From Mark Copeland... "THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD" The Personality Of The Holy Spirit

                        "THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD"

                   The Personality Of The Holy Spirit


1. The previous lesson introduced this series and stressed the importance of our study
2. To what was said, I add the following statement:

   "There is no subject more important in religion than that of the Holy
   Spirit.  Unless this be properly understood, a large portion of the
   Bible, and especially the NT, must remain unintelligible.  On the
   other hand, a just view of it will do more than a knowledge of any
   other particular topic to give harmony, clearness, and consistency to
   what may be learned to all other matters presented in the Word of 
   God."  - The Office Of The Holy Spirit, Richardson

3. Despite its importance to understanding the Scriptures as a whole,
   there is much confusion and superstition in the minds of many people about the Holy Spirit

4. It is my intention in this series of lessons to present my understanding of what the Bible teaches about the subject

5. A good starting place is to consider who or what the Holy Spirit is...
   a. Is the Holy Spirit a person, one that possesses "personality"?
   b. Or is the Holy Spirit simply an "influence", or "impersonal force" that emanates from God?
      1) Members of the Watchtower Society (who call themselves "Jehovah's Witnesses"), would have us believe such 
           is the case
      2) E.g., "As for the 'Holy Spirit', the so-called 'third person of
         the trinity', we have already seen that it is, not a person, but God's active force." 
         - The Truth That Leads To Eternal Life

6. It is my contention, however, that the Bible reveals the Holy Spirit to be...
   a. A "personal" being, possessing every trait of what we call "personality"
   b. Not some "impersonal force" that emanates from God

[Consider the following evidence for this view of the Holy Spirit...]


      1. He "expressly says" that some will depart from the faith - 1 Ti 4:1
      2. The Spirit spoke and gave directions to Philip - Ac 8:29
      3. He spoke to Peter and gave him charge concerning the Gentiles 
         - Ac 10:19-20
      4. He spoke to the brethren at Antioch concerning Paul and Barnabas - Ac 13:1-4

      1. He was to teach the apostles all things - Jn 14:26
      2. Please note that Jesus consistently refers to the Holy Spirit
         as "He", not "it" (implying a personal being, not an impersonal force) - cf. Jn 14:16-17

      1. He was to testify of Jesus - Jn 15:26-27
      2. Just as the apostles (who were "personal beings") would bear witness, so also the Holy Spirit   

      1. He would carry on and complete the work started by Jesus - Jn 16:12-13
      2. Notice again that Jesus consistently refers to the Holy Spirit as "He"

      1. He prevented Paul and his companions from going into certain areas of Asia - Ac 16:6-7
      2. This He did by "forbidding" them, and "not permitting" them, despite their initial efforts 

      1. The "Spirit Himself (note Paul's use of the personal pronoun) makes intercession for us" - Ro 8:26
      2. Just as Christ "also makes intercession for us" - Ro 8:34

[All these works of the Holy Spirit manifest personality.  But there is more...]


   A. HE HAS A MIND...
      1. "the mind of the Spirit" - Ro 8:27
      2. This suggests thinking on His own

      1. He "knows the things of God" - 1Co 2:11
      2. Just as the "spirit of man" (a personal being) knows certain things

      1. Paul speaks of "the love of the Spirit" - Ro 15:30
      2. When have you known of an "impersonal force" that could love?

   D. HE HAS A WILL...
      1. "the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each
         one individually as He wills" - 1Co 12:11
      2. It was the Holy Spirit Who decided what person received which gift

[Again, these are all characteristics of a being possessing intelligence and personality.  Finally, consider how...]


      1. "do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God" - Ep 4:30
      2. He can be made sorrowful through our willful neglect

      1. That is, to be spoken evil of
      2. As in attributing His deeds to the works of Satan, the "unforgivable sin" - Mt 12:31-32

      1. One who has "trampled the Son of God underfoot" has also "insulted the Spirit of grace" - He 10:29
      2. This is done by sinning "willfully" - He 10:26

      1. As Ananias and his wife Sapphira were guilty of doing
      2. "...why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit...?" - Ac 5:3

      1. As Stephen charged the Jewish leaders of doing - Ac 7:51
      2. This they did by resisting the message and persecuting the
         messengers who were inspired by the Holy Spirit - cf. Ac 7: 52-53

1. A mere principle or influence cannot sustain these slights, only a personal being; so it is clear...
   a. The Bible presents the Holy Spirit as a personal being
   b. We should regard the Holy Spirit as a "He", not an "it"!

2. But is this personal being also a supreme being?
   a. Angels are personal beings, but not supreme beings
   b. What does the Bible say about the Holy Spirit?
   -- We will next study the deity of the Holy Spirit, and how it relates to the concept of God

3. For now, have you considered your personal relationship to the Holy Spirit...?
   a. How He feels for you?
   b. What He has done, and is doing, for you in God's scheme of redemption?
   c. How He reacts to your reception or rejection of the Word He has revealed?

4. Might you even be guilty of "resisting the Holy Spirit"...?
   a. By resisting the commands of the apostles and prophets?
   b. "Who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven"? - 1Pe 1:12; cf. Ac 2:36-38

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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Evolution, Environmentalism, and the Deification of Nature by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Evolution, Environmentalism, and the Deification of Nature

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The printed version of this article in this month’s issue of Reason & Revelation is theabbreviated form of a more lengthy study of this topic. To view the unedited version, click here.]
The year was 1970. It was the year of the Kent State shootings, Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Apollo 13, the disbanding of the Beatles, the X-rated movie Midnight Cowboy winning the Best Picture Oscar, the drug-related deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, as well as the death of Scopes Monkey Trial defendant John T. Scopes. That year also marked the birth of the modern environmental movement, with the observance of the first Earth Day on April 22 (see “1970,” 2000). By July, the Environmental Protection Agency was formed. Various pieces of federal legislation designed to protect the environment quickly followed, including the Clean Air Act (1970), the Clean Water Act (1972), and the Endangered Species Act (1973) [see “Major Environmental Laws,” 2003]. Since 1970, it is safe to say, the American way of life has been altered drastically. The environmental movement has changed forever the way Americans view the world around them. Even the otherwise environmentally insensitive citizen now possesses heightened consciousness about littering, recycling, global warming, and “going organic.” But things have gotten out of hand.
It was one thing for young people who embraced this perspective to march in the streets in the 1960s and promote their offbeat, fanatical ideas. But now that they have moved into powerful political positions, their ideas permeate policy and literally wreak havoc on people’s lives. Fringe environmentalist groups, in collusion with liberal politicians, Hollywood celebrities, and the mainstream media, have conspired to unleash a flood of environmental propaganda and eco-myths. First it was the “deadly” ozone-depleting hairspray aerosols. Then it was the evil internal combustion engine. They have inundated the public with their alarmist claims that global pollution, ozone depletion, and environmental contamination due to technological progress and American affluence mean that life on Earth is facing inevitable and imminent extinction. They insist that humans are inflicting widespread damage on the environment, destroying the forests, and causing the extinction of animal and plant species. Friends of the Earth International insists: “[T]he Earth is a creation to be honored and respected as our Mother” (see “Friends of the Earth...,” 2007, emp. added).
Multiple examples demonstrate the absurd extent to which environmentalists are willing to go. A 400-page United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization report has identified rapidly growing herds of cattle as the greatest threat to the environment (Lean, 2006). We are told that the 1.5 billion cattle on Earth are responsible for 18% of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming—more than cars, planes, and all other forms of transportation combined. More than a third of the greenhouse gas, methane (which warms the world 20 times faster than carbon dioxide), is emitted by cows and their manure. And it is not just methane, since cattle also produce more than 100 other polluting gases, including more than two-thirds of the world’s emissions of ammonia—one of the main causes of acid rain (Lean, 2006). That’s right, gaseous expulsions by cows damage the planet more than emissions from cars. Environmentalists are beside themselves.
Researchers at Norway’s technical university claim that their national animal, the moose, is harming the climate by emitting over 2,000 kilos of carbon dioxide per year—equivalent to the CO2 produced by an 8,000 mile car trip (“Norway’s Moose...,” 2007). [Poor Bullwinkle now is politically incorrect.] Yet, Australian scientists are delighted with the discovery that flatulent kangaroos produce almost no greenhouse gas methane due to their peculiar digestive flora (bacteria)—which researchers hope can be transplanted into cows and sheep to prevent their contributions to global warming (“Flatulent Kangaroos...,” 2007).
But it doesn’t stop there. Scientists from Austria and Germany recently reported that, though we humans are but one of the millions of species on Earth, we use up almost one-fourth of the sun’s energy captured by plants—the most of any species. More than half of the use is due to the harvesting of crops and other plants (Leung, 2007). You read that right. It is bad enough that we humans are soaking up more than our fair share of the Sun’s rays simply by being outdoors; but we are exploiting poor, defenseless green plants by greedily harvesting and consuming their bounty, thereby stealing from them the benefit they derived from the Sun.
To top such nonsense off, while it is common for environmentalists to blame mankind as the prime perpetrator of environmental destruction, now one environmentalist insists that, more specifically, childrenare significant culprits in the human assault on the natural order. Parents, we are told, should limit their offspring to no more than two children in order to reduce carbon dioxide output. The report published by the environmentalist group, Optimum Population Trust, insists that the greatest thing one could do to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child (Templeton, 2007).
Let’s get this straight. Cows cause global warming, so we need to reduce the cow population. If we kill cows, we will upset the animal rights people. If we eat cows, we will offend the vegetarians. If we allow the present population of cows to live to old age and die naturally, we could arrest the growth of the cow population by performing partial birth abortions on all cows that get pregnant. But that, too, likely would upset animal rights people (who probably would have no problem doing the same to pre-born humans—especially since kids contribute to the CO2 problem). Since harvesting crops and other green plants is stealing solar energy, we need to cease consuming plants—to the further dismay of the vegetarians. Any of this making sense to you?


Radical environmentalists and animal rights activists share many of the same philosophical presuppositions held by atheists, evolutionists, Buddhists, Hindus, New Age mystics, and other forms of humanism, animism, and paganism from antiquity to the present. Their perspective is embodied inpantheism. To them, the material realm is all that exists. There are no metaphysical realities. The Universe is here because of accidental, non-purposive happenstances. “Deity” resides in all naturalphenomena—from rocks and dirt, to plants, animals, and humans. “God” is not the personal, Supreme Being of the Bible, Who is self-existent and transcendent of the Universe. Rather “god” is an impersonal force embedded in nature, in the physical realm, and in all life forms (cf. “The Force” in the Star Warsseries).
The fundamental fallacy of the modern environmental movement is this inherent denial of supernaturalism and metaphysical reality. Rather than acknowledging that the entire Universe was created miraculously by the transcendent God of the Bible, Who both prepared and perpetuates the Earth for human habitation (Genesis 1:1-2:19; 8:22; Hebrews 11:3), the environmental movement posits the absence of supernaturalorigins and the necessity of an eternal Universe. Hence, the physical environment must be protected and preserved by humans in order for life to continue. The future of the Earth is viewed as dependent on mankind. If man damages the fragile environment, he is hastening its demise.
Renowned Cornell University astronomer Carl Sagan held this view: “I believe we have an obligation to fight for life on Earth—not just for ourselves, but for all those, humans and others, who came before us, and to whom we are beholden, and for all those who, if we are wise enough, will come after” (1997, p. 75, emp. added). He also insisted that “[o]ur capacity to cause harm is great” (p. 97). In other words, the future of the planet—and all life on it—lies completely in the hands of humanity. Are we humans really so arrogant as to think that the future of the planet rests with us? Are we really so foolish as to think that the digestive tract of cows are defective—the result of mindless evolution rather than the all-knowing Creator—and that it falls to us to correct it?
If environmentalists believe that human beings are the product of the chance, mechanistic forces of nature working over millions of years through non-intelligent, evolutionary accidents, one can understand why they might think that we must preserve the planet at all costs—even at the expense of humans. To them, human beings are simply one more rung on the evolutionary ladder, with each prior life form being of comparable value. From this perspective, the environment in which evolution occurs is far more important than any one species that may happen to arise within that environment. The comparative worth of one species is based upon how large a danger that species poses to other species. Since humans have greater capability to harm the environment and to destroy lesser species, humans constitute the greatest threat to the well-being of the planet. To the environmentalist, humans are the natural enemy of nature.
Sagan also stated: “There is no cause more urgent, no dedication more fitting than to protect the future of our species.... No social convention, no political system, no economic hypothesis, no religious dogma is more important” (1997, p. 75, emp. added). Such statements betray a purely materialistic outlook on life. Religious and spiritual concerns are secondary—or altogether nonexistent. The “number one concern,” according to Sagan and the environmentalists, is the preservation of the physical realm. Though Sagan and his fellow evolutionists disavow any allegiance to religion—Christian or otherwise—the dedication and devotion to the environment that they enjoin bears a striking resemblance to the devotion advocated by those who profess religious belief. The only difference is the object of the religious devotion. While manifesting hostility toward the Christian religion, it is apparent that environmentalists have their own religionthe worship of nature and the environment. This explains why Sagan would write: “The Earth is a tiny and fragile world. It needs to be cherished” (1980, p. 103, emp. added). To say that the Earth needs to be “cherished,” i.e., loved, suggests distorted sensibilities that are unaided by divine insight. God has instructed humans to love Him, each other, His law, and truth. But He never has told us to love rocks, dirt, plants, and animals—or to hug trees.
To summarize, several assumptions inhere in radical environmentalism: the Creator depicted in the Bible does not exist; the Universe is eternal; the created order has no planned, overriding purpose; man is the ultimate offending culprit in his ability to destroy the planet; and the survival of the planet’s features (plants, animals, atmosphere, etc.) depends on man—not on any higher power.


In stark contrast, the Bible affirms two crucial principles that should shape our understanding of the environment. First, God created the Earth for a specific purpose: to provide human beings with the appropriate environment in which to decide their eternal destiny. God created humans to be free moral agents, to experience earthly life as their one and only probationary period, with their fate in eternity being determined by their response to God during this earthly life. Hence, the Earth is as good (for the purpose God had in creating it) as any possible world, in that it was created to be a “vale of soul-making” for human beings (Warren, 1972, p. 19; cf. Genesis 1:31; Psalm 65:9; 104:24; Ecclesiastes 12:13).
God created the planet to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18). He declared His intention that human beings were torule and have domination over the Earth’s resources. Referring to humans, He stated: “[L]et them havedominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26, emp. added). He instructed humans to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28, emp. added). The Hebrew term for “subdue” (kah-vash) means to bring into submission by force (Oswalt, 1980, 1:430). The psalmist echoed these very directives when he praised God by saying, “You [God] have made him [man] to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:6, emp. added). God stressed human domination in even stronger terms after the Flood: “[T]he fear of you [humans] and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that moves on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs” (Genesis 9:2-3, emp. added). God obviously intended for humans to make use of Earth’s natural resources, including animals and plants, in order to live, survive, develop, and progress—all in preparation for eternity.
Second, not only did God initially set up the environment to fulfill its divinely designated purpose, placing within it all necessary variables for sustaining it until He decides to terminate the physical realm, but He also continues to sustain and maintain it. The Bible has a great deal to say about the role that Jesus played at the Creation (e.g., John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2). He continues to have a relationship with the physical Universe by ensuring that it remains intact and functional. Paul referred to the “one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live” (1 Corinthians 8:6, emp. added). Paul also stated: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth.... All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17, emp. added). The psalmist insisted that when God spoke the physical Universe into existence, the constituent elements of the created order “stood fast” and “were established,” God having “made a decree” with them (33:9; 148:5-6, emp. added). The Hebrews writer claimed that Jesus is “upholding all things by the word of His power” (1:3, emp. added). Peter said that “the heavens and the earth which now exist are kept in store by the same word” (2 Peter 3:7, emp. added). The terms in these verses connote the idea of preserving, governing, regulating, and superintending the created order (Nicoll, 1900, 4:251-252). In other words, deity continues to maintain the order, harmony, and well-being of the whole creation—the vast Universe as well as planet Earth (Barnes, 2005 reprint, p. 27). We can be assured: the environment will remain intact and suitable for life for as long as God intends. He is the great Sustainer.


The environmentalist viewpoint is fraught with self-contradiction. We are being told that due to human interference, global warming and the “greenhouse effect” are occurring, and that the Earth’s temperature isincreasing (e.g., Sagan, 1997, pp. 105ff.). A recent National Geographic article sounds the typical alarmist cry:
The planet is heating up—and fast. Glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, cloud forests are drying, and wildlife is scrambling to keep pace. It’s becoming clear that humans have caused most of the past century’s warming by releasing heat-trapping gases as we power our modern lives. Called greenhouse gases, their levels are higher now than in the last 650,000 years.... What will we do to slow this warming? How will we cope with the changes we’ve already set into motion? While we struggle to figure it all out, the face of the Earth as we know it...hangs in the balance (“What Is...?” n.d., emp. added).
Yet we also have been terrorized with the idea that our actions are “lowering the surface temperature of our planet” (Sagan, 1980, p. 103). Ironically, a 1974 TIME magazine article reported a three-decade-long cooling of atmospheric temperatures and other “weather aberrations” that “may be the harbinger of another ice age” (“Another Ice Age?”). Insisting that “telltale signs are everywhere,” as expected, one of the culprits responsible for the threat was identified as man, since “dust and other particles released into the atmosphere as a result of farming and fuel burning may be blocking more and more sunlight from reaching and heating the surface of the earth” (“Another Ice Age?”). The 1974 article concluded: “Whatever the cause of the cooling trend, its effects could be extremely serious, if not catastrophic. Scientists figure that only a 1% decrease in the amount of sunlight hitting the earth’s surface could tip the climate balance, and cool the planet enough to send it sliding down the road to another ice age within only a few hundred years” (“Another Ice Age?,” emp. added). So which is it? Ice age or global warming? Since yesterday’s science is today’s superstition, how wary ought we to be regarding the bold claims of today’s “science”?

Nature vs. Itself

The absurdity of the environmentalists’ claim—that humans are harsh and insensitive in their treatment of the environment—becomes especially apparent, even whimsical, when one simply observes nature’s treatment of itself. For example, the Katmai National Park is home to the world’s largest grizzly bears, commonly referred to as Alaskan Brown Bears. Because of their rich salmon diet, these bears grow to over 1,000 pounds in weight, making them the world’s largest land predators. Philip Greenspun gave the following eyewitness report of the bears’ eating ritual in the Brooks River:
Dominant bears occupy prime positions on top of the part of the falls where salmon jump every few seconds. When the salmon are running well, every five minutes a bear will catch a fish in his teeth and hold it firmly enough that blood begins to flow as the fish flops around. If there are plenty of salmon, the bear goes after only the fatty skin, brain, and roe, removing these parts during a gruesome minute or so. The salmon may remain alive for much or all of its consumption. Why do you think they call them animals? (1993).
Notice the carnage, the waste, the brutality, the selfish competition between bears, and the flagrant insensitivity to both the salmon and the environment. But this one example istypical of the phenomena inherent throughout the animal kingdom.
The planet, itself, is equally destructive. The largest volcanic eruption in recorded history occurred in 1815 in Tambora, Indonesia, killing an estimated 92,000 people, thousands of species of wildlife, and spewing (as far as 800 miles) 150 times more ash than the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens (“Tambora, Sumbawa...,” n.d.). Hot, pyroclastic flows poured into the ocean, scalding sea life and causing additional explosions. Man and animal suffered cataclysmic devastation—due to starvation, disease, and hunger—earning the designation the “Year without a Summer.” Daily minimum temperatures were abnormally low in the Northern Hemisphere from late spring to early autumn. Famine was widespread because of crop failures (“Tambora, Sumbawa...”). The renowned volcano Krakatau (frequently misstated as Krakatoa) caused more than 36,000 fatalities, as devastating tsunamis inundated the coastlines of Sumatra and Java (“Krakatau, Sunda...,” n.d.). These are only two of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of volcanic eruptions that have unleashed massive environmental destruction through the centuries.
Consider the damage inflicted on the environment by the earthquake that killed 830,000 people in Shensi, China in 1556 (“Most Destructive Known...,” 2007). Only three years ago (December 26, 2004) the earthquake that generated the great Indian Ocean tsunami is estimated to have released the energy of23,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs (“The Deadliest Tsunami...?,” 2005). More than a quarter million people were killed and millions more in 11 countries were displaced from their homes in South Asia and East Africa (“Most Destructive Known...”). The violent movement of sections of the Earth’s crust (the tectonic plates) created a rupture which the U.S. Geological Survey estimates was more than 600 miles long, displacing the seafloor above the rupture by perhaps 10 yards horizontally and several yards vertically. The displacement of such an enormous amount of water sent powerful shock waves in every direction, moving trillions of tons of rock along hundreds of miles, causing the planet to shudder, destroying thousands of miles of coastline and submerging entire islands permanently (“The Deadliest Tsunami...?,” 2005). Here was catastrophic environmental damage to plant, animal, marine, and human life.
The natural positioning of the Huang He (Yellow) River in China has caused it to overflow its banks many times in history, resulting in massive environmental damage (“The World’s Worst Floods,” n.d.). The human death toll of one such occurrence in 1931 was estimated to be from 1 to 3.7 million. Another in 1887 killed between 900,000 and two million (“The World’s Worst Floods”). The impact on plant and animal life was enormous. Hurricanes are no less destructive to the environment. On November 13, 1970, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) experienced the deadliest hurricane on record, flooding low lying areas and killing at least half a million people—with some estimates rising as high as one million (“The Ten Worst...,” n.d.).
On March 18, 1925, the deadliest tornado in U.S. history began in southeastern Missouri, crossed through southern Illinois, and then turned into southwestern Indiana, killing 625 people and injuring more than 2,000 others. Property damage was assessed at $16.5 million—$1.7 billion in today’s dollars. The tornado left a 219 mile track—the longest ever recorded (“The Deadliest U.S...,” n.d.). Once again, havoc was wreaked on plant and animal life.
Volcanoes, hurricanes, tornados, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis—the list goes on and on. The powerful energy, awesome force, and mind-boggling destruction that nature has inflicted on itself and Earth’s inhabitants has been ongoing—a perpetual pattern of catastrophe. Yet, as God planned, life goes on—until the day He decides to call the human population to account before His judgment seat.

Humans vs. Nature

Have humans tampered with nature and caused unnecessary harm to the environment? Certainly. Instances are legion. In 1876, the introduction of Kudzu, a fast-growing vine from Japan, ultimately led to the destruction of valuable forests by blocking sunlight from trees. The vine, which can grow 60 feet each year, and has blanketed the South, is virtually impervious to herbicides. Yet, many positive benefits have emerged, including remarkable soil erosion control, a nutritious food source for Angora goats, the creation of products such as baskets, paper, jelly, syrup, and hay bales, and even progress on the development of new medicines (see “The Amazing Story...,” 2002). In 1859, Thomas Austin brought 24 rabbits from England to Australia, where they multiplied uncontrollably, causing considerable ecological ramifications (see Kellett, 2006; “Environmental Damage...,” 2001). Many other non-native plants and animals have been introduced into non-indigenous habitats, with a variety of consequences (see “Non-Native Species,” 2002).
No one knows how many plant and animal species have gone extinct since the beginning of Creation. No doubt, the number would be staggering. The obliteration of the dinosaur population alone would account for the eradication of large numbers. It is estimated that, just in the past 2,000 years, more than a hundred kinds of birds and more than a hundred kinds of mammals have disappeared from the Earth (see “Extinct and Near-Extinct...,” 1966). Included are the Dodo Bird of the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, the Tasmanian Tiger Wolf of mainland Australia, and New Zealand’s giant, flightless bird, the Moa (see “Endangered Species,” 2003; “Extinct Animals,” 2001). These estimates do not include the extinction of species of reptiles, fish, and insects. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintains the Threatened and Endangered Species System (TESS) for both plants and animals. Presently, within the United States alone, 388 animal species and 598 plant species are listed as “endangered” (see “Threatened...,” 2003). While humans sometimes are blamed for causing certain species to diminish, no one knows in every case of animal or plant extinction whether humans or nature’s own agents were responsible. One fact is clear: the extinction of plants and animals through the centuries has not upset the realm of nature and the environment to the extent that the human race has been endangered or threatened with extinction itself—we’re still here! (Interestingly, many new species of both plants and animals have come into existence by humans implementing ingenious breeding procedures.)
On March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling an estimated 11 million gallons of oil, which impacted 1,300 miles of shoreline. Exxon claims to have spent $2.1 billion on a cleanup effort that included 10,000 workers, about 1,000 boats, and 100 airplanes and helicopters. Though the reparative response to the crisis was massive, entailing exorbitant expenditures, “many believe that wave action from winter storms did more to clean the beaches than all of the human effort involved” (see “Frequently Asked Questions...,” n.d.). In fact, human efforts had to be adjusted when it was determined that spraying hot water on the oil-laden beaches using high-pressure hoses was cooking bacteria and other microscopic organisms, killing both plants and animals, thereby slowing the recovery that might otherwise have been achieved by nature itself (see Piper, 1993, pp. 61ff.). In 1992, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) studied the diffusion of the oil and concluded that “the great majority of the oil either evaporated, dispersed into the water column or degraded naturally” (“Lingering...,” 2003). In fact, years ago the National Marine Fisheries Services reported that “the vast majority of the spill area now appears to have recovered” (“NMFS Office...,” 2002). Though touted by environmentalists at the time as an ecological disaster of catastrophic proportions, the Valdez spill does not even rank in the top 50 internationally.
Similarly, the release of oil into the Pacific Ocean by damaged and sunken battleships and aircraft carriers during the great naval battles of World War II was considerable. Nazi U-boats disrupted Allied activities in the Atlantic Ocean by sinking large numbers of tankers and supply ships, causing large quantities of oil and hazardous substances to be spilled, creating slicks and coating Caribbean beaches. No cleanup crews, with their hard hats and bright yellow HAZMAT suits blasting coastlines with high-pressure hoses and detergent guns, were mobilized to rectify the mess. Yet the Caribbean beaches today essentially are pristine. What happened to all that oil—with no environmentalists to come to the rescue?


Salmon-grabbing bears, forest-gobbling vines, grassland-grubbing rabbits, oil-glutting humans—destruction by animals, destruction by plants, destruction by weather and nature’s own inanimate forces, destruction by man. Where will it all end? Should we not view our world and the environment as being in a state of crisis? Please consider carefully: God created the Earth to be self-sustaining until it has served its purpose. It is self-healing. It is resilient and restorative. It actually rejuvenates itself. The fact is that the greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon God set into place. God designed gases in the atmosphere, like carbon dioxide and water vapor, to remain in balance and warm the Earth, creating a stable climate for the support of plant, animal, and human life. Without these gases, Earth would be 40o to 60o colder—essentially a frigid desert (cf. Climate Change..., 1990, p. xxxvii). [NOTE: Have we forgotten what we learned in our elementary school science class—that the CO2 expelled by animals and humans is necessary for green plants to produce oxygen? Far from being an indication of man’s need to “regulate” the release of carbon dioxide, such environmental symbiosis points to divine design.]
The Earth is not “fragile” when it comes to human interference. Humans cannot destroy the Earth (let alone the Universe). Humans cannot eliminate the ozone layer. Humans cannot cause permanent, life-threatening global warming. Human ability to pollute, contaminate, and destroy the environment cannot begin to compare with the destructive forces of nature itself: volcanoes, tornados, hurricanes, drought, typhoons, earthquakes, and floods. The 1991 volcanic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines introduced 20 to 30 megatons of sulfur dioxide and aerosols into the Earth’s atmosphere, with those materials completely encircling the Earth in some three months (Sagan, 1997, p. 107). Satellite data collected indicated that, as a result, “the ozone levels had depleted by about 15 percent” (Rickman, 1997). In fact, as a direct result of the large amounts of stratospheric sulfate particles from the Mount Pinatubo eruption, “record low global ozone levels were recorded in 1992 and 1993” (“Environmental Indicators...,” n.d., emp. added). NASA concluded: “Stratospheric aerosols such as those produced by major volcanic eruptions are thought to be important catalysts in the chemical processes leading to the observed ozone losses” (“NASA’s Ozone Studies,” n.d.; cf. “Incomplete Recovery...,” 2006). Humans cannot begin to compete with nature’s impact on itself. We have an inflated sense of our own importance if we think that we determine whether the world goes on after we are gone.

The Ultimate Environmental Damage

The evidence indicates that God, Himself, has inflicted vengeance upon wicked civilizations in the past—to the point of wreaking complete destruction and devastation on the land itself. The reader is urged to read the following passages from the Bible: Genesis 13:10; 19:24-25; Deuteronomy 29:22-24; Psalm 107:33-34; Isaiah 34:8-15; Jeremiah 19:8; Ezekiel 30:7; Zephaniah 2:13-14. God has not chosen to reveal to us all of His dealings with the civilizations of history. We likely would know nothing about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah if Abraham’s nephew had not moved there (Genesis 13:12; 19). Could humans possibly inflict as much damage on the Earth as God did when He flooded the entire planet to a depth higher than the highest mountains of that day (Genesis 7:19-20)? The history of humanity and planet Earth has been one of catastrophism—not evolutionary uniformitarianism or gradualism. Yet the Earth is still here, the environment is intact, and life continues!
Make no mistake. The Bible certainly teaches the principle of stewardship and wisdom in the use of resources allotted by God (Matthew 25:14-30; 1 Corinthians 4:2). God, Himself, provides care for His nonhuman creatures (Job 38:41; Psalm 147:9; Matthew 10:29). He included animals in His injunction to the Israelites to rest one day per week (Exodus 20:10; cf. Leviticus 22:27-28; Deuteronomy 22:6-7,10). He instructed the Israelites to allow their farmland to lie uncultivated every seventh year (Leviticus 25:1-7). We ought not to be wasteful, greedy, cruel, or reckless in our handling of Earth’s resources. However, from a biblical perspective, the environment must not take precedence or preference over humans. A balanced and proper perspective realizes that the environment is purely physical and temporary. Plants, animals, air, water, and the rest of “mother nature” are not human, and are not to be regarded as such. Animals, like the rest of the created order, render divinely mandated services to humans as sources of food and clothing, as well as transportation and other work-related performance (e.g., Genesis 3:21; Proverbs 26:3; Mark 1:6; 11:7; 1 Timothy 4:3-5).
People who think that humans are the enemies of Earth, and invariably destructive to the environment, who think that animals deserve to be protected and preserved more than people, who think that humans are above other life forms due to an unfortunate Darwinian accident—since humans are carnivorous, wasteful, and harmful to the lesser species—have an incorrect view of reality and a devalued view of human life. They feel that humans possess no inherent value and worth that surpasses the rest of the created order (cf. Matthew 10:31; Luke 12:24). But this passion to preserve the Earth and animal life is essentially the same idolatry that has plagued humanity throughout most of history. In fact, this propensity sounds distinctly familiar in light of Paul’s summary of the long-standing human rejection of the Creator:
Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds, and four-footed beasts and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, andworshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen” (Romans 1:22-25, emp. added).
Our nation’s forefathers—and most Americans until about 50 years ago—would be shocked and appalled that right now in America, billions of dollars are being spent frivolously serving the creature!


The environmentalist possesses enormous arrogance if he thinks he can control the forces of nature by his paltry tinkering with the created order—as if he even had the knowledge or wisdom, let alone power, to do so. Ultimately, this feeble, faltering faux pas manifests willful ignorance and a lack of faith in the Creator. The environmentalists need a healthy dose of spiritual reality—the same one Job received when he thought it necessary to question God’s unfathomable superintendence of the Universe:
Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, who set its measurements, since you know?.... You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great!.... Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves God answer it.... Then I will also confess to you, that your own right hand can save you (Job 38:2-5,21; 40:2,14, emp. added).
If there is no God and evolution is true, then humans are no more valuable than rocks, cockroaches—and, yes, cows. So if we really want to get serious about saving the planet, simply kill all the cows, crops, kids, and adults. When humans eliminate God from their thinking and jettison the biblical worldview, insanity begins to sound sensible. There’s the real “inconvenient truth.”
The vast majority of the decline of the environment that we see is due to the normal operations of the laws of thermodynamics which mandate depletion, breakdown, dissolution, and the ultimate demise of the Earth and the Universe (see Miller, 2007, 27[4]:25-31). That is how God set it up! The material, physical realm was intended to be temporary—by divine design. Quoting the psalmist, the writer of Hebrews explained:
You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up (1:10-12, emp. added).
In the meantime, God will see to it that our environment remains intact until it has served the purpose for which He created it. Then, He Himself, will bring not only the Earth, but the entire Universe, to its grand and climactic conclusion by means of cosmic meltdown and dissolution (2 Peter 3:7,10-12). Rather than devoting one’s energies and resources to preserving the temporal environment and saving “Mother Earth,” we would do better to devote ourselves to saving our souls by cultivating the necessary spiritual attributes for eternal life with God: “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth [i.e., the non-physical realm of heaven—DM] in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13).


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Designed To Fly by Jerry Fausz, Ph.D.


Designed To Fly

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article was written by A.P. staff scientist Dr. Fausz, who holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech and serves as liaison to the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.]
I have a wonderful story to tell you—a story that, in some respects, out rivals the Arabian Nights fables.... God in his great mercy has permitted me to be, at least somewhat, instrumental in ushering in and introducing to the great wide world an invention that may outrank the electric cars, the automobiles, and all other methods of travel.... I am now going to tell you something of two...boys.... Their names are Orville and Wilbur Wright, of Dayton, Ohio.... These two, perhaps by accident, or may be as a matter of taste, began studying the flights of birds and insects.... They not only studied nature, but they procured the best books, and I think I may say all the papers, the world contains on this subject.... These boys (they are men now), instead of spending their summer vacation with crowds, and with such crowds as are often questionable, as so many do, went away by themselves to a desert place by the seacoast.... With a gliding machine made of sticks and cloth they learned to glide and soar from the top of a hill to the bottom; and by making not only hundreds but more than a thousand experiments, they became so proficient in guiding these gliding machines that they could sail like a bird, and control its movements up and down as well as sidewise.... When they became experts they brought in, as they had planned to do, a gasoline engine to furnish power, and made a little success with their apparatus before winter set.... At first they went only a few hundred feet; and as the opportunity for practice in guiding and controlling it was only a few seconds at a time, their progress was necessarily very slow.... This work, mind you, was all new. Nobody living could give them any advice. It was like exploring a new and unknown domain.... Other experiments had to be made in turning from right to left; and, to make the matter short, it was my privilege, on the 20th day of September, 1904, to see the first successful trip on an air-ship, without a balloon to sustain it, that the world has ever made, that is, to turn the corners and come back to the starting point.... [T]o me the sight of a machine like the one I have pictured, with its white canvas planes and rudders subject to human control, is one of the grandest and most inspiring sights I have ever seen on earth; and when you see one of these graceful crafts sailing over your head, and possibly over your home, as I expect you will in the near future, see if you don’t agree with me that the flying machine is one of God’s most gracious and precious gifts (Root, 1905).
Photograph of the Wright brothers’ historic first flight at the moment of takeoff
Credit: Library of Congress, LC-W861-35
The sense of wonder expressed by Mr. Amos Ives Root at witnessing success in the Wright brothers’ struggle to achieve flight may be difficult to fathom. Air travel has become so commonplace in our society, the sight of modern flying machines “sailing over” our heads and homes catches our attention only for a moment, if at all. Though the first public account of the Wrights’ achievement was reported only in a humble beekeeping journal and drew little public notice, the invention described here led to nothing less than a revolution in transportation, a complete transformation in military strategy and tactics, and ultimately, the technological impetus to reach not only for the skies, but for the stars. And it all began, as Mr. Root notes, with “studying the flights of birds and insects.”
The Wright brothers’ methodical research and testing formally established the discipline of aeronautical engineering, but they were not the first aeronautical engineers. In fact, there were many, three of whom were Sir George Cayley, Otto Lilienthal and Samuel P. Langley. The Englishman Cayley, described as the “Father of Aerial Navigation,” like the Wrights, experimented with gliders and tested the lift characteristics of airfoils (wing cross-sections). Cayley’s airfoil testing apparatus, however, moved the airfoil rotationally which, after a few turns of the mechanism, caused the surrounding air to rotate with it, significantly decreasing the lift and reducing the accuracy of the measurements (Anderson, 1989, pp. 6-12). The Wright brothers used wind tunnels for airfoil testing, which is the preferred testing method even today (though modern wind tunnels generally are much larger).
Otto Lilienthal could be considered the world’s first hang glider expert, due to the way his gliders were configured and operated. Lilienthal, like Cayley, used a rotational device to measure aerodynamic forces on airfoils. He died in 1896 when the glider he was flying hit a gust of wind that pitched the nose of the vehicle upward causing it to stall, or lose lift, and plummet to the ground (Anderson, pp. 17-19). Hearing of this accident, the Wright brothers decided to put the “elevator” (control surface that regulates vehicle pitch) on the front of their flying machine. The elevator on most modern aircraft is at the rear, just below the vertical tail fin.
Samuel Pierpont Langley was contemporary with the Wright brothers, serving at that time as secretary of the Smithsonian Institute. Langley was one of the first to experiment with powered flight, successfully flying two small, unmanned vehicles—outfitted with steam engines—that he called aerodromes. When the Department of War commissioned him to develop a manned air vehicle, he decided to switch to a gasoline engine, which he attached to a larger version of one of his aerodromes. Unfortunately, the two test flights attempted by Langley with his manned aerodrome were miserable failures. The second of these failures occurred on December 8, 1903, just nine days prior to the Wright brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina (Anderson, pp. 21-26).
It is notable that all of these pioneers of aviation shared a fascination with the observation and study of flying creatures. Consider the following conversation with Samuel Langley, as recalled by Charles Manly, who piloted Langley’s ill-fated experiments:
I here asked Mr. Langley what first attracted his attention to aerial navigation. “I can’t tell when I was not interested in it,” he replied. “I used to watch the birds flying when I was a boy and to wonder what kept them up.... It finally occurred to me that there must be something in the condition of the air which the soaring birds instinctively understood, but which we do not” (Manly, 1915, Image 62).
In 1900, Wilbur Wright wrote a 17-page letter to Octave Chanute, a prominent mechanical engineer who, like Lilienthal, experimented with hang gliders. In this letter, Wilbur outlined the program of aeronautical research that he and his brother were about to undertake. He began the letter with a discussion of his affinity for flight and flying creatures, as follows:
Dear Sir:
For some years I have been afflicted with the belief that flight is possible to man.... My general ideas of the subject are similar [to] those held by most practical experimenters, to wit: that what is chiefly needed is skill rather than machinery. The flight of the buzzard and similar sailors is a convincing demonstration of the value of skill, and the partial needlessness of motors. It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge & skill. This I conceive to be fortunate, for man, by reason of his greater intellect, can more reasonably hope to equal birds in knowledge, than to equal nature in the perfection of her machinery (Wright, 1900, Image 1, emp. added).
These and numerous other references to bird observations attest to the fact that birds were a dominant source of inspiration for these early aeronautical researchers.
In fact, mankind has observed birds and dreamed of flight throughout recorded history, as evidenced by the ancient Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus. Daedalus is said to have fashioned wings of wax and bird feathers so that he and his son, Icarus, could escape imprisonment on the isle of Crete. The legend says that Icarus, in spite of his father’s warnings, flew too close to the sun, the wax in his wings melted and he perished in the Mediterranean Sea below. While this story is fictional, it certainly reflects the imaginative desire of its author to “take to the air” as a bird. As John D. Anderson, Jr., stated in his foundational text on the aerodynamics of flight: “All early thinking of human flight centered on the imitation of birds” (1989, p. 3). Having no flying experience, it is only natural that man, in his desire to fly, would seek to imitate the readily observable creatures who openly display their capability.
And capable they are! Birds are highly specialized both physiologically and instinctively to perform their marvelous feats of flight. Flying birds are uniquely configured for flight in their structure, musculature, profile, metabolism, and instinctive knowledge. Wilbur Wright accurately characterized this in his letter to Chanute when he referred to flying birds as “nature in the perfection of her machinery”—a feature which he said man could not reasonably hope to equal (Wright, 1900, Image 1). It is most interesting to study, as did the pioneers of aviation, the specific qualities of birds that make them wonderfully adept at riding the wind.
Perhaps the most visible feature of bird flight is the motion (i.e., “flapping”) of the wings. A bird’s wings move in such a way as to produce both lift and thrust simultaneously. Man has never successfully imitated this capability, either in the manipulation of artificial wings in the manner of the Daedalus myth (though many have tried), or mechanically in the tradition of Leonardo DaVinci’s “ornithopter” concepts, prompting Anderson to state that “human-powered flight by flapping wings was always doomed to failure” (1989, p. 4). Indeed, it was the observation that birds sometimes flew without moving their wings, via gliding and soaring, that ultimately led to the success of heavier-than-air flight, through the realization that “fixed wing” flight was also a possible design solution.

An eagle’s long, broad wings are effective for soaring. To help reduce turbulence as air passes over the end of the wing, the tips of the end feathers are tapered so that when the eagle fully extends its wings, the tips are widely separated.
Birds do fly by flapping their wings, however, and the “secret” lies in the wing’s two-part structure. The inner part of the wing is more rounded in shape and moves very little, thus providing the majority of the lift. The outer part of the wing, on the other hand, is flatter, has a sharper edge, and executes most of the “flapping” motion, by which it produces both thrust and some lift. The outer part also serves another important purpose in flight. In his letter to Chanute, Wilbur Wright further stated:

My observation of the flight of buzzards leads one to believe that they regain their lateral stability when partly overturned by a gust of wind, by a torsion of the tips of the wings (1900, Image 4).
That is, birds turn the outer part of their wing to a higher angle relative to the wind to generate more lift on one side, and to a lower angle, reducing the lift, on the other side. This causes the bird to “roll,” in modern aerodynamic vernacular, in order to restore its lateral balance. Wilbur went on to explain his “wing-warping” design for accomplishing lateral stability based on this “observation of the flight of buzzards.” Modern aircraft use “ailerons,” small hinged surfaces on the back side of the wing and near the tip, to provide this lateral balancing, but the aerodynamic principle is the same. [NOTE: The next time you fly, try to sit just behind the wing and note the ailerons moving up and down frequently—keeping the aircraft balanced.] It should be no surprise that the muscles of a bird are specially configured, in size and positioning, to perform the motions of flapping and wingtip torsion. Clearly, the wing of a bird is highly specialized in both structure and musculature to provide the lift, thrust, and lateral equilibrium required for flight.
In the early pursuit of human flight, it was a challenge to design a machine that was light enough to fly, but strong enough to survive the flight. All of the Wright brothers’ aerodynamic research to optimize lift would have meant very little had they been unable to design a structure that weighed less than the lift their wings were able to produce. The Wrights used spruce, a strong, lightweight wood, for the frame of their aircraft and covered the frame with muslin cloth. Had they used significant amounts of metal in their structural design, as in modern aircraft, they would not have succeeded. They also had to design and build their own engine since existing designs did not provide satisfactory power-to-weight ratios. Sufficiently strong, lightweight, structural materials, and an engine that maximized power for minimal weight, were critical factors in the Wright brothers’ success.
Birds are light enough to fly due in large part to several properties of their body structure, including bones that mostly are hollow, and an impressive covering of feathers. The mostly hollow structure of bird bones provides a light, yet strong, framework for flight. Solid bones, like those possessed by other creatures and humans, would render most birds much too heavy for flight. As evolutionist and noted ornithologist Alan Feduccia stated:
The major bones are hollow and pneumatized [filled substantially with air—JF].... [S]uch bones as the lightweight, hollow humerus are exemplary of this structural complexity (1999, p. 5).
Bird beaks also are made of lightweight horn material instead of heavier jaw and teeth structures. Feduccia noted, “[I]t is dogma that the avian body is characterized by light weight” (p. 3), and points out that even the bird skin is “greatly reduced in weight and is paper-thin in most species of flying birds” (p. 10). By far however, the most innovative structural feature contributing to the general flightworthiness of birds is the feather.
The phrase “light as a feather” has to be one of the oldest and most-used clich├ęs in the English language. Yet, light as feathers are, their unique structure makes them sufficiently strong to stand against the aerodynamic forces that a bird’s wings routinely experience. The central shaft or “rachis” (Feduccia, 1999, p. 111) of a feather is an amazing structure, incredibly strong and stiff considering its negligible weight. Feather vanes are composed of fluffy strands, called barbs, that protrude from the shaft. Each barb has small hooks that attach to ridges on adjoining barbs. This characteristic allows feathers to maintain their shape to keep airflow around the bird as streamlined as possible. In fact, Feduccia observes that because of their asymmetry, “flight feathers have an airfoil cross-section” (p. 111), so they must maintain their shape to keep the bird aloft. When these hooks become detached, they have to be carefully aligned to reattach, which is accomplished in remarkable fashion by a bird’s instinctive preening (Vanhorn, 2004). Without a doubt, the feather is one of the most amazing and highly specialized structures in nature.
Diagram of a feather
Illustrated by Thomas A. Tarpley
© 2004 AP

Cross-section of two barbs showing how their barbules “hook” together.
KEY: A. Shaft (Rachis); B. Vane; C. Barbs; D. Hooked barbules; E. Ridged barbules.
The magnitude of the Wright brothers’ accomplishment was due to the fact that it involved powered flight of a heavier-than-air vehicle. They had to design their own engine to obtain a sufficient power-to-weight ratio. Likewise, the musculature of birds, which provides their “power” for flight, also is specially configured. First, “the major flight muscles [comprise] a disproportionate amount of the body’s weight” (Feduccia, 1999, p. 3). Feduccia also observed:
The main muscle arising from the keel and responsible for raising the wing for the recovery stroke in modern birds is the large supracoracoideus, and it has unusual features that allow it to perform this function (p. 10).
Feduccia further notes that the bird’s sternum is “keeled,” meaning that it has a forward protrusion to accommodate attachment of the “extensive flight musculature” (p. 10). Indeed, the bird’s muscles and its skeletal structure are uniquely built for flight.
Birds are not only structurally specialized for flight, however. The almost constant flapping of wings requires a tremendous amount of energy. Significantly, flying birds possess a metabolic rate that is much higher than most other creatures. This allows them to consume high-energy foods and convert that food efficiently enough to supply the large quantity of energy required for flight. Feduccia comments that “birds are highly tuned metabolic machines” (1999, p. 1). High-energy fuel is not the only requirement for a high metabolism, however. Such high-rate energy conversion also requires significant amounts of oxygen. A bird’s lungs are unlike those found in any other creature. Birds do not have to breathe out, as do other vertebrates. It is not difficult to see how breathing out would be detrimental to flight; this would be much like the thrust reversal mechanisms used on modern aircraft to slow them down after landing, though on a smaller scale. Instead, the lungs of a bird are configured to allow air to flow through and out the other end, after it has acquired oxygen from the air much more efficiently than the lungs of other animals (Feduccia, p. 388). The oxygen obtained is sent to sacs throughout the bird’s body, helping to maintain balance and supply the oxygen as directly as possible to the hard-working flight muscles. The metabolic system of the bird is unique in the animal kingdom, and perfectly suited to a flying creature.
The Wright brothers could not have known all of these facts regarding bird metabolism or the specifics of the structural specializations that make birds flightworthy. They were, however, highly impressed with the ability of birds to manipulate their physiology to control their speed and direction of flight, and to perform amazing acrobatic feats in the air. A critical piece of the Wrights’ success in developing the first practical aircraft is the “three-axis” control system that they devised. The wing-warping that controlled the “roll” orientation of their aircraft has already been discussed. The wing-warping, however, also provided steering control of the aircraft, working with the rudder (the Wrights had observed that gliding/soaring birds would generally “roll” into turns). The steering orientation of an aircraft is known as “yaw.” Finally, the elevator control surface provided regulation of the “pitch” (nose up/down) orientation of their aircraft. While it did provide full control of all three of these “axes,” the Wright design was “statically unstable,” meaning that if the pilot let go of the controls, even for a very brief period of time, the machine would crash. In contrast, most modern passenger aircraft are designed to be statically stable.
This constant expenditure of control effort was physically exhausting; nonetheless, the Wright brothers became highly skilled pilots as a result of practicing with their machines. This pursuit to control the aerodynamics of their machine is consistent with Wilbur Wright’s stated belief that “man, by reason of hisgreater intellect, can more reasonably hope to equal birds in knowledge” (Wright, 1900, Image 1, emp. added). Eventually, the “fly-by-wire” concept was developed whereby computers came to perform many of the flight control functions that the Wrights had to actuate manually. Coupled with statically stable aircraft designs, fly-by-wire made flying much less strenuous for the pilot. Human beings, unlike birds, have the ability to analyze and understand concepts like aerodynamic forces and, in turn, manipulate that understanding to their own benefit.
Though birds certainly do not come close to man in intellect, they are quite masterful in controlling their bodies and wings to achieve remarkable maneuvers in the air. Human beings in aircraft have never duplicated many of the flight maneuvers that birds perform with apparent ease. This fact is illustrated by recent, and ongoing, research studying how birds use vortices (regions of rotating air) that are created at the front (leading) edge of their wings to create lift (Videler, et al., 2004), as well as how they turn sharply at high speed (Muller and Lentink, 2004). Leading edge vortices are used in supersonic aircraft with small, delta-shaped wings to provide additional lift while landing, but Muller and Lentink suggested that the principle can be further exploited to increase significantly the maneuverability of these aircraft.

A V-22 Osprey can rotate its engines to transition from hovering to forward flight and vice versa.
Credit: ©Boeing 2008
How is it, though, that birds know precisely when to flap, twist the tips of their wings, pull their head back to change their center of gravity, fan out their tail feathers, sweep their wings back to manipulate leading edge vortices, glide, soar, preen, etc.? Langley was addressing this very question when he said, “It finally occurred to me that there must be something in the condition of the air which the soaring birds instinctively understood, but which we do not” (Manly, 1915, Image 62). Birds must instinctively know how to control properly their physiology for flight, because they certainly do not have the reasoning ability of humans that would allow them to hypothesize about the nature of air movement and verify their reasoning experimentally, as did the pioneers of human aviation. Yet in spite of this reality, a bird coming to rest lightly on top of a fence post eclipses everything humans have been able to accomplish in 100+ years of concentrated flight design. Even aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capability like the AV-8 Harrier and the V-22 Osprey cannot pinpoint a landing that accurately. How did birds arrive at this instinctive knowledge?

Evolutionary theories of how bird flight might have evolved fall generally into two groups. The first group involves the so-called “ground-up” theories. This is the idea that dinosaurian reptiles evolved the ability to fly, after being lucky enough to sprout rudimentary wings, presumably driven by the desire to catch flying insects for food. Feduccia himself does not subscribe to the ground-up theories, but is instead a proponent of the other group, the so-called “arboreal” theories of bird evolution. These theories suggest that tree-dwelling reptiles (dinosaur ancestors in Feduccia’s view) learned to fly after first learning to glide, most likely in order to escape predators (see Feduccia’s chapter titled “Genesis of Avian Flight,” pp. 93-111). Even the gap between gliding and flying is enormous, however. Sir George Cayley is known to have successfully flown a manned glider as early as 1853, but it would be over 50 years before the first successful powered flight at Kitty Hawk, in spite of the intense efforts of many including, most notably, Samuel Langley.
Suppose for a moment, though, that either theory of bird flight evolution might be true. It is not difficult to imagine that vast multitudes of these creatures would have perished in the early process of learning to use their rudimentary flying equipment, just as many humans, like Otto Lilienthal, have died as mankind has slowly learned the intricacies and hazards of flight. If true that evolving birds had struggled through a similar process, then one would expect to find large numbers of “transitional” animals, possibly with developing wing structures, prototype feathers, or some other underdeveloped birdlike features in the fossil record. Feduccia admitted the lack of such fossils, and tries to excuse it stating, “Most bird bones are hollow and thin walled...and are therefore not easily preserved” (p. 1). He went on to suggest:
One could, technically, establish a phylogeny [evolutionary ancestry—JF] of birds, or any other group, exclusively of the fossil record, and perhaps have a reasonably good idea of the major lineages using evidence from such diverse areas as anatomy and biochemical and genetic (DNA) comparisons. Yet, even then, problems are legion. Not only is there considerable argument about the methodology that should be employed, but the search for meaningful anatomical features (known as characters) that elucidate relationships is laden with problems because, beneath their feathers, birds tend to look very much alike anatomically (p. 1).

Amazingly adept fliers, birds provide mankind with the inspiration and impetus to pursue the ability to fly.
In other words, birds look like birds, and the fossil evidence suggests that they always have. This dilemma is particularly troubling for evolutionists when it comes to feathers, where according to Feduccia, “Feathers are unique to birds, and no known structure intermediate between scales and feathers has been identified. Nevertheless, it has generally been accepted that feathers are directly derived from reptilian scales...” (p. 113). Even the feathers of theurvogel (literally, “first bird”), known as Archaeopteryx, are said to have a pattern “essentially that of modern birds” (p. 111).
Speaking of the urvogel, Feduccia at one point stated, “The Archaeopteryx fossil is, in fact, the most superb example of a specimen perfectly intermediatebetween two higher groups of living organisms” (p. 1, emp. added). Ironically, however, he later came very close to contradicting himself when he counters the “ground-up” theories of flight origin by observing that “most recent studies have shown Archaeopteryx to be much more birdlike than previously thought” (p. 103). [NOTE: For a refutation of the evolutionist’s erroneous claims regarding Archaeopteryx as a “missing link,” see Harrub and Thompson, 2001, 21[4]:25-31.] So, how does evolution explain the lack of fossil evidence for the evolution of birds? Feduccia explained, “All these known facts point to a dramatic, explosive post-Cretaceous adaptive radiation” (p. 404). In other words, it happened very fast in evolutionary terms (as little as five million years according to Feduccia)—supposedly too fast to leave behind any transitional fossils. Five million years is a very long time for the total absence of a transitional fossil record (all of human history could unfold more than 830 times in five million years). How convenient for evolutionists to assert that evolution occurred quickly during those periods that lack transitional fossils. Their theory depends on missing links—yet these links are still missing. As if explaining the evolution of bird flight was not difficult enough, though, evolutionists still need to explain the evolution of flight in insects, pterosaurs, and bats as well—also with no transitional fossil evidence.
It is unanimously acknowledged that the Wright brothers designed and built the first practical heavier-than-air flying machine. The contributions of Cayley, Lilienthal, Langley, and others leading to that event, are also readily recognized. However, many, like Feduccia, observe birds just as these aviation pioneers once did, but see it as the end result of millions of years of accidental, unlikely random mutations refined by a process of natural selection. Considering the complexity and multiplicity of specializations required to give flying birds their ability, this viewpoint is very difficult to swallow (pardon the pun). The structure of a bird’s feather, alone, is sufficient evidence of irreducible complexity (Vanhorn, 2004), but taking all of the bird’s specializations into account, the irreducible complexity becomes absolutely overwhelming. Even if we suppose that some animal could obtain “nature in the perfection of her machinery” by accident (an accident of miraculous proportions to be sure), how would it survive long enough to learn to use that machinery? Further, assuming it was fortunate enough to develop the physical attributes of flight and managed to learn how to use them, how could it pass that knowledge to future generations of avians without intellectual understanding? It took man, with his far superior intellect, around 6,000 years to make the first halting leaps in flight, and he has not even come close to equaling, much less surpassing, a simple bird’s mastery of the skies. No, the evolutionary explanation is quite inadequate and unscientific.


In the Old Testament, God asked Job: “Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars, stretching his wings toward the south?” (Job 39:26). Clearly, God’s question is rhetorical and assumes that Job would have had ample opportunity to observe birds in flight and marvel at their ability. Job may never have dreamed that man would one day share the skies with birds, so he most assuredly acknowledged that the flight of the hawk was well beyond his own understanding. All of our achievements in flight, however, have only served to underscore the meaning behind God’s question to Job. In spite of all we have accomplished in flight design, we still do not fully understand how birds, insects, and bats do what they do. We do understand, however, that they did not design themselves, we certainly did not make birds capable of flight, nor did we teach them how to fly. In fact, we must humbly admit that they taught us.
Notice that even evolutionists like Feduccia cannot avoid using words like “optimized,” “fine tuned,” “invented,” and “designed” when speaking of birds and flight. For example, Feduccia called the feather a “near perfect aerodynamic design” (p. 130, emp. added), and attributes to them an “almost magicalstructural complexity” (p. 132, emp. added). He further stated that “the shape and size of wings have been optimized to minimize the energy required to fly” (p. 16, emp. added), and that a bird’s metabolic system is “fine tuned” (p. 1, emp. added). And he asserted, “In order for flight to be possible, flight architecture was invented early on” (p. 1, emp. added). Feduccia also suggested:
Flight is, in a morphological sense, the biomechanically and physiologically most restrictive vertebrate locomotor adaptation permitting little latitude for new designs.... As an analogy, an engineer can construct a terrestrial vehicle in diverse configurations, but there is really only one basic design for a fixed-wing aircraft (p. 3, emp. added).
He meant for this suggestion to explain why there is little divergence, or differences in characteristics, among bird species. But he unwittingly made the point, instead, that this lack of divergence points most naturally to design. Since flight is such a “restrictive adaptation,” random processes, which depend by definition on probabilities, are much more likely to “select away” from the ability, regardless of the benefit it might hold for the animal. Thus, evolution is simply at a loss to explain the abundance, diversity, and very existence of the flying creatures that we observe. Furthermore, optimization, invention, design, and fine-tuning are not processes that occur naturally, randomly, or by accident. They occur only through focused application of intellectual ability.
Likewise, the accomplishment of December 17, 1903 was no accident. The Wright brothers could not have designed their flying machine carelessly, much less randomly, and their airplane would not have flown as it did in the absence of their skillful piloting. They did not develop piloting skills naturally or by chance, either, but through arduous, disciplined experimentation and practice. Neither could the specializations and instincts that allow birds to navigate the skies have happened by accident. No, the hawk does not fly by our understanding. Instead, the hawk, sparrow, owl, thrush, swallow, etc., fly by instinct, possessing an inherent “fly by wire” control computer designed by One whose capability far exceeds that of Orville and Wilbur Wright, Samuel Langley, Otto Lilienthal, George Cayley, or any other human being. The Wright flyer required strenuous exertion by the pilot to be able to fly, but God designed His flying machines, not only to have the capability of flight, but also to know inherently how to use it to incredibly impressive effectiveness.
It has been said, “If God had wanted man to fly, He would have given him wings.” Actually, He did. God, the Master Designer, both created the wondrous flying creatures that we observe, and gave His crowning design, man, the ability to observe, reason, and imitate. Thus, He provided both the inspiration and the means for man to achieve everything he has accomplished in his brief history of flight. So, with regard to either birds or the airplanes we see passing over our heads and homes, as Amos Ives Root observed so long ago, “the flying machine is one of God’s most gracious and precious gifts” (1905).


Anderson, Jr., John D. (1989), Introduction to Flight (New York: McGraw-Hill), third edition.
Feduccia, Alan (1999), The Origin and Evolution of Birds (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press), second edition.
Harrub, Brad and Bert Thompson (2001), “ArchaeopteryxArchaeoraptor, and the “Dinosaurs-To-Birds” Theory—[Part I],” Reason & Revelation, 21[4]:25-31, April.
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