Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 21, 1964

The Theory Of Evolution — And Evidence--"Vestigial Organs"

Jerry C. Ray

Evolutionists have argued that certain organs of man's body now serve no useful purpose. They once served a purpose, but are now mere vestiges of man's evolution from lower forms, and are no longer necessary. According to Wiedersheim, a celebrated German anatomist, man has 180 vestigial organs (Huxley & Wells, the Science of Life, 1931, p. 415). However, with the advance in medical research and the knowledge of physiology, this list has been cut so drastically that evolutionists now cite only 6.

The argument is invalid because it is based, not on facts and knowledge, but upon the lack of the same. It affirms that certain organs are vestigial because science (as of yet) does not know of any purpose that such organs serve.

And the fact that an organ can be removed without apparent ill effects does not prove that the organ is vestigial. One may live with only one leg or one eye.

The weakness of the "vestigial organs" argument was seen in the recent news. The function of the thymus has long puzzled the medical world, but now a British cancer researcher, Dr. Jacques F. A. P. Miller, has found that the thymus is a part of a complex immune system of the human body, which guards against foreign matter, including infectious organisms.

Further weakness of the argument can be seen by observing what further scientific advances have discovered concerning the remaining "vestigial" organs.

1. The appendix. Sir Wilford Le Gros Clark, of Oxford University states, "The significance of the vermiform appendix is still obscure, but in view of its rich blood supply it is almost certainly correct to regard it as a specialized and not a degenerate organ." Prof. William L. Straus, Jr., John Hopkins University states, "There is no longer any justification for regarding the veriform appendix as a vestigial structure."

2. The coccyx, or inferior extremity of the spine, is supposed to be a vestigial tail turned inwards, now a useless structure. But the coccyx, in fact, provides support for the muscles which control the functions of elimination.

3. The pineal gland. The British Medical Journal reported in 1958 that A. B. Lerner and his associates at Yale University had isolated an active principle from the pineal glands of oxen which was 100 times more active than adrenalin. This hormone turned the dark skin of toads, frogs and fish light. Although its significance was not understood, it seems obvious that the pineal gland is not an atrophied vestigial organ.

4. The plica semilunaris is supposed to be a vestige of the nictitating membrane or third eyelid found in birds, reptiles and mammals.

Prof. E. P. Stibbe, University of Liverpool, has shown that, "Structurally and functionally the plica of man and mammals differs entirely from the nictitating membrane of birds...There is reasonable ground for supposing that the plica of man and mammals is morphologically different from the nictitating membrane."

This fold in the human eye picks up foreign particles that enter the eye. Then a fatty substance secreted by the plica semilunaris envelops the particle so that it forms a sticky mass in the corner of the eye where it causes neither irritation nor damage, and can be removed by the finger.

5. The muscle of the outer ear does not serve the usual purpose of muscle tissue: contraction. Nonetheless it is useful in providing facilities for increased blood supply to diminish the danger of freezing.

At one time tonsils were considered vestigial. Now it is understood that they are a part of the lymphatic system, protecting the body against infection. Likewise the parathyroid and adrenal glands were considered vestigial. Now they are recognized as producers of important internal secretions.

The "vestigial organs" argument, like so many evolutionary arguments, has fallen by the way.

(All quotations are taken from the excellent pamphlet, Evolution Science Falsely So-Called, 14th edition, International Christian Crusade, 14 Park Road, Toronto 5, Ontario, Canada.)

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