The Appendix/Cave Fish Eyes/Etc. are (NOT) vestigial

(Steve Schaffner) #121

Not originally. I was a regular on back when the hypothesis was formulated, and Bruce Salem was serious about it. It’s consistent with my experience, too – creationists with technical training seem to be disproportionately engineers rather than scientists. That may reflect something about engineers and scientists in the larger population, or about who shows up to argue about evolution – or it may be nothing but illusion.


True. Evolution can’t go back to the drawing board–it has to use what it is stuck with. Real designers, such as computer programmers, might patch old programs but after a while they go for a total rewrite, especially as new needs arise and new technologies come about. And these human programmers are under budgetary and other constraints. But the great and powerful designer should be able to do better than the clumsy kludges we see in nature.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #123

But this all goes afoul as we pretend that we know what all priorities any “greatest designer” ought to have … which always look suspiciously like our own priorities.

So some admire a designer who insists on starting from scratch. Okay. But I could just as easily admire the designer who is able to take existing material, and with it fashion something admirable. Under this different view, we could make fun of the crippled designer who has to have everything handed to him custom made because he’s incapable of making use of anything as it already is. What a wasteful designer! And of course this too would fail, because this too is just a human priority --how some of us would like to see it done.


The designer might actually want a disease that disproportionately kills the poor, the very old and the very young. We don’t have a clue about how God feels about the least of these…

(Randy) #125

that’s the classic difference between what we see of Nature, extrapolate in our interpretation of God’s character, and how Jesus cared about the “least of these,” isn’t it?

it’s not necessarily easier with YEC as by definition all evil came about because God hated one sin–that is just as bad (or worse).

It goes to show that we can have compassion for others–because it is so darn hard to interpret all that. Thank God for messages like Jesus and Psalm 103.


The problem with thinking that God designed bad backs, diseases, parasites, etc. is that you could say that Jesus came to clean up God’s mess. Makes no sense! And now atheist Bill Gates is trying to cure malaria! Ouch, my brane hurtz!

(Randy) #127

I’ve heard that he’s working on malaria–that would be a real boon to the folks in Africa. There are so, so many children and adults who die every summer in Africa–I think it’s the largest infectious disease killer in the world.Good for him!

(Mervin Bitikofer) #128

If Bill Gates is indeed an atheist, then we could use a few more like him. He and his wife both attend a Catholic church and think that it is important for their kids to be there. He may not sign off on all the traditional Christian doctrines, but if he’s supposed to be hard core about it all, apparently somebody forgot to tell him that.

Take care of yourself, Beaglelady! The world has always been a glorious mess. Methinks a certain Creator must not mind that too much, though it would seem he calls each of us to add the love we can to our little corners.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #129

Thanks for the clarification! I’ve also met a large number of creationist engineers, and a handful on these forums.

From this list that was official endorsed there’s a good number of engineers but also a lot in medicine:

A slightly dated video of the same list makes me feel like the ID movement has been shady since the start:

(Phil) #130

True about medicine having a higher number than the purer sciences, though still a fairly small minority overall. Also in the medical field, my experience has been that dentists tend more fundamentalistic, as are podiatrists and orthopedists, all sort of in functional areas of practice. I imagine that it due to self-selection, where folks who tend to see things in black and white gravitate to those fields. After all, you want your bridge designer to be sure it will carry the load, not just thinking it most likely will do so, whether the bridge is over a gorge or if you gorge over the bridge the dentist made.
It did surprise me once years ago when I attended a retreat of the regional Christian Medical-Dental Society, and found almost all were very conservative fundamentalists. Good folks, but not my area of comfort.

(Chris Falter) #131

Hi Ashwin -

Your analysis mostly follows the papers we’ve read together. I would add a couple points to your analysis:

  1. The different blind populations of A. mexicanus are indeed blind for different reasons–namely, different alleles of sight-regulation genes. The alleles appear to be recessive, because cross-breeding between the different blind populations results in the recovery of sight.
  2. The blind populations of A. mexicanus in various caves are different offshoots from the same species, A. mexicanus.

This is true with respect to A. mexicanus. It is not true, however, with respect to the marsupial moles of Australia. Here’s another picture of that irresistably cute species:


Their eyes do not develop; in the adult mole they are merely a pair of lenses under the skin. You would be hard-pressed to find a biologist who would not call these lenses–which do not provide sight–vestigial.

The difference between the A. mexicanus cave populations and the marsupial moles is that the moles have been isolated for so long in Australia that interbreeding is no longer possible with their relatives, whereas interbreeding is still possible between the hypogean and epigean A. mexicanus populations–which have only been isolated for short periods (on the order of 105 to 106 years).

In both cases, the lack of eyesight in the populations has a genetic basis, and the alleles which confer blindness have been selected for (or at a minimum, not been selected against) in their habitats. Biologists therefore deem their blind eyes to be vestigial.

However, you object to the very use of the definition for philosophical reasons:

I would only ask of you that you apply your principle consistently.

  • When the meteorologist says that thunderstorms are likely this evening at 6 PM due to an approaching front, you should oppose his/her lack of teleology, and proclaim that the weather is controlled by God.
  • When astronomers state that a solar eclipse will cross the United States in 2023, you should oppose their lack of teleology, and proclaim that the orbit of the moon and the planets are regulated by God.
  • When physicists use non-teleological radioactive decay equations to measure the age of the Earth, you should oppose their lack of teleology–surely God has directed the decay of every particle!

And so forth. Of course, not a single discipline of science accepts teleology, because the scientific method has been defined as non-teleological ever since the time of Francis Bacon. Today we think of planetary motion in non-teleological terms, but rest assured that 500 years ago it was not so. Today atheist engineers and Christian engineers (and Muslim engineers and Hindu engineers…) are able to collaborate on the design of jet engines because they aren’t arguing over the teleology of physics equations. No doubt the religious engineers reflect on the relationship between physics and teleology in their spare time, and even find motivation from such philosophical reflection. This reflection is very good, in my opinion. You are clearly reflecting on such issues, and I commend you for it, Ashwin.

I would only ask that if you are going to use terminology differently than the biological community, that you acknowledge the implications of your terminology for other branches of science such as meteorology, astronomy, and physics.


(Randy) #132

I think you once mentioned that medicine is sort of a mechanical field. I think there’s merit in that–I feel sometimes like an engineer–and that might explain why so many of us are very conservative.

I’ve known several very apparently smart people who accept the idea of the earth being created recently, “mature”–a theory that doesn’t really hold up at all on examining the evidence. However, that just goes to show how very complicated the universe is. Can’t blame them for not realizing how much more we need.

I feel that I benefit a lot from reading the physicists and molecular biologists on this website.


I think he’s either atheist or agnostic. I have emailed my library to find out for sure and will let you know their reply. (Don’t want to go surfing for the answer!) Some people do attend church despite not having faith. There is one such guy in my church. He is elderly, uses a cane, and attends church and Bible study regularly. He even took all the courses at a NYC seminary. Everyone likes him. Faith is a gift, perhaps he would like to have this gift. Go figure!

(Mervin Bitikofer) #134

Don’t dig too deep simply on my account. I don’t have all that much of a burning interest in it (or in Bill in particular). I just think it’s good to avoid pronouncing dogmatically where people stand unless they strongly self-identify one way or another. He sounds like he’s the basically friendly-to-good-religions type who doesn’t want to commit himself much on doctrines or even on the question of God’s existence, but who nonetheless thinks there are some pretty important life-style pursuits in it all. So ‘agnostic’ might be a pretty good, less inflammatory description. He’s human just like all of us complete with doubts on all sides. Church doesn’t make us all believers, but if we keep showing up … there’s usually a reason.

(Dennis Venema) #135

This is incorrect. Species do not need to be formed from single pairs. Neither do languages need to be formed by a pair of “first speakers”. Both languages and species form as populations separate and their average characteristics shift over time independently from one another. Both are typically population-level phenomena.

(Ashwin S) #136

Life style… bad genes… ???

Was that an argument?
Anyway, you said you believe God created everything… so whats your explanation… A dum God???
What exactly is the point you are trying to prove…(The athiestic version of this argument is … Bad design–> Hence not the product of an omnicient God…)
Whats your point?

I was pointing out a logical fallacy on your part… I know what scientists believe about speciation… However, if you just extrapolate that genetic change being inherited in a species… you will arrive at the lowest common denominator, which is a male/female pair… this is why you should not depend on such extrapolations to come to a conclusion… cos extrapolations can easily be wrong…

Before we go to moles…let us come to a point of agreement on the A.Mexicanus…
The chances of speciation are low… (because interbreeding between caves leads back to the original template… one of the cave fish will have to evolve forward (or backwards) and prodcue enough novelty to form a new species… we dont see such a move…
rather we see that totally blind cave fish are moving towards hybrid populations…
so unless something extraordinary happens, we are not looking at a new species being formed… and hence features gained through breeding cannot be called vestigial… or else, we could claim chihuhuas are developing vestigial legs…

Why would i?
I would only claim teleology in the basic laws/constants that make these phenomenon possible…(see the debate on the anthropomorphic principle)

You are confusing how God determines the events in history with teleology in nature. For example, when the American population elected Trump to become President… All christians would agree that God has directed/allowed this to happen.(whether as a blessing or a test/temptation is arguable :slight_smile: )… However, no one would claim that God voted for Trump, or forced people somehow to vote for/against him.Gods minute control on historical events including natural events such as volcanoes/earthquakes, and social/political events such as wars is a philosophical question utterly different from Teleology in the laws of nature/the act of creation.
You are conflating different issues… and confusing yourself.
with respect to the former, many christians would be theologically satisfied with a fore-knowledge as opposed to a total determinism… and even the determinism could be from a point of fore-knowledge… (refer mollinism)

(Ashwin S) #137

I wouldn’t be surprised if more engineers are skeptical of evolution. It has less to do with personality types than actual experience/knowledge. One thing engineers learn very early on is that the universe/nature does not organise itself into machines… we have to work against nature to create and sustains the kind of order that is a machine. And this is essentially what the law of entropy is…
This is one major reasons bridges fall, cars breakdown etc… And time is on the side of the forces that break down the order inherent in machines…
So when a biologist tells an engineer, that over long periods of time, life was organised through chance and the work of nature… to become complex organisms…
The engineer will call it nonsense and look for a reasonable organising principle…
Darwinism doesn’t provide said organising principle…

(Chris Falter) #138

Hi Ashwin,

If a population of canines acquired legs as useless as the eyes of hypogean A mexicanus:

  1. The poor dogs would be completely immobile, and
  2. Biologists would refer to whatever remained of their leg structure as vestigial.

If said canine population were to remain isolated from other canines long enough, speciation could occur. Just as it has occurred with horses and donkeys.

You have misread the literature. While a hybrid population has occasionally arisen in the wild, in many caves no hybridization has been detected.

Not necessarily. There appears to be some selection pressure toward loss of sight in hypogean environments, and many of hypogean populations have remained isolated for hundreds of thousands of years. If those populations remain isolated, speciation could very well occur.

Not that we will ever see the outcome in our lifetimes…

Grace and peace,


No I bent over wrong.

No just a comment. You appear to believe everything has to be an argument.

God used evolution to create us. Just like He uses evaporation and condensation to create rain. He is in control of the process. How does the idea of an Intelligent Creator address bad design?

Which just goes to show you still don’t understand evolution happens to a population and not individuals. Evolution is the change in gene frequency not the appearance of a single pair.

(Ashwin S) #140

Yes the mysterious selection pressure… (selection cannot create the required mutations you know)… it can only select from ana existing variety.

I think its just more probable that sighted variants chose to leave the cave… Leaving behind only blind variants…
Besides, speciation requires more than going blind and staying isolated…

Actually, the only description over time showed a move from purely blind varieties to hybridisation. Are you saying there are caves with fish that cannot interbreed with the rest? That would be speculation without foundation.

So… if speciation doesn’t happen… it just means enough time has not passed…

However, we can assume it will happen… or may happens… or perhaps does happen…
Grace brother…