Vestigial Arguments – Begging the Question for Darwin


I once heard a college professor who specialized in evolution and ecology remark that no he’d never heard an adequate Creationist explanation for vestigial organs and structures. Rather he claimed that the only explanation he’d ever been offered was something to the effect that “Well, God made them to test our faith.”

I do not wish to question his veracity (though one would be justified in asking why it would be wrong in his evolutionary worldview to lie to his students, especially if it helped students more readily accept the evolutionary theory he claimed to be an expert of. Just saying…), but I must wonder at his claim that a shoulder-shrugging, “Well, God musta made them thar vestigi-machallits to test our faith,” is the only repsonse he’d ever received. Especially when he could have done about 20 minutes worth of actual reseach at well-known Creationist websites to discover that much more substantial explanations for so-called vestigial arguments exist. In other words, one wonders whether he was simply lazy [willfully ignorant] or disingenuous.

Of course, this evolutionist professor also conflated the extraBiblical views of Old Earth Creationists who believe that all animals were created in the forms we see them today with the Biblical views of Young Earth Creationists who affirm that Creation was accomplished roughly 6,000 years ago. Though he seemed knowledgable enough to point out that adding up the Genesis genealogies will give a date of Creation of about 6,000 years ago, he made no mention of the Biblical Creationist concept of variation and speciation within Biblical kinds. On the other hand, it’s possible he omited reference to Biblical kinds and only mentioned the extraBiblical Creationist view that all creatures were created in their present form because the latter view stands in direct opposition to the observable facts that animals do change over time via natural selection and speciation and thus undermines the Creationist position. This is why such compromise Creationist positions are self-defeating!

In any case, the Biblical Creationist does indeed have a reasoned response to the so-called vestigial argument for evolution.

Of course, part of the answer is in the definition of the term vestigial itself. Vestigial comes from the root word vestige which once meant “an organ or part of an organism that is a small nonfunctioning remnant of a functional organ in an ancestor” (World English Dictionary). In 1895, evolutionist Robert Wiedersheim once made up a list of 180 alleged vestigial or rudimentary organs. Useful functions have been found for nearly all of them (which is a cautionary argument against declaring an organ vestigial simply based on present ignorance of its function!), so evoilutionists had to modify the definition a bit. Now they claim that vestigial organs are organs or structures remaining or surviving in a degenerate, atrophied, or imperfect condition or form.  (Oxford English Dictionary); in other words, vestigial organs may have an identifiable function but it is a diminished function from whatever the organ did in the past.

Three caveats suggets themselves:

[1] Diminished functionality [whether total or partial] is a loss of information not a gain of information as required of molecules-to-man evolution. If the vestigial argument is a powerful argument for fish-to-philosopher evolution, it should be pointed out that its actually an argument in the wrong direction! We should be suspicious of any claim that one can accrue a million dollars over time by progressively losing a few dollars at a time.

[2] Diminished functionality is fully compatible with the Biblical Creationist concept of variation within created kinds. Due to the effects of the Curse laid upon Creation at Adam’s Fall, we expect deleterious mutations, loss of functionality and loss of overall genetic viability. Which to say that a loss of functionality is not necessarily incompatible with Biblical Creation so long as one does not presume that one kind of creature changes into another [viz. dinosaurs to birds], which obviously requires increases of genetic information. 

[3] Most importantly, claiming that an organ is vestigial by claiming it used to have greater [or even different] functionality in the past begs the question of whether goo-to-you-by-way-of-the-zoo evolution actually occurs; which is to say it begs the question of whether vestigial organs exist at all!

The Human Coccyx

For example, evolutionists often claim that the human coccyx is a vestigial tail. They even point to developmental biology to note that human embryos have a “tail.” The latter isn’t really a tail of course; it’s simply the vertebral column. Since the vertebral column forms ahead of other organs, it gives the appearance of a tail, but then again human embryos also have pharyngeal folds which look like gill slits but, if we’re honest (and not all evolutionists and public school textbooks are!), they aren’t anything of the sort. They never have the function of gills, merely a superficial appearance. This also holds true for the coccyx. Less scrupulous evolutionists point to babies born with tails, but neglect to mention that these “tails” contain no muscles or bone (certainly not the coccyx!) but are actually fatty tumors. Hardly a vestigial tail.

Of course, the coccyx has a vital function. It not only serves as an anchor point for the anus muscles and the entire pelvic diaphram. Kent Hovind is on record as stating that if any evo truly believes the coccyx is vestigial, he’d pay to have that truebeliever’s coccyx removed.

The Human Vermiform Appendix

Click for a Larger Image

The evo professor in question also made a big deal over the appendix, adamantly insisting that it is simply a vestigial  cecum, a remnant from a time when man needed a larger cecum to accomodate a higher fiber diet. Again, this is simply begging the question, for there’s no indication that the appendix has ever been anything other than what it is now, except in the fertile imaginations of evolutionists. In fact, thge appendix plays a vital role in the immune system, repopulating the intestines with beneficial gut flora after diarreah or antibiotics clean out beneficial bacteria.

Answers in Genesis sums up the problem for evos quite nicely:

“The entire concept of vestigial organs is based on evolutionary storytelling. There is nothing in operational science to suggest that any of these so-called evolutionary “remnants” are less than fully functional in their present form.”

Hip Bones in Whales and Snakes

Like the human coccyx, the pelvic bones in whales and snakes [and the manatee, for that matter] serve as a vital anchorage point for muscles and to support internal organs. Stating that these bones have a diminished function from their supposed ancestral structure is very misleading since the bones in question are vital to the animal’s design and viability.

“Vestigial” “junk” DNA

Most recently, evolutionists have proposed that so-called pseudogenes are vestigial, but whether such “junk” DNA has no function at all is hotly debated. Yet even if these pseudogenes were in fact nonfunctional, why would that be evidence against Biblical Creationism which expects diminished functionality and mutation in a Fallen world?

I realize that other examples of the vestigial argument could be examined and I hope to do so at some later date, but here I only wish to establish that this line of argumentation is based on a logical fallacy [or two]…

Each time the evolutionists puts forth the claim that an organ or structure is vestigial, t faithful evolutionist commits one of two erros:

1] When no function is presently evident [and our present ignorance is typically remedied later], the evo presumes that a nonfunctional structure or organ is an “evolutionary leftover” of some proposed ancestor when nonfunctional organs [like the eyes of blind cave fish] are better explained by the degenerative trend of a world affected by the Fall.

2] When the function of a “vestigial” organ or structure is known AND the organism is presumed to have evolved, the evo further presumes that these organs or structures evidence dimished functionality from the proposed ancestral organism. It’s a lot of presumption, or what I typically term imagineering.

The problem then with vestigial arguments is that the evo has to beg the question of whether microbes-to-man evolution occurs in order to suggest that some organs and structures are vestigial so that he can use vestigial oragns and structures as evidence for the goo-to-you evolutions he’s presuming to begin with! Which makes it all a rather circular argument: The evo must beg the question of microbes-to-man evolution in order to beg the question of vestigiality in order to support his claim of darwinian evolution [and for vestigial organs for that matter!]. It’s very much a chicken and the egg scenario.

Which begs the question of why they have to resort to such weak arguments to begin with….

God bless and Stay in the Word!

 

Rev Tony Breeden, aka Sirius Knott

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33 Comments Add yours

  1. modsynth says:

    “the appendix plays a vital role in the immune system”

    “Vital” seems to be overselling it. The benefit is not essential (people live fine without it) and is still speculative, relying on research done on rabbits and mice. The chance of life-threatening appendicitis is not so uncommon (my time-bomb went off a few year ago.) Some people are born without an appendix.

    1. With due respect, my son recently battled c diff, a nasty bug with a tendency to spread like wildfire through the intestine and crowd out the available space for beneficial gut flora, so I know a little about the appendix’ purpose and design. To say that it’s in dispute is not entirely accurate; the only conflict is over the reluctance of some to accept it.

      In regards to my choice of the word vital, frankly, I didn’t have a thesaurus handy. What I meant to convey [and perhaps you could suggest a better term] is that the appendix is vital in the same way as your arm. You were designed to have two arms and you do not function at optimum without them, even though some are born without them and one can function without one or both. Just because you may live without it doesn’t mean that you weren’t designed to have it. Neither is our ability to live without it any sort of argument for vestigiality.

  2. I hope your son’s alright. I don’t even have an appendix anymore, so I’m not an expert, but your story doesn’t conclude that the appendix saved his life or even was necessary since the same lymphatic tissue is found in other places throughout the digestive system.

    In the end, you are trusting the research of “evilutionists” who say it could help the immune system and you’re ignoring the necessity of further research to prove this conclusive while discounting dissenters. I find that ironic.

    Although some in the past couldn’t recognize function, scientists today do, and it hasn’t rocked their views at all.

    Design is quite debatable considering that the appendix carries so much risk. If someone designed a feature for a car which helped in some cases but had a good chance of catching fire, I doubt it would win any engineering awards. I suppose we could blame the organ’s faults on ancestral sin and give God credit for what it does right, but this requires many assumptions that go way beyond the text of Genesis.

    1. My son is fine for the time being. Thank you for asking.

      I never meant to imply that the appendix saved his life – only that it serves a function.

      You’ve mischaracterized me merely by using the term “evilutionist.” I’ve never used the term. In fact, when my wife first asked about evolution so many years ago, I replied, “I suppose God could have used evolution.” Furthermore, I agree with Dr. David Menton, who opined that if he didn’t have the special revelation of the Bible or didn’t believe it, he’d have no choice but to come to a similar conclusion, that things somehow came together by themselves. In short, I say of the evolutionist, “There but by the grace of God go I!” We battle not against flesh and blood, but against devils and worldviews inspired by them.

      You’ve further mischaracterized me in the same breath. Understand this: I’m not trusting the research of evolutionists per se. I’m trusting the research of scientists who happen to be evolutionists who also happen to be in agreement with the revealed Word of God on a minor portion of their research, namely that the appendix is in no way vestigial. I do not accept nor endorse any of their evolutionary imagineerings any more than the evolutionist accepts the design arguments of Dr Andy McIntosh [University of Leeds] when they read his research on the bombadier beetle’s spray mechanism and its possible applications for new types of nebulisers, needle-free injections, fire extinguishers and fuel injection systems. Our fish is caught, bones and all, but the bones are removed before we consume it at dinnertime! You see, Dr McIntosh actually has the nerve to research as if things were designed for a purpose, to discover that purpose and then attempt to duplicate it – and he’s a Creationist. A Biblical Creationist.

      Your statements concerning optimal design miss the point entirely. The text of Genesis literally states of Adam that “dying you shall die.” We’ve been degenerating ever since Adam, so a diminished design of the appendix is consistent with Scriptural revelation of progressive decay [both in Genesis and elsewhere], just as an increase in cancer, genetic disorders and disease is predicted by a model of progressive decay.

      1. Sorry, I misread the typo: evoilutionists had to modify. I didn’t mean to mischaracterize you either time. I know you accept many mainstream scientific points unrelated to evolution and geology, but here you acknowledged that you agreed with a new, unproven idea because it matched your presuppositions, as I was suggesting. If you are going to apply so much skepticism to their other conclusions, perhaps you shouldn’t be so quick to accept the bacterial kick-starting idea. The Bible doesn’t say the appendix functions to repopulate gut bacteria, so you may not want to latch on so confidentially to that one until it’s been through a more rigorous examination/experimentation process. It may well be true that it’s helpful to some extent, but no study that I’m aware of has show a noticeable disadvantage for appendectomy survivors like myself. Best to you and your family.

      2. With respect, no one has expected any disadvantage to an appendectomy and have thus neglected a study of it. Furthermore [and more to the point], several overlapping systems [necessary redundancies in case one system breaks down or is, ahem, removed] may be in place to prevent a noticeable disadvantage.

        I agree that extraBiblical information is subject to change, but I do believe that the appendix has a function and could only be considered vestigial if we also presume evolution is true to begin with.

        Thank you for your sentiments regarding my family.

        -revTony, aka Sirius Knott

  3. cmallinson says:

    I know they are not “vestigial organs”, but what do you have to say about antibodies in humans that exist only to fight disease that has only ever existed in other species from whom we evolved? There are countless examples of things that exist in our bodies, and sometimes only in our DNA, that are no longer required or used.

    On the issue of whales—do you really believe that a tiny pelvis is just what whales need for the purpose of anchoring muscle? Isn’t a better explanation found in the idea that the muscles, once attached to a pelvis for bearing weight on solid ground, have evolved alone with the rest of the animal to provide forward propulsion in water? If you watch a whale or porpoise swim, they extend their spine in exactly the same motion as a running dog, where fish sway their spine side to side. This is not a coincidence.

    Saying a tiny vestigial pelvis is there to anchor muscle is akin to the idea that the lamp beside me exists only as an anchor point for the bastard of a spider who attaches her web when I’m not looking.

    1. cmallinson,

      I’ll be happy to respond to your objections.

      Regarding your question: “What do you have to say about antibodies in humans that exist only to fight disease that has only ever existed in other species from whom we evolved?”

      – Well, if I’m reading you correctly you’re stating that you can verify that humans have never in history needed the antibodies to fight off the diseases in question, which would require something akin to omniscience to rule out. Furthermore, you’re begging the question of whther we evolved from other species. And of course you’re being rather vague… I’m presuming you’re talking about HERVs or something similar.

      Regarding your assertion that “There are countless examples of things that exist in our bodies, and sometimes only in our DNA, that are no longer required or used.”

      – Be specific. That DNA code mutates and results in an overall loss of functionality is observable and… quite the opposite of what microbe-to-man evolution proposes, but wholly consistent with the Creation model. But if you’re asserting that these innumerable examples of “things” [my, such specificity] existing in our bodies that are “no longer required or used” are vestigial organs or vestigial structures, you need to be brave enough to risk being refuted by naming a few

      On the issue of whales, I believe that a tiny pelvis is exactly what’s needed for the purpose of anchoring muscle. At the very least, the genital muscles are always attached to a pelvis [even if it’s a small one].
      .
      As for you question-begging query [“Isn’t a better explanation found in the idea that the muscles, once attached to a pelvis for bearing weight on solid ground, have evolved alone with the rest of the animal to provide forward propulsion in water?”]… why would I suppose that imagination is better than observation? You presume that whales evolved from land animals so only an explanation that presupposes evolution would make sense to you. So you deny all observable design as “apparent” and affirm unobservable events of your own imagineering. What I find most disturbing is that once you presume a structure to be vestigial, you stop looking for its function because you somehow see a loss of function as evidence for evolution.

      Mammals swim in the same up and down motion as other mammals. Fish swim in the same side to side motion as other fish. A similarity in swimming style due to a similar skeltomuscular design does not imply descent so much as anatomical restrictions of fish versus mammals. Yet you believe that mammals evolved from reptiles [which exhibit that dreaded side-to-side swimming due to anatomical restrictions]… hmmm…. Again, it’s not a coincidence; it’s part of the design of fishes versus reptiles versus mammals.

      As for you final paragraph, it’s amusing but it’s also a straw man. Muscles DO anchor to that tiny pelvis.

      1. cmallinson says:

        So, to be clear, you think the best thing for anchoring muscles in a sea mammal happens also to be the best thing for bearing weight in a land mammal?

        Why do these pelvis bones gradually get smaller and smaller with subsequent examples from the fossil record if they are so important for anchoring muscle, even as the animals generally get larger. In modern whales, these pelvis bones are almost gone entirely, offering little or no benefit.

        Beluga whales also have tiny ear buds, even though there is no function other than to cause drag in the water. Whales also have diaphragms with very little to no muscle, as they use the movement of their ribs to breath.

        I won’t go further into the well documented arguments involving the fossil record, and the evidence from DNA, since I imagine you will give the same boring answers as the rest of the ID crowd.

      2. cmallinson: So, to be clear, you think the best thing for anchoring muscles in a sea mammal happens also to be the best thing for bearing weight in a land mammal?

        revTony: I realize you’re attempting to be snarky, but you fail to see past your evolutionary presuppositions. Evolutionists commonly use homologous structures as evidence for their theory while Creationists note that a DNA code system will necessitate similar structures being modified for different functions, so that the same bones which form the wing of bat are the same bones which form the arm of a man or the flipper of a whale. This is design efficiency [again, a necessity in a code system]: we don’t re-invent the wheel. So is the same structure that land animals use to bear their weight also the best structure for anchoring certain muscles in sea mammals? Apparently.

        cmallinson: “Why do these pelvis bones gradually get smaller and smaller with subsequent examples from the fossil record if they are so important for anchoring muscle, even as the animals generally get larger. In modern whales, these pelvis bones are almost gone entirely, offering little or no benefit.”

        revTony: Give me the transitional set you’re refering to. Be specific. Evolutionary theories never hold up past generalities. And I didn’t say they were importnant for anchoring every muscle [nor did I propose this as the whale pelvis’ one and only possible function!] but muscles do in fact attach to this bone. Ironically, since the evolutionist has decided they’re now so small as to be practically useless, evolutionary bias becomes a science stopper; smug in your position that they are vestigial you won’t bother wasting your time looking for their function!

        cmallinson: “Beluga whales also have tiny ear buds, even though there is no function other than to cause drag in the water. Whales also have diaphragms with very little to no muscle, as they use the movement of their ribs to breath.”

        revTony: My above comments answer this objection sufficiently. There is a better explanation from a design efficiency and necessity. Your presumption of vestigiality is simply that: a presumption.

        cmallinson: “I won’t go further into the well documented arguments involving the fossil record, and the evidence from DNA, since I imagine you will give the same boring answers as the rest of the ID crowd.”

        revTony: I must assume that by “boring” you mean non-evolutionary. Oh and FYI: I’m a Creationist, NOT part of the ID crowd. The fact that evolutionists habitually lump Creationists and ID advocates together [some even use the phrase “Intelligent Design Creationist”] when we’re only superficially alike testifies to a general ignorance of the non-evolutionist’s claims.

      3. cmallinson says:

        I’m not aware of any difference between creationists and advocates of intelligent design. I apologize if you take offence to the generalization, but you seem to be making the same arguments.

        The fossil record of the various stages of whale evolution is a quick google search away, and I won’t insult you by suggesting you have not read it. I’ve typed it many times when arguing on blogs about this, and I’m always met with the same answer—something along the lines of unreliable carbon dating techniques, or that each of these creatures was created by God in the form in which they were found.

        The fact is—numerous fossils exists in subsequent layers that show a gradual transition from a mammal that lived on land to a mammal that lived between land and the sea, and then completely in the sea. The nostrils move back gradually. The hind feet slowly disappear and the front feet turn into fins. The lungs change slowly. Everything fits, and when scientists first made the prediction of this transition, and went looking for fossils in the layers predicted by such a change, the evidence was there.

        Here’s a challenge that will prove me and almost every biologist in the world wrong. Find me evidence that one of the many species of cetaceans existing between 75 and 25 million years ago existed in a period outside of a timeline that whale evolution predicts. Just one is all it would take.

        One more question on your “reuse of structures” argument. What limitation does a creator have that necessitates using a tiny pelvis under six feet of blubber when it is clearly better to simply extend the spine?

        I don’t mean to sound disrespectful, and I apologize if I’ve come across as snarky. I’m genuinely interested in the mindset that dismisses evidence that is overwhelmingly convincing to a massive majority of biologists all over the world.

      4. As I am in the midst of writing an article specifically on whale evolution, I hope you’ll forgive the brevity and general nature of my comments.

        First, there is a great deal of difference between ID and Biblical Creationism. The similarity in our arguments can be explained by the simply fact that we’re both anti-evolutionists.

        Textbooks and Google searches will show a gradual transition to be sure. What they will not show you are the fossils themselves. It would surprise many to discover how much of whale evolution is based on a lot of imagination and a few partial skeletons or a single skull. My post will examine the whale fossils series promoted by the National Academy of Sciences. Creationists aren’t afraid to get specific; evos tend to dance around generalities.

        Your challenge is, well, pointless. You may as well have challenged me to find Bunny Rabbits in the Cambrian. A good evolutionist, following in the footsteps and methodology established by Charles Darwin, can always imagineer a scenario that takes care of an “anamoly.” I’ve answered such objections before in a post called Transitional Forms: Dinosaurs and Bunny Rabbits, or Why the Speculative Nature of Darwinism makes it Unfalsifiable.
        .
        Regarding your question: “What limitation does a creator have that necessitates using a tiny pelvis under six feet of blubber when it is clearly better to simply extend the spine?” You imply superior intellect to God in your question, so in all fairness I’d like to see how your handiwork stacks up to His. Show me this better whale you would have created. I’m not saying this to be snarky but to make a rather obvious point: You’re criticizing a design you cannot duplicate and you’re doing so without bothering to fairly determine why it is thus designed [because you a priori conclude it is not designed at all]. My favorite “bad design” argument is the oft-parroted slander of the eye’s design as “backward.” “What a poor design,” the Darbots faithfully chant. “Why, we can plainly see how awful that design is. We certainly wouldn’t have been idiot enough to wire the thing backwards. Why, it’s got a blind spot as a result! See, what Creator would design such a poorly designed nightmare…” Which ignores the fact that evolutionists are using those “crudely” designed eyes to read this rebuttal with no difficulty, and that the eagle’s eye has the same design “flaw” you guys crow on about. At the risk of a bad pun, you can’t see the forest for the trees!

        I should add that I have not dismissed any evidence. No Creationist ever has. We’ve dismissed the interpretations of evolutionists and uniformitarian geologists, but never the evidence itself. So if you were to put it correctly, I dismiss the evolutionary interpretations of the evidence that is overwhelmingly convincing to a massive majority of evolutionist biologists all over the world.

        Michael Denton notes that “contrary to what is widely assumed by evolutionary biologists today, it has always been the anti-evolutionists, not the evolutionists, in the scientific community who have stuck rigidly to the facts and adhered to a more strictly empirical approach.” For example, when we see the evidence for design in nature, we do not dismiss it as “apparent” and not actual. And by acknowledging this design in nature and then examining it thus, we are actually able to re-create these designs. For example [as I mentioned in an earlier comment], Dr Andy McIntosh [University of Leeds] has studied the bombadier beetle’s spray mechanism and its possible applications for new types of nebulisers, needle-free injections, fire extinguishers and fuel injection systems. He actually has the nerve to research as if things were designed for a purpose, to discover that purpose and then attempt to duplicate it – and he’s a Creationist. A Biblical Creationist who does real science because he isn’t hobbled by an apriori commitment to insisting the world was a giant barking accident that only looks like it was designed.

      5. cmallinson says:

        I look forward to your article on whale evolutions. Tell me—when you decided to start doing research on whale evolution, were you open to the idea that maybe they did evolve from land mammals, or did you search high and low for reasons to disprove it?

        Your assertion that DNA mutations always result in a net loss of information is absolutely false. That is a talking point directly from the leaders of the anti-evolution community and is easily proven (and demonstrated to be) wrong. Most mutations, by definition, can be reversed with a subsequent mutation. If that is the case, and the first reduces the information, then next one necessary increases it.

        It doesn’t sound like you want to hear more about this from me, and you seem to have a pretty low level of respect for scientists that do not share your religious beliefs, and approach science from a pre-determined perspective.

        There’s a lot out there to discover for those willing to look.

      6. cmallinson,

        I examined the claims of evolutionists critically, as any serious investigator ought to. Or are you suggesting that evoilution’s claims should be insulated from critical examination?

        As for your remarks regarding a net loss of information… You’re misunderstanding apparently. Microbes-to-man evolution requires a gain of orders of information in our DNA. What we observe is a net loss [which you deny by stating an occasional exception as if that disproved the rule], so that most mutations are neutral at best and deleterious at worst. The best example of what I’m saying is observable from dog breeding: theoretically, I can take a wolf and eventually breed it down to a teacup poodle [after all, man eventually did so], yet I could never take a teacup poodle and eventually get a wolf from it. Why? Because there was a net loss of genetic information along the way as the dog breeds became more specialized. Evolution requires new order of information to get from one kind of animal to another [viz dinos to birds or ungulates to whales]; Where does the new information come from? Doubletalk won’t save you on this talking point.

        I agree that there’s a lot out there to discover for those willing to look, but evos are unwilling to interpret anything outside the box of evolution and naturalism. I’m sorry if I’ve given you a bad impression. I have a lot of respect for evo scientists – just not their beliefs! You see, evos also approach science from a pre-determined [the word is actually presuppositional] perspective: everything is given an evolutionary interpretation. Evolution is assumed from ther outset.

        Tell me, when you came to this site to read this argument against vestigial structures, were you open to the idea that maybe vestigial structures were an invalid concept, or were you reading it in the hopes you could find reasons to dismiss my argument entirely, thus validating your own worldview?

        Think about it.

      7. cmallinson says:

        Because there was a net loss of genetic information along the way as the dog breeds became more specialized

        On what evidence do you base this claim? It’s completely false, but I’d like to know what on earth makes you think this is true. What definition of “information” are you using that makes any change in that information a net loss?

        There’s one scenario that I think is the source of this incorrect assumption. If you created a mathematical model of mutating DNA and let it simply mutate ad nauseum, you would end up, given enough time, with useless strings of random data, and in that case, I would agree that you would end up with a lack of “information”. The theory of evolution is not such a model. The mutations are not simply left alone. Each mutation results in either the “death” of the mutated genes (any organism that does not end up reproducing again) or the promotion of the genes (any organism that has offspring). It is this process acting on the mutations that keeps the beneficial ones alive, and the detrimental ones at bay.

        Mutations can occur that result in a duplicated section of DNA, or in some cases, a duplication of an entire chromosome. In the case of a duplicated section of DNA, we have doubled the information in a particular section. You may argue that this is simple two sets of the same information, and you’d be right. The problem for your theory is that each section can continue to mutate independently, which certainly results in new DNA.

      8. Wow. So you deny what’s actually observable in dog breeding simply to save face for evolution. Evos never cease to amaze me.

        I should mention here that Creationists affirm natural selection and speciation as horizontal changes within created kinds with an overall downward trend [viz. no wolves can be produced from poodles but you can get poodles from wolves]; what we deny is observable verticla microbes-to-man evolution whereby say a dog becomes something else entirely [viz ungulates-to-whale evolution]. As you mentioned, mutations can only eliminate what doesn’t work; where does the new genetic info come from? and be honest this time. at the very least, you should be honest with yourself. Natural selection and mutation are simply not equipped to do the job that Darwinism promises.

      9. cmallinson says:

        Well, since evolution has no goal, there’s no way you could breed any one species into another existing species, but since you bring up the poodles/wolves example, I’ll play that game. If you had one group of poodles, and one group of wolves, the chances of breeding one group into a species identical to the other, the chances are exactly the same in each direction.

        I’m not denying anything observable in dog breeding. There is no evidence that each dog breed has a genome with less information than the one from which it was bred, and that is something that could be easily checked. Just get the lengths of the genome of each type of dog (not sure how many have been sequenced) and compare it to the one before it, and then the wolf. I have not seen such a study, but you must have, since you are making the claim.

        In addition, the artificial selection performed by dog breeders is completely different than natural selection, which drives evolution. Dog breeders breed dogs for traits that are not naturally beneficial, and allow dogs to continue breeding when nature would have dealt them a lesser hand. Natural selection also acts far more slowly.

        Mutations don’t come up with new structures out of the blue, and evolution does not make that claim. New structures in species come from new uses of old structures. Eyes came from skin that had evolved to become sensitive to light, and we have modern day animals with eyes at each stage of evolution, and some animals that have different sets of eyes that evolved completely independently of each other. It happens over million of generations. What you are dong is comparing apples and oranges.

      10. Denying what is observable and begging the question. wow.

        If you did any honest searching, you would have found that poodles have more genetic mistakes and disorders than you can shake a stick at. You would have found that their genetic material is downgraded to a level that would make breeding a wolf out of them impossible. READ any article or book on dog breeding and you will be forced to acknowledge that there is marked [and historically observed] decrease in genetic variability as dogs are bred for more specialized purposes. Why? Because they’re inbred. Because this results in a greater amount of mutations [genetic mistakes] and net loss of genetic variability [ie – adaptability].

        I find it disingenuous that evos [beginning with Darwin himself] first state that artificial selection is analogous to natural selection and then recant as soon as anyone asks too many questions. You’re right that natural “selection” doesn’t select for beneficial adaptations. It doesn’t select for anything.

        Did I say that evos claim that mutations come up with new structures out of the blue? No, I simply noted that you’ve no mechanism for these new structures for most mutations are deleterious and the progression of genetic variability is downward rather than upward. More to the point, it is the evolutionist who compares apples to oranges when he says that observable horizontal changes within a created kind [speciation; shuffling the deck] leads to vertical [phyletic] microbes-to-man evolution [adding cards to the deck]. A dog remains a dog and recognizeably so, whether a wolf, English bulldog or a teacup poodle. Ancestral forms are assumed not observable.

        I might suggest you do some research before responding. This debate has degenerated into knee-jerk contradiction on your part. Since it has become obvious that you’re simply denying my claims rather than honestly and critically considering my claims [and your own biases], I’ll not cast further pearls.

        If you wish to comment on the up-coming article on whale evolution, you’re welcome, but I see no further benefit in continuing our current discussion if you’re simply going to deny observable evidence because it doesn’t fit your evolutionary presuppositions.

      11. cmallinson says:

        It’s not me that’s getting snippy—I didn’t call you swine. If you feel I’ve been impolite, I sincerely apologize. I think these things can be discussed with both vigour and respect simultaneously

        Regarding dogs, I don’t think you read my comment in full. You are absolutely correct that the artificial breeding of dogs has been to their detriment. I am well aware of the problems in poodles, and I’m very aware of the other problems in other breeds. Many of them are an absolute mess, genetically. This is because they have not been bred to SURVIVE. They have been bred to be short or tall or fat or stubby or vicious or kind or blue or red or really really good at smelling cocaine. The life expectancy of many purebred dogs is eight years—not a success story in my opinion.

        You are not correct that mutations occur more in purebred dogs. The problem is that purebred dogs, being inbred, as you stated, lack the genetic diversity to cancel out recessive traits, also as you stated. This is a problem that exists in nature only where small populations are geographically isolated, and usually results in extinction.

        Artificial selection is perfectly analogous to natural selection, in that it exposes the ability of an organism to change from one generation to another, and that those changes are cumulative in a way. It lacks, however, the mechanism of nature though, which is the driving force behind evolution.

        You can’t be serious about nature not “selecting” for anything can you?

      12. I never called you swine, sir; you’ve infered too much from my statement about casting pearls. I simply meant you’re not listening and that furthermore you’re a bit antagonistic to what I’m saying. And the Scriptures [via Jesus Himself] tell me not to waste my time with such endeavors.

        For example, I note that you still give me generalities rather than engaging any specific examples [like the genetic disorders of poodles]. Furthermore you’re simply telling us what you want [need] to believe rather than researching the matter critically. For example, you stated “You are not correct that mutations occur more in purebred dogs;” yet genetic disorders in purebred are primarily the result of increasing mutations not merely the inability to weed out recessive traits.

        You also miss the point that by saying that AS is analogous to NS, you’re really saying that intelligent design is analogous to a blind, undirected process whose “mechanism” has never been quite adequately defined. AS selects for desired traits, but NS doesn’t select for anything; instead it merely weeds out the unfit. It has no ability to keep beneficial traits. In other words, NS is not a creative process or even a cumulative process as evolutionists would prefer it. No, it’s simply a conservative force that works against the effects of the Fall. Any traits “selected” in this process are “selected” merely by proxy, typically with a loss of information and/or genetic diversity [eg. bacterial resistance to antibiotics].

        If you’d like more information on the subject from a Biblical Creationist perspective, I reccomend Is Natural Selection the Same Thing As Evolution? by Dr Georgia Purdom of Answers in Genesis.

        If you’d like my critique of whale evolution, see my article, Does Whale Evolution Hold Water? Once again, you’ll note that once we get past the evolutionist’s generalizations and examine the specifics of their claims, the Just-So Stories fall apart.

  4. Aaron says:

    A few points on the cetacean pelvis – something I’ve studied in great detail.

    The pelvis is typically about the length of one vertebrae. As such, it does not create a stiff point in the cetacean peduncle when the tail is flexed up and down. If the pelvis was proportionally the same size in cetaceans as it is in other mammals, it would probably cause an undo stiff portion in the peduncle that could inhibit locomotion.

    Also, the two sides of the pelvis don’t connect to each other, except for a tendinous band in some species. If the two sides did connect to each other, the bones would likely be a hinderance to reproduction. Most mammals give birth through a canal formed by the connecting sides of the pelvis. If the birth canal ran through two connected pelvis bones in cetaceans, the birth canal would be limited in size and they would not be able to give birth to such large calves. Their large birth size is an essential aspect of their survival.

    In regard to the question above: “What limitation does a creator have that necessitates using a tiny pelvis under six feet of blubber when it is clearly better to simply extend the spine?”

    I’m a little perplexed as to what the questioner is actually saying, but there are good reasons why the pelvis is not connected directly to the spine. As an anchor for the genitals, the pelvis needs to be situated more ventrally than the spine. This arrangement also creates a gap between the pelvis and the spine through which tail muscles and tendons run. The pelvis and the spine act as “sandwich halves” through which important muscles run.

  5. Wambulance says:

    I love how a dumb*** without an inkling of scientific background can proclaim to be an expert on biology.

    1. Wambulance,

      ““Real science never has to resort to credentialism. If someone with no credentials at all raises a legitimate question, it is not an answer to point out how uneducated or unqualified the questioner is. In fact, it is pretty much an admission that you don’t have an answer, so you want the questioner to go away.
      “Expertism is the “trust us, you poor fools” defense. Essentially, the Darwinists tell the general public that we’re too dumb to understand the subtleties of biochemistry, so it’s not even worth trying to explain to us why the Designists are wrong. “We’re the experts, you’re not, so we’re right by definition.”
      Behe and his group don’t think we’re stupid. They actually make the effort to explain the science accurately and clearly in terms that the lay audience can understand. So who is going to win this argument? Some people bow down before experts; most of us resent the experts who expect us to bow.”

      Creation and Evolution in the Schools. Orson Scott Card. The Ornery American: WorldWatch. Posted on 1/8/2006. Retrieved on 1/1/2012. http://www.ornery.org/essays/warwatch/2006-01-08-1.html

      Refute my argument or go home.

      -Sirius Knott

  6. Wambulance says:

    Ever think there might be something you don’t know?

    Ah… forgot… don’t need to now anything other than what “makes sense” and agrees with the book written at a time in which man thought flies spontaneously arose from rotting meat.

    I’ve spent the last 13 years working in, and studying, medicine, medical biology and biochemistry. In that time I’ve acquired enough knowledge on the subjects to know how little I know (but how much more than your average person). The average person- i.e. yourself- knows so little actual science, they can’t even begin to comprehend how little they actually know.

    Any fool can come up with an idea that “sounds right”. However, many things that sound right have been totally wrong. Real science does not have to resort to credentialism.

    ***BUT**** in order for a person to raise a legitimate question and understand the answer to that question, they must have a certain level of knowledge that is commensurate with the complexity of the topic at hand.

    Simply because you can raise a question, doesn’t mean that question hasn’t already been answered. Furthermore, just because you cannot understand (or have difficulty accepting) that answer does not make your question any more legitimate or the answer any less correct.

    (standing back waiting for the comments on elitism and fallacious reasoning to begin)

    1. Actually, the only fallacy you’ve committed is an irrelevant thesis.

      I have raised legitimate questions and concerns in this article. If I have erred, I welcome you to answer my arguments rather than questioning my credentials [and thereby proving Card’s point].

      Regards,
      Sirius Knott

  7. Wambulance says:

    I beg to differ.

    The questions you’ve raised on these //deleted// blogs have, in most all cases, been answered. The problem lies with your refusal to accept these facts due to their inherent conflicts with your religious fanaticism.

    These blogs, and the responses I’ve seen to various posts show how little you know of actual biology and the depth of your ignorance to scientific method/theory/facts in general. The fact that the majority of your resources are Behe, AiG, Discovery Institute, etc, etc, grossly displays your lack of interest in opposing views. These outfits offer no credible research. They pervert real science and deceive people that do not know any better.

    The basis of far too many of your arguments is the “presupposition” garbage. **IF** you had a proper education on the subject you would understand the reason why certain lines of thought are meant to be understood when explaining scientific theory. The presuppositions you love to accuse science of are not due to poor reasoning, but based on facts and findings from other branches of sciences. Try to remember all branches of science are of the same tree and are subject to the same methods of approval/study/dispute.

    To answer your questions would first require you to do many things. To start, I would offer the advise to approach science with a more open mind. Furthermore, I would suggest some time actually studying some basic biology (start with a basic college text- perhaps something recommended by your local community college for Bio 100 or 101- WV State has a bookstore, just go in and ask). The fact that you “used to be an athiest (or agnostic or unbeliever)” give you no more credibility. Athieism, agnosticism, whatever-ism does not preclude scientific ingorance.

    As for the :

    “”“Expertism is the “trust us, you poor fools” defense. Essentially, the Darwinists tell the general public that we’re too dumb to understand the subtleties of biochemistry, so it’s not even worth trying to explain to us why the Designists are wrong. “We’re the experts, you’re not, so we’re right by definition.”
    Behe and his group don’t think we’re stupid. They actually make the effort to explain the science accurately and clearly in terms that the lay audience can understand. So who is going to win this argument? Some people bow down before experts; most of us resent the experts who expect us to bow.”””

    Appealing to false authority…. appeal to the public. Again- there are reasons the world turns to experts for answers. Card is arguing to discredit experts on the grounds that not everyone is an expert.

    You attack the argument much more often than you refute the facts. This continually impresses upon readers that the facts are not on your side.

    1. Wambulance,

      Though it is irrelevant to the point, I have taken several college level science courses. The problem is not that I’m ignorant of the scientific claims being made but rather that I am very much aware of them.

      I point out the fallcies in your arguments because I never presume that the question is valid. I think… for myself, which is why I question and why I expect someone to answer my legitimate questions or else silence me with a refutation.

      YOU… have done absolutely nothing. You’ve answered not one single point in this article, revealing perhaps an aggregious ignorance of the particulars your own stated viewpoint at least in such measure as would allow you to defend it. This is, in smaller words, evidence of an unexamined worldview.

      Again, answer me or go away. And by the way if your next comment needs to conform to the Rules of Engagement for commenting on this site. This rude speech you are using may fly on sites like Phayngula, but if you cannot find a way to say something without being needlessly vile or offensive, say it to PZ.

      Regards,
      Sirius Knott

  8. Wambulance says:

    Just proving a point…. and have done so.

    Particularly enjoy the unexamined world view comment. ;-]

    But again- answering your questions is futile. **Your** worldview is narrowed to such a degree that you would not accept any answer other than the one you’ve made in your own mind.

    1. Wambulance,

      I cannot imagine what point you suppose you’ve proven since you never addressed a single point of my article. You suppose it is my worldview which has narrowed to such a degree that I would never accept your answers, but we must take this on faith since you never once attempted to answer me. If your point is that evolutionists are cowards akin to the schoolyard bully who claims it would be soooo easy to kick my can but he has better things to do, well, you’ve definitely proven that point well.

      Regards from a fellow West Virginian,
      Sirius Knott

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