"The Eagle has landed." Forty-two years ago this month, those words brought tears of pride to millions of people who watched the first manned lunar landing.
The eagle has long been a symbol of speed, power, and freedom. In numerous bible passages, God compares enemy nations, believers, and even Himself to the eagle. The bald eagle is the intimidating emblem of the swiftest, most powerful, freest nation on earth. It is also a great teaching tool in the right hands.
We recently attended EagleFest at the wonderful Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum, a display that renewed our awe of God's wise, creative power. In this case, "The eagle has landed" brought tears of pity to those who watched eagles who had perched on power lines and lost their speed, power, and freedom. Still, they are magnificent raptors who can teach us much about Creation.
Along with the eagles were injured hawks, falcons, and owls. All had a story to tell about the majesty of Creation and the mystery of compassion.
It is not sensible to observe the design features of these birds and believe they evolved by chance. For example, the owl has unique feathers for silent flying, and facial feathers that funnel sounds to their ears, enabling them to hunt in darkness. Did you know owls can hear mice moving under snow? Pretty handy when you're hungry in the winter.
The peregrine falcon can dive-bomb its moving prey at 200 miles per hour. Who needs sound-muffling feathers at that speed?
Hawks and owls can see a mouse at the opposite end of a football field. Those wonderful, complex eyes can do the job even when there is no football field in sight.
Bill Streeter, of the Delaware Valley Raptor Center in Milford, introduced us to Mortimer, an adorable teacher. He's a tiny Saw-whet owl with a story about a big heart.
A man driving home from work found Mortimer on a snowy roadside at 4:30 A.M. He stopped and picked up the owl, and a few hours later transported him to the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum in Cornwall, NY. They called the Raptor Center, who assessed Mortimer, finding that he was in shock. The museum was already keeping him warm. The Center administered fluids and a cortico-steroid to remove him from shock. The car impact injury blinded Mortimer in his left eye.
That one act of kindness, the mystery of compassion, resulted in hundreds of people of all ages learning about Creation and compassion through tiny Mortimer.
Why do I refer to "the mystery of compassion"? Were mindless, purposeless, random evolution true, there would be no Mortimer. What purposeless, random concoction of carbon atoms, struggling for its own survival, would care about another human being's welfare, no less that of a tiny, non-utilitarian bird in the cold snow, interrupting his trip to his cozy home? Why spend hours that could be used to claw his way ahead in life or ensure his own comfort, just to save a bird that some would say was no longer a bird because it wasn't perfect and should die to decrease the surplus bird population?
Were survival-of-the-fittest, non-intelligently-directed, random, soul-less, don't-get-in-my-way evolution true, there would be no hospitals, Hondas, or Habitat for Humanity. There would be no attorneys or adjudicators, schools or skylines or Skylab, doctors or dentists. Ethics, educators, and aesthetics would serve no purpose.
Aren't you glad an all-wise, infinitely imaginative, loving, and all-powerful Creator gave us Mortimer and his friends to teach about the majesty of Creation and the not-so-mysterious mystery of compassion, even though they are not perfect? Read Psalm 148.