Over the weekend I was at my parents’ house.
A wildlife programme happened to be showing on television – it was Birds by David Attenborough. In it, Attenborough profiles about 8 species of different kinds of birds that eat meat, ranging from eagles, buzzards, falcons, to even parrots. The bird that got all of our attention was the Butcher Bird.
The Butcher Bird likes to eat lizards, but it is small, with a small beak, which can’t really tear the flesh off lizards. So how does it eat them? It uses a very interesting trick. It carries the captured lizard to the acacia tree whose branches are riddled with long sharp thorns. The bird then impales the lizard onto one of the thorns and pulls on it in order for the thorn to tear off the lizard’s flesh. Once the lizards body has been sufficiently shredded by the thorn, the sparrow proceeds to eat its flesh.
It was truly a marvel to behold – a bird skewering a lizard with a thorn, and then eating it. Immediately, I began to think about evolution by natural selection.
As if she was reading my mind, at that very moment my mother said:
Look how God has created the most amazing creatures. God is so amazing!
I wondered, at that moment, whether I should try to explain to her how the theory of evolution provided a plausible natural explanation for why and how this Butcher Bird could have developed this particular behavioural trait we were marvelling at, and others as well. After a moment’s thought, however, I decided to let it go. Bringing up the ‘God’ debate on a quiet Sunday afternoon didn’t seem like such a cool idea anyway.
Besides, it was Mothers’ Day!