Evidence for evolution, Installment 4: Atavisms and vitamin C

by seattleniceguy 22 Replies latest jw friends

  • New Worldly Translation
    New Worldly Translation

    Thanks for posting your evolution installments. I've really enjoyed reading them as I only had a minor understanding of how evolution worked before. I always felt fossil records and missing links were sticking points but I see now how the science and ideas have changed.

    It seems there isn't full understanding of how evolution occurred but that the evidence for some kind of evolutionary process is overwhelming. I personally am really pleased about learning this stuff about evolution, it's much more exciting and interesting than the story of an ephemeral dude with a beard making everything.

    Thanks SNG

  • seattleniceguy

    El blanko,

    It is to be expected that creationists will try to downplay the significance of atavistic true tails. However, several of the claims they often make in doing this are demonstrably false. Here's a quote from my main source:

    The existence of true human tails is unfortunately quite shocking for many religiously motivated anti-evolutionists, such as Duane Gish, who has written an often-quoted article entitled " Evolution and the human tail " ( Gish 1983 ; see also Menton 1994 ; ReMine 1982 ). Solely based on the particulars of a single case study ( Ledley 1982 ), these authors have erroneously concluded that atavistic human tails are "nothing more than anomalous malformations not traceable to any imaginary ancestral state" ( Gish 1983 ). However, their arguments are clearly directed against pseudo-tails, not true tails. Gish claims these structures are not true tails for several reasons: (1) they lack vertebrae, (2) they are not inherited, and (3) the resemblance to tails is "highly superficial" and simply an "anomalous malformation". Menton further claims that (4) all true tails have muscles and can move, whereas human tails cannot. Each of these arguments are factually false, as explained above and as well-documented in the medical literature. Vertebrae and cartilage have occasionally been found in human tails. However, contrary to the claims of Gish, Menton, and ReMine, vertebrae are not a requirement for tails. M. sylvanus is a prime example of a primate whose fleshy tail lacks vertebrae ( Hill 1974 , p. 616; Hooten 1947 , p. 23). Several cases are known where human tails have been inherited. Furthermore, we now know the genes responsible for the development of tails in mammals, and all humans have them. Inheritance of the tail structure per se is unnecessary since the developmental system has been inherited but is normally inactivated in humans. The "resemblance" to non-human tails is far from superficial, since all true human tails are complex structures composed of symmetrical layers of voluntary muscle, blood vessels, specialized nerves and sensing organs, and they can indeed move and contract.

    New Worldly Translation,

    I'm glad you're liking the series! You're right - the evidence that evolution has occurred is overwhelming. The scientific debate over the theories has to do with the exact mechanics by which it occurs. And yeah, it does seem to be a much stronger explanation than the beard-dude. :-)


  • AlmostAtheist

    The more I think about this one, the more damning it becomes. There is just no reason at all for a creator to have stuck "tail code" into the human genome, then turned it off. I mean *my* code might have crap like that in it, but you would expect a little better from the Almighty.

    It's telling that the only creationist argument against this one is to play it up to be nothing more than an elongated, serendipitously-placed wart. And using false claims, at that.

    Are there any examples anyone's aware of where such an atavism was turned off, then the species branched, then it turned back on and stayed on, perhaps because it now provides an advantage that it didn't in prior "versions" of the creature?


  • drwtsn32

    Good article, SNG! The defective vitamin C gene that is common amongst primates was one of the pieces of evidence I found (while still a dub) that convinced me evolution is valid. Those observations simply do not support special creation at all.

  • hooberus
    It's telling that the only creationist argument against this one is to play it up to be nothing more than an elongated, serendipitously-placed wart. And using false claims, at that.

    The cited 1983 icr arctice by Dr. Gish http://www.icr.org/pubs/imp/imp-117.htm was written primarily to rebut a 1982 evolutionist arcticle that appeared in the The New England Journal of Medicine. In this Journal arcticle an evolutionist was attempting to claim a fleshly appendage as "evidence" of evolution. Gish was responding primarily to the the claims of this arcticle. Even the talk origins author said: ". . . their arguments are clearly directed against pseudo-tails not true tails." It was the evolutionist in 1982 attempting to (falsly) claim something as evidence of evolution. The creationists were simply responding.

  • hooberus
    Good article, SNG! The defective vitamin C gene that is common amongst primates was one of the pieces of evidence I found (while still a dub) that convinced me evolution is valid. Those observations simply do not support special creation at all.

    I don't think that defective genes were created, but (if truely defective) were caused by the curse at the time at the fall, or in the deterioration since. Since the creation follows a nested hierarchy pattern (including genes) it would seem reasonable that all members of a created class (ie:primates) would possibly share the same induced curse gene defect. Also, If (I'm speculating) a generally systematic pattern of gene defects were to be found, then this could be taken as evidence of an orgainzed curse of genes at the fall. This (if true) would also be very difficult for evolution to explain since an equidistant pattern of defects (ie all generally primates vs. non primates) would not be expected from random evolutionary processes (we probably from evolution would expect some primtes to have the defect with their decendants an other primates not to).

  • funkyderek


    While Gish may be correct in that the particular appendage in question was just an "anomalous growth" (which the author of the original paper apparently included as a possibility) how do you account for cases where the tail has articulating vertebrae (i.e a true tail rather than a pseudo-tail)? Also, doesn't the sheer absurdity of some of Gish's "arguments" make you retch with embarrassment that he is a spokesperson for your belief system? Examples:

    Presumably, then, we would also be carrying along in our human genetic apparatus other genes that are responsible for all other characteristics seen in our monkey-like ancestors but not seen in man. Following this thinking to its logical conclusion, the human genetic apparatus should still be carrying every gene ever possessed by any of our ancestors, even the genes that make a worm a worm, if indeed a worm was the ancestor of vertebrates.
    Rijsbosch also notes that M. Bartels 3 had collected 116 reports of "tail" formation in humans. In cases where the sex was reported, 52 were males and 16 were females. If the caudal appendage represents a back mutation to an ancestral state, the human male must thus be somewhat closer to his monkey ancestor than the female since the condition occurs three times more frequently in males than in females!
    Warkany reports that while most persons with caudal appendages showed normal general development, caudal appendages have been associated with such malformations as meningocele, spina bifida, chondrodystophy, cleft palate, hemangiomas, syndactyly, hypodactyly and heterotopic anus. 4 Can evolutionists identify ancestral states with any of these malformations?

    I'd also be interested to hear your comments on the apparently defective Vitamin C gene.

  • hooberus
    I'd also be interested to hear your comments on the apparently defective Vitamin C gene.

    Here is a recent arcticle from Woodmorappe: http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v18/i3/mistakes.asp

  • Abaddon


    What did primates and guinea pigs do to have their 'fall'? Was there a banana of the knowledge of good and bad? Or a hamster ball of life?

    STILL using Answers in Genesis? Aren't you afraid that the pattern of bad science this website displays, as I have demonstrated in past threads on multiple subjects, makes it a rather risky source?

    I really don't know why you don't check for the rebuttals of the claims your fave Creationists make before you post them.

    Obviously you are free to rebutt this in turn;


    An interesting point directly related to Woodmorappe's claims is;

    ... this interpretation completely ignores the fact that many pseudogenes are shared between apes and humans, located in the same positions and sharing the same genetic defects, apparently the result of the same genetic accident or "degenerative change" in a common ancestor. (If these shared pseudogenes arose after the "Fall" as suggested by Woodmorappe, did the "Fall" perhaps occur before man diverged from the apes?)

    AGAIN, rather than allowing yourself to believe in a god that is not limited by the limited and flawed conception of god held by a pastoralist herder, you argue that the patoralist had inerrant information you can interpret precisely, and that even if the evidence doesn't support it, the goat herd is right.

    BOTH claims, that of inerrant information being supplied in the Bible, and that of one being able to claim a precise interpretation are unfounded, unless one take the positon (as you do) that somehow modern science is deeply and fundamentally flawed in all areas regarding evolution, abiogenesis, cosmology, archeology, etc., (whilst being spot on in most other areas, like how 'planes fly, planets orbit, electric lights shine, radioactive materials decay, etc.).

    And you've never answered once why you feel it is neccesary to limit god's power and majesty to the simplistic understandings of several thousand years ago. It seems again your opinion, rather than god, are central to your arguments, as if god's truth were central to your arguments you really wouldn't have such a hard time proving what you think is true.

    But my musings over your expression of belief aside, I'd be interested to hear your theory of

    1. how original sin was visited upon primates and hamsters, and
    2. your reaction to the above quoted point about humans and apes share genetic defects in a way that validates evoltionary theory in general and decsent in particular, and falsifies Woodmorappe's claims.
  • hamsterbait



    How did a heathen non-rodent know about the Hamsterball of life?

    This is a deep spiritual truth known only to those who listen to the Wheel to
    Wheel Misery of the Great Cheekpouches Dribbling Blessing.

    Abbaddon WILL DIE!!!!

    (gasping death throes of those too shocked to see this)

    HB ( Happy Bouncy being) - the blasphemers by dying ensure the rebirth of another creeping being of the cheekpouch into the deflating pouch of everlasting existence.

    Abaddon can save himself by throwing salt, two sunflower seeds and a drop of oil over his RIGHT shoulder and never saying the word " bababadalgharaghtakmminarronnkonnbronntonnerron nruonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoonhoordenenthurnuk" ever again. Aren't the Dutch such naughty people? HB

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