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Watching airplanes

Like jets in flight, the marvels of creation bear fingerprints of design

Watching airplanes

A stock image of a boy at an airport (iStock)

I was at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport last week, waiting for my flight back to Los Angeles, when I did something I never do: I ate lunch by myself without my iPhone, my laptop, or a book.

There was a spot at the airport terminal where I could sit near a floor-to-ceiling window and watch the airplanes land and take off. As I sat there munching bread and watching heavy machines soar into the puffy cotton clouds, a young family of four wheeled their suitcases over and sat next to me. One of the two sons was a brown-haired kid of about 5 years old who had a cast around his left arm. Together we watched a massive plane rumble to life, zoom across the runway, then gently lift its nose into the sky and wade straight and steady into the air like an eagle. 

“Oooooooh!” the little boy cried out, his eyes round and his mouth gaping in a toothy grin.

He jumped out of his chair and stared transfixed at the window. It was a busy Sunday afternoon, with all sorts of planes flying in and out—Delta, Hawaiian, Alaska, Omni. For every plane, the boy looked as if he were witnessing a miracle. “Wooooow!” he exclaimed. “Whooooooaaaaa!” From time to time, he turned to his parents and said, “Mommy! Daddy! Look! … Daddy, this is a great view. Like, a greeeaaaat view!” 

His parents, who looked to be in their 30s, weren’t as amazed. The mother sat with her back toward the window and didn’t bother to turn around. The father dutifully looked out at the planes, but his expression was dull and his eyes dazed, staring into nothingness. They both looked exhausted and distracted.

Something about the scene reminded me of my younger days in Singapore. As an occasional treat when my father wasn’t flying on mission trips, he would take my siblings and me to Changi Airport to watch the airplanes fly. He could leave us there for hours and we wouldn’t budge. We would kneel with our noses pressed to the window, gazing at the magic of aviation, wondering how something so big and heavy could carry hundreds of people so gracefully and powerfully into the sky. 

However magical an airplane seems, we knew it didn’t just appear by chance—someone created it with a specific purpose in mind. We were kids, but we knew at least that, because we had common sense.

We were young and didn’t know anything about the engineering of “aeroplanes,” didn’t know anything about fluid mechanics or aerodynamic forces or gravity. But we knew by looking at that ingenious creation that someone really, really clever had designed it. However magical an airplane seems, we knew it didn’t just appear by chance—someone created it with a specific purpose in mind. We were kids, but we knew at least that, because we had common sense. 

Today it seems we live in a world without much common sense. I was in Seattle because I had been attending a nine-day seminar on intelligent design thanks to the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that, among other programs, also promotes the understanding of intelligent design. 

Google “Discovery Institute,” and you’ll see people labeling the nonprofit an “anti-evolution” “pseudoscientific organization” pushing conservative, faith-based agendas. My 62 hours of lectures during those nine days taught me that if there’s any dogmatized pseudoscientific idea with tons of scientific holes in it, it’s the widely accepted Darwinist idea that all the marvelous plants and creatures in this world evolved from a wholly blind, material process of random mutation and natural selection. 

Look at the tiny toenails, the fluttering eyelashes, the button nose of a human baby. As evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins wrote in his book The Blind Watchmaker, we can all see that a baby is a complicated life form that “give[s] the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” But Dawkins then goes chapter after chapter seeking explanations for why living organisms are not designed. Maybe that human baby or that whale or that peacock looks designed because it was indeed the product of a designer. But we can’t state that—it would be too simplistic, too elementary, too … commonsensical. 

Charles Darwin, the father of evolutionary theory, himself once wrote in his Beagle diary as he discovered similar organisms in opposite ends of the hemisphere, “Would any two workmen ever hit on so beautiful, so simple and yet so artificial a contrivance? It cannot be thought so. —The one hand has surely worked throughout the universe.” He also wrote in the first edition of On the Origin of Species that he saw “the impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man ... as the result of blind chance or necessity.” 

Toward the end of his life, however, Darwin held considerably different views on the world he lived in. He wrote, “I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world.” Now that he had discovered the laws of natural selection and firmly believed that he himself was the product of accidental, materialistic processes, he looked at nature and no longer sensed “higher feelings of wonder, admiration, and devotion. … I well remember my conviction that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body. But now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions and feelings to rise in my mind.” 

Little wonder that he lost much joy and taste for life’s beauty along the process: “My mind has changed during the last twenty or thirty years. ... Now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry. … I have also almost lost my taste for pictures or music. … My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts.” 

I thought of these things at the airport, and I felt tremendously sad for Darwin and anyone who follows his degradation of humanity. Then I turned to the little boy who was still staring at the airplanes. Many times he gasped, “Oh my God!” 

Oh, my God, indeed. This boy could have been how Darwin once was during his adolescent days, full of curiosity and amazement at the world around him, brimming with gratitude and admiration for the Creator. I smiled at the little boy, and uttered a silent prayer for him: “Lord, may he never lose that sense of wonder and awe for Your creation. May he never be someone who clearly perceives Your eternal power and divine nature yet denies it. Bless him with wisdom to see and understand that all creation sings glory to You.”


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  • Cyborg3's picture
    Posted: Fri, 07/26/2019 02:00 am

    A great article that I enjoyed reading! When we look at the sciences, it should make us cry, “Oh my God!”, not with blasphemy but with shear awe of God’s handiwork! 

    Here is an amazing link that will make you wonder about God’s majestic creation!