Vestigial Organs - Island of Sanity

Island of Sanity


Vestigial Organs

My local paper runs a regular column by an atheist in which he attacks Christianity. In a recent article, he attacked creation theory with the argument that the human body has many “vestigial organs”. That is, we have many organs that have no purpose, and that the only reason they are there is because they are left over from our evolutionary ancestors. He offers the coccyx and appendix as examples. The point, of course, is that if life was really created by some God, that he would surely not have included organs in the body that have no purpose, but that we would expect the blind processes of evolution to always be in the process of phasing new parts in and old parts out and frequently taking wrong turns.

Unfortunately, the writer's science is a little out of date. According to an article in New Scientist (which, by the way, is not a journal sympathetic to creationists), Feb 8, 2003, “Although it used to be believed that the appendix had no function and was an evolutionary relic, this is no longer thought to be true. Its greatest importance is the immunological function it provides in the developing embryo, but it continues to function even in the adult, although it's not so important and we can live without it. The function of the appendix appears to be to expose circulating immune cells to antigens from the bacteria and other organisms …” etc.

The coccyx has been found to serve as an anchor point for muscles, and is necessary to allow us to stand upright. (And to defecate, but let’s skip the details there.)

A hundred years ago evolutionists listed 180 vestigial organs in the human body as proof of evolution. They included such important organs as the tonsils, thymus, pineal gland, and pituitary gland. Today all the organs on that list have known functions. There are no vestigial organs.

Evolutionists today are trying to save this argument by restating it slightly. They are trying to redefine "vestigial" from meaning "no purpose" to meaning "smaller or less important" than in an evolutionary ancestor. A moment's thought will show that as an argument for evolution and against creation, this is worthless. It is a plausible argument to say that an all-powerful, all-knowing creator would not put an organ in a creature's body that has no purpose. But to say that an all-powerful, all-knowing creator would put an organ in one creature that is a smaller version of an organ he placed in another creature, or that he used the same organ in two creatures but it's more important to one than to the other, isn't unlikely at all. Indeed, this is exactly what we would expect of an intelligent engineer.

Evolutionists looked at the human body and found parts whose function they did not understand. They concluded that therefore these parts had no function. Creationists looked at the same evidence and concluded that they must do further research to discover the function.

I know a little bit about car repair, but there are many parts in my car whose purpose I do not understand. It never occurred to me to assume that just because I didn't know what a part was for, that therefore it must not have any purpose. One would have to know a great deal about a mechanism before such a conclusion would be remotely justifiable. There have been a few occassions where I've had a mechanical problem that turned out to be one of these mysterious parts, and I've found myself saying, "So that's what that thing does!"

This is another example of how evolution has hindered the progress of science. Instead of investigating how an organ works and searching for cures for failures and diseases of that organ, they just rushed to the assumption that it had no purpose and so no further research was necessary. How many medical treatments have been delayed, causing needless suffering, because evolution theory led researchers to misinterpret the facts and ignore evidence that contradicted their theory?

© 2007 by Jay Johansen


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