You hear it all the time. Science and Christianity are in conflict. For example, Dr. Thomas Henry Huxley once wrote:1
The science, the art, the jurisprudence, the chief political and social theories, of the modern world have grown out of Greece and Rome—not by favour of, but in the teeth of, the fundamental teachings of early Christianity, to which science, art, and any serious occupation with the things of this world were alike despicable.
The problem, of course, is that such statements are demonstrably false. Indeed, as I have written before, historical scholarship has shown that modern science is a product of Christianity (see here and here).
I recently ran across an excellent essay by Dr. Michael Keas that makes this point very well. I strongly recommend that you read it in its entirety, but there are two quotes from it that I would like to highlight.
I am currently in Thailand, speaking at a family education conference. There are a lot of incredibly wonderful families here, and not surprisingly, some of them feel a bit overwhelmed at homeschooling their children in Asia. To all those homeschoolers in the United States: be thankful for all the support that exists where you live. Home education is difficult enough when there are support groups, easy access to curriculum, and homeschooling conferences that showcase multiple speakers and vendors. Imagine trying to homeschool with without such luxuries. That’s what these families do every day.
Because I am one of the few speakers at this conference, I have been giving a lot of talks. However, my favorite thing to do is answer questions. As a result, one of my scheduled times with the parents was simply a question/answer session. It went really well, and I hope I helped these parents with their unique situations. I was also scheduled for two sessions with the teens, and I made one of them a question/answer session as well.
When you offer a one-hour time slot for questions and answers, there is always a risk. What if the attendees have no questions? What if they have a couple of questions, but not nearly enough to last for an hour? I honestly didn’t think this would be an issue for the parents, since they face so many challenges homeschooling where they are. However, I did worry about the teens. While I was sure they had lots of questions, I was afraid they wouldn’t be “brave” enough to ask them in a group setting. To reduce the risk, then, I offered free candy for every question. Not surprisingly, the teens ended up having plenty of questions.
One of the reasons I love answering questions is that I often learn something new in the process, and this conference was no exception. The second question I got from the teens was:
I have written a lot about the evolutionary myth of vestigial organs (here, here, here, here, and here), showing how several biological structures evolutionists once thought were vestigial are, in fact, quite necessary. The concept of vestigial organs is very popular among many evolutionists, but it usually boils down to ignorance. If evolutionists don’t know the use for a biological structure, they assume that it must be vestigial. As is often the case, however, further research generally shows that this evolutionary assumption is quite wrong, due to our ignorance of the structure being considered.
This concept is often employed when studying the development of embryos. Because of the fraudulent work of Ernst Haeckel, evolutionists have long promoted the myth that an embryo will produce vestiges of its evolutionary history as it develops. Once again, this is mostly the result of ignorance. Embryonic development is rather difficult to study, so we often observe things that we don’t understand. When these things superficially resemble something that supposedly developed in the evolutionary history of the organism that is being studied, it is often pointed to as some vestige of evolution.
For example, in Why Evolution is True, Dr. Jerry Coyne tries to make the case that the human embryo is covered in a fine coat of lanugo hair simply because it is a part of the evolutionary heritage of humans. He says that there is no reason for a human embryo to be covered with hair, but it happens because humans evolved from an ape-like ancestor that was covered in hair. The coat of hair is simply a leftover vestige from that part of the human evolutionary lineage. As I have already pointed out, this is utterly false. In fact, the fine coat of hair that human embryos have is incredibly important to their development, and the idea that it is a leftover vestige of evolution is just a result of ignorance when it comes to human embryonic development.
Well, in a Facebook group discussion I recently had, the conversation turned to the supposed “tail” that human embryos have early in their development. This is a popular myth, but it is utterly false, and I thought I would post this so that others would benefit from a modern scientific analysis of this important embryonic structure. As you can see in the photograph of a human embryo above, there is a structure (pointed out in the figure) that resembles a tail. The structure eventually goes away, but it is a rather striking part of the embryo while it is present. Evolutionists have long taught that this is a leftover vestige of when our ancestors had tails,1 but we now know that such an idea is simply 100% false.
Once Susumu Ohno coined the term “junk DNA” and called it the remains of extinct genes1, junk DNA started to become the darling of the evolutionary community. First, it was seen as an effective argument against creationism or intelligent design. After all, why would the Creator put so much useless DNA into His creation? More importantly, however, it was considered an integral component of evolution. After all, evolution requires that genetic mutations acted on by natural selection produced genes with novel functions. However, it is difficult to expect that to work when the mutations occur in genes that the organism needs. Thus, one of the major mechanisms of genetic evolution involves gene duplication. In this view, a gene is duplicated, and one copy continues to produce the protein it always produced, while the other is free to mutate wildly. Waving the magic wand of time, the evolutionist then says that a large number of these mutating copies will become useless junk, but a small number of them will develop into novel genes. As you can see, then, junk DNA is integral to evolution, and according to evolution, most organisms should have a lot of it.
This, of course, is why Dr. Jerry Coyne says the following in his book, Why Evolution Is True:2,
When a trait is no longer used, or becomes reduced, the genes that make it don’t instantly disappear from the genome: evolution stops their action by inactivating them, not snipping them out of the DNA. From this we can make a prediction. We expect to find, in the genomes of many species, silenced, or ‘dead,’ genes: genes that once were useful but are no longer intact or expressed. In other words, there should be vestigial genes…Our genome—and that of other species—are truly well populated graveyards of dead genes.
Unfortunately for evolutionists, function is routinely being found for this supposed “junk DNA.” As a result, some evolutionists have realized that they need to back away from the claim that junk DNA is integral to the process of evolution.