Are hermaphrodites proof of evolution?

From Shaun Sly of UK. Actually, Mr. Sly himself was positive, but he passed on a question from an evolutionist colleague and asked for our advice on how to handle it. So we have used this as a negative feedback, even though the negativity is by proxy. Also, negatives that pass our criteria (which are standard for many bulletin boards) are hard to come by, while this was a straightforward statement of an alleged difficulty without the accompanying invective common in submitted negatives. Mr. Sly’s letter is printed first in its entirety, followed by a response by Dr Jonathan Sarfati, Creation Ministries International–Australia.

Could you please explain about Hermaphrodites.

A collegue of mine, who is an evolutionist, argued that evolution in man is happening in the case of the hermaphrodite. He believes that this is a transitional stage for man.

Please could you give me advice on this matter.

Yours Faithfully,
Shaun Sly

A hermaphrodite is an organism with both male and female sex organs.

But what is it allegedly transforming into? For real (particles-to-people) evolution, there must be genetic changes that increase the information content. It’s very important to define terms such as ‘evolution’ consistently—this is discussed in this definitions section of an article, as well as in the Q&A pages under information theory, mutations and speciation.

Hermaphrodites do not have any new information, but in humans are the result of an abnormality in embryonic development. Human embryos are sexually dimorphic at first (i.e. contain characteristics of both sexes), because they all have basically the same genetic information, and this information is expressed as efficiently as possible as the embryo develops. This is design economy. For example, in all human embryos, at first both the müllerian duct system (female) and the wolffian duct system (male) develop, because both sexes have the genetic information for these structures. Incidentally, this refutes the urban myth that human embryos ‘start off female’. The subsequent differences are the result of designed chemical signals that control the expression of the information. For example, a gene set usually found on the Y chromosome controls the levels of testosterone and dihydroxytestosterone (DHT) secretion. Above a certain level, these hormones suppress the development of the müllerian duct system and promote the wolffian duct system, so the embryo takes on masculine characteristics. Below a certain hormone level, the opposite happens, and the embryo takes on female characteristics. But if for some reason the genetic information for one sex or the other is not switched off, then a hermaphrodite results. This hasn’t the slightest thing to do with evolution from goo to you via the zoo.

In short, the hermaphroditic state arises because of a defect in development. Such defects happen in our fallen world. It does not involve any new genetic information, so it has nothing to do with evolution. A lesson: if readers are faced with a ‘proof’ of evolution, just ask whether any new genetic information arises, i.e. whether it really has anything to do with real molecules to man evolution, and how this ‘proof’ refutes the biblical creation framework.

I hope the above is helpful.

Yours Faithfully
(Dr) Jonathan Sarfati
Research scientist, author and editorial consultant

Published: 2 February 2006

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The Greatest Hoax on Earth?
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Christianity for Skeptics
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