If you're a baby boomer (or earlier) you've no doubt been presented in high school and college the story of the alleged lack of function of our appendix. Instructors called it — and continue to call it — "degenerate" or "rudimentary" — a nonfunctional vestige of evolution that modern man no longer needs.
The appendix is a finger-sized tube that attaches to the cecum (blind pouch) in our gastrointestinal tract. A disorder is appendicitis, a rapid inflammation of this structure. People who undergo abdominal surgery occasionally have their appendix removed as long as the surgeon was in that area because the patient "didn't need it." Really? How does the surgeon know that? Medical students were — and are — falsely educated in their university and medical school programs, thanks to publications such as the Atlas of Human Functional Anatomy that calls the appendix "a vestigial structure in man."1As a zoology graduate student, I took a course in histology — the study of tissues. A course requirement was to write a paper on the ultrastructure (organization studied at the level of an electron microscope) of some tissue in the human body. I chose the appendix because, as a creationist, I did not accept the unscientific idea of vestigial structures. I determined there had to be a function for the appendix, a scientific prediction of the creation model that further research would either prove or disprove. Unfortunately, my professor dismissed my plans. This is just one more example of how evolutionism is anti-science. He and other secular biologists have regarded the appendix as not worth researching, and investigation of this lymphatic tissue languished as a result.
Recently, evolutionary activists are strangely silent regarding their insistence of the non-function of the appendix. There could be several reasons for this, but perhaps the best is that scientific research has indeed revealed an important function.
The Grolier Encyclopedia admitted, "Long regarded as a vestigial organ with no function in the human body, the appendix is now thought to be one of the sites where immune responses are initiated."2 Authors Van De Graff and Fox state, "The appendix contains masses of lymphoid tissue that may serve to resist infection."3 Kenneth Saladin states, "The appendix is densely populated with lymphocytes [a type of white blood cell] and is a significant source of immune cells."4 Anatomist Fred Martini describes the appendix as saying, "The mucosa and submucosa of the appendix are dominated by lymphoid nodules, and the appendix's primary function is as an organ of the lymphatic system."5Vestigial structure indeed. Lymphatic tissue is important! God is not the Author of confusion, and He does not riddle the body with useless tissues or organs. Every tissue in our body has a purpose — designed by our all-wise Creator.
1. Zuidema, G., Johns Hopkins Atlas of Human Functional Anatomy, 1980, p. 86.
2. Hartenstein, Roy, Grolier Encyclopedia, 2002, Grolier Interactive Inc.
3. Van De Graff & Fox, Concepts of Human Anatomy & Physiology, 1999, p. 837.
4. Saladin, K., Anatomy & Physiology, McGraw Hill, 2001, p. 974.
5. Martini, F., Fundamentals of Anatomy & Physiology, Prentice Hall, 1998, p. 899.
Cite this article: Frank Sherwin, M.A. 2003. For Every Structure There Is a Reason . . . .. Acts & Facts. 32 (11).