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The Latest Proof of Evolution: The Appendix has No Important Function

For decades, Darwinists have been telling us that an alleged lack of function for the human appendix demonstrates that our species once walked on 4 legs and ate a vegetarian diet. As a result, many believe the Darwinian urban legend that the appendix is a “vestigial organ” that has no function, and that this demonstrates that humans evolved from quadrupedal mammals. But now CNN is reporting that the “Purpose of appendix believed found” in a story that reads:

The appendix “acts as a good safe house for bacteria,” said Duke surgery professor Bill Parker, a study co-author. Its location _ just below the normal one-way flow of food and germs in the large intestine in a sort of gut cul-de-sac — helps support the theory, he said. Also, the worm-shaped organ outgrowth acts like a bacteria factory, cultivating the good germs, Parker said. That use is not needed in a modern industrialized society, Parker said. If a person’s gut flora dies, it can usually be repopulated easily with germs they pick up from other people, he said. But before dense populations in modern times and during epidemics of cholera that affected a whole region, it wasn’t as easy to grow back that bacteria and the appendix came in handy.

Additionally, Loren G. Martin, professor of physiology at Oklahoma State University, listed various likely functions for the appendix on Scientific American‘s website, including:

  • being “involved primarily in immune functions”
  • “function[ing] as a lymphoid organ, assisting with the maturation of B lymphocytes (one variety of white blood cell) and in the production of the class of antibodies known as immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies.”
  • helping with “the production of molecules that help to direct the movement of lymphocytes to various other locations in the body”
  • “suppress[ing] potentially destructive humoral (blood- and lymph-borne) antibody responses while promoting local immunity”
  • Additionally, it is “an important ‘back-up’ that can be used in a variety of reconstructive surgical techniques”

It seems that this latest study is just adding to our knowledge of the functions of the appendix. And what is the response from the Darwinists? In the words of Brandeis University biochemistry professor Douglas Theobald, “It makes evolutionary sense.” Oh really?

Dr. Theobald happens to have authored the notorious TalkOrigins’ “29+ Evidences for Macroevolution” where he claims that the appendix is a “vestige of our herbivorous ancestry” whose lack of a robust function provides evidence for macroevolution (he admits that the appendix may have “a function of some sort” but contends this is a vestige of its once-important function). But now that we’ve found robust function for the appendix, Dr. Theobald claims, “It makes evolutionary sense.”

David Tyler at Access Research Network has documented similar arguments from Darwinists, such as Ernst Mayr and Charles Darwin himself, who had previously cited the now-defunct vestigiality of the appendix as evidence for evolution. (See Tyler’s “The human appendix – from rags to riches” for the details.)

In other words, when we thought the appendix fulfilled no important function for modern humans, that was evidence for human evolution. But now, if we learn that the appendix fulfills some important function for human beings, that’s also evidence for human evolution. If this Darwinian logic seems fallacious, perhaps Dr. Theobald is just helping us to understand what he means by, “It makes evolutionary sense.”

Casey Luskin

Associate Director and Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.