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On Goose Bumps, Tonsils, and the Fantastic Pharynx

Is the human body the carefully crafted work of an Intelligent Designer or merely the prevailing product of impersonal evolutionary processes? In the ongoing debate between creationists and macro-evolutionists over credible evidences for the origins and development of life on earth, the matter of vestigial organs is often raised. “If an Intelligent God really did create and design the body, why are so many organs and processes of no apparent use today?” ask those who usually tend to question such a premise.

Once a noted zoologist, writing from a major university, fired off this letter as his charge against theistic creationism:

“What would you think of an architect that would design a building and have the water and gas enter through a common chamber so that whenever one is needed it would be necessary to shut off the flow of the other?  Such would be the height of stupidity. But that is what your ‘intelligent Creator’ did when He designed and created man for, as you know, the pharynx serves as a common passageway for air and water. Think of the number of lives that have been lost by food or water getting into or obstructing the air passageway.”

What is the answer to such a charge?  Well, for starters, consider the following amalgamate,  drawn from the paraphrased lines of numerous, thoughtful, creationist respondents:

“In spite of our friend’s denunciation, there’s a whole lot more design present in the human pharynx than he must have recognized. For instance, how would he realistically improve on what we’ve now got?  With two mouths?-one for breathing and another for eating?-each requiring their own complex network of nerves and tongue and teeth and palate (all of which are, of course, needed for both speaking and eating). But that would at least double the occasion for breakdown and problems. It would certainly entail more body bulk. It would prevent the ability to taste our food via the olfactory system, and it would absolutely preclude the ability to expel any food that would ever happen to get stuck in the throat. By the way, it is also fairly well established fact that many, if not most, choking accidents are directly attributable to user abuse, not design flaw, i.e. people eating too fast or drinking too much.”

FACT: in the 1930s over half of all children here in America were having their tonsils and adenoids routinely removed. Many doctors would almost automatically say, “Ah, sore throat  …those nasty old vestigial tonsils again. Useless at best, guilty at worst. Let’s get ’em out. What? You say, ‘Why was I given tonsils in the first place?’ Beats me. But today they’re nothing more than leftovers from a more primitive era, long since obsolete-a mere vestige (Latin ‘footprints’) of the distant past and clear evidence of our evolutionary progress. So …see you in surgery two weeks from Friday. And don’t forget to bring your checkbook.”

By the early 1970s, however, official opinion had changed. Of one million tonsillectomies performed, authorities now guess that probably 999,000 were never medically indicated. And today, far from being considered vestigial, it is a generally accepted fact that the tonsils are a fully integral, very much operative, part of an adult’s lymphatic system, guarding the alimentary and respiratory tracts. So …once again the once-impugned Designer is vindicated.

And then finally today we have the intriguing Case of the Human Goose Bumps. Actually goose dips. Because wherever there’s a goose ‘pimple’ there’s really a goose dimple. It’s the dimple that creates the appearance of a ‘pimple’. Anyway, for many years dysteleologists were suggesting that the human goose pimple/dimple phenomenon was nothing more than the leftover result of an ancient autonomic response in animals, used to fluff out their body hair for insulation against a cold environment. That, however, was before researchers discovered that the muscle contractions that produce goose dimples, pulling down on the base of the hair follicle to make the hair stand up perpendicular in a complex process known as piloerection, actually does warm the body by means of muscle tension (a precursor to the next level of tension, i.e. shivering), as well as triggering the emission of an oil that actually traps air around the skin surface to provide insulation. Far from being a vestige, the process still serves a critical need.

So here we have three indictments of the Intelligent Creator on grounds of vestigial organ ‘evidence’. And here we have three trials. And then we have three acquittals. Yet time after time, in so many similar cases, it would seem that the testimony of truth is conspicuously suppressed. Convincing testimony for Intelligent Design. Convicting testimony against the vestigial-organ-theory so often propounded by classic evolutionism. Evidence upon evidence that there always was and that there still is a key role and function for the human appendix, the thymus, the eyebrows, the ear muscles, the pineal gland, and many, many other so-called ‘vestigial organs’. Further, it turns out that there really are intelligent answers to all those charges about human embryonic ‘tails’, rudimentary male nipples, useless wisdom teeth (third molars), the hip bones of whales, snake spurs, splint bones on horses, and blind cave creatures. Careful, scientific, responses that are finally exposing many of the long-held views about pro-evolutionary, vestigial-organ ‘evidence’ as the fraud they have always been.  Now… anyone interested in the facts?

Much of the material for this paper, including statistical information, is based on the recommended resource text “Vestigial Organs” Are Fully Functional: A History and Evaluation of the Vestigial Organ Origins Concept, by Jerry Bergman, PhD and George Howe, PhD, ©1990 by Creation Research Society Books, where further documentation is provided with appropriate response and additional technical data.