Ask the Animals

Patricia A. Mondore, M.A. and Robert J. Mondore

"But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you." Job 12:7

As if Job hadn't gone through enough. First, all of his great wealth was destroyed, then his children were all killed. Next, his entire body became covered with painful boils and his wife's best attempt at supporting him was to suggest he "curse God and die." Finally, some friends came by to comfort and console him in his anguish. However, after a while even they began to add salt to the wounds with their attempts at explaining to Job why God had allowed all this to happen to him. In utter frustration Job responded to their pious platitudes by reminding them that he knew God every bit as well as they did. He had seen the wicked prosper and mock God while the righteous suffered in pain. However, Job had seen something else that enabled him to keep trusting in God despite his present circumstances. He told his friends, "But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind" (Job 12:7-10). Job found his faith was renewed by observing the perfect order of his Creator's world.

Job's injunction not only points our focus back to God, but is also an endorsement of the scientific method. Through the study of our physical universe we can be drawn closer to the One who formed it. Today more than ever before we have the means of putting God's world quite literally under the microscope and scientists who have are discovering the fingerprints of its Creator. Following Job's advice, let's take a look at each of the categories he named and see what they reveal about their Maker.

First, Job said to "ask the animals." Even the most basic study of the creatures on this earth reveals them to have built-in instincts that enable them to perform some extraordinary tasks. The beaver is one such creature. Beavers are well known for their dam-making abilities. Those dams are masterpieces both in their technical engineering and for their role in the environment. Naturalist Tom Wessels describes the beaver dam as "a highly manipulated ecosystem, one that has been dramatically altered to suit the needs of a single species - the beaver. Beavers are the only animals other than humans, that will created entirely new ecosystems for their own use."{1} He then explains the work involved in making and maintaining these ecosystems:

"The dams beavers construct to create their ponds are composed of a combination of sticks and mud. Although they can deplete the trees around their ponds, these animals are true conservationist when it comes to recycling. All of the sticks, whose bark supported the beavers through the winter, are reused to build the dam and lodge. When beavers emerge from their lodge to begin their nocturnal activities, the first order of business is to examine the dam. Their inspection is auditory in nature...If a beaver hears the sound of rushing water, dam-building activity is stimulated. It is such a strong stimulus that researchers have been able to get beavers to build dams on dry land in response to the sound of rushing water on a tape recorder. Without this nightly repair work, the pond's water level begins to drop...Beavers flood forests and create ponds for two reasons. The first is safety. Slow on land, especially in snow, beavers are easy prey for large predator, but in the sanctity of a pond, they are almost completely free from predation. The second is that ponds foster the development of their summertime food supply...If they are successful in storing a large enough supply of limbs in their pond during the fall, they may never need to leave the protected confines of their watery home for an entire winter season. The beaver should be revered as the creator of a landscape mosaic - a rich assortment of varied wetland ecosystems. No other creature fashions such an array of habitats on which so many other species are dependent. How poor our countryside would become if this species were again to be lost."{2}

What is most amazing is that these little creatures are not operating on logic nor are they consciously following blueprints. The work of these landscape architects is being carried out by a God-given instinct, a survival skill or blueprint encoded into their DNA, that allows them to perform tasks most human beings would be incapable of. As we look to these creatures we truly see the wisdom and order built into the world by the hand of a knowing God.

Job also advised his friends to "let the fish of the sea inform you." Another astounding example of God-given instinct is found in the migratory cycle of the salmon:

"The migratory instinct of members of the salmon family is remarkably specific, each generation returning to spawn in exactly the same breeding places as the generation before it. Even those species that do not migrate from fresh water to salt water spawn in the same freshwater streams as did their ancestors...The Atlantic salmon migrates to cold, fresh water in late spring or early summer, swimming upstream at an average rate of up to four miles per day. Because salmon can jump as much as 12 feet out of water, they clear most obstacles in their path. The female lays as many as 20,000 eggs in October or November, after which time the adult salmon float downstream and return to the sea. Unlike the various species of Pacific salmon, the Atlantic salmon does not die after its first spawning but returns year after year to its breeding place...Salmon found in the North Pacific Ocean spawn only once, dying after depositing and fertilizing their eggs...The chinook salmon migrates farther than any other salmon, often traveling 1000 to 2000 miles inland to its spawning ground...."{3}

What evolutionary process could possibly explain this kind of internal drive that takes these mighty creatures to such lengths? Only the creative ingenious of a Master Designer could devise and implement such a system for survival.

Another avenue of study Job suggested was the birds of the air. One of the most inspiring sights I've seen is that of the annual return of the Canada Geese. It is a wonder to gaze at these magnificent creatures as they fly in a perfect "v" formation with the skill and precision of a military air show. Canada Geese are also known to be one of the few species of birds who mate for life, so the geese take to the air as a family unit. Migrating flocks often consist of several families led by an older gander. After only a few months the geese reverse their route back to the breeding grounds once again perpetuating the legacy of the flying "v." Their divinely given instincts truly give witness to the skill and wisdom of their Designer/Creator.

The origin of these and other birds is currently under debate within the scientific community. A recent scientific journal described how the "evidence now overwhelmingly confirm[s] that birds descended from small, two-legged, meat-eating dinosaurs."{4} Sounds like hard, cold fact, right? Well, not so fast. A few months earlier, several articles were published that had strongly refuted this so-called overwhelming evidence. A group of paleontologists discussed the alleged findings of feathers on a dinosaur and "...the verdict was a bit different: The structures are not modern feathers."{5} Another author reported that "the first evidence in the soft tissue that theropods had the same kind of compartmentalization of lungs, liver, and intestines that you would find in a crocodile - and not in a bird."{6} A fellow paleontologist responded to this report calling it a "one- two punch to the dinosaur origins of birds hypothesis."{7} Another study comparing the dinosaur to the bird concluded that the similarities between the two "may be due to convergence, not a common evolutionary line."{8} The author wrote that, "in reality the bird-dinosaur link remains contentious..." adding, "their findings will not be to the liking of the cladistic supporters of a dinosaur origin of birds. The problem for this view is the long evolutionary gap, with no convincing intermediates."{9}

All of this counter-evidence existed prior to the article stating so conclusively that birds are descendants of dinosaurs. Why then are some scientists trying so desperately to establish it as fact? The answer comes back to their philosophy and what they want to believe. Contrary to popular thought, evolutionists are not just looking for a missing link, but for any link at all. To date, there has not been one verified example of a transitional species. Whether it is from dinosaur to bird, or ape to man, as the author above put it, there are "no convincing intermediates." Despite their best attempts to prove otherwise, scientists are finding that the fossil records speak as loudly as the animals themselves in rebutting the Darwinian theories of evolution and common ancestry. They are, instead, pointing to the biblical account of creation which states, "So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living...according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind" (Gen 1:21) ..."Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." (Gen 1:24) God created each distinct species separately from each other and, to date, that is what the fossil records proclaim.

Job concluded his admonition by telling his friends to "speak to the earth, and it will teach you." I took Environmental Biology in High School and in that class we did not just learn about life on paper, but out in the backyard. I remember taking one field trip to a swamp. Each of us had to collect samples of water, dirt, plants and mud and then bring them back to the classroom to examine under the microscope. No matter what form of sample we looked at we found that life was ubiquitous. It was everywhere and in everything. As Job suggested long ago, we discovered that the earth is permeated with living things all of which testify to the One from whom all life has come.

While we were out digging in the mud, astronomers were busy preparing for their missions to Mars. Their most recent findings have led to another dispute among scientists as to whether or not there is life on Mars. At this point, the answer remains unclear. While there are a few dubious indicators that just perhaps there might have been, at one time, some form of microscopic life numerous reports have strongly debunked the notion that the existence of life on Mars has, in any way, been proven. What a difference from the tenacity of life here on earth. Yet, even if the existence of life elsewhere were to be proven that would, in no way, disprove the intelligent design of the universe. Cosmologist, Fred Heeren believes the recent discoveries will ultimately NOT point to life on Mars but he raises the hypothetical question, what if it did? He writes, "Should the possibility of life on Mars threaten anyone's beliefs about God? If confirmed, it might require an adjustment in some of our personal views about what else, besides us, God had in mind when creating the heavens. But for people of faith, it need not change anything about their view of God's attributes...God may have filled the universe with other creatures...the Bible's creation account may focus on us ‘but there's nothing that precludes intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.'"{10}

In other words, we as believers, have nothing to lose whether life is found on Mars, or not. We know all life points back to the Creator of the Universe. Those who refuse to believe in intelligent design, however, have much to lose! If life does not readily spring forth naturally on a planet where all the right conditions exist, the argument for Darwinian evolution as an explanation for the origins of life is greatly weakened. Job was right when he admonished his friends to look at the natural wonders all around them and let nature teach them a thing or two. When we consider the animal kingdom, the earth and all of its wonders, we discover all the proof we need of a Master Creator. Job was also correct in challenging us to study and investigate our physical world. Today, using every scientific means and technological advancement available to us we can and should forge on ahead in our studies, for therein we will also discover the fingerprints of God.


{1} Reading the Forested Landscape by Tom Wessels (GORP

{2} Ibid

{3} Salmon. Microsoft® Encarta® 96 Encyclopedia. © 1993-1995 Microsoft Corporation

{4} Padian K, Chiappe LM. The Origins of Birds and Their Flight. Scientific American. 278(2); Feb 1998:38

{5} Gibbons A. Plucking the Feathered Dinosaur. Science. 278: Nov, 14, 1997:1229

{6} Gibbons A. Lung Fossils Suggest Dinos Breathed in Cold Blood. Science Dec 25, 1997.

{7} Ibid

{8} Burke AC, Feduccia A. Developmental Patterns and the Identification of Homologies in the Avian Hand Science 287; Oct 24, 1997:666

{9} Hinchliffee R. The Forward March of the Bird-Dinosaurs Halted? Science 287;Oct 24, 1997:596

{10} Heeren F. Show Me God. Revised Ed. Daystar Pub. Wheeling IL. 1997:18

© Copyright 1998, Patricia A. Mondore, M.A. and Robert J. Mondore. All rights reserved.