Ordinarily, I would never consider a sit com to be representative of any group but I'm going to use a scene from The Big Bang Theory as the backdrop for a discussion about the appendix. I'm doing this for a couple of reasons. First, I don't think anyone would argue that a vast majority of evolutionists consider the appendix to be vestigial so it's not like the show misrepresents this attitude. Second, it's just a funny scene and I'm going to exploit it for the sake of making my blog more interesting.
Isn't that hilarious? Anyway, back to business. As I've already said, the appendix is touted by evolutionists as the champion of vestigial organs. The theory of evolution virtually demands that there be vestigial organs and so, when the label of “vestigial” can be attach to some structure, they are quick to trumpet it as evidence for their theory. I cannot recall ever having a discussion of vestigial organs without the appendix being used by evolutionists as an example.
By way of definition, a structure is considered vestigial if it has lost all or most of its original function. Even if the structure has function, it can still be considered vestigial if it doesn't perform its original function. The wings of a bat, for example, could be considered vestigial forelimbs because they are no longer used for walking but are now used for flying. Every definition I've heard of vestigial suffers from a range of weaknesses which I've talked about on my blog before. I'm not going to quibble over the definition of vestigial now. Instead, I'm going to question the idea that the appendix is evidence for evolution at all.
According to evolution, the appendix evolved in some ancestor of humans and once served an important function (or at least it evolved to serve some function). Since we are descended from this supposed ancestor, we have inherited that structure but, over the many generations of mutation and selection leading from the non-human ancestor to us, the appendix has lost its original function. For this reason, it's sometimes called an “evolutionary leftover.”
Humans are not the only creatures with an appendix. Dozens of mammals have appendixes – but not every mammal. Here's where the theory starts to get thorny. According to the theory of common descent, we should be able to trace the appendix along the so called “nested-hierarchy” where all the animals which have an appendix also share a common ancestor. The problem is, there is no predictable pattern among the mammals with appendixes. The appendix appears in some species of primates, rodents, and even marsupials but is absent from the intermediate groups linking these species. It's not at all what we would expect if evolution were true.
Failed predictions are usually considered evidence against a scientific theory. However, the fact that the presence of the appendix follows no predictable pattern hardly raises an eyebrow among evolutionists. As is often the case, they invent ad hoc theories to explain the failed prediction. Here is a quote from Science Now:
In a new study, published online this month in Comptes Rendus Palevol, the researchers compiled information on the diets of 361 living mammals, including 50 species now considered to have an appendix, and plotted the data on a mammalian evolutionary tree. They found that the 50 species are scattered so widely across the tree that the structure must have evolved independently at least 32 times, and perhaps as many as 38 times. [Bold added]
Give me a break. The structure “must have” evolved 30+ times? There's another possibility, you know. Namely that the seeming random appearance of an appendix is evidence that the creatures on the “tree of life” are not related in an evolutionary sense. I wonder if the scientists even considered that possibility.
When creatures that aren't closely related share similar features, it's attributed to “convergent evolution.” As the story goes, there is sometimes a “best” solution to make a creature better adapted to its environment and “nature” will happen on that same solution time and time again. In the case of mammal digestion, the appendix must have fit some important need so well that “nature” created one on at least 30 occasions! But that “just so” story, that the appendix evolved so often because it was the “best solution,” stretches credulity if the appendix is now considered vestigial in most of the creatures that have one!
So let's wrap this up: The appendix appears in no discernible pattern on the so called, “tree of life” which calls into question the entire concept of common descent. We have to believe the appendix is so important that it evolved independently 30+ times but it's also so unimportant that most creatures that have one don't need it.
Hmmm. Please explain to me again: how is the appendix evidence for evolution?