by Stephen CaesarAppendix, Thymus Vital
One of the alleged pillars of evolutionary evidence is the presence of so-called vestigial organs-body parts that are presumed to be useless now, but which scientists theorize must have been fully functional in the distant past, when we were animals and needed them. Two such organs, the appendix and the thymus, are frequently used by evolutionists as proof that humans possess useless organs that were once used by our evolutionary ancestors.
As with other "proofs" of evolution, this one rests on pure assumption. The verifiable scientific facts refute evolutionary speculation regarding both organs in question. The first of these, the appendix, is now known to be a helpful organ, not a useless holdover. Studies of the rabbit appendix show that it contains large amounts of lymphoid tissue.
Julie Pomerantz, wildlife veterinarian and program officer for the Wildlife Trust's North American Conservation Medicine Initiative, explains the importance of this: "Similar aggregates of lymphoid tissue occur in other areas of the gastrointestinal tract and are known as gut-associated lymphoid tissues…. [T]hese tissues are involved in the body's ability to recognize foreign antigens (molecules to which the immune system can respond) in ingested material" (Pomerantz 2001: 96).
She concludes with a statement that exposes the emptiness of evolutionary speculation on this issue: "Thus, although scientists have long discounted the human appendix as a vestigial organ, a growing quantity of evidence indicates that the appendix does in fact have a significant function as a part of the body's immune system. The appendix may be particularly important early in life because it achieves its highest state of development shortly after birth and then regresses with age, eventually coming to resemble such other regions of gut-associated lymphoid tissue as the Peyer's patches in the small intestine" (Pomerantz 2001: 96).
The fact that this "vestigial" organ is most active in infancy, and then fades in importance as the child grows, is relevant to the second example, the thymus. This organ was also dismissed by evolutionists as useless, but it is highly necessary in infancy. I. L. Cohen, a member of the New York Academy of Sciences, remarks:
"[M]edical research ultimately realized that the thymus gland has a function-an extremely important one. It was not the leftover from some hazy evolutionary process that took place over ‘millions of years ago.' Newborn babies have a large thymus gland, in perfect functioning order. As the child grows, the gland degenerates, becoming almost non-existent in the fully-grown adult. But this gland plays an important role in the growth of the human body.
"The thymus produces large doses of antibodies for the protection of the newly-born baby, to protect it against the various germs present in its new surroundings. We must realize that the child who spent nine months in the mother's womb was protected by her immune system. All of a sudden the baby leaves that sterile ambiance and is thrust into a new world, teeming with germs and bacteria. It needs a constant, reliable flow of antibodies to defend itself and survive. The thymus gland constitutes that defense mechanism until the body can adjust and the other organs and glands can develop and take over the job of biochemical protection. When the other body mechanisms grow enough to shoulder the responsibility of protecting the body against germs, the thymus gland starts to shrink and phases itself out of existence. This is a long way from the reasons submitted by evolutionists! It did not prove the theory of evolution-it simply underscored our ignorance of our state of ignorance" (Cohen 1984: 195-196).
Cohen, I. L. 1984. Darwin Was Wrong: A Study in Probabilities. Greenvale, NY: New Research Publications.
Pomerantz, J. 2001. "Endpoints." Scientific American 285, no. 5.
Stephen Caesar has recently completed his master's thesis in anthropology/archaeology at Harvard. He is the author of the e-book The Bible Encounters Modern Science, available at www.1stbooks.com.