Does the Human Embryo Go through Animal Stages? | The Institute for Creation Research

Does the Human Embryo Go through Animal Stages?

Picture this scene: A young, pregnant girl is taken into the counseling room at an abortion clinic. Understandably frightened, confused, and vulnerable, she only knows she didn't mean to get pregnant, and wishes she wasn't. She also knows that an abortion would put an end to her pregnancy. But this is a baby we're talking about!

"How far along are you, Sweetie?" the counselor asks.

"Oh, about two months," she answers, to which the counselor replies: "You remember what you learned in your 10th grade biology class—how that the developing embryo goes through various stages during its growth? It goes through a fish stage, where it has 'gill slits' just like a fish. At other times it has a yolk sac like a bird, and a tail like a monkey. At two months it is probably going through its fish stage; it is not fully human yet. Don't think of it as a baby, but as a fish." On display are drawings pointing out the various stages of development of human, fish, monkey, etc., embryos with the similarities pointed out, and, sure enough, they do look remarkably the same convinced by this evidence, our young friend decides to go ahead and have the abortion. After all, it's okay to kill a fish.

It might interest you to know that the above story is true. Not only is it true, it's probably commonplace. This line of reasoning called the biogenetic law, and known by the catch phrase "ontogeny recipitulates phylogeny," is many times given as the supposed scientific justification for abortion. It was originated in 1866 by Hitler's mentor, Ernest Haeckel, who produced the series of comparative drawings used in both biology textbooks and abortion clinics.

It might also interest you to know that the whole concept has been discredited for decades. As the evolutionist Dr. Blechschmidt has said in his book, The Beginnings of Life, "the so-called law of biogenetics is wrong. No buts or ifs can mitigate this fact. It is not even a tiny bit correct or correct in a different form. It is totally wrong" (1977, p. 32). As a matter of fact, German embryologist Wilhelm His published, in 1874, a catalog of willful distortions of the data by Haeckel in order to win adherents. Haeckel was subsequently tried and convicted in a scholarly inquest and barred from many scientific circles.

But what about the supposed evidence for gill slits, yolk sac, and tail (to name the most used examples) in a human embryo? True enough, at an early stage of development the human fetus does have certain folds or creases which resemble these found in a fish embryo. As they develop, however, the resemblance stops. In the fish, the folds develop into gills; but in the human, they develop into the glands and structures in the ear and neck areas. If humans were related to fish, one would expect the gills to evolve into the lungs, trachea, and mouth. Similarly, the embryonic human "tail" is in reality the developing coccyx, or "tail bone," a vitally important, fully human feature, while the so-called yolk sac is not a source of nourishment as in a bird egg, but is the source of the embryo's first blood cells. Everything about the human embryo is totally unique and human.

It doesn't make sense that abortionists could use such bad science to justify their deeds. But then, a lot about abortion doesn't make sense.

*Dr. John Morris is the President of ICR.

Cite this article: John D. Morris, Ph.D. 1989. Does the Human Embryo Go through Animal Stages?. Acts & Facts. 18 (8).

The Latest
NEWS
No Evidence T. rex Hatchlings Had Feathers
The recent discovery of a tiny tyrannosaur jaw bone fragment and a claw has some scientists again pushing dinosaurs as birds.1 But is there...

NEWS
Inside March 2021 Acts & Facts
Why does ICR uphold the clarity of Scripture? How do we know that canyons were formed by the Genesis Flood? How do fossilized fish confirm biblical...

DAYS OF PRAISE DEVOTIONALS
Spring 2021
...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Human Hands
You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with ICR’s special Creation Kids learning...

ACTS & FACTS
Dross and Dilution
The first of seven great signs of Jesus’ deity recorded in John’s gospel is the wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11). By the time Jesus...

APOLOGETICS
Do the Unpersuaded Have Enough Proof?
At a local Bible conference, a respected seminary professor unintentionally contradicted the apostle Paul. During the Q&A session, he opined that...

ACTS & FACTS
Gunnison's Black Canyon: The Flood Solves Mysterious Missing...
Brian Thomas, Ph.D., and Tim Clarey, Ph.D. The Gunnison River winds westward from the Colorado Rocky Mountains through dry and dramatic landscapes....

ACTS & FACTS
Do We See Complex Design in Mosquito Eggs?
Mosquitoes hatch from tiny eggs and spend a few days filter-feeding on things like bacteria, pollen, and algae. They molt three times as they grow,...

ACTS & FACTS
A Texas-Size Spider Mystery
The delightfully creepy spider belongs to a class called Arachnida—which is distinct from the “bug” class Insecta. Not surprisingly,...

ACTS & FACTS
The Fossils Still Say No: The Fins-to-Feet Transition
One of the alleged greatest transformations in vertebrate evolution is said to be the emergence of creatures that traded fins for feet and transitioned...