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Remembering the vestigial organs of defunct Darwinian biology

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Almost fondly, given how amusing it all seems if you are old enough to remember when they were taken seriously. From a piece on how the concept of “pseudogenes” is likewise headed for the composter:

One central proof for unguided evolution that was offered for decades was “vestigial organs,” a variation on the junk-DNA myth. The evolutionary process supposedly littered our bodies with useless organs from our animal ancestry, just as it littered our cells with useless genes.

So ingrained was this idea of vestigial organs, it was common thinking among biologists for a century. Darwin started it, calling them “rudimentary organs” in both the Origin and The Descent of Man. He considered them difficulties for a design view, and predictions of natural selection. Robert Weidersheim made it his life’s work to catalog these evolutionary leftovers. In 1895, he published a list of over 100 body parts he deemed useless and non-functional. His list included the appendix, tonsils, wisdom teeth, and the coccyx. Even as late as the 1960s, tonsils were routinely removed from children on the grounds that they are unnecessary. When inflamed by infection, they can be harmful, but today’s family doctors know that, as part of the immune system, they are best left intact. Similarly, the appendix can be life-threatening when inflamed; but only within the last two decades have scientists come to realize that the appendix serves a vital function — that of “rebooting” the gut biota after diarrhea. Marcos Eberlin has made this point in his book Foresight and on a podcast for ID the Future. Similarly, wisdom teeth are best left in unless they are impacted. Some have argued that bad diet is behind our problems with third molars, not the supposition that the human jaw was shrinking and had no room for them, as Darwinians contended. And for sure, no one would want to sit down without a coccyx or tailbone! Important muscles are anchored to them, including muscles for elimination and childbirth.

Weidersheim’s list of vestigial organs has shrunk to very few today. He had included organs like the pituitary gland, spleen, and thymus gland whose vital functions were discovered later. Evolutionists should have deduced that the argument was flawed anyway; why would natural selection pay the energy cost of keeping useless organs around? The same applies to “junk DNA” — it makes no sense for a cell to keep copying and reading junk. And what is meant by “vestigial” in the first place? Humans can live without fingers, arms, and legs; are those vestigial? Some parts change during life history; they may be important in the embryo and then atrophy in the adult, or become functional after puberty, but are not “vestigial” at other times. Determining what constitutes a function can be subjective. On the whole, the vestigial organs argument is slippery: natural selection predicts many vestiges, but also predicts few vestiges.

Evolution News, “Pseudogenes Are Going the Way of Darwin’s “Rudimentary Organs”” at Evolution News and Science Today

But evidence was never really why Darwinism was so widely accepted in the first place. It has functioned more as a way of dismissing evidence. One can, for example, explain away the human mind by citing kinship with chimpanzees.

5 Replies to “Remembering the vestigial organs of defunct Darwinian biology

  1. 1
    jawa says:

    Good article. Thanks.
    They ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

  2. 2
    AaronS1978 says:

    School: 1994 Poston junior high AP biology, The appendix is an artifact from the past it has no real function this is easily explained by evolution

    2007 and 2014
    The function of the appendix appears to be a safe house for bacteria necessary for resetting bacteria in the large intestine after Montezuma’s revenge

    nearly 100% of mammals evolved with an appendix, and if it was useless evolution would’ve gotten rid of it along time ago

    The above was taught to me in the beginning
    The below is what actually happened

  3. 3
    AaronS1978 says:

    But remember, if we find function for every single gene, that would breathe life back into the stupidity of genetic determinism, and I am not keen on the idea of every decision we make, every belief that we have, is written in our genes

    I feel that this is a double edge sword

  4. 4
    polistra says:

    ” Evolutionists should have deduced that the argument was flawed anyway; why would natural selection pay the energy cost of keeping useless organs around? ”

    Good point. I hadn’t thought of that. Tends to prove that the really important part of Darwinism is the randomness, not the natural selection. If they had been serious about energy cost, they would have started with the assumption that every EXISTING organ and behavior is necessary, whether we understand why or not.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    The article in the OP had a link to this gem of a quote by Dr. Egnor:

    Evolution Presupposes Intelligent Design: Case of the Coronavirus – Michael Egnor – April 7, 2020
    Excerpt: Aristotle saw this in his definition of chance in nature — chance is the accidental conjunction of purposeful events. Without purpose there can be no chance. His example is instructive: he considered a farmer who ploughs his field and by chance discovers a treasure buried by someone else. The treasure is discovered by chance, but everything else — the farmer’s ownership of the field, his decision to plough it, the accumulation and burial of the treasure by the other man — is purposeful, and in fact the only reason the accident of discovery happened is because it is embedded in a world of purpose. Chance can’t happen — the word has no meaning — in an entirely accidental world. Chance presupposes design.

    Aristotle’s definition of chance reminded me of this from Stephen Talbott,

    Evolution and the Illusion of Randomness – Talbott – Fall 2011
    Excerpt: The situation calls to mind a widely circulated cartoon by Sidney Harris, which shows two scientists in front of a blackboard on which a body of theory has been traced out with the usual tangle of symbols, arrows, equations, and so on. But there’s a gap in the reasoning at one point, filled by the words, “Then a miracle occurs.” And the one scientist is saying to the other, “I think you should be more explicit here in step two.”
    In the case of evolution, I picture Dennett and Dawkins filling the blackboard with their vivid descriptions of living, highly regulated, coordinated, integrated, and intensely meaningful biological processes, and then inserting a small, mysterious gap in the middle, along with the words, “Here something random occurs.”
    This “something random” looks every bit as wishful as the appeal to a miracle. It is the central miracle in a gospel of meaninglessness, a “Randomness of the gaps,” demanding an extraordinarily blind faith. At the very least, we have a right to ask, “Can you be a little more explicit here?”

    I never heard of Aristotle’s definition of chance before, but, as Egnor pointed out, it simply would be impossible to tell if something happened randomly by chance in a cell unless it happened within the ‘highly regulated, coordinated, integrated, and intensely meaningful biological processes’ of the cell.

    There simply would be no backdrop in which to tell that an event occurred randomly or not without that backdrop of design. As Egnor pointed out, “Chance presupposes design.”

    On top of that, when atheists claim that something “happened randomly by chance”, they are, in the vast majority of instances, appealing to “ignorance of the cause” instead of to any known cause and/or to any mathematically defined probability. Charles Darwin himself admitted as much,

    “I have hitherto sometimes spoken as if the variations—so common and multiform in organic beings under domestication, and in a lesser degree in those in a state of nature—had been due to chance. This, of course, is a wholly incorrect expression, but it serves to acknowledge plainly our ignorance of the cause of each particular variation.”
    Charles Darwin – Origin – Chapter V

    Because of such ineptitude by Darwinists, (i.e. in using the word chance without any mathematically defined probabilistic context, and/or without an appeal to a known cause), Wolfgang Pauli himself stated that Darwinists, instead of being scientific, have become “very irrational”.

    Pauli’s ideas on mind and matter in the context of contemporary science – Harald Atmanspacher
    Excerpt: “In discussions with biologists I met large difficulties when they apply the concept of ‘natural selection’ in a rather wide field, without being able to estimate the probability of the occurrence in a empirically given time of just those events, which have been important for the biological evolution. Treating the empirical time scale of the evolution theoretically as infinity they have then an easy game, apparently to avoid the concept of purposesiveness. While they pretend to stay in this way completely ‘scientific’ and ‘rational,’ they become actually very irrational, particularly because they use the word ‘chance’, not any longer combined with estimations of a mathematically defined probability, in its application to very rare single events more or less synonymous with the old word ‘miracle.’”
    Wolfgang Pauli (pp. 27-28)

    Yet, as Egnor pointed out, Darwinists cannot provide a mathematical context in which a chance event can be said to occur unless they first presuppose a purposeful context and/or universe in which the chance event can be said to occur. After all, randomly choosing a card from a deck necessarily presupposes a deck of cards that has been designed!

    So it is very much a damned if you do, damned if you don’t, situation for Darwinists. If they refuse to rigidly define chance so as to become scientific they are, as Pauli put it, ‘very irrational’. But if, on the other hand, they rigidly define chance so as to try to become scientific, they must necessarily define that chance against a backdrop of purposeful design. Again, as Dr. Egnor succinctly summed it up, “Chance presupposes design.”

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