"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" Chapter Three OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To examine the qualifications necessary for bishops and deacons 2) To appreciate the noble view that Paul has of the church SUMMARY In this chapter we find the qualifications necessary for those who would serve as bishops in the local congregation (1-7). A similar list is included for those who would be deacons (8-13). Paul then explains the purpose in writing this epistle. Though hoping to come soon, he writes so that Timothy will be well-instructed on how to conduct himself in the house of God, which is the church, the pillar and ground of the truth (14-15). Mention of "the truth" prompts a summation of "the mystery of godliness" which pertains to the coming of Christ into the world (16). OUTLINE I. THE QUALIFICATIONS FOR BISHOPS (1-7) A. THE NATURE OF THE WORK (1) 1. It is a position, or office (1a) 2. It is a good work for a man to desire (1b) B. WHAT A BISHOP MUST BE (2-7) 1. Positive qualifications a. Blameless (2a) b. The husband of one wife (2b) c. Temperate (2c) d. Sober-minded (2d) e. Of good behavior (2e) f. Hospitable (2f) g. Able to teach (2g) h. Gentle (3d) i. One who rules his own house well (4a) 1) Having his children in submission with all reverence (4b) 2) For if he can't rule his own house, how will he take care of the church? (5) j. A good testimony among those outside (7a) 1) Lest he fall into reproach (7b) 2) And into the snare of the devil (7c) 2. Negative qualifications a. Not given to wine (3a) b. Not violent (3b) c. Not greedy for money (3c) d. Not quarrelsome (3e) e. Not covetous (3f) f. Not a novice (6a) 1) Lest he be puffed up with pride (6b) 2) And fall into the same condemnation as the devil (6c) II. THE QUALIFICATIONS FOR DEACONS (8-13) A. WHAT A DEACON MUST BE (8-12) 1. Positive qualifications a. Reverent (8a) b. Holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience (9) c. Proven (10a) d. Found blameless (10b) e. The husband of one wife (12a) f. Ruling his children and house well (12b) 2. Negative qualifications a. Not double-tongued (8b) b. Not given to much wine (8c) c. Not greedy for money (8d) 3. Their wives a. Reverent (11a) b. Not slanderers (11b) c. Temperate (11c) d. Faithful in all things (11d) B. THE HONOR OF THEIR WORK (13) 1. Those who serve well obtain a good standing (13a) 2. Also great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus (13b) III. PAUL'S PURPOSE IN WRITING (14-16) A. WHY PAUL IS WRITING THIS EPISTLE (14-15) 1. He hopes to come shortly, but writes in case he is delayed (14-15a) 2. That Timothy might know how to conduct himself in the house of God (15b) a. Which is the church of the living God (15c) b. Which is the pillar and ground of the truth (15d) B. THE MYSTERY OF GODLINESS (16) 1. Without controversy, it is great (16a) 2. In summation, it key elements are these: God was... a. Manifested in the flesh (16b) b. Justified in the Spirit (16c) c. Seen by angels (16d) d. Preached among the Gentiles (16e) e. Believed on in the world (16f) f. Received up in glory (16g) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The qualifications for bishops (1-7) - The qualifications for deacons (8-13) - Paul's purpose in writing (14-16) 2) How does Paul describe the position of a bishop? (1) - As a good work 3) What are the positive qualifications required for a bishop? (2-7) - Blameless, husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach, gentle, ruling his own house well, a good testimony among those outside 4) What are the negative qualifications required for a bishop? (2-7) - Not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, not quarrelsome, not covetous, not a novice 5) What are the positive qualifications required for a deacon? (8-12) - Reverent, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience, proven, found blameless, the husband of one wife, ruling his children and house well 6) What are the negative qualifications required for a deacon? (8-12) - Not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money 7) What are the qualifications for the wives of deacons? (11) - Reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things 8) What is said of those deacons who have served well? (13) - They obtain a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus 9) Why did Paul write this epistle? (14-15) - So that in case his coming was delayed, Timothy would know how to conduct himself 10) What does Paul call the house of God? (15) - The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth 11) What are the basic facts of the mystery of godliness? (16) - God was manifested in the flesh - Preached among the Gentiles - Justified in the Spirit - Believed on in the world - Seen by angels - Received up in glory
"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" Chapter Two OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To appreciate the importance and place of prayer, especially in the lives of men 2) To notice God's desire for the salvation of all men, therefore offering Christ as a ransom for all, not just a select few 3) To understand the proper adornment of women, and their place in the public teaching of the church SUMMARY Having reminded Timothy of his charge to remain in Ephesus and "wage the good warfare", Paul now begins instructing Timothy in matters that involve the church. He starts with a call to prayer, defining for whom and why we should pray. His desire is that men pray in every place, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting (1-8). Just as men are to pray everywhere, so women are to adorn themselves properly. This involves modest apparel worn with propriety and moderation, but it also includes good works, as is proper for women professing godliness. Also proper is women learning in silence (translated peaceable in verse 2) with all submission. Therefore a woman is not permitted to teach or have authority over a man. Basing this restriction on the relationship of Adam, Eve, and the fall, Paul reminds them they can be saved in their natural role of childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control (9-15). OUTLINE I. THE PRACTICE OF PRAYER (1-8) A. THE SCOPE OF PRAYER (1-7) 1. Supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks are to be made for all (1) a. For kings and all who are in authority (2a) b. That we may lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and reverence (2b) 2. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior (3) a. Who desires all men to be saved and know the truth (4) b. For there is one Mediator between God and men (5a) 1) The Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all (5b-6a) 2) To be testified in due time, for which Paul was appointed a preacher and an apostle (6b-7a) a) Paul speaks the truth in Christ and is not lying (7b) b) A teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth (7c) B. A CALL TO PRAYER (8) 1. For men to pray everywhere (8a) 2. Lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting (8b) II. INSTRUCTIONS FOR WOMEN (9-15) A. THEIR ADORNMENT (9-10) 1. With modest apparel (9a) a. With propriety and moderation (9b) b. Not with braided hair, gold, pearls, or costly clothing (9c) 2. With good works, which is proper for women professing godliness (10) B. THEIR SUBMISSION (11-15) 1. To learn in silence with all submission (11) 2. Not permitted to teach or have authority over a man, but to be in silence (12) a. For Adam was formed first, then Eve (13) b. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived fell into transgression (14) 3. A woman will be saved in childbearing if they continue in... a. Faith b. Love c. Holiness -- With self-control (15) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The practice of prayer (1-8) - Instructions for women (9-15) 2) What four things does Paul exhort be made for all men? (1) - Supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks 3) Who else are we to pray for? Why? (2) - Kings and all who are in authority - That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence 4) What does God desire for all men? (4) - That they be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth 5) Who is the one mediator between God and men? (5) - The Man Christ Jesus 6) For whom did Jesus give Himself as a ransom? (6) - For all 7) What did Paul desire that men do? (8) - Pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting 8) How are women to adorn themselves? (9-10) - In modest apparel, with propriety and moderation - Not with braided hair, gold, pearls, or costly clothing - With good works, as is proper for women professing godliness 9) How were the women to learn? (11) - In silence (peaceable, cf. 2:3), with all submission 10) What did Paul not permit a woman to do? (12) - To teach or have authority over a man 11) What two reasons does Paul give for these limitations on women? (13-14) - Adam was formed first, then Eve - Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived fell into transgression 12) What are the women encouraged to continue in? (15) - Faith, love, holiness, with self-control
"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" Chapter One OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To notice two different kinds of teaching: one that gives rise to disputes, and the other which produces godly edification in faith 2) To consider what ought to be the goal of all teaching: love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith 3) To appreciate the example of Paul's conversion in how longsuffering Christ is to those who believe on Him SUMMARY Paul begins this epistle by urging his "true son in the faith" to remain in Ephesus and charge some not to teach other doctrines, nor give heed to fables and genealogies that cause disputes rather than godly edification in faith. The goal of this commandment is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith, from which some have strayed and turned to idle talk in their desire to be teachers of the law. While the law is good when used properly, it is not designed for the righteous person, but for those whose conduct is contrary to "sound doctrine" which is according to the gospel of God committed to Paul's trust (1-11). Speaking of what was committed to Paul's trust sparks an expression of thanksgiving and praise to Christ for counting him faithful and enabling him to be of service. His gratitude is heightened by remembering what he had been prior to receiving the grace and mercy of the Lord. But Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom Paul was chief, and in him Christ shows an example of His longsuffering to those who believe on Him for everlasting life (12-17). Paul then charges Timothy to carry out his responsibility in keeping with prophecies made concerning him. The charge is to "wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience". He is reminded of two men, Hymenaeus and Alexander, who have rejected such things. As a result they had suffered shipwreck concerning the faith and had been turned over to Satan by Paul that they might learn not to blaspheme (18-20). OUTLINE I. INTRODUCTION (1-2) A. THE AUTHOR (1) 1. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1a) 2. By the commandment of God our Savior and Jesus Christ our hope (1b) B. THE RECIPIENT (2) 1. Timothy (2a) 2. Paul's true son in the faith (2b) C. GREETINGS (2c) 1. Grace, mercy, and peace 2. From God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord II. TEACHING SOUND DOCTRINE (3-11) A. PAUL'S CHARGE TO TIMOTHY (3-7) 1. Remain in Ephesus and charge some... (3a) a. To teach no other doctrine (3b) b. Nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies (4a) 1) Which cause disputes (4b) 2) Rather than godly edification which is in faith (4c) 2. The purpose of the commandment is... (5a) a. Love from a pure heart (5b) b. A good conscience (5c) c. Sincere faith (5d) 3. For some have strayed... (6a) a. Having turned aside to idle talk (6b) b. Desiring to be teachers of the law (7a) 1) Not understanding what they say (7b) 2) Nor the things they affirm (7c) B. THE PROPER USE OF THE LAW (8-11) 1. It is good if one uses it lawfully (8) 2. The law is not made for the righteous (9a) a. But for all sorts of sinners (9b-10a) b. And anything else that is contrary to sound doctrine (10b) 1) According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God (11a) 2) Which was committed to Paul's trust (11b) III. THANKSGIVING FOR THE LORD'S GRACE AND MERCY (12-17) A. THANKFUL TO CHRIST JESUS (12-14) 1. For enabling him (12a) a. Because He counted him faithful (12b) b. Putting him into the ministry (12c) 2. Though he had formerly been... (13a) a. A blasphemer (13b) b. A persecutor (13c) c. An insolent man (13d) ...but he obtained mercy because he did it ignorantly in unbelief (13e) 3. The grace of the Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love in Christ Jesus (14) B. THE MERCY SHOWN TO HIM IS A PATTERN FOR OTHERS (15-17) 1. Christ came to save sinners, and Paul was one of the worst (15) 2. But he received mercy, that Christ might demonstrate His longsuffering to others who believe on Him for everlasting life (16) 3. Paul desires that honor and glory be given forever and ever... (17c) a. To the King eternal, immortal, invisible (17a) b. To God who alone is wise (17b) IV. TIMOTHY'S RESPONSIBILITY (18-20) A. TO WAGE THE GOOD WARFARE (18) 1. This is the charge Paul commits to his son Timothy (18a) 2. In accordance to prophecies made concerning him (18b) B. TO HAVE FAITH AND A GOOD CONSCIENCE (19-20) 1. Which some have rejected, and concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck (19) 2. Such as Hymenaeus and Alexander (20a) a. Whom Paul delivered to Satan (20b) b. That they may learn not to blaspheme (20c) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Introduction (1-2) - Teaching sound doctrine (3-11) - Thanksgiving for the Lord's grace and mercy (12-17) - Timothy's responsibility (18-20) 2) How does Paul describe Timothy in his salutation? (2) - My true son in the faith 3) Where did Paul want Timothy to remain? (3) - Ephesus 4) What two things did he want Timothy to charge some? (3-4) - To teach no other doctrine - Nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies 5) Paul's concern is that such teachings would cause disputes rather than what? (4) - Godly edification which is in faith 6) What was the three-fold purpose of this commandment? (5) - Love from a pure heart - A good conscience - A sincere faith 7) What had some turned aside to? Why? (6-7) - Idle talk - Because they desired to be teachers of the law 8) When is the law good? Who is the law not made for? (8-9) - When it is used lawfully - The righteous person 9) When is something considered "sound doctrine"? (10-11) - When it is according to "the glorious gospel of the blessed God" 10) Why did Paul thank Christ Jesus? (12) - Because He enabled him, counting him faithful, and put him into the ministry 11) What had Paul been formerly? Why did he obtain mercy? (13) - A blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man - Because he did it ignorantly in unbelief 12) What is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance? (15) - That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners 13) How did Paul view himself? (15) - As chief of sinners 14) Why did Paul obtain mercy, and Christ show all longsuffering toward him? (16) - As a pattern to those who believe on Him for everlasting life 15) To whom does Paul ascribe honor and glory? (17) - To the King eternal, immortal, invisible - To God who alone is wise 16) What charge does Paul commit to Timothy? What does it involve having? (18-19) - Wage the good warfare - Faith and a good conscience 17) Who had made shipwreck concerning the faith? What had Paul done in response? Why? (19-20) - Hymenaeus and Alexander - Delivered them to Satan - That they may learn not to blaspheme
"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY"
Introduction AUTHOR: The apostle Paul, as stated in the salutation (1:1). The internal evidence certainly supports Paul as the author, especially references to his earlier life (1:13), and the close relationship between the author and Timothy (1:2; cf. Php 2:22). Early sources in church history that attribute this letter to Paul include: Eusebius (300 A.D.), Origen (250 A.D.), Clement of Alexandria (200 A.D.), Tertullian (200 A.D.), Irenaeus (200 A.D.), the Muratorian Fragment (180 A.D.). References to the epistle are also found in the writings of Theophilus of Antioch (180 A.D.), Justin Martyr (160 A.D.), Polycarp (135 A.D.), and Clement of Rome (90 A.D.). RECIPIENT: Timothy, Paul's "true son in the faith" (1:2,18). We are first introduced to Timothy in Ac 16:1-3, where we learn that his mother was Jewish (cf. also 2Ti 1:5; 3:14-15) and his father Greek. Well spoken of by the brethren at Lystra and Iconium, Paul desired that the young disciple travel with him and therefore had him circumcised to accommodate Jews they would seek to evangelize. This began a long relationship of service together in the work of the Lord, in which Timothy served Paul as a son would his father (Php 2:19-24). Such service included not only traveling with Paul, but remaining with new congregations when Paul had to leave suddenly (Ac 17:13-14), going back to encourage such congregations (1Th 3:1-3), and serving as Paul's personal emissary (1Co 16:10-11; Php 2:19-24). He had the honor of joining Paul in the salutation of several epistles written by Paul (2 Col 1:1; Php 1:1; Col 1:1; 1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:1), and from such epistles we learn that Timothy had been with Paul during his imprisonment at Rome. Such faithful service helps us to appreciate why Paul would leave him in Ephesus (1:3) TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING: Some commentators (such as Barnes) believe that Paul may have penned 1st Timothy after his extended stay at Ephesus and departure to Macedonia on his third missionary journey (cf. Ac 19:1-41; 20:1-3). This would place its composition around 58-59 A.D. The general consensus, though, is that Paul wrote this epistle from Macedonia, following his first imprisonment in Rome (cf. Ac 28:16, 30-31). Paul was released and allowed to travel for several years before being arrested again and finally put to death by Nero. It is possible to conjecture from several references in his epistles that he went to places like Philippi (Php 1:26; 2:24), Colosse (Phm 22), and even Spain (Ro 15:24,28). With more certainty his destinations included Ephesus (where he left Timothy, 1Ti 1:3), Macedonia (where he wrote 1st Timothy, 1Ti 1:3), Crete (where he left Titus, Tit 1:5), Miletus (2Ti 4:20), Corinth (2Ti 4:20), and a winter at Nicopolis (2 Tit 4:20). Any attempt to determine the exact order of these visits is pure speculation, however. If 1st Timothy was indeed written during this period, the date would be around 63-64 A.D. PURPOSE OF THE EPISTLE: Paul had left Timothy behind at Ephesus with an awesome responsibility: to charge some not to teach anything contrary to the "sound doctrine" which was according to the "glorious gospel of the blessed God" (1:3-11). Fulfilling this charge was made difficult by Timothy's youth and natural timidity (4:11-12; cf. 2Ti 1:7-8). While Paul hoped to come himself, he writes Timothy to guide him in the meantime (1Ti 3:14-15). Therefore, Paul writes: * To instruct Timothy on how to conduct himself while administering the affairs of the church (3:14-15) * To encourage Timothy by providing counsel concerning his own spiritual progress (4:12-16) THEME OF THE EPISTLE: This letter is addressed to a young evangelist charged with the responsibility of working with a congregation and guiding them in the right way. Everything that is written is designed to aid both him and the congregation in doctrine and conduct. An appropriate theme for this epistle might therefore be: "SOUND DOCTRINE FOR A CONGREGATION AND ITS PREACHER" KEY VERSES: 1 Timothy 3:14-15 "These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." OUTLINE: INTRODUCTION (1:1-2) I. CHARGE CONCERNING SOUND DOCTRINE (1:3-20) A. TEACHING SOUND DOCTRINE (1:3-11) B. THANKSGIVING FOR THE LORD'S GRACE AND MERCY (1:12-17) C. TIMOTHY'S RESPONSIBILITY (1:18-20) II. GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS CONCERNING THE CHURCH (2:1-3:13) A. THE PRACTICE OF PRAYER (2:1-8) B. INSTRUCTIONS FOR WOMEN (2:9-15) C. QUALIFICATIONS FOR CHURCH OFFICERS (3:1-13) 1. For bishops (3:1-7) 2. For deacons (3:8-13) III. ADVICE TO TIMOTHY (3:14-4:16) A. PAUL'S PURPOSE IN WRITING (3:14-16) B. REMEMBER THE SPIRIT'S WARNING OF APOSTASY (4:1-6) C. EXERCISE YOURSELF UNTO GODLINESS (4:7-16) IV. INSTRUCTIONS CONCERNING MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH (5:1-6:19) A. MAINTAIN PROPER RELATIONSHIPS (5:1-2) B. CONCERNING WIDOWS (5:3-16) C. CONCERNING ELDERS (5:17-25) D. CONCERNING SERVANTS (6:1-2) E. CONCERNING TEACHERS MOTIVATED BY GREED (6:3-10) F. CONCERNING THE MAN OF GOD HIMSELF (6:11-16) G. CONCERNING THE RICH (6:17-19) CONCLUDING CHARGE TO TIMOTHY (6:20-21) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE INTRODUCTION 1) Where do we first read about Timothy? - Acts 16:1-3 2) What was the name of his grandmother and mother? (2Ti 1:5) - Lois (grandmother) - Eunice (mother) 3) How did Paul affectionately regard Timothy? (1:2) - As his true son in the faith 4) Where was Timothy when Paul wrote this epistle? (1:3) - Ephesus 5) What is the general consensus for the time and place that Paul wrote this letter? - After his first Roman imprisonment, sometime around 63-64 A.D. - While in Macedonia, shortly after leaving Ephesus 6) What two-fold purpose does Paul have in writing this epistle? - To instruct Timothy on how to conduct himself while administering the affairs of the church - To encourage Timothy by providing counsel concerning his own spiritual progress 7) What is the theme of this epistle, as suggested in the introductory material? - Sound doctrine for a congregation and its preacher 8) What are the key verses? - 1Ti 3:14-15 9) According to the outline proposed above, what are the main points of this epistle? - Charge concerning sound doctrine - General instructions concerning the church - Advice to Timothy - Instructions concerning members of the church
Don't Touch Dead Bodies!
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
In their book, None of These Diseases, physicians S.I. McMillen and David Stern discussed how that many of the hygienic rules established by God for the children of Israel still are applicable today. To illustrate their point, they recounted the story of Ignaz Semmelweis.
In 1847, an obstetrician named Ignaz Semmelweis was the director of a hospital ward in Vienna, Austria. Many pregnant women checked into his ward, but 18% of those women never checked out. One out of every six that received treatment in Semmelweis’ ward died of labor fever. Autopsies revealed pus under their skin, in their chest cavities, in their eye sockets, etc. Semmelweis was distraught over the mortality rate in his ward, and other hospital wards like it all over Europe. If a woman delivered a baby using a midwife, then the death fell to only 3%. Yet if she chose to use the most advanced medical knowledge and facilities of the day, her chance of dying skyrocketed to 18%!
Semmelweis had tried everything to curb the carnage. He turned all the women on their sides in hopes that the death rate would drop, but with no results. He thought maybe the bell that the priest rang late in the evenings scared the women. So, he made the priest enter silently, yet without any drop in death rates.
As he contemplated his dilemma, he watched young medical students perform their routine tasks. Each day the students would perform autopsies on the dead mothers. Then they would rinse their hands in a bowl of bloody water, wipe them off on a common, shared towel, and immediately begin internal examinations of the still-living women. As a twenty-first-century observer, you probably are appalled to think that such practices actually took place in institutes of what was at the time “modern technology.” What doctor in his right mind would touch a dead person and then perform examinations on living patients—without first employing some sort of minimal hygienic practices intended to kill germs? But to Europeans in the middle-nineteenth-century, germs were a foreign concept. They never had seen a germ, much less been able to predict its destructive potential. According to their theories, disease was caused by “atmospheric conditions” or “cosmic telluric influences.”
Semmelweis ordered everyone in his ward to wash thoroughly his or her hands in a chlorine solution after every examination. In three months, the death rate fell from 18% to 1%. Semmelweis had made an amazing discovery. Or had he? Is it possible that Dr. Semmelweis simply “rediscovered” what had been known in some circles for many years?
Almost 3,300 years before Semmelweis lived, Moses had written: “He who touches the dead body of anyone shall be unclean seven days. He shall purify himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day; then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not be clean.” Germs were no new discovery in 1847; God had known about them all along. If only we would learn to give the Holy Scriptures the respect they deserve, we could save ourselves from so much sin, heartache, and death.
Designed To Fly
|by||Jerry Fausz, Ph.D.|
[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 NASAMarshall 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 clichés 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.
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 his greater 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 the urvogel (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 intermediate between 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, 21:25-31.] 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 magical structural 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), “Archaeopteryx, Archaeoraptor, and the “Dinosaurs-To-Birds” Theory—[Part I],” Reason & Revelation, 21:25-31, April.
Hedrick, Tyson L., James R. Usherwood, and Andrew A. Biewener (2004), “Wing Inertia and Whole Body Acceleration: An Analysis of Instantaneous Aerodynamic Force Production in Cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus) Flying across a Range of Speeds,” The Journal of Experimental Biology, 207:1689-1702.
Manly, Charles M. (1915), “Legal Cases—Wright Co. v. Curtiss Aeroplane Co.—Affidavits: Manly, Charles M.,” The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers, January 19, Library of Congress, [On-line],URL: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mwright&fileName=04 /04109/mwright04109.db&recNum=61&itemLink=r?ammem/wright:@ field(DOCID+@lit(wright002721)).
Muller, U.K., and D. Lentink (2004), “Turning on a Dime,” Science, 306:1899, December 10.
Root, Amos Ives (1905), “First Published Account of the Wright Brothers Flight,” Gleanings in Bee Culture (Medina, OH: A.I. Root Company), [On-line], URL:http://www.rootcandles.com/about/wrightbrothers.cfm.
Vanhorn, Matthew (2004), “Words of a Feather,” Apologetics Press, [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2610.
Videler, J. J., et al., (2004), “Leading-Edge Vortex Lifts Swifts,” Science, 306:1960-1962, December 10.
Wright, Wilbur (1900), “Octave Chanute Papers: Special Correspondence,” The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers, May 13, Library of Congress, [On-line], URL: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mwright&fileName=06/ 06001/mwright06001.db&recNum=0&itemLink=r?ammem/wright:@field( DOCID+@lit(wright002804)).
Demon Possession, the Bible, and Superstition
|by||Wayne Jackson, M.A.|
How does one respond to the charge that the New Testament endorses superstition by its occasional references to demon possession?
Demon possession was a real, historical phenomenon of the first century. Spirit entities, known as demons [the KJV “devils” is an incorrect translation], did inhabit and afflict human bodies during that age.
The question of demon origin is not spelled out in the Scriptures, though several theories have been proposed by Bible scholars—some of which may be dismissed out of hand. A few writers have suggested that demons were the disembodied spirits of a pre-Adamic race of men who lived upon the Earth in an alleged “gap period” between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. There is, however, no evidence of any such gap period. Furthermore, Adam is clearly identified as the “first man” (1 Corinthians 15:45). Others speculate that demons resulted from the cohabitation of angels with antediluvian women (based upon a misunderstanding of Genesis 6:1-4), even though Christ plainly taught that angels are sexless beings incapable of such unions (Matthew 22:30).
The two more plausible views surmise that: (a) demons may have been the spirits of wicked dead men whom God, in harmony with His divine purpose, permitted to leave the Hadean realm to indwell some people (see, for example, Alexander Campbell, “Demonology,” Popular Lectures and Addresses); or (b) demons may have been fallen angels who were allowed to escape their confinement (Jude 6) for a similar purpose (see Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology). Regardless of their origin, the existence of demons is recognized within the pages of the New Testament.
In regard to their nature, demons are portrayed as spirits (Matthew 8:16), and thus did not possess a corporeal existence (Luke 24:39). In regard to their character, demons are portrayed as unclean spirits that were evil, and under the immediate control of Satan (Matthew 12:24,43,45). Demons also were intelligent beings (Mark 1:24), and could exercise both volition and locomotion whenever permitted (Matthew 12:44-45). Demon possession of human bodies frequently resulted in physical and/or mental illness (although such ailments clearly were distinguished from the demon itself (see Matthew 4:24). Dumbness (Matthew 9:32), blindness (Matthew 12:22), and supernatural strength (Mark 5:4; Acts 19:16) sometimes were characteristic of demoniacs.
The New Testament supplies no reason as to exactly why demons entered particular individuals, but makes clear that they inhabited men (Matthew 9:32), women (Luke 8:2), and children (Mark 7:30). Apparently, demon possession was permitted temporarily by God in order that the authority of Christ might be made manifest. As the Lord revealed control over nature (Mark 4:41), disease (Mark 2:12), material things (John 2:9), and even death (John 11:44), so also did He demonstrate power over the spirit realm (Luke 11:20). In fact, the authority of Jesus over evil spirits amazed His contemporaries, who exclaimed: “What is this? a new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him” (Mark 1:27). Christ’s disciples, by His authority, also could expel demons (Luke 10:17), except on one occasion when hindered by their weak faith (cf. Mark 9:28 and Matthew 17:20).
With the termination of the supernatural era of the early church, demon possession, and the corresponding gift of expulsion ceased. Satan’s supernatural power was bound (Matthew 12:29). Certainly, the devil exerts great influence today. However, just as God no longer works miraculously, but influences men through His Word and providence, so also, Satan wields his power indirectly and non-miraculously through various media. Modern cases of supposed demon possession are doubtless the results of psychosomatic problems, hysteria, self-induced hypnosis, delusion, and such like. They have natural, though perhaps not always well-understood, causes. When the Bible discusses demon possession, it is always from a specific, historical vantage point. As such, it does not endorse myth or superstition.