Darwinism considers all life on Earth as a product of chance mutations
and natural selection and, as an a priori commitment, excludes
intelligent design. In order to argue against design, the Darwinist mind
seeks for flaws in the biological systems. From Darwin to Dawkins, over
and over, this dogmatic stance has led the evolutionist to insist on the
existence of imaginary flaws and "useless" vestigial organs
in living systems. However, over and over, these bold claims by evolutionists
turned out to be manifestations of ignorance. The allegedly vestigial
organs were discovered to be performing very important functions and the
whole "vestigial organ" argument turned out to be a fallacy.
The history of science documents a steady reduction in
the number of the so-called vestigial organs. The allegedly non-functional
organs, one by one, turned out to be organs whose functions had not yet
been discovered. A list of vestigial organs that was made by the German
Anatomist R. Wiedersheim in 1895 included approximately 100 structures,
including the appendix and the coccyx. As science progressed, it was
discovered that all of the organs in Wiedersheim's list in fact had very
important functions. For instance, it was discovered that the appendix,
which was supposed to be a "vestigial organ," was in fact a
part of the lymphatic system. A medical publication notes in 1997 that
"other bodily organs and tissues - the thymus, liver, spleen, appendix,
bone marrow, and small collections of lymphatic tissue such as the tonsils
in the throat and Peyer's patch in the small intestine - are also part
of the lymphatic system. They too help the body fight infection."
It was also discovered that the tonsils, which were also included
in Wiedersheim's list of vestigial organs, had a significant role in protecting
the throat against infections, particularly until adolescence. It
was found that the coccyx at the lower end of the vertebral column supports
the bones around the pelvis and is the convergence point of some small
muscles and for this reason, it would not be possible to sit comfortably
without a coccyx.
In the years that followed, it was realized that the thymus triggered
the immune system in the human body by activating the T cells, that
the pineal gland was in charge of the secretion of some important hormones,
that the thyroid gland was effective in providing steady growth in babies
and children, and that the pituitary gland controlled the correct functioning
of many hormone glands. All of these were once considered to be "vestigial
organs." Finally, the semi-lunar fold in the eye, which was referred
to as a vestigial organ by Darwin, has been found in fact to be in charge
of cleansing and lubricating the eye.
The steady reduction in the list of vestigial organs results from the
fact that this is an argument from ignorance. Some wiser evolutionists
also came to realize this fact. S.R. Scadding, an evolutionist himself,
once wrote in his article "Can vestigial organs constitute evidence
for evolution?" published in the journal Evolutionary Theory:
Since it is not possible to unambiguously identify
useless structures, and since the structure of the argument used is
not scientifically valid, I conclude that "vestigial organs"
provide no special evidence for the theory of evolution. (2)
The Leg of the Horse
latest blow to the myth of vestigial organs comes from a recent study
of the leg of the horse. An article in the 20-27 December 2001 issue of
the Nature magazine, entitled "Biomechanics: Damper For Bad Vibrations",
it is noted that "Some muscle fibers in the legs of horses seem to
be evolutionary leftovers with no function. But in fact they may act to
absorb damaging vibrations generated in the leg as the horse runs."
The article reads:
Horses and camels have muscles in their legs with tendons
more than 600 millimeters long connected to muscle fibers less than
6 millimeters long. Such short muscles can change length only by a few
millimeters as the animal moves, and seem unlikely to be of much use
to large mammals. The tendons function as passive springs, and it has
been assumed that the short muscle fibers are redundant, the remnants
of longer fibers that have lost their function over the course of evolution.
But Wilson and colleagues argue… that these fibers might protect bones
and tendons from potentially damaging vibrations….
Their experiments show that short muscle fibers can damp the damaging
vibrations following the impact of a foot on the ground. When the foot
of a running animal hits the ground, the impact sets the leg vibrating;
the frequency of the vibrations is relatively high - for example, 30-40
Hz in horses - so many cycles of vibration would occur while the foot
was on the ground if there were no damping.
The vibrations might cause damage, because bone and tendon are susceptible
to fatigue failure. Fatigue in bones and tendons is the accumulation
of damage resulting from repeated application of stresses. Bone fatigue
is responsible for the stress fractures suffered by both human athletes
and racehorses, and tendon fatigue may explain at least some cases of
tendonitis. Wilson et al. suggest that the very short muscle
fibers protect both bones and tendons from fatigue damage by damping
out vibrations… (3)
In short, a closer look at the anatomy of the horse revealed that,
the structures that had been considered as nonfunctional by evolutionists
have very important functions. In other words, scientific progress
demonstrated that what was considered to be evidence for evolution is
in fact evidence for design.
Evolutionists should take a hint from this fact, if they are willing
to do so. These comments made in Nature seem reasonable:
Wilson et al. have found an important role for
a muscle that seemed to be the relic of a structure that had lost its
function in the course of evolution. Their work makes us wonder whether
other vestiges (such as the human appendix) are as useless as they seem.
This is not surprising. The more we learn about nature,
the more we see the evidence for God's creation. As Michael Behe notes,
"the conclusion of design comes not from that we do not know, but
from what we have learned over the past 50 years." (5)
And Darwinism turns out to be an argument from ignorance, or, in other
words, an "atheism of the gaps."
(1) The Merck Manual
of Medical Information, Home edition, Merck & Co., Inc. The Merck
Publishing Group, Rahway, New Jersey, 1997.
(2) S. R. Scadding, "Do 'Vestigial Organs'
Provide Evidence for Evolution?", Evolutionary Theory, vol. 5, May
1981, p. 173.
(3) R. Mcneill Alexander, "Biomechanics: Damper
For Bad Vibrations", Nature, 20-27 December 2001
(5) Behe's Semimar in Princeton, 1997