Friday, October 05, 2007

The Appendix Has a Purpose After All (The Telos of Tonsils is Forthcoming)

Over the years I have on occasion heard that the human appendix and tonsils have no function because they are evolutionary leftovers (vestigial organs). The question is: Why did God create such useless organs?

Now a U of Michigan professor and a Duke U professor have put forth a theory in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. Once thought to be useless, this theory claims that the appendix's telos is "to reboot the digestive system" when certain diseases clear one's gut of useful bacteria.

Prof. Gary Huffnagle of the U of Michigan states, "I'll bet eventually we'll find the same sort of thing with the tonsils."

What does this have to do with God? It defeats an "atheism of the gaps" argument that says because there's no purpose for the appendix it provides evidence that a God would not have made persons with such a totally useless organ. On the other hand Brandeis U professor Douglas Theobald says that this theory "makes evolutionary sense." But the appendix and "probably" the tonsils are no longer mere "vestiges" of an evolutionary past that provide evidence of an inept Creator-God.