. After allowing just enough heat to escape he refills the hole with cool sand.
“Later in the summer the sun gets very hot, and much heat moves by conduction from the surface of the mound to the egg chamber. Some heat still moves up also from the organic matter, though fermentation is slowing by this time. The eggs thus tend to overheat, and the bird must do something to reduce the temperature. There is little he can do to slow the fermentation rate, but he does lower the rate of solar conduction. Daily he adds more soil to the mound. As the mound grows higher and higher, the eggs for a while are more thoroughly insulated from the sun. After a time, apparently, the bird can build the mound no higher, and a wave of heat begins to go down toward the eggs again. Now the male bird visits the mound each week or so in the early morning, removes all the soil and scatters it in the cool morning air. When it is cool, he collects it and restores it to the mound. This is strenuous work, but effective in destroying the heat wave in the incubator. The temperature in the egg chamber remains steady at 92 degrees [33 degrees Celsius].
“When autumn comes, the bird is faced with the opposite problem: falling temperature in the mound. The mound no longer generates fermentation heat, and the daily input of solar heat is declining. The bird now changes his activities to meet the challenge. Whereas he had scratched and scattered the sand to cool it in the early morning, often before dawn, he now comes to the mound each day at about 10 a.m., when the sun is shining on it. He digs almost all the soil away and spreads it out so that the mound resembles a large saucer, with the eggs only a few inches below the surface. This thin layer of soil, exposed to the midday sun, absorbs some heat, but not enough to maintain the temperature throughout the night. The saucer must be refilled with heated sand. Throughout the hottest part of the day the bird scratches over the sand he has removed from the mound, exposing all of it to the sun. As each layer gets hot, he returns it to the mound. He times the work so that the incubator is restored with layers of heated sand by 4 p.m., when the sun is getting low.”
This researcher experimented by placing a heating element, operated by a 240-volt generator, in the mound, switching the heat on and off. This kept the male bird busy, but he managed to maintain the temperature at nearly 92 degrees.
What power of blind chance would let this bird know that a temperature of 92 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius) was absolutely essential to the incubation of the eggs, and, for that matter, why would this bird want to bring forth offspring at all? In the Mallee fowl’s case it is more a matter of wonder, for when the young bird hatches and digs out of the mound, the parent birds leave it absolutely on its own. They give it no help at all. Yet the male bird has done some of the heaviest work under a blazing sun in order to incubate the eggs, as though the continuation of the Mallee bird species was important to the ecology, which it no doubt is.
Behavior That Is Evidence of Design
There are thousands of other features of animal behavior that can easily be understood as a result of design by a mastermind, but which require thousands of suppositions to justify the theory of chance or coincidence. For example, how did the beaver come to have a tail so suited to his “plastering” work, teeth that can cut down trees, and the motivation to build, first a dam, and then a safe, comfortable home, stocked with a supply of food? How is it that the dams he builds are an adjunct, yes, a necessity, to other animal life in the vicinity? We can hardly say that the beaver is deliberately working for the benefit of other animals.
How did the three-toed jerboa of Asia come to make his permanent burrow with a main entrance, blocked up with sand in the daytime, and with several emergency exits? How did the New Zealand takahe bird know to build several nests, each with two exits, so that she can move from nest to nest? Even a human trying to escape pursuers might overlook making such a plan in advance. We need to note, also, that the animals do not learn such basic patterns from their parents, though in some cases the parents teach the young a few things, including caution, hunting and defensive behavior. Certainly there is no evidence that animals have built on the knowledge or discoveries of their ancestors so as to make advancement in learning, as humans do. Nevertheless, each animal has the behavior pattern necessary for survival of his species.
Design Evident in Differentiation of Kinds
Though many casual readers may not be aware of the fact, Charles Darwin did not believe in evolution in the absolute sense. In the conclusion of his work Origin of Species, he says: “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one.”
But there is no proof that the present great variety of widely differing “kinds” of animals on earth sprang from one, or only a few originally created forms, though many varieties have sprung from the “kinds,” which cannot crossbreed. On this point, H. W. Chatfield, in his book A Scientist in Search of God, writes:
“A crude uncontrolled mating instinct would spell disaster to animal life, but how is the animal world steered upon its virtuous and responsible path if not by the wise intervention of a guiding force which in some way, not understood by us, has interposed a safety embargo to maintain the orderliness of creation? This force has provided the animal world with two sexes with the essential attraction between them to maintain life, but has wisely circumscribed this attraction to prevent its misdirection.
“It may be argued that the 800,000 or so recognized animal species are the result of earlier cross-breeding, and whether this is valid or not, the fact remains that we are able to characterise these distinct species now. If indiscriminate cross-breeding had occurred for the millions of years with which the zoologists and evolutionists are wont to juggle, we should be very fortunate indeed to recognise any individual species at all. The surprise is that after all this time we are able to separate animal life into sharp cut and readily identifiable species.”—Pp. 138, 139.
As to life on earth, the Bible gives the answer that life is a product of a Master Designer, and not a product of chance. We read: “You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.”—Rev. 4:11.
And with regard to the reproduction of the different kinds, there is a law governing these, and we know that no law originates by chance or coincidence, but is the product of a lawmaker. This law is that every kind of vegetation and animal must reproduce “according to its kind.” Would you say that the facts point to coincidence, or to design, in life on earth?—Gen. 1:11, 12, 21, 24, 25.
a Producing eggs that are matured or hatched after being expelled from the body.
b 1976 edition, Macropædia, Volume 14, p. 827.
c The female Mallee begins egglaying in mid-September, an egg every four to eight days, stopping in February or early March. The incubation period being seven weeks, newly hatched birds are periodically digging out of the mound—a true “assembly line” production.
[Picture on page 12]
The “Anableps dowei” is equipped with “bifocal” lenses—he can see food on the water’s surface while watching for enemies below
[Picture on page 13]
How does the archer fish compensate for water diffraction so that he accurately “shoots down” insects?
[Picture on page 15]
How does the Mallee bird “know” so much about temperature control?