Intelligent Design

Jerry Coyne: Human Embryo Has Gill Slits

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In his 2009 book Why Evolution is True professor Jerry Coyne, whom people pay to teach their children, informs his readers that “All vertebrates begin development looking like embryonic fish because we all descended from a fishlike ancestor with a fishlike embryo. We see strange contortions and disappearances of organs, blood vessels, and gill slits because descendants still carry the genes and developmental programs of ancestors.” [79] There’s only one problem: it isn’t true.  Read more

10 Replies to “Jerry Coyne: Human Embryo Has Gill Slits

  1. 1
    Lenoxus says:

    If there were any evidence that the pharyngeal arches of fish were completely different than those of mammals, to the point that our own really ought to have a different name, IDists would be all over it.

    Of course, there isn’t any evidence of anything of the kind. The structures are clearly the same sort of thing at the beginning, yet they give rise to gills in some species and the pharynx in others. Is this something a designer could have done? Absolutely. But why? It would be like having a tailless species develop then lose a tail while gestating, or a bird species gaining and losing claws. Why does the designer work this way, rather than have the structures never appear in the first place?

    If she just happens to like “messy art”, so to speak, then why do the gained-then-lost structures always fit in the tree of descent? Why don’t embryonic humans develop, then lose, deer antlers or elephant trunks? If she’s trying to give us evidence of common ancestry, there goes Message Theory as Remine frames it.

    First, humans—and most other vertebrates for that matter—do not “begin development looking like embryonic fish” and second humans do not have gill slits at any embryonic stage.

    Call them what you will, but humans really do have those slits, and they really are suspiciously similar to the ones fish start with.

    And yes, early human embryos look just like embryonic fish. I suppose you want us to interpret Coyne as affirming Haeckel’s bogus recapitulation theory. If so, that’s a completely refreshing line of anti-evolutionary argument, one which I’ve never encountered before.

  2. 2
    Charlie says:

    Humans at no stage ever have either gills or slits.
    http://docs.google.com/viewer?.....0gzcZu_EjA

  3. 3
    gpuccio says:

    Lenoxus:

    Is this something a designer could have done? Absolutely. But why?

    Maybe because the designer has operated throu common design common descent and reutilization of the existing software. As many human designer, almost all, do.

    I have a suggestion. Coudn’t our kind “opponents” be clear in their posts about the target of their arguments? IOW, state explicitly if they are arguments in favour of common descent, or against design? The two things are completely independent, and it seems to me that darwinists make a great mess of the two, as though arguments in favour of common descent were at the same time arguments against design. That’s not true, and I am rather tired of this overlap.

    I do believe in common descent, as many others here. And I absolutely believe in design.

    Those who don’t believe in common descent are perfectly right in defending their point of view, and their opponents are perfectly right in giving counter arguments. I usually don’t take part in this kind of discussion because, while my personal opinion is that CD is at present the best explanation for what we observe, at the same time I don’t think that the evidence in its favour is overwhelming (at least, not necessarily for universal common descent). While I do believe that the evidence for design is overwhelming. And that design, and the causal explanation of biological information, is by far the most important issue.

    So, I would like to be clear about one thing: all arguments pro and con CD are interesting, but they yell us nothing significant about design (maybe only indirect information about the possible modalities of design: in that sense they are perfectly relevant to the design discussion).

    So, to the question:

    If she just happens to like “messy art”, so to speak, then why do the gained-then-lost structures always fit in the tree of descent?

    the only answer is: because the tree of descent, in the measure that anyone accepts it, is the implementation of a progressive design.

  4. 4
    THEMAYAN says:

    The lesson here is if it kind of looks like a little fish thingy then it must be an ancestor to a little fish thingy. So much for superficial appearance. Has the discredited biogentic law come to rear its ugly fish thingy head again? Didn’t Miller have to take this out of one of his textbooks? Was Haeckel reincarnated again?

  5. 5
    Lock says:

    When gratefully coming into contact with ID arguments a half decade or so ago, one of the first, obvious reorderings of my evolutionary beliefs, was that these kinds of superficial observations were 19th century science.

    We are not in th 1800’s anymoe… ARE WE?

  6. 6
    Lenoxus says:

    gpuccio: The reason I was arguing in favor of common descent is that this particular argument is specifically targeted against that aspect of evolution. it’s not an argument from speciducible infoplexity.

    THEMAYAN and Lock:

    You seem to be of the presumption that since Haeckel was a Lamarckian who faked his drawings and way-overstated his case, biologists should never consider any embryonic development as evidence for common ancestry, because that would be dredging up Haeckel’s ghost.

    Please. This is the argument from fallacy, and it is very incorrect. It would be like if a scientist falsely claimed a certain food could cure cancer, and this obligated all future medical scientists to never, ever see any health benefits in that food.

    The current ID and creationist obsession with Haeckel is ironic because for well over a hundred years, evolutionary biologists have had only unkind things to say of the bogus “law” of recapitulation; it’s the IDists who act like it’s still the 1800s.
    Vertebrate embryos strongly resemble one another at a certain stage, right down to the sharing of such features as branchial arches, and no IDist I’ve encountered has argued otherwise. Are they, too, modern-day Haeckelians?

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    Lenoxus you state:

    “The current ID and creationist obsession with Haeckel is ironic because for well over a hundred years, evolutionary biologists have had only unkind things to say of the bogus “law” of recapitulation; it’s the IDists who act like it’s still the 1800s.”

    Perhaps Lenoxus you would like write the editors to correct these evolutionary textbooks?

    Inherit the Spin: The NCSE Answers “Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher About Evolution”
    Excerpt: According to the NCSE, “faked” drawings “are not relied upon,” and “hardly any textbooks feature Haeckel’s drawings.” Yet two college textbooks, Starr and Taggart’s Biology: The Unity and Diversity of Life (8th Edition, 1998) and Guttman’s Biology (1999) feature slightly redrawn versions of Haeckel’s faked originals. Three high-school textbooks, Biggs, Kapicka and Lundgren’s Biology: The Dynamics of Life (1998), Schraer and Stoltze’s Biology: The Study of Life (7th Edition, 1999), and Miller and Levine’s Biology (5th Edition, 2000), contain stylized drawings that improve only slightly on Haeckel, and perpetuate Haeckel’s misrepresentation of the midpoint of development as the first stage. Worse yet, two advanced textbooks for college biology majors feature Haeckel’s original drawings: Alberts, Bray, Lewis, Raff, Roberts and Watson’s Molecular Biology of the Cell (3rd Edition, 1994), and Futuyma’s Evolutionary Biology (3rd Edition, 1998). It was textbooks like these that prompted Harvard evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould to write in 2000: “We do, I think, have the right to be both astonished and ashamed by the century of mindless recycling that has led to the persistence of these drawings in a large number, if not a majority, of modern textbooks.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2......html#more

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    Lenoxus, perhaps you can also explain to me why DeHart was censored for trying to clarify the faked drawings to his students in the textbook he was using,,, with peer reviewed material no less.

    Icons Of Evolution Part 2 of 6
    http://www.tangle.com/view_vid.....71d0be0671

  9. 9
    Lock says:

    Lenoxus, feel free to keep studying and supporting the studying of embryonic development as evidence for common ancestry. I in no way sugested the strawman you built.

    I assume we are free to also pursue other avenues of research?

    If it is homologous structures and developement you are seeking to support your case, then it is indeed a new age the way I see it.

    It is the hierarchical arrangement of information in the genomes that needs study more so than the bodytypes themselves.

    That is a fundamentally different dimension of problem, and it is my understanding that there are significant differences in information content between species and different ways of coding for simmilar structures depending on the overall context of the system.

    And that looks very much like common design to me.

  10. 10
    THEMAYAN says:

    Lenonxus, My admitted sarcasm was directed at priory assumptions based on superficial appearances, hence the fishy thingy comment. If it could be demonstrated that these so called gill slits had anything to do with the respiratory system, then I think this would be an interesting point that I would in all fairness have to consider. If this discredited paradigm has persisted this long in spite of the historical data, then I think that say’s a lot about the the kind of fundamentalist fervor that exist within many in the (molecule to man) evolutionary community. The same kind of zealot fervor that many falsely accuse ID theorist of.

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