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Author Topic:   Vestigial Organs?
CosmicAtheist
Member (Idle past 4131 days)
Posts: 31
From: Washington, USA
Joined: 04-07-2010


Message 1 of 109 (554405)
04-08-2010 2:14 AM


Hello, I am new to the forums. I hope with my time here I can learn more about evolution and life on Earth in general. My first question is regarding vestigial organs. Some creationist argue we have no true vestigial organs because we have a use for things like our tailbone and without it, it would be difficult to digest, walk, etc... Thoughts? Could it be that we still have a use for them but not the same use as our ancestors once did? What would be a proper response?

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Message 2 of 109 (554436)
04-08-2010 9:31 AM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the Vestigial Organs? thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.

  
Huntard
Member (Idle past 1535 days)
Posts: 2870
From: Limburg, The Netherlands
Joined: 09-02-2008


Message 3 of 109 (554439)
04-08-2010 9:58 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by CosmicAtheist
04-08-2010 2:14 AM


Hello CosmicAtheist and welcome to EvC!

CosmicAtheist writes:

I hope with my time here I can learn more about evolution and life on Earth in general.


I think you will, I at least have.

My first question is regarding vestigial organs. Some creationist argue we have no true vestigial organs because we have a use for things like our tailbone and without it, it would be difficult to digest, walk, etc... Thoughts?

First thought? It's a load of bullcrap, but that's usually the case with creationists. I'd like to see where they got this claim from (Always ask for sources with creationists).

Could it be that we still have a use for them but not the same use as our ancestors once did?

Yes, in biology this would still be called a vestigal organ.

What would be a proper response?

Laughing in their facec!

In all seriousness though, you're best bet is to find out if their claims are true (that's our hard part, we have to research stuff, because we care for the truth, they get to make up whatever they wish.), and then let them know with references to studies and stuff. This probably won't sway them one bit, but you might convince some bystanders that they're full of crap.


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Coragyps
Member
Posts: 5553
From: Snyder, Texas, USA
Joined: 11-12-2002


(1)
Message 4 of 109 (554440)
04-08-2010 10:04 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by CosmicAtheist
04-08-2010 2:14 AM


Hi, CosmicAtheist! Welcome to the zoo!

It's a multi-part answer, and I've only got a few minutes right now. 1) you are precisely right about "we still have a use for them but not the same use as our ancestors." Humans don't use the appendix for a digestion chamber, but we seem to use it a little as a reservoir of bacteria to repopulate the gut after a diarrhea attack. 2) Humans have a vomeronasal organ in their noses. We don't use them, though: there are no nerves attached to them, and the "accessory olfactory bulb" of the human brain forms and then is resorbed during fetal development. Monkeys keep theirs and use them to sniff out mates. Gorillas and chimps, though, do like we do.

Maybe I can elaborate on this this weekend......


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dwise1
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Message 5 of 109 (554446)
04-08-2010 10:38 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by CosmicAtheist
04-08-2010 2:14 AM


Basically, it's the wide-used creationist tactic of semantic shifting, which is changing the meaning of terminology. Its more common use is to quote a scientific source using scientific terminology and then reinterpreting it to their audiences by using the non-scientific street meanings. IOW, they lie about what their sources are saying.

In this case, they present "vestigial" as meaning "having no function" whereas the more proper meaning is that it no longer has its original purpose.

Now, why do creationists use semantic shifting? Obviously, because the evidence does not support their position, they need to make it look like it does. Are they doing it on purpose? Again obviously, most creationists have no idea what they're talking about, so they're regurgitating such nonsense while not having a clue. Even some, if not most, of the originators of such claims are also acting out of ignorance, there are some originators who are lying on purpose.

How you to respond? Once you've learned enough to be able to carry on a discussion, then take their claims seriously and try to discuss them with the creationists presenting them. Especially try to get them to discuss the actual evidence. For example, Kent Hovind made a claim based on the rate at which the sun is losing mass while it "burns its fuel" (actually, though he would skirt that issue, the mass loss is due to the thermonuclear reaction in its core that converts hydrogen to helium and energy -- about 5 million tons lost per second) and extrapolating back 5 billion years to a sun so huge and massive that it would have sucked the earth in. So I did the math and found that the sun would have only been marginally more massive back then and would have only "sucked" the earth in by less than 100,000 miles. When I tried to discuss this claim with Hovind, he did everything he could to avoid it, even to the point of twice trying to pick a fight with me over my user name, DWise1.

Nothing makes a creationist more angry than taking their claims seriously and trying to conduct a serious discussion of those claims. While in cases such as Hovind's they know that their claim is a lie and they're trying to keep from having that lie exposed, in most cases I'm certain that most creationists are simply too ignorant of their own claims to be able to discuss them.


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Faith 
Suspended Member (Idle past 684 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001


(1)
Message 6 of 109 (554461)
04-08-2010 12:06 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by CosmicAtheist
04-08-2010 2:14 AM


I'm a creationist and I disagree with the creationists who think vestigial organs have a purpose. I think they once had a purpose but lost it. I wish we creationists could all get on the same page but right now it isn't happening.

Some creationists focus exclusively on the Creation or design and ignore the Fall, which leads them to postulate functions for disease processes although the Fall is quite sufficient for an explanation of them. My impression is that these tend to be creationists who find ways to fit evolution into the book of Genesis. In the full Biblical context, the Fall best explains all disease processes, which would include organs that have lost their original function.

Some claim that some function remains, or some other function has been adopted by the organ, and not just some creationists but also some evolutionists are convinced of something along these lines, as Coragyps' post shows.

The same situation applies to junk DNA, or "pseudogenes" or "dead genes" (or was it "dead DNA") as Jerry Coyne calls them in his recent book. Some claim they have some sort of function but not the function of normal genes, while others treat them entirely as the corpses of previously functioning genes.

In the theory of evolution dead DNA is interpreted as representing formerly useful functions no longer needed by the newer adaptations.

Here too some creationists look for function because of their exclusive focus on a perfect creation of viable designs; but to a YEC creationist who takes the Fall into account the most reasonable hypothesis is that they are a record at the genetic level of all the death and disease brought about because of the Fall.

Apparently there's some evidence on both sides -- no function, some function -- of the claims for both vestigial organs and junk DNA.

There's really nothing here for me to debate, I just wanted to make the distinctions between creationist views of this.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

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rockondon
Member (Idle past 4165 days)
Posts: 40
Joined: 03-29-2010


(1)
Message 7 of 109 (554467)
04-08-2010 12:52 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by CosmicAtheist
04-08-2010 2:14 AM


My first question is regarding vestigial organs. Some creationist argue we have no true vestigial organs because we have a use for things like our tailbone and without it, it would be difficult to digest, walk, etc... Thoughts?

The term 'vestigial' does not mean 'useless' but many creationists pretend it does because thats what liars do. As dwise pointed out, being vestigial means that it has lost its original function through evolution, it doesn't mean 'useless.'

Using your tailbone example, although it serves a minimal purpose now its original function was as part of a tail. We still carry the genes to grow tails incidentally, and humans are born with tails from time to time.

Dwise mentioned the appendix. I've often seen creationists try to portray the appendix as useful since they believe God gave it to them. What's odd is that when people have their appendix removed, they virtually never suffer ill effects from it. When people keep their appendix, they often die when it bursts. If I was to adopt the creationist perspective, I would have to believe that God gave us the appendix because He likes to kill people. Incidentally, the appendix-equivalent in other animals enables them to digest cellulose - that is likely its original purpose that is lost through evolutionary change.

Incidentally, vestigial organs often ARE useless. For example, some species of cave fish and salamanders have sightless eyes and the blind mole rat has a layer of skin covering their eyes rendering them useless.


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CosmicAtheist
Member (Idle past 4131 days)
Posts: 31
From: Washington, USA
Joined: 04-07-2010


Message 8 of 109 (554476)
04-08-2010 1:11 PM


Thank you all for the replies so far. I pretty much figured vestigial didn't necessarily mean useless. And rockondon that is a good point, although the appendix does serve its purpose, it is a potential killer in humans today. I do not think any "intelligence" was put into that design but rather the faults of naturalistic origin. It's like building an airplane with potentially faulty parts in hope it does what it's supposed to do. What a gamble.

Edited by CosmicAtheist, : No reason given.


  
Taq
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Posts: 8519
Joined: 03-06-2009


(1)
Message 9 of 109 (554477)
04-08-2010 1:13 PM


From the very start vestigial has meant having a secondary or rudimentary function compared with the same feature in another species. The human vermiform appendix is a vestigial organ because it is no longer used as a part of a caecum used for digesting plant material. The human tail bone and associated musculature is vestigial because it is no longer used to anchor and move a tail.

As an analogy, let's say you have a computer keyboard that is broken. The keyboard is no longer capable of putting letters on the computer screen. Along comes another person who claims it isn't broken at all, it functions perfectly fine. They then take the keyboard and start pounding in nails with it. See, it has a function, it isn't broken. This is the creationist argument, that any function, no matter how rudimentary, negates the vestigial nature of an organ. Evolutionists point out that it is quite obvious that the keyboard was not designed to pound in nails, but this is flatly ignored by creationists.


  
Flatland
Junior Member (Idle past 3685 days)
Posts: 10
Joined: 01-30-2010


Message 10 of 109 (554495)
04-08-2010 2:40 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Faith
04-08-2010 12:06 PM


quote:
I'm a creationist and I disagree with the creationists who think vestigial organs have a purpose. I think they once had a purpose but lost it. I wish we creationists could all get on the same page but right now it isn't happening.

Some creationists focus exclusively on the Creation or design and ignore the Fall, which leads them to postulate functions for disease processes although the Fall is quite sufficient for an explanation of them. My impression is that these tend to be creationists who find ways to fit evolution into the book of Genesis. In the full Biblical context, the Fall best explains all disease processes, which would include organs that have lost their original function.

Some claim that some function remains, or some other function has been adopted by the organ, and not just some creationists but also some evolutionists are convinced of something along these lines, as Coragyps' post shows.

The same situation applies to junk DNA, or "pseudogenes" or "dead genes" (or was it "dead DNA") as Jerry Coyne calls them in his recent book. Some claim they have some sort of function but not the function of normal genes, while others treat them entirely as the corpses of previously functioning genes.

In the theory of evolution dead DNA is interpreted as representing formerly useful functions no longer needed by the newer adaptations.

Here too some creationists look for function because of their exclusive focus on a perfect creation of viable designs; but to a YEC creationist who takes the Fall into account the most reasonable hypothesis is that they are a record at the genetic level of all the death and disease brought about because of the Fall.

Apparently there's some evidence on both sides -- no function, some function -- of the claims for both vestigial organs and junk DNA.

There's really nothing here for me to debate, I just wanted to make the distinctions between creationist views of this.


Now can "the fall" explain the increase of human knowledge, the advancement of science and technology, the Renaissance, and the modern world? Why are we living so much better than our ancestors? According to the fall we should be getting worse. More epic fail from our resident creationist.


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Faith 
Suspended Member (Idle past 684 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001


Message 11 of 109 (554497)
04-08-2010 3:19 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Flatland
04-08-2010 2:40 PM


Now can "the fall" explain the increase of human knowledge, the advancement of science and technology, the Renaissance, and the modern world? Why are we living so much better than our ancestors? According to the fall we should be getting worse. More epic fail from our resident creationist.

Huh?

I said it explains DISEASE and DEATH, nothing else. The thread is about vestigial organs, not all of human history. Some creationists insist vestigial organs have a function, I see them as having lost former function, which is consistent with the Fall.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.


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Kitsune
Member (Idle past 3540 days)
Posts: 788
From: Leicester, UK
Joined: 09-16-2007


Message 12 of 109 (554500)
04-08-2010 3:41 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by rockondon
04-08-2010 12:52 PM


When people keep their appendix, they often die when it bursts. If I was to adopt the creationist perspective, I would have to believe that God gave us the appendix because He likes to kill people.

A creationist might, in turn, argue that it makes no sense for humans to "keep" the appendix when it so easily gets inflamed and bursts -- surely natural selection should have ensured that it disappeared entirely? (It's rare in my experience for a creationist to know enough about evolution to construct such an argument but it's a hypothetical possibility.) Interestingly, appendicitis is largely a disease of westernised countries. It occurs when waste matter gets lodged internally in the area. People who use the squatting position for elimination seem not to get this problem. Just one of those strange little facts in life, though it could make a big difference to some. Source

My favourite vestigial organs to debate with creationists about are ones that no longer serve a purpose, such as legs on whales and snakes. Watch them try to come up with reasons why those legs exist, it can truly be comical.

Edited by Kitsune, : No reason given.


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Phage0070
Inactive Member


Message 13 of 109 (554504)
04-08-2010 4:18 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Faith
04-08-2010 3:19 PM


Faith writes:

Some creationists insist vestigial organs have a function, I see them as having lost former function, which is consistent with the Fall.

Interesting; so in the case of seeing a non-functional structure that if functional would be more helpful the assumption is that it must have been degrading rather than developing. Is there any explanation for this conclusion other than preconceived dogmatic bias?

From an evolutionary standpoint it makes sense that a singularly unhelpful organ like the appendix came about from our ancestors to which it did have a useful function, and that it hasn't been enough of a detriment to have been eliminated yet. On the other hand the creationist "Fall" explanation has these structures degrading essentially by magic, with no additional explanation required.

How would we distinguish the "Fall" explanation from one where the act of disobeying God and eating the fruit invigorated the world with new ability? Lets call it the "Ascension" explanation; the appendix could then be explained as an organ on the way to increasing our ability to digest, or penguins are developing wings so they can gain the ability to fly!

If no naturalistic explanation is required for these things to happen, then it seems my "Ascension" explanation is just as reasonable as your "Fall" explanation.


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Taq
Member
Posts: 8519
Joined: 03-06-2009


(1)
Message 14 of 109 (554505)
04-08-2010 4:26 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by Faith
04-08-2010 3:19 PM


Some creationists insist vestigial organs have a function, I see them as having lost former function, which is consistent with the Fall.

So the human coccyx is evidence that humans used to have tails? We even have the extensor coccygis muscle which spans the fused joints in the coccyx. This muscle is used to raise the tail in other species. What function did this muscle have in humans?


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CosmicAtheist
Member (Idle past 4131 days)
Posts: 31
From: Washington, USA
Joined: 04-07-2010


Message 15 of 109 (554510)
04-08-2010 5:20 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by Taq
04-08-2010 4:26 PM


This actually got me curious. Where can I read more on humans and tails? Such as studies involving cases where humans were born with true tails?

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