I received a comment from a subscriber the other day who asked me to publish a short article in my blog. The piece (if you want to read it) said, in a few short paragraphs, that birds are well adapted for flight with feathers, a light skeleton, and high metabolism, so birds must have been made by a creator, not evolved from reptiles with whom they share little. I always find it amusing, albeit sad, that if some living being has some marvelous adaptation like bird wings, octopus eyes, or a snake’s fangs, they must have been created by a supernatural being. How could such a complex thing have come about otherwise? The answer, which escapes or is ignored by the minds of creationists, is natural selection.
Bird-like creatures began to arise from dinosaur lines about 250 million years ago. Dinosaurs were becoming warm-blooded and began to show the beginnings of feathers – not modified scales as the article states, but new structures. How do these things happen? Well, all the offspring of parents, the next generation, whether dinosaurs, lizards, clams, bumblebees, or redwood trees, show variation. You don’t look like your mother or father or sister or brother (unless you are an identical twin) and dinosaur offspring aren’t alike.
Sexual reproduction makes variation possible. Chromosomes are changed in the process and occasionally genes are changed through mutation. So all offspring are slightly different than their siblings. If one dinosaur young, through a slight variation or mutation, has a slightly higher body temperature than its siblings, that individual will most likely be more fit to survive and reproduce. Small accumulations of changes over many years and generations produces different individuals. This is evolution, change over time. “Can sticking a peacock feather on a lizard produce a bird”, the article asks. Of course not, and scientists have never said or implied that.
Birds have a lot in common with reptiles: scales made of keratin, a columella (single ear bone), amniotic eggs with shells, a single occipital condyle on which the head swivels, large orbits (spaces for eyes), and nucleated red blood cells, for example. Since the discovery of DNA and genetic tests for relationships, there are thousands of studies that show the lineage of various dinosaur-like animals to bird-like ones. Many of these studies are sophisticated ones, taking a science-oriented and experienced mind to fully understand.
Given enough space, I can explain the evolution of birds from reptiles in scientific terms, but I can’t explain String Theory, quantum mechanics, or the formation of quartz. Does mean that a creator must have come up with this stuff because I don’t understand it? Paraphrasing another commenter, creationism was invented to provide simplistic answers to complex questions.
The author of this naïve and biased article saying that reptiles do not have what it takes to fly, forgets, doesn’t know about, or just ignores Pterodactyls, flying reptiles. And what about Quetzalcoatlus, a flying reptile with a 40 foot wingspan, the largest animal ever to fly?
If you are going to disagree with scientific explanations, use good science.