Does the Evidence REALLY Support Human Evolution? (Part II)
[EDITORS’ NOTE: Part I of this two-part series appeared in the August issue. Part II follows below and continues, without introductory comments, where the first article ended.]
What About Other Alleged Evidences of Human Evolution?
Even if the fossil record doesn’t support human evolution, what about the other evidences discussed in textbooks?
Vestigial Organs—Erroneous Evidence
“Vestigial” organs are parts of the human body that, in many cases, were once thought by many evolutionists to be virtually useless leftovers from previous species in the human evolutionary ancestry that have yet to be eliminated from the body. In 1895, German anatomist Robert Wiedersheim made a list of 86 organs that he considered “wholly” or at least “in part functionless,” which have subsequently been shown to be useful as more study has been conducted on those organs over the decades.1 Evolutionary theory long argued that such vestigial organs exist and are proof of evolution (i.e., such organs would be expected to exist, if evolution were true), and yet, after well over a century of further investigation since Weidersheim, not one organ on the human body can be argued not to have a legitimate function.
Vestigial organs are still listed among the alleged evidences for human evolution in most textbooks, even though the examples given have, long ago, been shown to be useful components of the human body. For example:
- Wisdom teeth—useful in cultures with a less processed diet2
- Tonsils—useful for fighting off germs3
- Coccyx—serves as a shock absorber and connection point for pelvic muscles4
- Appendix—important aspect of immune system, especially when young5; also serves “as a reservoir for beneficial gut bacteria”6
- Parathyroid—regulates calcium intake7
- Hair—useful for protection (from, for example, solar radiation, temperature extremes, and potentially harmful insects)8
- Male nipple—a product of embryological development (not evolutionary development) that is equipped with sensitive nervous tissue, it is a useful component of the human reproductive system during intercourse9
“Junk” DNA: Vestigial Genes—Erroneous Evidence
As the 20th-century vestigial organ evidence for human evolution has fallen on hard times, many evolutionists have replaced it with a 21st-century version. Evolutionists argue:
[W]hen a trait is no longer used, or becomes reduced, the genes that make it don’t instantly disappear from the genome: Evolution stops their action by inactivating them, not snipping them out of the DNA. From this we can make a prediction. We expect to find, in the genomes of many species, silenced, or “dead,” genes: genes that once were useful but are no longer intact or expressed. In other words, there should be vestigial genes.10
As with the vestigial organ argument, the vestigial gene argument is now falling on hard times as well. Jonathan Wells is a molecular and cell biologist of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle. In his book, The Myth of Junk DNA, he cites several prominent evolutionists who use the “Junk DNA” argument. He responded:
The arguments by Dawkins, Miller, Shermer, Collins, Kitcher, Coyne and Avise rest on the premise that most non-protein-coding DNA is junk, without any significant biological function. Yet a virtual flood of recent evidence shows that they are mistaken: Much of the DNA they claim to be “junk” actually performs important functions in living cells. The following chapters cite hundreds of scientific articles…that testify to those functions—and those articles are only a small sample of a large and growing body of literature on the subject.11
The evidence for the usefulness of supposed “junk” DNA has continued to pour in over the past decade.12 Don’t miss the significance of this point: evolutionists predicted that there should be vestigial genes if evolution is true. While verified predictions do not necessarily prove a theory, if the predictions are found to be false upon examination of the evidence, the theory is falsified (at least, that version of the theory). The evidence for vestigial genes is evaporating, falsifying evolutionary theory yet again.
Human/Chimp Chromosome Fusion—Erroneous Evidence
Humans have 46 chromosomes while apes have 48. However, when we look closely at human chromosomes, chromosome 2 appears to be a hybrid of two different ape chromosomes, suggesting to some the possibility that humans evolved from a common 48-chromosome ancestor with apes. Chromosome 2 is claimed to be due to an “end-to-end” fusion of two small, ape-like chromosomes, forming one human chromosome, allegedly explaining why we have 46 (23 pairs) and apes have 48 (24 pairs). However, geneticists have now discovered that the alleged fusion site is in the incorrect location for it to have occurred and that the DNA sequences between chimps and humans does not match at the fusion site.13 Human-chimp chromosome fusion did not occur.
Human-Chimp DNA Similarities—Inadequate Evidence
Evolutionists have long argued that humans and chimpanzees have DNA sequences that are 98-99% identical, supposedly suggesting our close evolutionary relationship. However, Jonathan Marks, evolutionary anthropologist, geneticist, and professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, warns evolutionists about the dangers of misinterpreting the genetic evidence and reading too much into the DNA similarities between chimps and humans. In his book, What it Means to Be 98% Chimpanzee, he discusses the misleading tendency to compare long chains of genetic subunits in DNA. He explains that “such comparisons of DNA sequence ignore qualitative differences, those of kind rather than amount.”14 In other words, the reported chimp-human DNA comparisons are like comparing two side-by-side lines of people, only counting the order in which men and women appear in the lines, with no consideration for any distinguishing characteristics of those men and women (e.g., whether they are dark skinned, light skinned, tall, short, red-haired, blue-eyed, underweight, overweight, etc.).
He also explains,
Because DNA is a linear array of those four bases—A,G,C, and T—only four possibilities exist at any specific point in a DNA sequence. The laws of chance tell us that two random sequences from species that have no ancestry in common will match at about one in every four sites. Thus even two unrelated DNA sequences will be 25 percent identical, not 0 percent identical.15
In other words, the DNA of a human and any other creature that has DNA (e.g., a daffodil) will be at least 25% identical, even though they share no common ancestry.
Further, geneticists have highlighted the fact that previous human-chimp DNA comparisons have not accounted for unalignable regions of the compared genomes and also fail to account for human DNA contamination that is common in sequencing. Accounting for these issues, the human-chimp DNA similarity is roughly 84%, not 98-99%.16 Clearly, human-chimp DNA comparisons often are misleading.
That said, certain genetic similarities between humans and chimps should be completely expected given similarities between our body structures, physiologies, biochemistries, intended diets, and habitats. Humans and chimps are both mammals and have similar types of internal organs. We both eat fruits and vegetables, which means our mouths and digestive systems have some similar characteristics. We both have eyes, ears, noses, mouths, and fingers, and get sensory information from these body structures. Thus, there is little doubt that there will be many similarities between human and chimp DNA. However, such similarities are better explained as indicative of a common Designer, not common ancestor. Further, such DNA similarities do not consider the most important distinction between humans and chimps: the fact that humans, unlike chimps, have an immortal soul.17
Mitochondrial DNA and “Eve”—Erroneous Evidence
DNA in humans is stored in the nucleus and mitochondria of a cell. The DNA in a nucleus comes from both the father and the mother, but the DNA in mitochondria is usually passed down only from the mother.18 As the DNA is copied and passed on, genetic mutations happen.
The first female (Eve) would have had an original DNA sequence. Over time, however, the DNA that was copied and passed on would have gathered more and more mutations. By comparing the variations of mitochondrial DNA that we see in many different nationalities of people, scientists used an estimated mutation rate to make a “molecular clock” to try to trace our genetic lines back in history to a single common ancestor of all of the human nationalities—an ancestor that didn’t have any of those variations from mutations.
Beginning in the 1980s, evolutionary scientists argued that they had proven that all humans could trace their genetic ancestry back to a single woman in Africa that lived 180,000-200,000 years ago—a far cry from the Bible’s timeline, but matching the evolutionary timeframe regarding when homo sapiens evolved onto the scene.19 However, in order to estimate when “Eve” lived, evolutionists estimated a mutation rate—not using actual data—but using the assumed evolutionary timescale. Obviously, using the evolutionary time frame to prove the evolutionary time frame is circular reasoning.
If we instead use the actual, observed rate that human mitochondria mutate20 and the actual, average number of mitochondrial mutations there are in humans, we can calculate a more likely estimate for when Eve lived. We find that it was less than 10,000 years ago, just like the Bible implies.21
The Problem Is Worse Than That
The idea of a human somehow emerging from a non-human is a tall order, in and of itself. After all, according to the Law of Biogenesis, in nature, life comes only from life of its kind. Non-humans don’t give rise to humans—a problem for evolution. But, once again, the problem for evolution is actually much larger than the evolution of a single human.
It’s not merely a single human that had to come into existence from a non-human giving birth to or transforming into a human. Neither is it the case that merely two human beings had to evolve onto the scene. Rather, at least one male and one distinctly different human being—the female, equipped with a significantly different anatomy—had to evolve simultaneously on the Earth in order for the human species to propagate itself. In other words, one male human could not have randomly come into existence one day, and a female two hundred years later. No, there had to be representatives of both genders on the Earth simultaneously, doubling the impossibility of the event. Notable is the fact that evolutionists argue for the necessity of an even larger initial pool of humans—compounding the problem even more.
Further, those male and female human bodies had to also contain the fully functional reproductive components that would be necessary to replicate humanity. And even further, those male and female human beings had to find each other on planet Earth—a sphere with a surface area of 196,900,000 square miles. They had to find each other in what is thought to have been a very hostile and primitive earthly environment as well—without first starving or being eaten by the ferocious animals that evolutionary images of early man portray.
They had to find each other while they were in the childbearing years, as well—not too old or young to reproduce before the other individual died. Assuming the two were able to find each other at the right time (and were willing and able to reproduce with each other), mother and child then had to survive the ordeal of childbirth in those allegedly primitive circumstances—a time and situation when, most certainly, miscarriage would be highly likely.
Running into any one of these significant barriers to success would have killed off humans before we got started. If the accidental emergence of a single human being from a non-human being seems untenable to you, surely the other requirements necessary to make the species continue reveals the evolutionary proposition to be beyond implausible. Simply put, human evolution would require a miracle.
1 Cf. Jeff Miller (2022), “More Evidence that the ‘Junk’ DNA Argument is Junk,” Reason & Revelation, 42:14-15, February, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/2202-web.pdf. As discussed therein, note that even if there were examples of organs which do not have a function today, it is possible that the pre-Flood world was so different from the post-Flood world that some features of the human body or genome do not function in the way they were originally designed to function due to an environment change. In other words, some aspects of the human body may be corrupted remnants of original humans, not evolutionary ancestors. Also, some alleged vestigial organs are thought to have a diminished or changed, rather than non-existent, function. If they have a function at all, however, regardless of how important those functions may seem to scientists today, they are not evidence of poor design or pointless, evolutionary leftovers. The existence of organs that are apparently not as important/essential in function today compared to other organs does not prove that those organs were once more functional than they are now. They may have always had the same functionality they do today. For example, while a “pinkie” finger may not be as “useful” or essential as a heart (or index finger), that does not mean that the pinkie is unimportant or proof of diminished function. Does the fact that carpet in the floorboard of a car is not as useful/important as a car motor mean that floorboard carpet has a diminished function compared to an alleged evolutionary ancestor of that car model? Or, rather, is floorboard carpet evidence that engineers include non-essential components in their designs that are still useful for other purposes (e.g., aesthetics, comfort, convenience, etc.)?
2 V. Lombardi (1992), “The Adaptive Valve of Dental Crowding: A Consideration of the Biological Basis of Malocclusion,” American Journal of Orthodontics, :38-42; Cf. Jerry Bergman (2000), “Do Any Vestigial Organs Exist in Humans?” Answers in Genesis, https://answersingenesis.org/human-body/vestigial-organs/do-any-vestigial-organs-exist-in-humans/; David Menton (2014), “Vestigial Organs—Evidence for Evolution?” Answers in Genesis, https://answersingenesis.org/human-body/vestigial-organs/vestigial-organs-evidence-for-evolution/; “Wisdom Teeth” (2019), Healthline.com, Accessed 4/6/23, https://www.healthline.com/health/why-do-we-have-wisdom-teeth.
3 Bergman; “Tonsils” (2022), Cleveland Clinic, Accessed 4/6/23, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/23459-tonsils.
4 Eric Lyons (2008), “Leftovers…Again!” Apologetics Press, https://apologeticspress.org/leftovers-again-2500/; Menton; “Coccyx” (2018), Healthline.com, Accessed 4/6/23, https://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/coccyx#1.
5 Warwick Glover (1988), “The Human Vermiform Appendix: A General Surgeon’s Reflections,” Journal of Creation, 3:34-35; “Appendicitis” (n.d.), Johns Hopkins Medicine on-line, Accessed 4/6/23, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/appendicitis.
6 Midwestern University (2017), “Appendix May Have Important Function, New Research Suggests,” ScienceDaily, January 9, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170109162333.htm.
7 “The Parathyroid Glands” (n.d.), Johns Hopkins Medicine on-line, Accessed 4/6/23, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/the-parathyroid-glands.
9 Ibid; Jerry Bergman (2001), “Is the Human Male Nipple Vestigial?” Journal of Creation, 15:38-41, August, http://creation.com/is-the-human-male-nipple-vestigial#txtRef4.
10 Jerry A. Coyne (2009), Why Evolution is True (New York: Viking), pp. 66-67.
11 Jonathan Wells (2011), The Myth of Junk DNA (Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute in Seattle), Kindle file, Chapter 2.
12 Cf. Miller, 2022.
13 Jeffrey P. Tomkins (2020), “Human Chromosome 2 Fusion Never Happened,” Acts & Facts, 49, https://www.icr.org/article/human-chromosome-2-fusion-never-happened.
14 Jonathan Marks (2002), What it Means to Be 98% Chimpanzee (Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press), pp. 25-27.
15 Jonathan Marks (2000), “98% Alike? (What Similarity to Apes Tells Us About Our Understanding of Genetics),” The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 12, p. B-7, emp. added.
16 Jeffrey P. Tomkins (2018), “Comparison of 18,000 De Novo Assembled Chimpanzee Contigs to the Human Genome Yields Average BLASTN Alignment Identities of 84%,” Answers Research Journal, 11:205-209, https://answersresearchjournal.org/comparison-chimp-contigs-human-genome/.
17 A truth to which both science and Scripture testify. Cf. Eric Lyons and AP Staff (2002), “In the ‘Image and Likeness of God,’” Reason & Revelation, 22:17-23, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/0203.pdf; Bert Thompson and Brad Harrub (2004), “The Origin of Consciousness [Part 1],” Reason & Revelation, 24:25-39.
18 Although there are rare occasions where a father contributes Mitochondrial DNA as well [cf. Anna Asvolinski (2018), “Fathers Can Pass Mitochondrial DNA to Children,” The Scientist, https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/fathers-can-pass-mitochondrial-dna-to-children-65165; Brad Harrub and Bert Thompson (2003), The Truth About Human Origins (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), pp. 116-120], adding further uncertainty to evolutionary claims about mitochondrial DNA.
19 Note that evolutionists argue the genus Homo evolved onto the scene two-to-three million years ago (i.e., Homo habilis). Homo sapiens, however, did not arrive until 180,000-200,000 years ago, according to the evolutionary timeline.
20 And assume the rate has been constant. It may have been faster immediately after the Flood, however, which would decrease the timespan between when Eve lived and today, causing it to fit with Scripture even better.
21 Nathaniel T. Jeanson and Jeffrey P. Tomkins (2018), “Genetics Confirms the Recent, Supernatural Creation of Adam and Eve,” Answers in Genesis, https://answersingenesis.org/adam-and-eve/genetics-confirms-recent-supernatural-creation-adam-and-eve/.
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