No country in the world has such strange and unique animals as Australia. Of course, in this connection we immediately think of the kangaroo, who serves as the national symbol—which I also noticed on the tail of the Qantas plane that brought my wife and myself earlier this week from Melbourne to Singapore.
The kangaroo is just one of a large variety of marsupials. The koala is another popular example. The fact that these creatures are only found in Australia causes numerous problems, both for the proponents of evolution as well as for those who defend a literal creation as described in the Bible. Seeing the kangaroos and wallaby’s hopping around the hotel in Tasmania, where we stayed a night just a fortnight ago, made me wonder how these animals could have hopped to Noah’s ark, and back again, without leaving any traces anywhere.
Evolutionists tells us that tens of millions of years ago Australia was part of a supercontinent (Gondwana). At a certain point in time this land mass fell apart and Australia drifted away. Certain species of animals disappeared elsewhere (as e.g. in Africa and South America) because of natural enemies, but these were not yet present in Australia, when it separated from the rest, and therefore these categories could develop unthreatened. This supposedly explains why only Australia has marsupials. Well, I was not there to see it.
The experience of Charles Darwin comes to mind. With his Beagle he arrived at the Galapágos islands in 1835. He noticed that dozens of species of birds and many kinds of reptiles were unique to those islands. He believed that this unmistakably pointed in the direction of evolution.
Some twenty years ago I spent about a month on church-related business in Madagascar. There I had the chance to see the great diversity in flora and fauna on this island in the Indian Ocean (that covers about the same surface as the country of France). The majority of all species of butterflies that exist worldwide are only found in Madagascar. This is also true for about a thousand kinds of orchids, 300 kinds of frogs, and numerous insects. The best known animal species that is unique to Madagascar is probably the lemur—a monkey-like mammal that most of us only know from a visit to the zoo. Here also we are confronted with questions that challenge the evolutionists and the creationists alike.
I doubt whether I will ever hear a satisfying explanation for this type of natural phenomena. I do not believe the evolutionist can provide a final answer to this kind of questions, but must admit that I also find it extremely difficult to fit all of this into a creation of six literal days, some 6.000 to 10.000 years ago, with subsequently a ‘recent’ worldwide Flood.
Many of the things we observe in nature exceed our limited understanding. Years ago, during a holiday in the USA, my wife and I drove along the Pacific Highway in California. Suddenly we saw lots of cars parked and loads of people bending over a rails and looking at something beneath. On a small piece of beach of barely a few hundred maters in length, near Priedas Blanca, hardly a square inch of sand could be seen because of the more than 15 thousands elephant seals that once again had decided to embark on this beach to have their young. These enormous animals, most of which weigh at least two tons, return each year to this tiny piece of beach. What inbuilt mechanism in their animal brain propels them again and again to exactly the same spot?
Two weeks ago we enjoyed a visit to Phillip Islands, an island with a surface of about 100 square kilometers, south-east of Melbourne. Our aim was to see the tiny blue penguins that return there every evening at just a few spots. We read the announcements that they were expected to come that evening at 20.57 hrs. I wondered how they could make this precise prediction. These tiny ‘fairy’ penguins, that catch our imagination, swim out into the sea for some 15 tot 20 kilometers, and return in the evening with their catch to feed their young. It was 20.56 hrs. when the first penguin appeared from the water and came waddling onto the beach. Soon this first one was followed by some 1500 others. They had been waiting for the most favorable circumstances (in particular the right amount of light), with the least danger of attacks by vultures. They know how to find their nests, in small holes, some of which are as much as two kilometers from the beach. It was an event we will long remember. But how in the world is it possible that each day again these creatures come ashore at a precise time and know exactly where to go?
Nature around us leaves us with many questions. But considering the number of strange and amazing things I find myself thinking more of a creative, divine, Power than of a process that is steered by mere chance. How God created all things remains something I cannot and need not explain. The Bible tell me nothing about kangaroos, lemurs and elephant seals, nor about the Australian ‘fairy penguins’ on Phillip Island. But I am happy to conclude that a Creator God was, and is, somehow involved in all of this.