I recently sat down to watch one of the newest episode of the NBC series 'Heroes' and was reminded yet again how evolutionized our culture is today.
About 10 minutes into the episode 'Lizards,' a teacher, while talking about creatures with an ability to regenerate limbs, talks about how this is possible "thanks to millions of years of combined mutation…." Then when the main character asks him a further question, he states "I guess the next step for us is phasing out the extra parts. We're not using the appendix anymore, or grinding bone with our wisdom teeth, we don't even really need a pinky toe for balance. It's all just junk in our DNA."
If you didn't know, he's referring to the all-to-commonly cited "vestigial," or "useless," organs. Vestigial organs are commonly defined as useless "left-overs" from our evolutionary past. They're written in our textbooks, taught to us in class, and told to us in primetime shows. But do vestigial organs really exist? And is there really "junk" in our DNA? Well to keep this post short, as this is a blog post and not the full-fledged newsletter, the answer is no. But don't worry, I will go one step further than that. Over the next few lines, you will find why the vestigial argument of "useless" organs really is useless.
To set the stage, it would be useful to note that the list of vestigial organs has shrunk from 180 in 1890 to 0 in 1999 [Reference 2]. The media, some museums (such as the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History), and even textbooks seem to be continually "out of date" in the information being taught. They commonly cite examples of "evidences" and experiments which have been proven false, and are no longer accepted by any credible scientist as what actually happened. Such is evident with such experiments as the Miller-Urey Experiment. Scientists know the experiment is false, and they do not even accept the proposed atmosphere of the earth in the experiment, but it is kept in the textbooks as proof for evolution nonetheless. It is very frustrating when so often textbooks don't even keep up with their OWN worldview and what it teaches. Such is true with the vestigial argument.
Not a single informed scientist still believes the appendix is useless. Without getting too technical, it actually performs an important immunological function in the body. For the more technical definition:
- "The appendix is part of the immune system, strategically located at the entrance of the almost sterile ileum from the colon with its normally high bacterial content." [Reference 2]
The same is true of the wisdom teeth. Once thought to be a useless left-over from when we were apes with bigger jaws, scientists now understand that there are much better ways to explain the wisdom teeth and their purpose. These reasons do not include any evolutionary ancestry, but diet and dental care. As Reference 3 states:
- "These reasons include a change from a coarse abrasive diet to a soft western diet, lack of proper dental care, and genetic factors possibly including mutations. Common past dental practice was a tendency to routinely remove wisdom teeth. Recent empirical research has concluded that this practice is unwise." [Reference 3]
And the same is for every other example of "evolutionary vestiges." The list has been shrinking down, showing without a doubt that humans are created in the image of God, rather than a distorted, mutant mistake of an uncreated universe. Even still, some people still try to use the examples above and others (tail bone, pinky toe are some other examples) in order to indoctrinate our culture. For a larger listing of vestigial organs and how to refute them, visit: http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/faq/vestigialorgans.asp.
Back to the show, after the teacher's answer, she asks him about if people have "evolved" a new set of code. But that is a completely different subject for another time. For a more in-depth, technical overview of the topic, go the link above and Reference 2 below. Another topic that may be covered soon is embryonic development and the idea that when a fetus is developing, it goes through its evolutionary lineage. Even lately in the news there have been articles telling about the idea that the appendix might have many other uses.
Until next post,
- Cutting out a useless vestigial argument [http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v26/i3/vestigial.asp]
- Do any vestigial structures exist in humans? [http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/magazines/TJ/TJv14n2_Vestigial.pdf]
- Are wisdom teeth (third molars) vestiges of human evolution? [http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v12/i3/wisdomteeth.asp]