When Darwin was around, evolution was science. Darwin made observations, formed a hypothesis, made predictions, and then compared those predictions to the data. In his book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, he showed the data that compared favorably to his predictions, and he argued why the data that did not compare favorably to his predictions should not be taken too seriously. Overall, it was an excellent work of science.
The problem is that as time has gone on, more and more data have been shown to be squarely against the predictions of the evolutionary hypothesis. For example, Darwin himself said that if his view was correct, there should be all sorts of vestigial organs (organs that serve no useful purpose) in nature. He reasoned that as variations occurred in organisms, some useful organs would eventually stop becoming useful – their functions would be “overwritten” by new biological structures that made the creature more fit to survive. However, the now useless organs would not necessarily go away. It would take a long time for natural selection to get rid of them, so at any given time, vestigial organs should be around in a variety of creatures. In fact, Darwin compared vestigial organs to the silent letters in a word. Silent letters don’t necessarily serve a function in the word, but they can give you a hint about the word’s origin. In the same way, he reasoned, vestigial organs don’t serve a useful purpose in an organism, but they can give hints to the organism’s origin1.
So evolutionists went WILD finding vestigial organs. In fact, less than 40 years after Darwin’s book was published, anatomist Robert Wiedersheim listed 180 vestigial organs in humans. They included such necessary organs as the thymus gland and the tonsils2. Of course, over the years, functions were found for each of these supposedly “useless” organs. In fact, it was recently discovered that even the lowly human appendix has a very important function. It harbors intestinal bacteria so that they can quickly repopulate the intestine after an intestine-clearing disease like dysentery. 3
The spleen is another organ that was once thought to be a “useless leftover vestige of evolution.” For years, however, scientists have known that the spleen helps the body by filtering out damaged or dead red blood cells as well as by fighting infections. Even though you can live without your spleen, it is not useless. A recent study now shows that this organ has another very important function. It turns out that the spleen stores monocytes, which are specific kinds of white blood cells. It turns out that the spleen stores TEN TIMES the monocytes that can be found in the bloodstream. These monocytes can be released when needed, to help the body heal. For example, when you have a heart attack, the monocytes can be released from the spleen and go to the heart, where they help in the healing process4.
So…over the years, evolution has been shown wrong 180 times when it comes to vestigial organs in humans. Of course, in their desperate desire to stick to their preconceived notions instead of following what the data say, evolutionists have tried to claim that some animals have vestigial organs. For example, many whales have small pelvic bones. Since they don’t have hind legs, evolutionists have tried (unsuccessfully) to claim that these pelvic bones in whales are vestigial. Of course, they are not. As anyone who understands whale anatomy knows, the pelvic bones support and protect the genitalia and act as a muscle anchor for them. One easy way to tell that they have a purposeful function relative to the genitalia is that they are different between males and females.5
Anyone who understands biology and isn’t blindly committed to a preconceived philosophy knows that when it comes to vestigial organs, evolution’s predictions are dead wrong. So what’s a desperate evolutionist to do? Well…a desperate evolutionist can claim that even though vestigial organs don’t exist, vestigial DNA exists. Evolutionists point to the fact that only about 3% of the human genome is used to code for proteins. Since coding for proteins is the only known function for DNA, evolutionists immediately claim that the other 97% of DNA is “junk DNA,” leftover vestiges of our evolutionary past.
This used to seem like a valid argument…until we actually got the chance to start seeing how the human body actually uses nuclear DNA. A project called ENCODE was started to investigate how much of the human genome is actually transcribed by the cell. In this process, the cell translates the information in the DNA to something the rest of the cell can understand, and then it transports that information out of the nucleus and into the cytoplasm of the cell. This is a very energy-intensive process, so the cell would not bother to transcribe any portion of the DNA that isn’t actually used.
Well…guess what? In the portions of the human genome that have been studied so far, 93% of the DNA is transcribed6. This, of course, indicates that the vast majority, if not all, of the human genome is functional. We might not know what the function is, but the fact that the cell spends an enormous amount of energy on it indicates that it is doing something useful for the cell.
So….let’s recap. Evolution was wrong 180 times about vestigial organs in human beings. Except for clear cases of degeneration (like blind cavefish), evolution has been wrong about finding vestigial organs in animals. There is little or no vestigial DNA. Thus, the predictions of the evolutionary hypothesis have not only failed, they have failed miserably. If evolution were science, its status would come into question when its predictions fail so miserably. Of course, if evolution were science, evolutionists could not get away with saying things like this:
Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear … There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end for me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either. 7.
When that’s what evolutionary biology tells us, it is clear what evolutionary biology has become. I am not sure when evolution began transitioning from being a science to being a religion, but the transition is complete.
1. R. Lewis, Life 3rd ed., WCB/McGraw Hill, 1998, p. 395
Return to Text
2. R. Wiedersheim, The Structure of Man: An Index to His Past History Second Edition, translated by H. and M. Bernard, London: Macmillan and Co., 1895.
Return to Text
3. Bollinger, R.R., Barbas, A.S., Bush, E.L., Lin, S.S. & Parker. W., “Biofilms in the large bowel suggest an apparent function of the human vermiform appendix,” J. Theoretical Biology 294:826-31, 2007
Return to Text
4. Filip K. Swirski et. al., “Identification of Splenic Reservoir Monocytes and Their Deployment to Inflammatory Sites,” Science 31:612 – 616, 2009
Return to Text
5. Chadwick, Douglas H., “Evolution of Whales,” National Geographic 200:64-77, 2001
Return to Text
6. Birney, E., et. al., “Identification and analysis of functional elements in 1% of the human genome by the ENCODE pilot project,” Nature 447:799–816, 2007.
Return to Text
7. Highlights of a debate between William B. Provine and Phillip E. Johnson, “Darwinism: Science or Naturalistic Philosophy?”, Origins Research 16:9, 1994
Return to Text
5 thoughts on “Sing It: What a Friend We Have in NeoDarwinism…”
The first section looks good, and the ending is perfect, but about the middle, vestigial DNA section I have a question.
Question: A vestigial organ would still add weigh for legs to carry, use food and oxygen in growth and self-repair, take up space more useful elsewhere, and generally make a nusance of itself. That is exactly why evolutionists would say that after a while natural selection would get rid of it. However they still insisted that for an awfully long time people would hang on to those until enough mutants who didn’t have them were born to make the improved variety the norm.
That being the case, why shouldn’t the same thing apply to DNA? I mean, it wouldn’t do my cells any good to go translating what colour my gills should be, but by parallel if they think such and such a baboon still nurtures fragmentary gills, surely they won’t accept wastage as evidence for some hidden use. You know I’m not big on Evolution and I’m sure that if people do finally map the genome they’ll find a use for that 97%. But just saying it’s not been dumped yet so it must be useful, in the face of Darwins search for useless but not-yet-dumped organs…I’m sorry but that just seems rediculous.
You are absolutely right, but your reasoning is based on the long term. Remember, evolutionists think that the timespan for evolution is on the order of millions of years. Since it takes millions of year for a new trait to appear, it also take millions of years for a vestigial organ to disappear. Thus, at any given time, you should find lots of vestigial organs on lots of different creatures.
I don’t think you understand the point about DNA. Junk DNA would cost almost nothing to the organism if it is not transcribed. If it is just there on the DNA but the cell ignores it, it puts no load on the organism. The very fact that the cell transcribes the vast majority of DNA tells us that the vast majority of the DNA is important. Otherwise, the cell would not spend the energy needed to transcribed it.
By the way, the human genome has been fully mapped. That doesn’t mean we know what all the DNA does. It just means we know all the base pairs.
But would evolutionists necessarily expect the organism to learn NOT to transcribe that junk DNA (which in some previous stage had had a purpose) in less than at least several million years? Hence the existance of junk DNA, whether it is taking up energy or not would give evidence toward evolution in the same way as junk organs (which do take up energy at cost to the organism.)
There are two differences between vestigial organs and vestigial DNA when it comes to natural selection:
1. Vestigial organs carry a short-term developmental cost (making the organ), a small upkeep cost (tissue repair), and a TINY energy cost (carrying around some extra weight, blood supply, and a few minor things like that). Vestigial DNA that gets transcribed carries a HUGE, constant cost because it is in EVERY CELL of the body, and transcription happens continually. The more energy you waste, the less “fit” you are, and the higher the pressure of natural selection. Since vestigial organs carry a low energy cost, they have low selective pressure and stay around for a long time. Since the transcription of DNA carries a HIGH energy cost, the selective pressure is high, and it won’t stay around for long if it isn’t useful.
2. Vestigial organs are thought to come fairly late in the evolutionary history of the organism. Thus, there hasn’t been time for some of them to be selected away. Much vestigial DNA, however, has supposedly been around for billions of years. For example, vermiform appendix appears only in a few mammals. Thus, the idea was that a common mammalian ancestor had a useful appendix. Mammals came along late in evolution, and the appendix was thought to have become useless even later. Since many mammals have no appendix, it was thought that many mammals had already lost it. Thus, it hasn’t been useless long enough to be selected out of all mammals. Much of our vestigial DNA, however, was thought to have come from our single-celled ancestors that are billions of years old. There should have been plenty of time for natural selection to have stopped transcription of it.
OK. Thanks for the explanation. That makes a lot more sense now. And I must say I’m still flabbergasted by the idea that the theory of evolution should be cited as comprehensive proof that there is not only no God, but also no valid moral code at all.
Comments are closed.