Reasons to Believe

Extinction Risks For Birds

One of the complex challenges facing evolutionists can be described in simple terms. It is the problem of time. For naturalistic evolution to work, the rate of speciation (introduction of new species) must, by nature alone, exceed the rate of extinction. Observed reality says it does not. In fact, extinction is accelerating (for some obvious reasons) while speciation has virtually stalled.

The implications point to supernatural involvement in speciation, and a number of recently published findings support such a conclusion.1-4 Field studies on birds have been especially fruitful. One study shows that for birds encountering human and other new predators, the greater its body size and the longer its generation time, the more rapid the bird’s movement toward extinction.5 Apparently, larger body size makes a bird more desirable to predators and more troublesome to human economic activity, such as agriculture. Longer generation time, of course, means slower response to environmental threats.

The same study shows that when the size of a bird’s habitat shrinks, the rate of extinction increases according to the specialization of that species’ food and other needs. In this situation, smaller body size hinders survival. Small birds have more difficulty surviving the move from one ruined or overcrowded habitat to another. In other words, both small body size and large body size mean trouble for survival.

Roughly half the bird species alive on Earth when humans appeared no longer exist, and more than a tenth of those that remain face imminent extinction.6 While evolutionary theory offers no explanation for this change from proliferation of bird species to diminution, the Bible does. Genesis says that in the era before God created humans, He introduced (and reintroduced) various creatures, including birds. With the creation of humans, however, God ceased creating new species.7

God’s plan for humans, a plan for redemption, has moved into its next phase. God still creates new life—spiritual life, in physically-alive but spiritually-dead humans. Observations affirm this on-going creative activity.

References:

  1. Jonathan B. Losos and Dolph Schluter, “Analysis of an Evolutionary Species-Area Relationship,” Nature 408 (2000), 847-50.
  2. Stephen R. Beissinger, “Ecological Mechanisms of Extinction,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA 97 (2000): 11688-89.
  3. Ian P. F. Owens and Peter M. Bennett, “Ecological Basis of Extinction Risk in Birds: Habitat Loss Versus Human Persecution and Introduced Predators,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA 97 (2000): 12144-48.
  4. Kevin Higgins and Michael Lynch, “Metapopulation Extinction Caused by Mutation Accumulations,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA 98 (2001): 2928-33.
  5. Owens and Bennett, 12144-48.
  6. Robert M. May, John H. Lawton, and Nigel E. Stork, “Assessing Extinction Rates,” in Extinction Rates, eds. John H. Lawton and Robert M. May (New York: Oxford University, 1995), 10-21.
  7. Gen. 1:20-23, The Holy Bible.

Subjects: Life Design, Mass Extinctions/Extinctions, Speciation Events, Transitional Forms

Dr. Hugh Ross

Reasons to Believe emerged from my passion to research, develop, and proclaim the most powerful new reasons to believe in Christ as Creator, Lord, and Savior and to use those new reasons to reach people for Christ. Read more about Dr. Hugh Ross.