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MYSTERIOUS PATHS IN THE SKY - How Bird Migrations Baffle Evolutionists!
Plain Truth Magazine
March 1967
Volume: Vol XXXII, No.3
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MYSTERIOUS PATHS IN THE SKY - How Bird Migrations Baffle Evolutionists!
Garner Ted Armstrong   
Church of God

Born: February 9, 1930
Died: September 15, 2003
Member Since: 1930
Ambassador College: 1956
Ordained: 1955
Office: Evangelist

Why won't a Tern turn for over 8,000 miles? Why do Terns always return? Ornithologists are puzzled by the mysterious patterns of bird migrations! Read, in this highly informative article, of the breathtaking marvels all around you, and how evolution has lost its way!

   "Call the police!" shrieked Timmy's mother. So the police came. A neighborhood search was launched immediately, with several dozen policemen in patrol cars, and on foot, participating.
   Timmy, age 4, had been missing from home.
   His playmate, across the street, said he saw him go down the street about 3:00 p.m. None of the neighbors had seen him since 3:00.
   It was now 5:30.
   Timmy's father arrived home from the office frightened, distraught. He had received his wife's worried call an hour earlier, and grown more and more fearful as he battled the heavy freeway traffic home. It was now 5:45.
   And then, a police car pulled up at the walk.
   A big policeman got out, carrying a small, whimpering child in his arms.
   Later, the parents found Timmy had wandered down unfamiliar alleys, stopped to pick grapes from a backyard vine, and had chased a yellow puppy for several blocks. Walking along, kicking at rocks, picking up sticks to rattle against the picket fences, Timmy was unaware he was walking further away from home.
   He realized he was lost when he came to the big boulevard with the red light, and the stores on both sides of the street.
   He began to cry.
   A service station attendant took Timmy into the station office, and called the police.
   Lost and only seven blocks from home, in an unfamiliar direction.
   Overhead, the faint noise of a mournful goose wafted down through the cool autumn skies. A flock of geese, in a long, perfect formation, flew majestically southward.
   Within another two weeks, the big Rock would set their wings for a final landing at their wintering grounds near Port Arthur, Texas. They would have flown, unerringly, for thousands of miles all the way from Northern Manitoba along the shores of Hudson's Bay, to this wintering ground on the Gulf of Mexico.
   Timmy was lost, hopelessly, only seven blocks from home.
   But these migrating birds always manage to arrive at the precise spot, season after season. The following year, young geese would fly, never having seen or learned the route, the same "Mississippi Flyway" with the same mysterious, unerring accuracy!
   WHY? HOW?
   How is it that a HUMAN being can be completely turned around inside a city hopelessly lost in a small forest without sense of direction only blocks from home, when tiny birds, bees, butterflies, eels, salmon, and many other migrating creatures can travel THOUSANDS of miles in adverse weather conditions, and ALWAYS ARRIVE AT THE PRECISE SPOT?
   Bird migration is one of the great, unanswerable MYSTERIES of what man likes to call "nature." Bird biologists continually speak of the great, unsolved MYSTERIES of migrating birds of the MYSTERY of their complex navigation methods.
   As one authority said, "There is no more fascinating way of arousing interest in flight than having your child catch a sight of migrating birds perhaps a flight of geese in military formation, or a close-massed flock of grackles racing like a dark wind-blown cloud. Ellen after years of research and experiment, scientists speak of the 'MYSTERY' of bird migration, for they still do not completely understand it." (Illustrated Encyclopedia of Animal Life, Vol. I, page 17.)
   Another authority admitted, "For centuries men have wondered at the marvel of migration, and while much has been learned in recent years, the real mystery is still unsolved.
   "The GREATEST MYSTERY about bird migration is the ability of many birds to move over the same route, year after year, arriving each spring in the same
Top: Robert Hermes National Audubon Society Bottom: Douglas Aircraft Photo
Opposite page, top, the amazing Arctic Tern. Read, in this article, of his incredible feats of navigation. Below, the cockpit of a Douglas OC-9, one of the simpler airplanes. Yet even the more elaborate airplanes, with their vast array of navigational equipment, cannot match the navigation exactness of little birds. (See PDF For Pictures)
nesting locality and spending each Winter in' the same place" (Birds, Robert Porter Allen, page 9).
   But WHY do birds migrate?
   What strange compulsion CAUSES these tiny brains to "decide" it's time to begin a tortuous journey over the vastness of oceans, over the broad expanse of whole continents?
   What strange, mysterious "sense" causes them to KNOW when to leave? How do they arrive with absolute predictability right on time, year after year? How do tiny birds (MANY, MANY species migrate!) return year after year to the SAME NEST AREA after a flight THOUSANDS of miles, through all kinds of weather?
   How DO THEY NAVIGATE? How do they find their way?
   These questions present really gigantic difficulties to evolutionary theory. Some attempts to rationalize them out of the way are almost humorous.
   Says one evolutionary authority about migrating birds, "One of the questions most frequently asked of an ornithologist is: 'Why do birds migrate?'... WE CAN ONLY SPECULATE as to what these factors [causal factors of migration] may have been, for it is impossible to substantiate these theories with experimentation" (Biology of Birds, Wesley Lanyon, pages 68, 69 emphasis mine throughout article).
   Why DO birds migrate? When did bird migration begin? How did bird migration begin? The evolutionists answer, "WE DON'T KNOW!" We CAN "ONLY SPECULATE!"
   And NO WONDER they call it a mystery!

The "Homing" Instinct

   The amazing ability of birds, fish, insects, many kinds of animals to return to an exact mating or nesting spot is a fantastic story.
   How FAR TO GO is the birds' big question. WHEN DOES A BIRD KNOW TO STOP? For instance, it was found by extensive banding of swallows that young nestlings on the European continent slightly south of the latitude of London wintered in Africa in the northern and equatorial part and on the Azores. Yet, the same kind of swallows, nesting in Britain, only slightly farther north in breeding range, flew clear to SOUTH AFRICA, a distance TWICE as long as the European nesters.
   The EXACT area where a bird was hatched is usually selected on its return migration. For instance, a swallow returned to nest on the same beam in a Pennsylvania barn for three years in succession.
THE MARVEL OF MIGRATION See PDF for Explanation and chart page 6 and 7)
   Thousands upon thousands of such cases are observed, almost casually, by large segments of humankind. Yet these marvelous and fathomless testimonies to the great MIND OF GOD go unheeded, unnoticed by most.
   Did you hear about the first three ruby-throated hummingbirds ever banded? They were tiny, infinitesimal babies when the tiny bands were placed on their legs. Sure enough, they were found using the same feeding station their parents had used, after a flight of at least FIVE THOUSAND MILES clear to the tropics and back. And here they were, nesting within 30 feet of where they had been hatched,
   CAN science explain it?
   Does evolution have any answers? COULD these MYSTERIOUS patterns have "evolved" GRADUALLY?
   Think, and think deeply and logically about some of the breathtaking MYSTERIES of life all around you. Think of the countless MIRACLES you are privileged to witness each day ponder them be amazed by them, and give God THANKS for them.
   Think about the Golden Plover. This one bird presents insurmountable difficulties to evolutionists, for his migratory patterns are so illogical, so unnecessary.
   The Golden Plovers nest along the shores of the Arctic Ocean, clear above the vast northern Canadian tundra up in the land of permafrost and lichens, of Caribou and Musk Oxen. Then, after raising their young, the Golden Plovers set out on one of the most awe-inspiring migrations of all. Winging their way southward, they fly an elliptical course of more than SIXTEEN THOUSAND MILES.
   First, they are seen flying through Labrador, to the tip of Nova Scotia, Then they fly over the Atlantic, completely bypassing the United States, clear to their vast wintering area between Rio de Janeiro. in Brazil, and Buenos Aires, in Argentina! When migrating northward, they cross the Andes mountains, fly across Panama and Central America, up the Mississippi valley, and on to their home in the vast, remote Arctic!
   But WHY? How? What CAUSES such an extensive migration?
   No one knows. Think of the problems involved. First, the Plovers leave their nesting area just as the food available reaches its PEAK. The insect population, the tiny crustaceans, the various forms of Arctic plant life are in greatest abundance at this time. Yet, the birds depart, mysteriously, for their wintering grounds.
   Do they fly toward warmer climates? But WHY? The pleasantest time of the year in the Arctic is precisely when they leave.
   Evolution supposes there are several reasons why birds migrate. But none of their supposes work.
   For instance, it is assumed by some that birds migrate because of failure of food supply in their nesting and breeding areas winter scarcity of food. But we find the many different varieties of birds leaving LONG BEFORE their food supply is scarce in some cases when it is MOST ABUNDANT!
   Some suppose the cold weather causes their migrations. But not so. We may observe species after species leaving the northern United States in JULY or EARLY AUGUST, right in the HOTTEST time of the year, long before the heat of summer is over. There are also many cases of migrations within the tropics, having nothing to do with cold weather.
   Others suppose the birds anciently began migrating in the face of advancing glaciers during the Pleistocene "ice age."
   This is perhaps the most humorous of all the supposes, possibly's, maybe's, perhapses, and "we have come to believes" that you'll read about bird migration.
   Besides glaciers normally move rather slowly. Any bird, dwelling along the advancing edge of a glacier, and being subjected to frequent winter blizzards, could simply turn into a snowshoe rabbit, or perhaps an ice worm or perhaps become a seal, and return to the arctic sea. After all since evolutionists tell us crocodiles are the "closest living relatives" to birds these changes would be just as feasible as the complex migrations patterns.
   Some evolutionists have postulated the birds are, in actuality, returning to their "ancestral home" in the tropics. But this doesn't work, either since by no means all of them "return" to the tropics many migrations take place within the tropics, from one area to another, and some birds fly right across the tropics to another cold region.

The Greatest Globetrotter of All

   The Arctic Tern, cousin to the seagull, completely baffles ornithologists.
   Arctic Terns nest from northern Alaska to northern Greenland and many nest as far south as Massachusetts. But from northern Europe to Asia, and from the Aleutians to Hudson Bay and the Atlantic coast, observers have seen and heard the nesting Terns.
   Their annual migrations are so vast, so complex, and so improbable they are a great MYSTERY to bird watchers.
   For example, the Terns nesting in the Cape Cod area (much farther south than most) fly clear across the Atlantic ocean to offshore Spain, continue along the western coast of Africa, across the Atlantic again to the easternmost tip of South America, and along the South American coast to Antarctica! Some birds cover as much as 22,000 miles on a round trip that takes them in an elliptical path right back to the same gravel bed, the same creek, or lake shore, or rocky coast, they had departed.
   Says the National Geographic School Bulletin for March 6, 1967, "How birds navigate over such distances is a mystery. Scientists believe they may somehow steer their course by the sun and stars."
   And they do as experiments tend to prove.
   But HOW? The stars appear to "rotate" in the sky each night the earth constantly orbits, and the moon orbits around it. The "southern cross" becomes visible south of the equator, and the sky looks totally different to the Terns in the southern hemispheres than when they're in the northern part of earth.
   Scientists are still baffled. They have no definite answers.
   Blue-winged Teal, a well-known bird to the waterfowl hunter, are among the fastest long-distance fliers in the world. One bird, banded near Quebec, along the St. Lawrence River, flew to British Guiana, covering 3,300 miles at an average minimum travel of 122 miles each day. Ducks, however, frequently stop to rest and feed and the Teal are among the fastest of the ducks.
   But it seems the smaller the bird, the faster he migrates! The Semi-palmated Sandpiper, weighing only 15 grams, or ONE-HALF OUNCE, flew 2,400 miles from Massachusetts to Venezuela in twenty-six days, at an average speed of 92 miles each day!
   The stories about bird migrations are so awesome, so incredible, it's no wonder evolutionists can only use the word, "MYSTERY" when trying to explain how such marvelous things could have "just happened."
   Still scientists would have us believe much of this happened by CHANCE. As the result of a series of fortunate ACCIDENTS!

A Tale of a Terrified Tern

   So let's go back, back, back in time. Back to the VERY FIRST BIRD MIGRATION!
   After all birds DO MIGRATE. This, we know. And they had to START sometime this, we also know.
   So, there had to be a very first migration.
   Let's think about a little Arctic Tern. Here he is, huddled on his nest, up in the northernmost part of Canada. It's summer. He has plenty of food. He's happy. He fans out his feathers, yawns prodigiously, and sleeps.
   August, September passes. The cold weather begins to set in. The Tern grows restless. He's cold. He's also hungry since all the insect population seems to have disappeared, and the fish and tiny crustaceans he feeds on are all frozen solid, under the ice or have long ago left for the warmer waters.
   He decides to leave. But, alas, he hasn't stored up any body fat for the journey. He didn't know he should! After all he's never "migrated" before!
   So he turns southward, looking for warmer climates. But he's never done this before is a complete novice. So, halfway across the Atlantic Ocean, he "runs out of gas" (body fat) and plummets down into the sea, and drowns.
   Or, if evolutionists would say this is impossible since there are still Terns with us today and somehow they have survived in SPITE of their migrations let's assume he DIDN'T drown.
   Let's assume he just became hopelessly lost, and has become known as the "great circle" bird. A strange creature that keeps flying around and around and around in "great circles" in the middle of the Atlantic.
   But this would be preposterous, might the evolutionist say no bird would be that crazy. But why, then didn't the Terns stop when they found warmer climates? Why did they keep right on going, to the frigid shores of Antarctica to "winter" there?
   Some have speculated it's because they like the sunlight. But why didn't the Tern just turn into a Ptarmigan (there are such birds in the high arctic tundra!) and stay where he was?
   But let's assume the very first Tern overcame ALL these many obstacles.
   When he arrived in Antarctica (a feat even a modern jet, with its vast array of electronic instruments must be very careful to achieve) how did he know when to return to the north?
   What if the first birds had left the north too late and froze before they left?
   What if they became hopelessly confused, and migrated to the Hawaiian Islands instead?
   And, anyway, why couldn't a Tern turn before he arrived in Antarctica? EIGHT THOUSAND MILES, JUST TO TURN AROUND? That's getting ridiculous!
   Obviously, migrations CANNOT be the result of "natural selection."
   First, if the birds didn't migrate until they HAD to, then they only migrated when conditions involving wind, weather, food and habitat FORCED them to. And if that's true (which it isn't) they didn't need to migrate anywhere NEAR so far, over such DIFFICULT routes NOR DID THEY EVER NEED TO RETURN.
   If all birds are only seeking pleasanter habitat then all birds must live ONLY in the temperate zones, and are found nowhere else! But that isn't true, either.
   And, after all why migrate?
   Why not just become a penguin, and quit flying, altogether?
   No, evolution has no answer for bird migrations just as they have no answer for the origin of MATTER, or the origin of LIFE, or the purpose and meaning of life!
   It's time you saw the real fallacies of evolution time you faced squarely the ONLY ALTERNATIVE, that GOD DOES EXIST, and you can prove it!

Evolution Admits How Improbable It Is

   The famed evolutionist, Julian Huxley, seemed to believe the more FANTASTICALLY IMPROBABLE the more incredibly UNBELIEVABLE was some "chance" occurrence the more logical it DID OCCUR.
   Mr. Huxley explained how "natural selection" can keep protective coloration up to the mark, such as turning moths black in industrial areas, and how it produces resistance to pesticides and chemicals in bacteria and insects; BUT, he asks, "what about really elaborate improvements? Can it ["natural selection"] transform a reptile's leg into a bird's wing, or turn a monkey into a man? How CAN A BLIND AND AUTOMATIC SIFTING PROCESS LIKE A SELECTION, OPERATING ON A BLIND AND UNDIRECTED PROCESS LIKE MUTATION, produce organs like the EYE or the BRAIN, with their almost incredible complexity and delicacy of adjustment?" (Emphasis mine throughout.)
   Notice it, this famous evolutionist quite plainly states some of the great DOUBTS involved in the theory of evolution. He asks HOW CAN the processes of evolution cause such intricate, marvelous mechanisms as we see all about us and with which we see, and think?
   His answer? Notice it carefully! "How CAN chance produce elaborate design? In a word, are you not asking us to believe too much? The answer is NO: all this is not too much to believe, once one has grasped the way the process operates."
   Remarkable, isn't it?
   Evolution admits over and over again the "way the process operates" the "HOW" of evolutionary thought is a vast MYSTERY!
   Yet, after informing us as to the litter improbability of such a marvelous mechanism as a bird's wing, or a man's brain, or the eye ever having evolved we are simply told to BELIEVE IT, Once, that is, we have "grasped the way the process operates."
   But evolutionists do NOT "grasp" the way the process operates not at all!
   Notice this further admission of the utter incredibility of any ACTUAL evolutionary process taking place.
   The evolutionists themselves admit the mathematical impossibility of this happening by "chance." For instance, the "chances" that such "evolutionary" steps really could have occurred are said to be ONE "chance" in A THOUSAND TO THE MILLIONTH POWER! But even this is only an arbitrary figure, seized upon and utilized, rather than actually proved. One chance in a thousand to a millionth power? What that means is staggering.
   Said the evolutionist, "A thousand to the millionth power, when written out, becomes the figure one with three million noughts after it: and that would take three large volumes of about five hundred pages each, JUST TO PRINT! Actually this is a meaninglessly large figure, but it shows what a degree of improbability natural selection has to surmount, and CAN CIRCUMVENT [GET AROUND!!]. One with three million noughts after it is the measure of the unlikeliness of a horse the odds against it happening at all!"
   How would YOU like to "bet" against such "odds"?
   "No one would bet on anything so improbable happening," said the evolutionist, "AND YET IT HAS HAPPENED." Or so we are told!
   But what CAUSED such a phenomenal occurrence as a horse? Did GOD ALMIGHTY CREATE it? Not so claim the evolutionists, "It has happened, thanks to the workings of NATURAL SELECTION and the properties of living substance which make natural selection inevitable!" (Evolution in Action, Julian Huxley, p. 42.)

The "FAITH" in Nothing

   Such faith in "natural selection" which seems almost "godlike" in evolutionary thought is found continually in evolutionary books.
   First, you are told of the brain-defying, imagination-defeating, incomprehensible, unbelievable, impossible proportions of such a thing occurring at all, and then you're told you MUST BELIEVE it, or you are "UNINFORMED"!
   Notice another salient quotation illustrating the kind of "intellectual pressure" to which the average layman is subjected, "No informed persons doubt any more that the many animal types that inhabit the earth today are the results of a long process of evolution" (Animal Behavior, LIFE NATURE LIBRARY, Niko Tingergen, pages 171-172).
   How can evolutionists be so POSITIVE?
   Listen! "To understand HOW this evolution has happened is one of the major tasks of biology. The course which evolution MUST HAVE TAKEN has been deduced mainly from the study of fossils." (Ibid.)
   But how much do evolutionists really know about these UNBELIEVABLE processes from their study of fossils? Listen again, "Fossils provide the student of animal structure with a kind of direct, although very fragmentary, historical documentation.
   "Unfortunately, fossils do not behave, and so WE HAVE NO DIRECT KNOWLEDGE of the course behavioral evolution has followed in the past." (Ibid.)
   How about that?
   The course evolution MUST have taken (though improbable to the chances of one in one with three million noughts after it) are "deduced" from the study of FOSSILS,
   But fossils are only very "FRAGMENTARY" evidence. Therefore, evolutionists admit they have NO DIRECT KNOWLEDGE of the course evolution has followed.
   Yet they remain CONVINCED IT DID OCCUR!
   That's FAITH for you. Faith in fragmentary, missing "evidence." Faith in NOTHING.
   But not all biologists have such empty faith. Said one, Edwin Conklin, "The probability of life originating from accident is comparable to the probability of the unabridged dictionary resulting from an explosion in a print shop!"
   But GOD says you CAN have faith in WHAT YOU CAN SEE! He says LOOK at the physical creation all around you, and thereby UNDERSTAND about the "invisible" things of God!


   God says only the FOOL has said in his heart, there is no God! There is NO EXCUSE for believing in evolution and there is NO EVIDENCE whereby it may be proved!
   "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who HOLD BACK [margin] the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shown it unto them.
   "For the invisible things of Him [God's INVISIBLE power, HIS LAWS, HIS PURPOSE being worked out here below] from the creation of the world [by looking at the material creation) are CLEARLY SEEN [evidence; measurable, tangible, obvious PROOF!] being understood by the things that are made [by observing the heavens, the solar system, the earth, the vastly different, myriads of creatures with their interdependency on each other, their life cycles, their habits, their unexplainable instincts!], even His Eternal power and Godhead; so that they ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE" (Romans 1:18-20).
   Creation stands PROVED! The warmth, humor, love and kindliness of God is all around us, known by being alert to observe the myriads of creatures He has so carefully designed. Known by studying the breathtaking MARVELS of His great creation being in AWE of it, gasping in amazement at the many little creature habits we take so casually for granted.
   Evolutionists have pulled blinders over the eyes of millions made them see only BLIND, SENSELESS, PURPOSELESS, DIRECTIONLESS ACCIDENT CAPRICE, in this MARVELOUS world of ours and even in our own personal existence!
   Evolutionists claim to deal in "knowledge." They claim to stand for only what they can PROVE. They say they use the "tools" of science those of observation, measurement, experiment. But, in reality, they wish the layman to leave all the questions to them saying, in effect, "You needn't bother yourself about worrying about evolution we have all the facts; we know it's true!"
   But actually, they admit they DON'T KNOW! Then still they say you're UNINFORMED if you don't have the same blind faith in LACK OF EVIDENCE THEY have!
   But evolution does not stand the test of truth. Millions are the TONS of positive, incontrovertible, incontestable, unanswerable, PROOFS of the existence of your God and you can have FAITH in that!

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Plain Truth MagazineMarch 1967Vol XXXII, No.3
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