One of the fascinating studies that we have engaged in over the years has been the study of animal instincts. There are a number of things that animals do that are incredible in their complexity, and which do not seem to be possible on an evolutionary chance basis. The migrations of animals like Arctic terns, salmon, geese, whales, sea turtles and even some insects are incredible
Evolutionists are fond of explaining these migrations by suggesting that they are just natural imprints of chance environmental factors. They would explain the migration of monarch butterflies from Mexico to much of North America by saying that butterflies made the first journey by chance, and since it was blessed with a high probability of success, those butterflies survived, while those that tried some other route died. The idea is that gradually the route was imprinted genetically in the butterfly just due to repetition. They would explain the fact that the butterflies fly high in the air when the wind is behind them and close to the ground when the wind is opposed to them by saying that those who did not fly in this way would be wiped out so only the ones with this behavior would survive. That explanation stretches credibility pretty thin, and just because something is possible in a mental model by a theorist does not mean that is what actually happened.
Recently this kind of question has been addressed again in studies related to the use of tools by birds. New Caledonian crows have been shown by those studying them to use twigs as tools to poke into crevices to dislodge grubs. The woodpecker finch has also been shown to do this, using a cactus spine to get at bugs in the desert. The classic evolutionary explanation of this behavior has always been that it is learned. The idea is that somewhere in the past a genius level crow discovered how to use a twig to get at a bug; and other crows watched and learned how to do it, and this behavior has been passed down through the years from parent to offspring.
Ben Kenward at the University of Oxford has proven that this is not the case. Kenward has raised New Caledonian crows in isolation so that the chicks have no contact with any other of their species. It had been observed that crows in the wild began using tools around 60 days after they hatched. When the crows raised in isolation reached that age, they began using twigs in the same way. Other studies have shown that New Caledonian crows raised in isolation make tools like tearing a leaf to reach in a crevice, just as birds who grow up in the wild do.
When researchers tried to teach the birds to use the twigs at an age less than 60 days, they were unsuccessful. It is obvious that the birds have brains that are hard wired to allow them to do both tool use and tool making. Trying to explain genetically how such behavior gets wired into the brain of an animal like this requires a mass of assumptions and a lot of faith. We would suggest that it is a wonderful example of the wisdom and design that God has built into all creatures in the earth. Truly "we can know there is a God through the things He has made" (Romans 1:19-22).
Data from Natural History, April 2005, page 13. Also see Nature 433, 121 (13 January 2005)2005.
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