Vestigial Organs Are a Theological Concept

We all know that Vestiagial biological features — a few of which retain some minimal function — are what we would expect from evolution, but they have no place in the world of the Discovery Institute.

Hard-core biblical creationists can always blame biological imperfections on Adam & Eve, but for litigation purposes, the Discoveroids claim that they’re not creationists, so don’t have that convenient loophole. They have to argue that their intelligent designer — blessed be he! — wouldn’t leave obsolete scraps and debris lying around from his other productions, so they usually avoid the subject. But they once attempted to grapple with the problem — see Discovery Institute Justifies Vestigial Organs, where they say: “Just because we don’t know something’s function doesn’t mean there isn’t one.”

Today they’re taking another whack at it. The latest post at their creationist blog is Theology in Biology Class: Vestigial Structures as Evidence for Evolution. It was written by Sarah Chaffee, whom we call “Savvy Sarah.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

I was recently reading over the Louisiana science standards, adopted this past March. Those standards include the Louisiana Science Education Act. They contain a provision asking students to “Analyze and interpret scientific information that common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence.”

The Louisiana Science Education Act is based on the Discoveroids’ model statute, and it’s designed to permit creationism in public school science classes. The last time we wrote about that backward state’s science standards was six months ago — see Louisiana’s Science Standards — 07 March Update.

Savvy Sarah quotes a portion of the Louisiana standards she doesn’t like:

Emphasis is on a conceptual understanding of the role each line of evidence (e.g., similarities in DNA sequences, order of appearance of structure during embryological development, cladograms, homologous and vestigial structures, fossil records) demonstrates as related to common ancestry and biological evolution.

Gasp — they mention vestigial structures! Savvy Sarah says:

… I would like to highlight the issue of vestigial structures. Arguments for vestigial organs, as presented by Darwin, are metaphysical in nature.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! She quotes Discoveroid Jonathan Wells who claims that a “less than perfectly designed” argument is based on a theological assumption about the nature of God, i.e., that he would not create useless structures. “Whatever the validity of this theological claim, it certainly cannot be defended as a scientific statement, and thus should be given no place in a scientific discussion of evolution.”

Did you follow that? The clear and obvious presence of vestigial organs as an argument for evolution is a “theological assumption.” The Discoveroids would never be guilty of anything like that! Having made her point, Savvy Sarah tells us:

Logically, to prove a negative in this case — an absence, or a decrease, or loss of something like function — is fraught with difficulty. Hence the reliance on theological speculation, which is out of place in science. Yet the Louisiana science standards ask teachers to wade into this metaphysically laden topic. In fact, science standards in North Dakota and Utah also mention vestigial structures. There may be other states that do the same.

Egad — the “theological” subject of vestigiality is everywhere! The Darwinists are relying on religion! She tells us:

One of the nation’s most prominent high school biology textbooks, by Kenneth Miller and Joseph Levine, talks about vestigiality.

Foolish scientists! She concludes her post with this:

Biology class is not the place for metaphysics, or theology. This is a problem, and it needs to be fixed.

Ah yes. If the kiddies in Louisiana are protected from learning about theological nonsense like vestigial organs, they’ll have a much better understanding of biology.

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Creationist Wisdom #800: Little Dickie Bell

For the first time we can remember, we agree with today’s letter-to-the-editor. It appears in the News Leader of Staunton, Virginia. The title is Del. Dickie Bell tries to bring creationism into public school classrooms. (Del. is an abbreviation for Delegate, Virginia’s term for members of the state’s lower legislative chamber.) The newspaper has a comments feature.

When the letter-writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. Today’s writer should be proud of his letter, but we’ll adhere to our rule. His first name is Sean. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

The General Assembly’s HB 207 was a bill to bring creationism into public school science classes. Don’t take my word for it: the bill’s sponsor, Delegate Richard “Dickie” Bell, has said publicly that the “scientific controversies” mentioned in the bill include, among other things, “the theory of evolution.”

Wow — that goes back a few years. The first time we wrote about Little Dickie’s bill was back in 2014 — see Virginia Creationism: Dickie Bell’s Bill. It’s the only time in our experience that there’s ever been such a bill in Virginia.

Who is Dickie Bell? Wikipedia has a brief entry for him. Yes, he calls himself “Dickie.” Here’s his page at the Virginia Legislature’s website: Delegate Richard P. Bell. It doesn’t say much. What happened to his 2014 bill? It quickly died in committee — see Virginia Creationism: Dickie Bell’s Bill Is Dead.

Okay that’s the background. Back to Sean’s letter. He says:

Let’s be clear: The only remotely convincing arguments that evolution is not the way the current diversity of life on Earth arose are grounded not in scientific empiricism but in religious faith. This bill, therefore, by its sponsor’s admission, is intended to let religious ideas into public school science classes.

After that he tells us:

Now, you may be entirely OK with the idea of students being taught Christian creation in science classes. Even if you are, though, this bill should still terrify you. Why? Because there is no constitutional way to let religious doctrine we like into government programs while keeping religious doctrine we don’t out.

Right! Sean continues:

To create a loophole that lets representatives of one religion into our science classes is to let representatives of every other religion under the sun in as well – a tradeoff that I’d wager the vast majority of Virginians would find unacceptable. That’s why it’s so vital that we have a delegate in Richmond who crafts education policies acceptable to constituents not just next school year but for decades to come.

And now we come to the end:

Del. Bell has made it abundantly clear that he is not that delegate.

Indeed. We’re grateful to Sean for alerting us to Little Dickie’s re-election effort. Here’s his election campaign website: Meet Richard “Dickie” Bell. It says he’s a “Retired High School Special Education teacher and Coach.” The general election will take place on 07 November 2017.

The people of Virginia don’t need an idiot like Little Dickie in the legislature. We’ll be watching to see how things go.

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ICR: Coral Evolution Is Proof of the Bible

The subject of RNA editing is one we haven’t discussed before. Wikipedia says: “RNA editing is a molecular process through which some cells can make discrete changes to specific nucleotide sequences within a RNA molecule after it has been generated by RNA polymerase. RNA editing is relatively rare … . Editing events may include the insertion, deletion, and base substitution of nucleotides within the edited RNA molecule.”

The subject has come to the attention of Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom — and it has boggled them completely. They just posted RNA Editing in Corals Stupefies Evolution.

Wowie — evolution is stupefied! It was written by Jeffrey P. Tomkins, described at the end as: “Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research.” They say he “earned his Ph.D. in Genetics from Clemson University.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Coral reefs are a key component of ocean ecology, providing homes and habitats for a wide diversity of life. While a head of coral may look like a single organism, it’s actually a conglomeration of numerous genetically-identical creatures called polyps. These multicellular organisms are thought to represent a primitive form of multicellular animal life. In fact, secular scientists allege that the first corals evolved at the earliest stages of life on Earth over 400 million years ago. But are corals actually primitive, or are they just another example of highly complex designed engineering?

Are they primitive or “highly complex designed engineering”? That’s the question for today. Jeffrey says:

A new study in corals is befuddling the evolutionary story that life became progressively more complex over eons of time. This research involves a highly elaborate system of cellular recoding that enables organisms to change genetic information in response to environmental cues or during different stages of development. The phenomenon called RNA editing is so complicated that it’s only beginning to be understood.

Jeffrey has a footnote linking to this paper, published in Molecular Biology and Evolution from the Oxford University Press: A-to-I RNA Editing in the Earliest-Diverging Eumetazoan Phyla. You can read it without a subscription.

Okay, back to Jeffrey’s article. He tells us:

The best-documented cases of RNA editing in animals have been in mammals, flies, octopuses, and squids. In mammals and flies, it’s thought to occur at fairly low levels, but plays a huge role in the nervous systems of squids and octopuses. And as RNA editing is being studied more in humans, our knowledge of its importance in the nervous system is increasing.

Fine, but where’s the creationism? Jeffrey continues:

In this most recent study, scientists analyzed RNA editing in the coral Acropora millepora, which was supposedly one of the most basal or primitive animals. The researchers focused on reproductive cells where RNA editing was believed to play an important role. Surprisingly, it was discovered that the RNA editing patterns in the corals resembled those found in mammals.

Then Jeffrey presents his bombshell question:

So how was a dynamic phenomenon like RNA editing as complex as that found in mammals also present at the supposed beginning of animal evolution in corals? This represents a repeating theme in scientific discovery: nearly infinite levels of complexity in cellular systems at all levels of life. Nothing appears to be primitive!

Egad! What does it mean? If nothing is truly primitive, could it be that life on Earth wasn’t created a mere 6,000 years ago? Let’s read on:

This pervasive paradigm completely befuddles the evolutionary idea that life started out simple and then became increasingly complex over time.

Huh? How does RNA editing “befuddle” the concept of evolution? The answer — make of it what you will — comes immediately after the question, and it’s the end of Jeffrey’s brief article:

Science and its amazing discoveries can only be rightly interpreted within the model that an all-wise and all-powerful Creator engineered it all from the beginning.

Whoa! What just happened? Coral have been evolving, in part via the mechanism of RNA editing. And that is supposed to be evidence for creationism? We don’t understand this at all. If you do, dear reader, please explain it to us.

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Ken Ham: The Cause and Cure of Racism

You don’t want to miss the latest from Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. His new post is titled What “Black and White” Twins Teach Us About Supposed “Race”. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Several years ago I wrote an article for our Answers magazine titled “It’s Not Just Black & White.” This article looked at several examples of what are referred to as “black and white” twins — fraternal twins where one is dark skinned with black hair and the other is light skinned with fair hair.

[…]

The Biggs twins, Millie and Marcia, are in the news again because they are entering middle school in Birmingham, England. Their mother, who is light skinned (their father is dark skinned), had to explain to school staff that the girls are indeed twins. Reportedly, “some of their teachers were shocked, and strangers are often baffled when they find out the girls are related, much less twins.”

Okay, but what does that have to do with evolution and creationism? Hambo says:

Why are people so shocked by these twins? Because they’ve been indoctrinated with the idea of supposed “races,” an idea fueled today by evolutionary thinking.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Right. Before Darwin and his abominable theory, no one ever even thought about race. All humans, everywhere, lived in perfect harmony. Then he says:

Because all humans are descended from Adam and Eve, we’re all one race, or “one blood” as the Apostle Paul puts it in [scripture reference]. This is confirmed by observational science — humans are one species, Homo sapiens sapiens, and the supposed “racial” differences only account for .012% of the differences between humans.

Back in the days when everyone believed in the bible, no one even noticed racial differences. Hambo tells us:

The reason for the slight differences, such as skin tone and eye shape, between people groups is primarily because of the event at the Tower of Babel [scripture reference]. This division of languages broke up the human gene pool and isolated groups from one another. Certain genetic variations became prominent in different groups. … There’s just one race — the human race. We look different because of what happened at the Tower of Babel.

It would probably shock ol’ Hambo to learn that (except for the Tower of Babel stuff), that was also Darwin’s view. In Racism, Eugenics, and Darwin, we quoted his book The Descent of Man, Chapter 21 – General Summary and Conclusion, where he says:

Through the means just specified, aided perhaps by others as yet undiscovered, man has been raised to his present state. But since he attained to the rank of manhood, he has diverged into distinct races, or as they may be more fitly called, sub-species. Some of these, such as the Negro and European, are so distinct that, if specimens had been brought to a naturalist without any further information, they would undoubtedly have been considered by him as good and true species. Nevertheless all the races agree in so many unimportant details of structure and in so many mental peculiarities that these can be accounted for only by inheritance from a common progenitor; and a progenitor thus characterised would probably deserve to rank as man.

Hambo continues:

There’s only one solution to racism — a change of heart so people will build their thinking on God’s Word and believe the true history of the world. Racism, as well as other social issues such as gay “marriage,” transgenderism, and abortion, are all moral issues that are symptoms of a foundational issue — rejection of God’s Word. America’s racism issues will not be solved until hearts and minds are committed to the true history in God’s Word and the salvation message.

There can be no doubt, dear reader. Hambo has the answers. You must turn away from Darwin and all the evil that he has brought into the world.

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