Vestigial Organs

 

Discover Magazine Juggles With Bad-science

“… our bodies are littered with parts we don’t need."

These words are found not in an old Scopes Trial transcript, but the June 2004 Discover Magazine publication entitled, “Useless Body Parts”, by Jocelyn Selim. Selim is a brilliant contributor to the scientific community, as she has shown time and time again, however, I feel she has leapt over the deep end with her recent submission in Discover Magazine. In 1925 the Scopes Trial took flight with a list of over 150 so-called “vestigial” structures found in the human body. Fortunately, science has made many great leaps since 1925, now we are sure of the many functions that we were previously ignorant of. Today, this list has dissipated to practically nothing.

Jocelyn Selim has made it her duty to resurrect the idea that humans are sloppily designed, which isn’t true. The Bible says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. The idea of vestigial structures is actually a promotion of bad science. If a muscle is labeled as ‘vestigial’, this will conclude secular studies on the function of that muscle, thus promoting bad science. Fortunately, Christians know that God created us by his infinitely brilliant ability, and we know that if God creates something, it’s for a purpose. If God created man with a little toe, then there’s a purpose for a little toe, regardless if we understand it or not. It is, in all honesty, impossible to demonstrate the non-functionality of any structure in the human body. This is to say, proving a negative; much like me asking any atheist to “prove to me God doesn’t exist.” It cannot be done.

Another thing we must take into consideration is that we are dealing with the fallen human state. When God created man, we know that he was created “very good.” Unfortunately, compared to the first created man, we stand as the equivalent of a junkyard and a car factory. Imagine if you will a pickup truck, with a damaged bumper. Would it be logical to write Ford Motors and ask why the truck was built with a damaged bumper? Absolutely not! Similarly, we cannot attribute a fallen creation as the initial product of a Flawless Creator. Consider wingless beetles on windy islands. Due to the loss of information, or anatomical extremities, these organisms are better off for the time being.

In opening this article, the author comments on Darwin’s Book, “Descent of Man”. The author moves on to explain that Darwin had “roughly a dozen” traits that he thought were useless. The aforementioned traits include such things as the coccyx, the appendix, and also wisdom teeth in humans. Darwin is quoted in claiming that because something is rendered useless, it is no longer subject to natural selection. This doesn’t comply with common sense. Lets equate this with the supposed evolution of whales.

It’s said that Ambulocetus and Rodhocetus evolved into modern day whales via evolution and natural selection. On face value this idea has many serious problems, but for the sake of this topic I will refrain from going on a tangent for now. Whales are said to have lost their posterior extremities due to the lack of use in their new aquatic environment. Many nonfunctional extremities can be a severe hindrance on survival, thus, to be helpful, natural selection would need to select against these structures.

If these legs were indeed useless or nearly useless, they would not be subject to natural selection, according to Darwin. However, their nonexistence is explained away as being due to their lack of usefulness. Certainly this is in opposition of what Darwin stated in Descent of Man.

One must ask the question, “How do you know they were useless?” To which the evolutionist will most likely respond with, “Because they are no longer present.” However, if you change the question to be, “Why are they no longer present?” The evolutionist may reply with, “Because they were not useful.” The tautological nature of this argument is scientifically unacceptable.

The publication, “Useless Body Parts”, has given us a handful of supposed anatomical failures to consider; including many oft-repeated examples that we will address, as well as many that serve well-known functions. Lets go through and touch on some of the points.

Wisdom Teeth
“Early humans had to chew a lot of plants to get enough calories to survive, making another row of molars helpful. Only about 5 percent of the population has a healthy set of these third molars.”

There are many factors that need to be considered when discussing the topic of wisdom teeth. Just as the author says, some people actually have no problem whatsoever with their wisdom teeth. This fact would seem to indicate that the problem is due to something other than evolutionary extractions. In the book ‘“Vestigial Organs” Are Fully Functional’, Drs. Bergman and Howe cite the following quote,

“It is generally held that diet and the amount of breast-nursing a child has during infancy have a lot to do with the development of the jaw and teeth. Only some people have impacted wisdom teeth. There are many of us who have good functioning wisdom teeth.” Allford (1978)

It is commonly known that poor diet and health can cause slower bone growth in children, which could partly be the cause of dentition problems. The substance being consumed is also an important factor. As the author stated, our diets have changed somewhat, which has led to more dentition problems. We have slowly geared away from the nuts, seeds, and fruits etc. that our ancestors (From Adam down) ate, into a slow moving line at papa’s pizza for a slice and a coke! Another thing to take into consideration is that man was considerably larger in pre-flood times. The issue of dentition could also be explained via the fall of man, thus our degenerate physical makeup could not contain certain physical traits.

Many have claimed that the lack of space for wisdom teeth is due to a shrinking jawbone, via evolution. This has been thoroughly discredited by many scientists including Harris in 1965 who studied ancient mans jaw as well as mummified Egyptian jaws said to date back 6,000 years, even up to 80,000 years according to evolutionary thinking.

The idea of a shrinking jaw offers no reasonable explanation, and also finds its roots within discredited Lamarckian evolution - the idea that physical traits are acquired, whereas it is genetics instead. It is also interesting that very few animals have compacted teeth due to evolutionary drop-downs. Many animals are said to have gotten smaller through the years, however today they are virtually untouched regarding problem teeth. This seems to indicate that it’s mainly an issue with Humans, and mainly caused by our new soft diets.

Subclavius Muscle
“This small muscle stretching under the shoulder from the first rib to the collarbone would be useful if humans still walked on all fours. Some people have one, some have none, and a few have two.”

A quick breeze through General Practice records would show that the Subclavius Muscle does indeed serve a purpose, and should not be included in a list of “useless body parts”. Notice what the following – found on General Practice Notebook (GPN) – says regarding this muscle,

“Its action is to stabilise the clavicle during movements of the pectoral girdle. It acts to depress the lateral end of the clavicle and pull it slightly anteriorly. Its presence may provide protection to the subclavian vein - which lies deeply - when the clavicle is fractured. Loss of subclavius function rarely produces clinical features.” GPN (2004)

I would also like to comment on another statement found in the preceding explanation put forth by the Discover article author. The statement that this muscle would be useful if humans still walked on all fours, comes with a built-in assumption that humans did indeed walk on all fours at one point or another. This is equivalent to me saying, “My friend’s tall height would still be useful if humans climbed trees for bananas like our ancestors.” By that logic, he could merely reach up and grab a banana, minimizing the need for excessive exercise. Such a statement is pointless and scientifically unsound.

Male Nipples
“Lactiferous ducts form well before testosterone causes sex differentiation in a fetus. Men have mammary tissue that can be stimulated to produce milk.”

Nipples on males were one of Darwin’s evidences for descent with modification, however it wasn’t too commonly spoken of for a while until recently. Now, it seems that everywhere I go, I hear, “Why do males have nipples?” Along with many other “evidences” put forth by the author, this does not affect creation theory, but instead, is actually predicted. Contrary to common belief, a baby growing in its mother’s womb does not start out as a female; however, it does start out very similar to males and females, in that it is sexually dimorphic.

Nipples on males are one example, amongst many, of design economy and efficient embryological development. Another example would be the development of both the müllerian duct system (female) and the wolffian duct system (male). This is due to both sexes having the same genetic information for these structures. The differences are only a product of designed chemical signals later on in development.

Nipples may pose a problem for evolutionists. They are easily explained within the creation model, but how so in the evolution model? The evolutionist has a few options to select from, but all are very unsupported. Suppose the male used to suckle the young, and this explains the lactiferous ducts. But, why would this have changed? How could this have changed? Perhaps the male is evolving the ability to suckle young, and the nipples are merely nascent structures that will be beneficial in the future. Well, if they serve no purpose, as the evolutionist says, then they will not be subject to natural selection (as previously stated in Discover magazine) and will not be effected, thus, a discontinuance of evolution.

There’s also the idea that we (males) attained our nipples as a derivation of common ancestor; via the phylogenic tree of life - from reptiles to mammals and so forth. However, if this is the case, then our nipples are still evolving into something that we can use, as stated in the previous possibility. This option as well offers no clue as to the evolutionary origins of male nipples, and no evidence of the future ability to suckle young. Concluding this argument, nipples are not evidence for evolution, nor are they evidence against special creation.

Appendix
“This narrow, muscular tube attached to the large intestine served as a special area to digest cellulose when the human diet consisted more of plant matter than animal protein. It also produces some white blood cells. Annually, more than 300,000 Americans have an appendectomy.”

I feel I need to address one issue that we have seen and will continue to see in these explanations. Notice how the author speaks with such certainty; as if evolution is a well-known fact and that we know absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are littered with useless body parts. This is the nature of modern arguments, but shouldn’t be. Many evolutionists define “vestigial structures” as remnants left over from common descent. Then, they attempt to use these “vestigial structures” as evidence for common descent. This argument is as fallacious as the argument from homology; it’s merely circular reasoning masquerading as science.

The knowledge of a functioning appendix has been present even since 1976,

“The appendix is not generally credited with significant function; however, current evidence tends to involve it in the immunologic mechanism.”
Henry L. Bockus, M.D., Gastroenterology, 2:1134–1148 (chapter ‘The Appendix’ by Gordon McHardy), W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, Pennslyvania, 1976.

Kent Ham and Dr. Carl Wieland had this to say,

“The appendix, in conjunction with other parts of the body which also contain cells called B-lymphocytes, manufactures several types of antibodies:

IgA immunoglobulins, involved in surface or mucosal immunity. These are vital in maintaining the protective barrier between the bowel and the bloodstream.

IgM and IgG immunoglobulins, which fight invaders via the bloodstream.

The appendix is in fact part of the G.A.L.T. (Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue) system. The lymphoid follicles develop in the appendix at around two weeks after birth, which is the time when the large bowel begins to be colonized with the necessary bacteria. It is likely that its major function peaks in this neonatal period.”

Creation Magazine Volume 20, Issue 1
Published December 1997

It has been well known for decades now that the appendix is indeed a functional structure, which also has a rich blood supply; something we wouldn’t expect to see in a useless vestige. As the previous “evidences”, this should not be labeled “useless”, nor should it be used as evidence for evolution. Hopefully Discover Magazine will understand this, as other secular science journals (such as Scientific American) are already admitting its function.

Plantaris Muscle
“Often mistaken for a nerve by freshman medical students, the muscle was useful to other primates for grasping with their feet. It has disappeared altogether in 9 percent of the population.”

As with the Subclavius, a cursory browsing of modern medical material would give the clear function of the Plantaris muscle. It is true that this muscle serves a minor function, but there is a function nonetheless. It is known to flex the knee joint as well as plantarflex the ankle joint. The function is so minor that the long tendon is often harvested and used elsewhere. This doesn’t negate the fact that it was created in the first place. Simply because you can live without something doesn’t mean you do not need it. As with the appendix, you can live without both of your eyes, ears, lips, arms, legs and so forth; but that doesn’t mean you don’t need them.

With the plantaris muscle we see a structure that’s function is minimal. But this still doesn’t negate the fact that it was intelligently designed. Today, we have many luxury cars, motorcycles, and even roller-skates that have many things added in to make them even more enjoyable, or effortlessly controlled. Many small and minimal things add nothing to the main usability of the structure itself. One could say, we’re luxuriously made!

Darwin’s Point
“A small folded point of skin toward the top of each ear is occasionally found in modern humans. It may be a remnant of a larger shape that helped focus distant sounds.”

Many of you are thinking, “what’s Darwin’s point?” Just as the author says, there’s a small fold of skin at the top of certain people’s ears that creates a point, or a bud. This is thought to be a relic of our ancestral lineage through lower life forms up to our current state. Other such examples of this underdeveloped structure are dog-ears, rabbit ears, and many others, due to their ability to freely move their ears in many directions. Contrary to what evidence should demonstrate, even “lower evolved” creatures often times do not have this trait. The bud is merely an example of the immense variation that rests within the potential of human characteristics.

Many evolutionists consider the possibility that we had much larger ears in the past, however this would not be necessary due to our free mobility of the head. It is also known that the shape of the outer ear is designed precisely to gather sound greatly. If humans had larger ears like dogs, ear damage would be much more common and even more serious than it currently is. Dewar, in 1957 also noted that many breeds of domestic dogs do not even show a remnant of this trait.

It’s almost humorous to see what evolutionists will scrounge up to place on a pedestal as evidence for their religious paradigm.

Palmaris Muscle
“This long, narrow muscle runs from the elbow to the wrist and is missing in 11 percent of modern humans. It may once have been important for hanging and climbing. Surgeons harvest it for reconstructive surgery.”

Like the Subclavius and the Plantaris, the function of this muscle is minimal, yet certainly present when the muscle is present. Also, as with previous examples of minimally functioning muscles, a quick cursory browse through probably any anatomy book, or medical dictionary will inform you of its purpose. The following explanation was found on the GPN,

“The action of palmaris longus is to flex the wrist and tense the palmar aponeurosis.” GPN (2004)

Of course the palmaris longus muscle enables us to flex our wrist, thus giving us a stronger grip. And thanks to its connection with the palmar aponeurosis, which accentuates the ridges on your palm, we have more friction in our grip on objects.

Erector Pili
“Bundles of smooth muscle fibers allow animals to puff up their fur for insulation or to intimidate others. Humans retain this ability (goose bumps are the indicator) but have obviously lost most of the fur.”

I couldn’t imagine using my goose bumps as a mechanism to intimidate anybody, but so be it! It is actually well known that the event of goose bumps actually stimulates movement of the body, thus creating friction, which in return creates heat. When a person is cold the body warns them by delivering a slight shaking. If the person doesn’t fix the heat loss problem quickly, a heavier degree of shaking will take place to create more heat. So you see, goose bumps actually serve two important functions already, sort of like an automatic thermostat.

Body Hair
“Brows help keep sweat from the eyes, and male facial hair may play a role in sexual selection, but apparently most of the hair left on the human body serves no function.”

Human body hair, which covers almost the entire body, has a functional advantage over other mammal hair in that it has a high degree of touch perception, which occurs when a hair is moved or bent. Due to the nerves at the base of the hair, we know when a hair is being moved via our nervous system. R. Harris, in 1982 supplied examples of why this would be beneficial. Examples included the ability to tell if a small insect is crawling across your skin, which would be a great benefit especially if the insect is potentially dangerous.

Other human hair plays important roles as well. Such as the hair on top of your head that covers the spot where about 40% of heat dissipates. This is a great retainer to keep needed heat within the body. If you don’t fully understand, shave your head sometime and run around in the snow. Fine body hair also plays an important role by extending the boundary layer. The boundary layer is a small and still layer just above any surface. This is demonstrated when cumulative dust on top of a car doesn’t blow off completely when the car is traveling.

Not only is body hair useful for containing heat, it’s also useful for cooling the body. When you perspire, or sweat, the hairs grasp the sweat and keep it near you. This will keep your body cooled. Notice also that man has more body hair then women, usually. This is because man, being larger, sweats more and thus requires more cooling -- even more evidence of our wonderfully designed vessels.

Conclusion
The nature of this article clearly demonstrates the nature of “evidence” the ardent naturalist is willing to invoke in support of their religious paradigm. Anything from body hair to goose bumps, small muscles to small jaws, it’s all too frivolous. It’s also amazing how flexible this theory is in its evidential relationships. Just about anything on the human body can be misconstrued to demonstrate a relationship to any creature in the world.

Evolutionary theory is a dying religion, supported only by tax dollars. As we have seen this in the article published by Discover magazine, the evidences used to support this idea are silly and unconvincing.