In his 1986 book "The Blind Watchmaker," atheist Richard Dawkins referred to the alleged "faulty characteristics" in nature. It later emerged that his argument stemmed from ignorance.
Once, There Was the Myth of Faulty Characteristics
Oxford University zoology professor Richard Dawkins is one of the well-known evolutionists in the world today. He is known not by his work on zoology, but by his avid championing of Darwinism and atheism.
In 1986, he published his book entitled The Blind Watchmaker, in which he tried to persuade readers that living creatures' complex characteristics were the result of natural selection. His attempts were mostly based on speculation, faulty comparisons and wrong calculations that various scientists and writers have since exposed in detail.66
One of Dawkins' arguments was that of "faulty" or "bad" characteristics in living things. He stated that some structures in living creatures were useless and that, therefore, they were faulty, trying to do away with the fact that a flawless creation reigns. The foremost example he gave was the inverted retina in the vertebrate eyes, including the human eye.
An inverted retina in the vertebrate eye means that photoreceptors are located in the eye backwards, not frontwards where the light enters. The sensory ends of these light-perceiving cells face the back, and the retinal nerves coming out from them form a layer between light and the cells. These nerves converge to a certain point on the retina where they exit the eye. Because there are no photoreceptors at this point, it is the eye's "blind spot," where there is no vision.
Darwinists have adopted this inversion and the blind point as flaws; that the eye came to be through natural selection and that such oddities are to be expected. As said earlier, Richard Dawkins is the well-known proponent of this argument. In The Blind Watchmaker he writes:
However, Dawkins and those who accept what he says are wrong because of Dawkins's ignorance of the eye's anatomy and physiology.
A scientist who gives a detailed account of this matter is molecular biologist Michael Denton of the University of Otago who is also one of the most prominent critics of Darwinism today. In "The Inverted Retina: Maladaption or Pre-adaptation?," published in Origins and Design magazine, he explains how the inverted retina that Dawkins presented as faulty is actually created in the most efficient manner possible for the vertebrate eye:
To understand this fact stressed by Professor Denton but unnoticed by Dawkins, we must first recognize that the retina's photoreceptor cells need a high level of energy and oxygen. While our eyes are open to perceive light, these cells are the locus of very complex chemical reactions every second. Photons, the smallest particles of light, are perceived by the cells and, as a result of the highly detailed chemical reactions begun by the photons, perception occurs and is repeated every instant. This reaction is so complex and rapid that, in Denton's words, "the photoreceptor layer has one of the highest metabolic rates of any known tissue."69
To keep up this high rate of metabolism, of course, the retina cells need a great deal of energy. A human being's retinal cells consume 150% as much oxygen as renal cells, three times as much as ones in the cerebral cortex and six times as much as the cells that make up the cardiac muscle. Moreover, this comparison is made on the basis of the entire retina layer; the photoreceptor cells, which make up less than half of this layer, actually need more energy than the whole layer estimates. In his encyclopedic book, The Vertebrate Eye, G. L. Walls, describes the photoreceptors as "greedy'' for both nutrients and oxygen.70
How do these cells, that enable us to see, meet their extraordinary need for nourishment and oxygen?
Through the blood, of course, like the rest of the body.
Where, then, does the blood come from?
At this point, we see why the inverted retina is a perfect sign of Creation. Right external to the retina layer lies a very important tissue of veins that envelop it like a net. Denton writes:
The oxygen and nutrients for the voracious metabolic appetite of the photoreceptors are provided by a unique capillary bed, called the choriocapillaris, which is an anatomizing network of large and flattened capillaries which form a rich vascular layer situated immediately external to the photoreceptors, separated from them only by the retinal cell epithelial cell layer (RPE) and a special membrane—Bruch's membrane—which together form a highly selective barrier which only allows passage into the retina of metabolites and nutrients required for the function of the RPE and photoreceptor cells. These capillaries are much larger than standard capillaries being between 18–50 microns in diameter. This unique network of blood channels gives every impression of being specially adapted to provide the photoreceptor layer with copious quantities of blood.71
In his book, An Introduction to the Biology of Vision, Professor James T. McIlwain writes, "Because of the great metabolic needs of the photoreceptors, the eye seems to have adopted the strategy of 'swamping' the choroid with blood to ensure that supply is never a problem."72
It is for this reason that the photoreceptors are "inverted." Clearly, there is a strategy here. The inverted arrangement of the retina is not faulty as Dawkins claimed, but is proof of Creation for a specific purpose.
In a relevant article, Denton examines whether the retina could have been formed in a different way. His conclusion was that it could not. Dawkins' suggestion that the retina should be flat, with the receptor cells facing the light, would distance them from the capillaries that nourish them and in great measure, would rob them of oxygen and nutrients they need. Extending the capillaries into the retina layer would not solve the problem, because this would produce many blind spots and reduce the eye's ability to see.
The more deeply the design of the vertebrate retina is considered, the more it appears that virtually every feature is necessary and that in redesigning from first principles an eye capable of the highest possible resolution and of the highest possible sensitivity (capable of detecting an individual photon of light) we would end up recreating the vertebrate eye—complete with an inverted retina. . . 73
In short, the arguments of Dawkins and other evolutionists that "the vertebrate retina is faulty" derive from ignorance. Their conclusions have been vitiated by more informed and knowledgeable investigations of the minutiae of living creatures. Actually, in the history of Darwinism there have been many other arguments arising from ignorance. One is the myth of the "vestigial" organs.
The Myth of Vestigial Organs
You may have read that the human appendix and coccyx, or tail bone, are vestigial organs that once had important functions in our supposed evolutionary ancestors, but lost those functions over the course of time.
The myth started with The Origin of the Species' mention of organs whose functions were lost or reduced. Darwin described these organs as "rudimentary" and compared them with "the letters in a word, still retained in the spelling, but become useless in the pronunciation."74
In 1895, the German anatomist R. Wiedersheim proposed a list of about 100 human "vestigial organs," including the appendix and the tail bone.
But like other Darwinist claims, this too was a myth that thrived because of the unsophisticated level of science at the time. As research advanced, slowly it came to light that the organs that Darwin and his followers thought to be vestigial actually had important functions, as yet not been determined. With the development of science, it was discovered that Wiedersheim's list of organs had very important functions in the body. As their functions were discovered, the long list of "vestigial" organs grew steadily shorter. For example, it was discovered that the appendix, long regarded as vestigial, was a very important part of the lymphatic system that fights germs when they enter the body. An article titled "Examples of Bad Design Gone Bad," referring to some of the basic literature on anatomy, explains:
An examination of the appendix microscopically, shows that it contains a significant amount of lymphoid tissue. Similar aggregates of lymphoid tissue (known as gut-associated lymphoid tissues, GALT) occur in other areas of the gastrointestinal system. The GALT are involved in the body's ability to recognize foreign antigens in ingested material. My own research, in particular, is focused on examining the immunological functions of the intestine.
Experiments in rabbits demonstrate that neonatal appendectomy impairs the development of mucosal immunity. Morphological and functional studies of the rabbit appendix indicate that it is probably the equivalent of the avian bursa in mammals. The bursa plays a critical role in the development of humoral immunity in birds. The histological and immunohistochemical similarity of the rabbit and human appendix suggest that the human appendix has a similar function to that of the rabbit appendix. The human appendix may be particularly important early in life because it achieves its greatest development shortly after birth and then regresses with age, eventually resembling such other regions of GALT as the Peyer's patches in the small intestine. These recent studies demonstrate that the human appendix is not a vestigial organ, as originally claimed.75
In short, the reason why the appendix was famously thought to be vestigial was the dogmatism of Darwin and his followers, thanks in turn to the unsophisticated level of science of their time. With the primitive microscopes at their disposal, they could not observe the lymphatic tissue of the appendix; and because they could not understand its structure, they regarded it as useless and included it on their list of functionless vestigial organs. Once more, Darwinism was abetted by the unsophisticated level of 19th-century science.
This situation also pertained to all the other organs on Wiedersheim's list. As years went on, the tonsils that were thought to be vestigial were discovered to have an important role in protecting the throat from infection, especially before adulthood. It became known that the tail bone at the base of the spinal column supported the bones around the pelvis and therefore, if it were not for it, an individual could not sit comfortably. In addition, this bone was understood to be the point at which the organs and muscles of the pelvic region were held together.
In subsequent years, it was found that the thymus, thought to be vestigial, activates the T-cells and sets the body's immune system into operation; that the pineal gland is responsible for the secretion of essential hormones such as melatonin that controls production of the luteinizing hormone; that the thyroid gland ensures a balanced development of the infant and plays a role in setting the body's metabolic rate; and that the pituitary gland ensures the correct functioning of several hormonal glands such as the thyroid, the adrenals and the reproductive glands, as well as controlling the skeletal development.
The semi-lunar fold in the corner of the eye that Darwin called vestigial was shown to help clean and lubricate the eye.
Today, it has been determined that the organs claimed to be vestigial in past years all have definite functions. In their book titled "Vestigial Organs" Are Fully Functional, Dr. Jerry Bergman and Dr. George Howe set out this fact in detail.
Accordingly, it is accepted that the myth of vestigial organs subscribed to by so many evolutionists is an argument based on ignorance. In "Do 'Vestigial Organs' Provide Evidence for Evolution?," an article in the magazine Evolutionary Theory, the evolutionist biologist S.R. Scadding writes:
Even though it has taken evolutionists about one and a half century to reach this conclusion, another myth of Darwinism has evaporated.
The Panda's Thumb
The beginning of this chapter invalidated Richard Dawkins' claim that the vertebrate retina is faulty. Another evolutionist, supporting the same ideas, is the late Stephen J. Gould, a paleontologist at Harvard University. Before his death in 2002, he had become one of America's leading evolutionists.
Like Dawkins, Gould also wrote about an example of "faulty" characteristics—the thumb of the panda.
Unlike a human hand, a panda does not have an opposable thumb apart from its other four fingers that lets it hold objects easily. Its five digits extend out side by side. But besides these five parallel digits, there is also a projection in its wrist called the "radial sesamoid bone." The panda sometimes uses this bone as a finger, and so biologists call it the panda's thumb.
Gould claimed that this bone in the panda's hand was non-functional. Gould was so convinced of the importance of his thesis that in 1980, he published a book on the subject.
Like Dawkins' claim, however, Gould's thesis of faulty characteristic was also wrong. Gould's error lay in comparing the panda's hand with that of a human, assuming that the panda's thumb had the same function. On this matter, Paul Nelson makes the following comment:
Although the panda's thumb may be suboptimal for many tasks (such as typing), it does seem suited for what appears to be its usual function, stripping bamboo.77
The authors of The Giant Pandas of Wolong comment as follows:
The panda can handle bamboo stems with great precision, by holding them as if with forceps in the hairless groove connecting the pad of the first digit and pseudothumb. . . When watching a panda eat leaves. . . we were always impressed by its dexterity. Forepaws and mouth work together with great precision, with great economy of motion. . . 78
In a research published in 1999 by the magazine Nature showed that in its natural environment, the panda's thumb was extremely useful. This joint project conducted by four Japanese researchers employed computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging techniques and found that the panda's thumb is "one of the most extraordinary manipulation systems"79 in the world of mammals. This following comment comes from the same article, titled "Role of the Giant Panda's Pseudo-thumb":
We have shown that the hand of the giant panda has a much more refined grasping mechanism than has been suggested in previous morphological models. 80
Evolutionists cannot account for the origins of any biological structure in nature, and their objections to explaining these structures in terms of the fact of Creation have been shown to be invalid.
For that reason we can say that there was once such a thing as Darwinism, which claimed that living things were full of "faulty" or "vestigial" organs.
Today, this theory has been discredited by scientific evidence.
66- Dawkins'in "kör saatçi" tezinin çürülmesi için bkz. Lee Spetner, Not By Chance: Shattering the Modern Theory of Evolution, Judaica Press, 1997; Michael J. Behe, Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challange to Evolution, The Free Press, 1996; Phillip E. Johson, Darwin on Trial, 199, 2nd.ed., InterVarsity Press, 1993
67- Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, London: Penguin Books,1986; s.93-94
68- Michael Denton, "The Inverted Retina: Maladaptation or Pre-adaptation?", Origins & Design, 19:2, Issue 37, 1999
69- Michael Denton, "The Inverted Retina: Maladaptation or Pre-adaptation?", Origins & Design, 19:2, Issue 37, 1999
70- Walls, G.L. (1963). The Vertebrate Eye . New York: Hafner Publishing Company; s.652
71- Michael Denton, "The Inverted Retina: Maladaptation or Pre-adaptation?", Origins & Design, 19:2, Issue 37, 1999
72- McIlwain, T.J. (1996). An Introduction to the Biology of Vision. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; s. 14
73- Michael Denton, “The Inverted Retina: Maladaptation or Pre-adaptation?”, Origins & Design, 19:2, Issue 37, 1999
74- Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, III. ed. Chapter 13: Mutual Affinities of Organic Beings: Morphology: Embryology: Rudimentary Organs
77- S. R. Scadding, "Do 'Vestigial Organs' Provide Evidence for Evolution?", Evolutionary Theory, Cilt 5, Mayıs 1981, s. 173
78- Paul A. Nelson, "Jettison the Arguments, or the Rule? The Place of Darwinian Theological Themata in Evolutionary Reasoning", Access Research Network, 1988, http://www.arn.org/docs/nelson/pn_jettison.htm
79- George Schaller, H. Jinchu, P. Wenshi, and Z. Jing, The Giant Pandas of Wolong , Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986, s.4, 58
80- Endo, H., Yamagiwa, D., Hayashi, Y. H., Koie, H., Yamaya, Y, and Kimura, J., Nature, vol. 397, 1999, ss. 309-310
81- Endo, H., Yamagiwa, D., Hayashi, Y. H., Koie, H., Yamaya, Y., and Kimura, J., Nature, vol. 397, 1999, ss. 309-310