Irreducible Complexity – Feathers

August 4, 2022
2 min read

In Johnny Cash’s classic song, “One Piece at a Time,” he describes an auto worker at a Cadillac factory who really wants to own a “long and black Cadillac” but can’t afford it. So, he devises a plan of stealing random Cadillac parts whenever he can and over a span of many, many years he finally assembles a “Cadillac.”

There were hilarious problems in the construction because it’s obvious the parts don’t fit together, like when he’s trying to fit a ‘53 transmission and a ‘73 motor together, and the car has two headlights on the left and one on the right side.

Can you assemble an animal a piece at a time over millions of years? In evolutionary biology, this is how new animals are created: a piece at a time through random mutations, except with no foresight or oversight from an intelligent designer.

But, even looking at a bird’s feather1 completely dismantles this argument.

The flight feathers of birds are an engineering marvel, extremely light and flexible enough for split-second mid-air corrections, but structurally strong for flight. Flight feathers have microstructures within where there are hooks (barbicels) that actually grab onto smooth rods (barbules), similar to Velcro. The multitude of hook and rod structures form a strong interwoven fabric that lets very little air through which makes the bird capable of flight.

So, which one formed first, the hook or the rod? Having just one or the other makes these structures entirely useless for flight; you need both at the same time. And this is just for the design of the feather, let alone support structures that are interconnected with the feather for it to be useful.

In addition to this, even though feather fossils are found as far back as the Cretaceous, there is a complete absence of supposed feather evolution.

Just like Cadillacs, feathers form a single piece of an immensely interconnected structure. It takes a Designer with foresight and intention to construct this seemingly ‘simple’ object.

  1. Bergman, J. The Evolution of Feathers: A Major Problem for Darwinism, Answers in Genesis, 1 April 2003, Accessed 30 Mar 2022.



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