'Animal Man' visit brings creation message

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 17, 2011

By Hugh Fisher
SALISBURY – When Dan “The Animal Man” Breeding comes to town, he’s always got an interesting cargo.
He has appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s show, on “Live With Regis and Kelly” and a variety of other TV programs.
When he came to Franklin Baptist Church and North Hills Christian School in Salisbury recently, Breeding brought some critters you wouldn’t want to meet alone in the wilderness.
An American alligator, for instance, and an African crested porcupine with 20-inch-long quills.
At schools, Breeding’s message is on the power and uniqueness of these animals. He uses them to teach about kindness and why kids should stand up against bullying.
But when he visits a church or religious group, Breeding’s message is focused on creation.
“I always give God the glory,” Breeding said. “It doesn’t matter where I am, I let the Lord lead me.”
Pastor Joe Thomas invited Breeding to speak on the wonders of nature. He said that animals’ natural abilities are a sign of God’s power.
“It’s a positive affirmation,” Thomas said.
Kids and adults filled the pews almost to capacity. They craned their necks to see each animal as Breeding brought it in from his truck, parked just outside.
They jumped when a Eurasian eagle owl flapped her wings as she perched on Breeding’s arm.
“You back-row Baptists that thought you were safe back there? You’re wrong!” Breeding quipped.
Throughout his energetic 90-minute presentation, Breeding returned to his central theme:
“God is a god of order. God is the most amazing of all designers,” Breeding said. “He is not a random-chance, willy-nilly God.”
He told the audience that the theory of evolution is just that, a theory which requires faith in unseen events.
Where others see evolutionary adaptations, Breeding sees evidence of creatures who were designed to live in a particular place and fulfill a special role.
The porcupine, for instance. “Her name is Barb,” Breeding said as he carried her into the sanctuary.
She’s the size of a medium-sized dog, and her sharp quills made her look even more ferocious even when she was doing nothing more threatening than eating a piece of fruit.
Breeding pointed out the similarities between Barb’s ear and a human ear. “We did not evolve from the porcupine. We have the same designer, and it is his prerogative.”
Later, Breeding carried in Maddie, a black-and-white ruffed lemur, named for her home island of Madagascar.
Like other primates, he said, Maddie has fingerprints and palmprints.
“Here’s the deal,” Breeding said. “When we look at the world, God wants us to process the world through his word.”
And the Bible, he said, shows humanity a world that was created for God’s glory, not the product of a random process.
Then the seven-foot-long, 130-pound alligator was carried in and placed on a long table, with some help from the apprehensive Rev. Thomas.
Breeding showed off his wide jaws, thick skin and eyes developed especially to allow him to swim and feed underwater.
“See his tail? That’s his Mercury outboard engine,” Breeding said.
“How do you know this is not a crocodile?” he asked. “Because I’m sitting here.”
Crocs are much more violent and dangerous. Alligators, while deadly if provoked or startled, are more even-tempered.
“They would rather run away then bite, usually,” Breeding said.
Breeding’s message is also one of respect for the wild.
“These creatures are wild, exotic animals,” Breeding said. “There’s no such thing as a ‘tame’ wild animal.”
And he rejected the idea of keeping wild animals as pets, and talked of efforts to rescue those who had been brought to this country for that purpose.
“(God) wants us to be good stewards of creation,” Breeding said. “He wants us to use it, not abuse it.”
He closed by encouraging the audience to see signs of God’s wisdom in their day-to-day lives, and to read the Bible and ask for Christ’s guidance.
“You’ll see God working in your lives,” Breeding said.
Aside from being entertaining, people who attended said they felt uplifted by Breeding’s message.
“I liked the lemur,” said Eli Huffman, 8.
His brother A.J., 8, preferred the owl – especially when she flapped her wings fast.
“I just thought it was real neat how you can see animals and gain a better appreciation of the God who made them,” said Jonathan Huffman, who was there with his boys and wife Jennifer.
Others saw in Breeding’s talk an affirmation of their own faith.
“If they’d take the lies out of the textbooks, we wouldn’t have to fight evolution,” said Sandi Haché of Salisbury.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.