Fire up your youth group–or classroom–with this creative activity!

October 18, 2001

A supporter tried this interesting activity with his church’s youth group in Arizona, USA. He says he got the idea from a Creation magazine article on ‘The incredible woodpecker’ and from a Web article on ‘Giraffes … animals that stand out in a crowd.’ We believe this could be an effective teaching exercise for perhaps ages 12 and up.

First, he created a series of small cards, listing some amazing attributes of woodpeckers and giraffes (see below). Then he read out loud portions of the CMI articles mentioned above (easily downloadable) that describe how amazing these animals are (but stopped before the articles start explaining the concept of irreducible complexity).

Next, he split the class into two teams, one was given the giraffe cards and the other the woodpecker cards. The first team to organize the cards into the most logical order in which they could ‘evolve’ was to be the winner. Each team had one additional requirement, however: the order had to be sustainable. In other words, the species has to be able to survive as it develops one attribute at a time.

When the young people at the church in Arizona tried this activity, they had quite a debate! As each team proposed an order for the cards, the other team easily pointed out reasons that the species could not survive. For example, a woodpecker without a long tongue could drill a hole but then would starve. A giraffe with a long neck would die of a broken neck when born. And so on.

Then one person in a group blurted out, ‘We have it! God would’ve had to create the giraffe with all these attributes in place at one time or it would not have survived as a species.’

Then the teacher explained ‘irreducible complexity’ to them.

SIX SAMPLE CARDS (copy and paste freely for church or classroom)

Woodpecker Card 1: Tongue attached to nostril

  • Extra-long tongue
  • Sticky-substance glands
  • Spearheaded tongue
  • Precisely located nerve endings

Woodpecker Card 2: Hole-drilling apparatus

  • Reinforced skull
  • Strong chisel-tipped bill
  • Slit-like nostrils with fine wiry feathers

Woodpecker Card 3: Special shock absorbers

  • Sponge-like cushion between beak and cranium
  • Special brain muscles
  • Superbly coordinated neck muscles

Giraffe Card 1: Birth process

  • Pliable neck
  • Small rear hips

Giraffe Card 2: Lungs and blood flow

  • Reinforced artery walls
  • Valves that keep blood from accumulating in body parts
  • Small blood vessels
  • Extremely tough skin
  • Small blood cells
  • Extremely large lungs

Giraffe Card 3: Long neck

  • 7 neck bones
  • Perfect balance of strength and weight

Why not try this lesson on your youth group … or maybe in your school?

Note: We thank Mark Carlson of Golden Valley, Arizona, for passing this idea along. It’s exciting to see how God is using Creation magazine and our web site to build the faith of believers worldwide!

Published: 3 February 2006