by the Staff at Life, Mind, and Things
Reader, first watch the video and then read the article below. In this article I will demonstrate that this video over-promises and under-delivers. Although it seeks to be a powerful video that convinces the regular reader of Vox that evolution is true and obvious (so obvious you can look at your own body as proof!) we actually find that this video is rather weak in evidence and strong in stories.
Is It Really Proof?
First, we need to understand that proof is far too strong a word for what this video argues. The video is at best an inferred explanation based upon one’s worldview. Claims that the evolutionary view is the only explanation for these so-called vestigial parts is wrong. The explanation is really just a story. Let me demonstrate.
“Just So” Stories & Proof
This will be addressed more fully below. But, “just-so” stories are simple stories that are told to explain something. Yes, they seem reasonable, but they are not proof. They are simply stories that seek to explain a present situation through a worldview filter. The video utilized a story from an evolutionary perspective. In the example stories below we will utilize other worldview filters to understand the vestigial parts.
One of the easiest examples to remember from the video is a tendon that that has no seeming use or purpose. Here are some examples of different stories you could tell to explain this tendon or a variety of other kinds of examples. It is important to remember that the truth of the story is not what is important here. The story only demonstrates that they do not serve as proof or evidence.
Story #1 – Based Upon Pan Spermia (A view to explain the origin of life on earth through Aliens. This is considered a real option by well known biologists.) The story below is made up.
A long time ago (pick a number) aliens from another world came and spread their sperm all over planet earth. These aliens had very long forearms. As part of their “DNA” the tendon became part of the animal population and eventually human DNA. Over the generations human forearms shortened and this trait was not passed along. It is now only a small percentage of the population.
Story #2 – Based Upon Evolution (We can let the video tell that story)
Story #3 – Based Upon Belief in Mythical Ancient Gods
At the beginning of creation the gods had a disagreement about how to form the animals and humans. Some believed that a tendon used in animals would be good for humans too. Other gods disagreed. So a compromise was made. Only a minor portion of humans would be given this tendon. Over time the tendon gave no advantage and through the randomness of human relationships the trait became less and less part of humanity as a whole.
Story #4 – Based Upon The Creator God
God as Creator of All Things used similar designs in all of his creation along with fully unique designs. These designs were the pre-loaded information of DNA. This pre-loaded information is the source of all creation’s diversity which God calls “very good.” Over the generations, and as a result of the Fall, DNA mutations became either deleterious (harmful) or neutral. Those with the wrist tendon have the expressed information (phenotype) for the tendon.
So if you believe the evolutionary view of things the best you can say about this video is that vestigial parts/organs fits my worldview. But it cannot be claimed that this story counts as proof. It cannot count as evidence based on the common understanding of the scientific method. There is no way to test the hypothesis through experiment, observe, and then repeat the presence of “vestigial parts/organs.”
Counter-Arguments to the Vox Video
The Three Lines of Evidence– and Genetic Relics (this comment was made on the Vox site itself)
There are good arguments contrary to the evolutionary interpretation of fossils, dating methods etc… but DNA presents a good parallel to the claims of this video. Since the Human Genome Project began there has been endless research into the function of the DNA code. One conclusion was that the Human Genome was filled with junk DNA. Junk DNA provides no useful function. It is an evolutionary relic or evolutionary leftovers. Since the 90’s research has indicated that much of what has been called Junk DNA does really serve a purpose. The Intelligent Design community predicted that so-called Junk DNA would later be discovered to serve particular functions. This is a worldview based prediction that has proven to be true. Intelligent Design argues that the complexity of life and the information embedded in DNA requires a designer.
The source of information in DNA is a real challenge for evolutionary biologists. That is another important area of consideration that is not takeninto account, proven, or discussed in the video.
- Similarities between humans and animals does not require evolution as an explanation. Similarities in humans and animals fits the Christian Worldview just fine as stated earlier.
- Useless parts found in our bodies. This has been addressed above. This find does not require evolution as an explanation.
- The Anti-Design Argument (See here)
This video’s argument runs close to the argument that evolutionists like to make when they see “bad” design in animals and humans. How can an all powerful and knowing God mess up like this? This anti-design argument lets in the design argument for God. Consider the cell? Bacterial Flagellum? Consider the complexity of sight and its relationship to light and color? Even more, science is now in the habit of looking to nature for the making of better human built machines. Does random mutation and chance over time really explain it all?
The tail bone was brought up as one example is the video to support evolution as the explanation. It is really a story like mentioned above. I would be interested in pursuing the newspaper article pictured in the video. Was it really a tail in the sense that animals use a tail? Was it functional?
Baby hangs like a chimp? It is a rather simple explanation. It is DNA Information that expressed itself. That’s all. Certainly not proof of the theory of evolution.
The embryo? “Looks like” has been used before as an intentional deception that remained in textbooks for over a century. Body form is also part of genetic information called Epigenetics. This information is what makes a dog embryo always and only a dog. I consider “this embryo looks like” to be terribly weak if not misleading.
Finally, beware of “Just-So” stories masquerading as scientific evidence. A just so story is a scenario that seeks to explain a present phenomenon through, in this case, evolutionary processes.
For example, one common Just-So story seeks to explain the nearly universal belief in some kind of god or higher power. Here is a summary. The story says that as early humans evolved they had to deal with things it heard, saw or experienced that caused great fear. The fear needed to be addressed. So early humans began to identify some of the unseen phenomenon or unexplained experiences as “a higher power” and the actions of a higher power. This was helpful for survival so the trait- belief in a higher power- was selected in subsequent generations.
I hear evolutionary just-so stories in every secular lecture series or class I take. I have heard just-so stories about why human eyes are blue or brown (sometimes very dark) rather than red or pink. I have heard just so stories as to why human’s focus on certain things in their visual range. The list goes on. There is no evidence. They can’t test the story, observe the results of the test and then repeat the test to verify if the story is true. Its just a story. They are everywhere! And most people including the scientific community is convinced simply because they already believe in the evolutionary worldview.
In summary, this video demonstrates how the thought-world of secular thinking presupposes evolution. This video is a powerful example of how evolution is promoted to be proven and that any thoughts to the contrary are simply uninformed or ignorant. I hope in reading this article you are able to understand that this video is far from proof, but simply is at best an inferred explanation based upon one’s worldview
There is nothing wrong with seeking explanation as long as it is understood that the explanation is simply a “just-so” story that assumes a worldview/presuppositions while providing no actual evidence. Evidence is what is needed. Not stories.