With all the pecking do we wonder why woodpeckers never seem sidelined by headaches or even worse, from concussions? These birds don’t just peck around; they really pound it out. A woodpecker’s head and beak strike with a force 1000 times greater than that of gravity. By contrast, any human who experienced even a 100 g’s would surely die.

So, why don’t they pass out or do irreparable damage to themselves? Here’s one explanation: Their brain must be cushioned and specially evolved with extra tough blood vessels to prevent concussions or brain bruises or broken capillaries. Evolved?

Here’s the scoop. The woodpecker has a self-sharpening, chisel-like beak that pierces rather than stopping abruptly. He sports strong neck muscles and reduced space in the cranium, which is super strong, thick and spongy. The orientation of the brain within the cranium spreads the force over a larger surface area. The skull is loaded with trabeculae which are beam-like bits of bone that form a tightly woven “mesh” for support and protection. He’s equipped with a shock absorber between beak and skull cushioning much of the impact. There’s more, much more, but I’ll let you Google it for yourself.

What’s the point? Anyone can see that this bird is designed from beak to tail feathers. By the way those tail feathers are especially stiff to keep the bird firmly planted while pecking away. If there is design, then there must be a designer! Thus, we read, “And God created the great sea monsters, and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind . . . and there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.” The scriptures succinctly, but accurately explain why the woodpecker can peck away without harming itself; God made him that way.

The psalmist affirms creation by fiat, not over millions of years, but instantaneously. He writes, “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spoke and it was done; he commanded and it stood fast.” We should look at the woodpecker, this marvel of design and engineering, and fear the Lord. Do you recall from last week’s article that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, understanding and wisdom? Learn from the woodpecker to fear the Lord. Then from world history to welding class, your studies will lead you to worship God. This is true and powerful education.

Pastor John Mathieu recently retired from Grace Presbyterian Church

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