Wings give flying birds some major advantages: wings allow them to escape predators, travel to better environments, and obtain food. But for land animals, wings are a disadvantage over traditional arms. Arms and hands allow animals to climb trees, protect themselves, grasp and carry things, and type 65wpm.
The Plague of Ostrich Arms
For the sake of example, imagine a plague strikes humanity and half of our children are born with the flightless wings of an ostrich; no arms — just wings. If you were born with wings, how would you feel about having feathery arm buds instead of arms and hands?
No doubt you’d learn to make the best of it, but life with ostrich wings would be more difficult; you wouldn’t be able to grab or carry things easily, dining out would be much more embarrassing, and texting would be nearly impossible. Finding a mate with arms would also be difficult, since the “armies” would probably prefer mates with arms. People might even question God’s design choice and begin to abort babies stricken with the “wing gene.”
For the same reasons, it’s difficult to imagine why a designer would purposely give wings to birds that can’t fly.
Does Evolution Offer a Better Explanation?
The evolutionist must also explain this abnormality. What possible advantage could a non-flying bird have over a flying one?
I’m no expert, but I can think of a few reasons non-flying birds might evolve.
Take penguins for example. A flying bird trapped in Antarctica is better served by being fat and warm than having the ability to fly (especially with so few predators around). While body fat prevents these bird from flying, it also keeps them alive and producing offspring.
While we could argue that God designed penguins this way from the beginning, one wonders why he would equip them with the wing bones of a bird. Why not the fins of a shark? All I’m saying is, if you’re designing a flying creature, make it fly like a bird; if you’re designing a swimming creature, make it swim like a fish. Why design a flightless flying creature that swims like a fish?!
The ostrich is another example, being born large may prevent you from flying, but it also means predators are less of a threat.
For other birds, just because it can’t fly doesn’t mean it can’t reproduce.
Creationism says that God either: 1) designed flightless birds to be flightless from the beginning (a bit of a strange design choice) or, 2) allowed a mutation that caused them to stop flying. Evolution says that all birds used to fly, but mutations and adaptations caused them to lose their flight.
But this curiosity doesn’t stop there. It’s interesting to note that all flying vertebrates (e.g. birds, bats, pteranodons, etc.) must give up their useful forelimbs in order to have wings. God essentially says, “You can have wings, or arms, but not both.” Why not? If forelimbs are so important (and they obviously are, or God would’t’ve given them to all vertebrates), then why not allow some animals to have wings and arms? Especially those winged animals constrained to the ground? It might make sense from a design prospective, but from an evolutionary prospective, evolution must use what’s already there.