Friday, January 23, 2009

Little Green Footballs Bias Against Intelligent Design

(Dr Damadian with the history-making prototype of Dr Damadian‘s MRI scanner. The first MR image of a human skull was made with this scanner on July 3, 1977. The prototype is now on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution‘s Hall of Medical Sciences.)

The religion of science, or, scientism. I love Little Green Footballs, that being said, they are very atheistic in their view of origins. I am a firm believer in Intelligent Design. In all my debates on the subject with kids all the way up to graduate students, one thing is prevalent... an adherence to philosophical naturalism (metaphysics in other words, see my post: Scientism ~ Evolution as a Metaphysical Proposition). This is not called science, which is the study of the living world that is repeatable and testable -- like the atomic weight of an item or the chemical makeup of another. It is called scientism. For instance, the inventor of the MRI, and the guy that got us to the moon are both young earth creationists. I will quote them respectively:

Dr Raymond V. Damadian

Wernher von Braun

Their belief about Origins (Divine Origins, “scientism”), did not interfere with their science. In fact, having the view that something is wonderfully made creates an infection in the scientist to know what the use of a particular thing is. As an example, lets take the list of vestigial organs that started out at about 180 and is now zero:

Discover the Truth

“[U]seless, or nearly useless.” This is how the June 2004 issue of Discover magazine (pp. 42-45) refers to such things as the coccyx, appendix, and other supposed vestigial organs. I will deal with just a few of the examples given in the article which will allow the reader to look into the matter more closely via the references cited. However, before I begin, let me give an example of a once supposed vestigial organ, and then comment on the good or harm such thinking inflicts on medicine… depending on one’s philosophical starting point. Bear with me.


In the 1930’s over half of all children had their tonsils and adenoids removed. In 1969, 19.5 out of every 1,000 children under the age of nine had undergone a tonsillectomy. By 1971 the frequency had dropped to only 14.8 per 1,000, with the percentage continuing to decrease in subsequent years. Most medical authorities now actively discourage tonsillectomies.[1] Many agree with Wooley, chairman of the department of pediatrics at Wayne State University, who was quoted in Katz: “If there are one million tonsillectomies done in the United States, there are 999,000 that don’t need doing.”

Among the first medical doctors seriously to question the wisdom of tonsillectomies was Albert Kaiser. For ten years he kept complete records of the illnesses of 5,000 children. They were divided into two groups – those who had tonsils removed and those who did not. Kaiser found: “…no significant difference between the two groups in the number of colds, sore throats and other upper respiratory infections.”[2]

Tonsils are important to young people in helping to establish the body’s defense mechanism which produces disease-fighting antibodies. Once these mechanisms are developed, the tonsils shrink to almost nothing in adults, and other organs take over this function.[3] In the Medical World News,[4] a story stated that although removal of tonsils at a young age obviously eliminates tonsillitis (the inflammation of the tonsils) it may significantly increase the incidence of strep-throat and even Hodgkin’s disease. In fact, according to the New York Department of Cancer Control: “…people who have had tonsillectomies are nearly three times as likely to develop Hodgkin’s Disease, a form of cancer that attacks the lymphoid tissue.”[5]

The Point

My point is this, the Tonsils were once included in a list of 180 vestigial (“useless, or nearly useless”) organs.[6] And because the assumption was first made that these were organs left over from a previous genetic ancestor (ape, dog, early-man, whatever), that they were deemed useless – ad hoc – because science did not know at that time what their functions were.

So for many years, doctors and scientists that accepted the evolutionary paradigm did not investigate the possible functionality of these organs. Many people suffered and died needlessly due to this philosophical assumption that evolution is true. You will see this assumption play out again and again where medical science and the evolutionary issue intersect. You see, if you come to the table with an understanding that we were created, then these structures serve a purpose, or are a neutral combination of the possible male/female outcome of the fertilized egg (for instance, male nipples[7]). If the assumption is made that these structures are designed, then the medical world would strive to investigate and understand the organ in question, not simply state that it is useless.

Fallacious Arguments

If the medical world does not know the function of a particular organ, then a person cannot ipso facto conclude that it is useless. This is called in logic, argumentum ad ignorantiam, or, an argument to ignorance, and is considered a fallacious argument (e.g., void of reason). “The argument from ignorance can be used to shift a burden of proof merely on the basis of rumor, innuendo, or false accusations, instead of real evidence.”[8]

The Appendix

Dr. Kawanishi,[9] showed that human lymphoid cells in the appendix are immunologically functional as T helper cells and antibody-producing B cells, making IgA molecules in response to immunological challenges. He noted that:

  • “The human appendix, long considered only an accessory rudimentary organ, could posses a similar antigen uptake role prior to replacement by fibrosed tissue after repeated subclinical infections, or at least in early childhood when it is most prominent.”[10]

The appendix is also rich in argentaffin cells, which can be identified with the use of silver salt staining. The function of these cells has long been obscure, but the evidence suggests that they may be involved with endocrine gland function.[11] Many sources (encyclopedias, textbooks, etc.) still erroneously state that the appendix is useless. Interestingly, the Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia states in one place: that “In humans the cecum and appendix have no important function,” and in another place that “the appendix is now thought to be one of the sites where immune responses are initiated.”

  • Dr. Howard R. Bierman… studied several hundred patients with leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, cancer of the colon and cancer of the ovaries. He found that 84% [of his sample] had [their] appendix removed…. In a control group without cancer, only 25% had it removed.[12]

Bierman himself had concluded that the appendix may be an immunological organ whose premature removal during its functional period permits leukemia and other related forms of cancer to begin their development.[13] Bierman and his associates realized that the lymphoid tissue located on the walls of the appendix may secrete antibodies which protect the body against various viral agents.

While high school and college textbooks today will mention the appendix as vestigial, specialists in their field have for many years stated the necessity of the appendix as useful.

  • “There is no longer any justification for regarding the vermiform appendix as a vestigial structure.”[14]
  • “For at least 2,000 years, doctors have puzzled over the function of… the thymus gland…. Modern physicians came to regard it, like the appendix, as a useless vestigial organ which had lost its original purpose, if indeed it ever had one. In the last few years, however,… men have proved that, far from being useless, the thymus is really the master gland that regulates the intricate immunity system which protects us against infectious diseases…. Recent experiments have led researchers to believe that the appendix, tonsils, and adenoids may also figure in the antibody responses.”[15]
  • “The appendix is not generally credited with significant function; however, current evidence tends to involve it in the immunologic mechanism.”[16]
  • “The mucosa and submucosa of the appendix are dominated by lymphoid nodules, and its primary function is as an organ of the lymphatic system.”[17]

The appendix is in fact part of the G.A.L.T. (Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue) system. The lymphoid follicles develop in the appendix at around two weeks after birth, which is the time when the large bowel begins to be colonized with the necessary bacteria. It is likely that its major function peaks in this neonatal period.

As Dr. Peter Faletra (Ph.D. he is to the left in the photo at Brookhaven National Laboratory), who is Senior Science Advisor Office of Science Department of Energy, says in response to a question on an online question-and-answer service for K-12 teachers run by the Argonne National Laboratories:

  • “As a histologist I see no reason to consider the v. appendix as having no function since it contains numerous lymphoid follicles that produce functional lymphocytes and a rich blood supply to communicate them. The general idea of vestigial organs is to me a measure of ignorance, arrogance and lack of imagination. Ignorance in that we label it as such because we do not know its function; arrogance in that we declare it of no value since we can see none; and lacking in imagination in so far as when we cannot see its function cannot imagine one. I call your attention to that other ‘vestigial organ’ the thymus without which, in early life, we would produce a severely compromised cell-mediated immune system as the ‘nude’ mouse and numerous thymectomized mammalian studies have shown. Although some general reference books still list the v. appendix as ‘vestigial,’ most immunologists (I included) would strongly disagree![18] (emphases added)


[1] Robert P Bolande, “Ritualistic Surgery – circumcision and tonsillectomy,” New England Journal of Medicine, March 13 (1969) pp. 591-595; Alvin Eden, “When Should Tonsils and Adenoids be Removed?” Family Weekly, September 25 (1977), p. 24; Lawrence Galton, “All Those Tonsil Operations: Useless? Dangerous?” Parade, May 2 (1976), pp. 26ff; Dolras Katz, “Tonsillectomy: Boom or Boondoggle?” The Detroit Free Press, April 13 (1972), p. 1-C; Samuel Lipton, On the Psychology of Childhood Tonsillectomy. In: The Psychoanalysis Study of the Child (International Universities Press, New York: 1962).

Galton, p. 26.

Martin L. Gross, The Doctors (Random House, New York: 1966); Simpson Hall, Diseases of the Nose, Throat and Ear (E. and S. Livingston, New York: 1941).

N. J. Vianna, Peter Greenwald, and U. N. Davies, September 10, 1973, p.10

Galton, p. 26-27.

This is an important issue, for instance, during the famous Scopes trial in 1925 – which allowed evolution to be taught alongside creation – zoologist Horatio Hacket Newman, a defense witness, stated: “There are, according to Wiedersheim, no less than 180 vestigial structures in the human body, sufficient to make of a man a veritable walking museum of antiquities.”

Also, if created by a personal God who has created sex to be pleasurable, then the nipples have a purpose other than the neutral canvas of the fertilized egg.

Robert Audi (general editor), The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, second edition (Cambridge University PressNew York: 199), P.434.

H. Kawanishi, “Immunocompetence of Normal Appendiceal Lymphoid cells: in vitro studies,” Immunology, 60(1) (1987), pp. 19-28.

Ibid., p. 19.

Marti-Ibanez (editor), “Tuber of Life,” M. D. Magazine (1970) #14, p. 240; William J. Banks, Applied Veterinary Histology (Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore: 1981), p. 390.

Richard G. Culp, Remember thy Creator (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids,; MI: 1975).

Howard R. Bierman, “Human Appendix and Neoplasia,” Cancer 21 (1) (1968), pp. 109-118.

William Straus, Quarterly Review of Biology (1947), p. 149.

“The Useless Gland that Guards Our Health,” in Reader's Digest, November (1966), pp. 229, 235.

Henry L. Bockus, Gastroenterology, 2:1134-1148 [chapter The Appendix, by Gordon McHardy], (W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, Pennslyvania: 1976).

Frederic H. Martini, Ph.D., Fundamentals of Anatomy and Physiology, (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: 1995), p. 916

From the site Newton, which is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators. Argonne National Laboratory, Division of Educational Programs, Harold Myron, Ph.D., Division Director. Quote: (last accessed 1-23-09) Home page:

The above example is a point I make quite often. Intelligent Design instills in the scientist creativity, for, the ID proponent would never say the appendix, tonsils, coccyx, or the like, are useless. They would research and research to find the use for the organ. If the organ seems useless to the biologist, he would assume he didn’t have the answers or knowledge yet to discover the use for it. The evolutionist on the other hand would and did find at his present state of knowledge that there was no use for it -- and since “science” (scientism) is the height of mankind’s knowledge -- it makes (and made) the claim that a particular organ, the appendix, coccyx, tonsils, and the like, are useless. The original list of useless organs started at 180 and has dwindled down to effectively zero. So keep the above in mind when you read the following from Little Green Footballs, who thinks that this post is a positive thing, however... it is merely showing off their metaphysical stance in philosophical naturalism -- or, scientism.

Staff members throughout the government’s scientific agencies held inaugural parties on Tuesday, and many reported being teary-eyed with joy.

“If you look at the science world, you see a lot of happy faces,” said Frank Press, a former president of the National Academy of Sciences and former science adviser to President Jimmy Carter. “It’s not just getting money. It’s his recognition of what science can do to bring this country back in an innovative way.”

Michael Lubell, a senior official of the American Physical Society, the world’s largest group of physicists, strongly agreed.

“I think there’s now a consensus between the White House and the Congress that the future of the country relies on science,” Lubell said. “The nation is in very bad shape, and it will take science and technology to get out of the mess.”

On issues like stem cells, climate change, sex education and contraceptives, the Bush administration sought to tame and, in some cases, suppress the findings of many of the government’s scientific agencies. Besides discouraging scientific pronouncements that contradicted administration policies, officials insisted on tight control over even routine functions of key agencies.

In early 2004, more than 60 influential scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, issued a statement claiming that the Bush administration had systematically distorted scientific fact in the service of policy goals on the environment, health, biomedical research and nuclear weaponry.