An Evolutionary Fantasy
Useless Body Parts?
Login or Create an Account
With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!
An Evolutionary Fantasy: Useless Body Parts?
If you sat down and counted all the cells in the human body, you would find more than 10 trillion (10,000,000,000,000) cells. About 12 billion of these are nerve cells linked by more than 10 trillion connections. The body’s cells make up groups of systems that work together to sustain life—the skeletal system, the muscular system, the digestive system, the nervous system, the reproductive system and the cardiovascular system.
All of these systems have subsystems. For example, the muscular system has involuntary and voluntary muscles. Involuntary muscles work without our conscious effort—such as the cardiac or heart muscle. Voluntary muscles are muscles that we have to think about to use—like a bicep muscle that helps us to pick up things.
Not only do the systems in the human body perform specific tasks, but they also work together to improve the work of each system. For example, the skeleton provides the framework to support the body and to protect vital organs. It also provides mobility to the body and produces red and white blood cells that move energy through the body, fight infection and remove waste material.
Are these “vestigial organs” really useless body parts, or did a Creator God Himself design them with important roles to play?
Despite how impressive and complex our bodies are, proponents of Darwinian evolution have long insisted that parts of the human body are useless. They assume these so-called “vestigial organs” are just leftovers of man’s evolutionary process that serve no useful bodily function.
A Discovery News article several years ago featured a list of supposed “useless” parts in the human body without any follow-up or consideration as to what value these body parts could have. Are these “vestigial organs” really useless body parts, or did a Creator God Himself design them with important roles to play? Let’s give them a closer look.
The third eyelid: plica semilunaris
Theplica semilunaris, or the “third eyelid” located in the corner of your eye near the tear duct, looks like an “extra” fold of skin. Evolutionary theory sees it as a remnant of an extra eyelid like the kind a lizard or a shark has. The fact is, it has an important job.
When we wake up we often have gunk in the corner of our eyes—the result of the plica semilunaris secreting sticky mucus that collects dust, dirt and other matter on the surface of our eyes. This debris is gently moved to the corner of our eye where it can be easily removed. If not removed, it could scratch or damage our sensitive eyeballs. The plica semilunaris also provides a first line of defense to prevent the entrance of microbes into the eye.
Adenoids and tonsils
The tonsils are located on each side of the back of the mouth, and the adenoids are located above the roof of the mouth behind the nose. Darwinian evolution’s supporters claim that these organs are prone to infection and should be taken out early in life. After all, they think, these perform no important function in the body. Not true! Just glance in any medical reference book. It will show that these organs are prone to infection because they trap bacteria as part of the lymphatic system.
These two organs are situated where they are because they’re a vital part of the body’s first line of defense. Doctors have found that the adenoids and tonsils “sample” bacteria and viruses that enter through the nose and mouth to help figure out the body’s response. While they can become infected, this is more a result of the job they perform rather than being useless. On top of that, the adenoids have specialized cells that make antibodies to help fight infections.
The tailbone or coccyx
The coccyx serves a very important purpose as an anchor for various muscles, tendons and ligaments. While most medical doctors know how important the coccyx is, many still assume it’s a leftover tail from our supposed earlier primate evolution from monkeys. The coccyx is actually three to five separate or fused vertebrae. As the lowermost part of the spinal column, it is designed to be an anchor while the rest of the spinal column remains more flexible.
If we didn’t have a tailbone for attaching the abdominal muscles that help us lean back and sit down comfortably, we couldn’t function. Many ligaments that cooperate in the flexing and support of the spinal column attach to the coccyx. It works along with muscles of the pelvic floor and muscles that help us walk. The coccyx also offers some protection when we fall on our rear, helping to prevent the more sensitive spinal column from being damaged.
Evolutionists maintain that early humans were hairier when they supposedly first branched off from other primates. It’s argued that our ancestors lost the hair over time, not needing as much to keep warm as they learned other ways to keep warm and as their bodies developed better temperature regulation. Thus, our body hair today is taken to be a useless leftover. But let’s look at some of the more up-to-date medical understanding about our body hair.
Body hair provides a variety of functions. The hair on our heads protects us from excessive sunlight and UV radiation as well as wind damage. The hair of our armpits, genitals and legs reduces friction. Hair also aids in the sweating process, pulling the sweat away from our bodies. That helps it to evaporate more easily, keeping it from sticking to the skin and causing chafing or blistering. Body hair can also redirect sweat to protect more sensitive areas, like our eyebrows keeping sweat out of our eyes.
Body hair also aids in our sense of touch. Have you ever felt a bug crawling on the hair of your head? We don’t often think about it, but a lot of what we feel on our skin is because of sensations transmitted through hairs.
As for the thick body hair that supposedly covered prehistoric man, scientists are guessing at this—making an assumption based on their belief that we descended from hairier primates. The fact is, the amount of hair we have perfectly suits our needs.
The ability of our hair to stand up comes from the erector pili (also spelled arrector pili), a muscle attached to several hair follicles. Evolutionists say we needed this ability when we were hairier to look bigger and scarier. Now, they say, it isn’t much good except for giving us goose bumps.
Yet the erector pili serve many functions. Pressure exerted by the erector pili help the sebaceous glands to secrete sebum (a natural skin lubricant), which helps maintain the integrity of the skin as a barrier (this is also why excessive skin washing is not good because it removes this sebum that helps to moisturize and protect our skin).
Sebaceous secretions work with apocrine glands to help regulate body temperature. In hot conditions the secretions emulsify and foment formation of and prevent the loss of sweat drops from the skin. In colder conditions, sebum repels rain from skin and hair. This muscle tightening also helps to retain body heat, while the loosening of these muscles can help to cool the skin.
While we can indeed get “goose bumps,” the previous section elaborated on the many other functions our body hair provides. Additionally, God gave us a wide range of emotions that can be expressed in many different ways—being frightened can cause our hair to stand up, but being cold can make our hair stand up too. God gave our bodies the ability to give us feedback on our environment and to give physical expression to our mental or emotional state.
According to accepted evolutionary theory, humans used to have bigger jaws with 32 teeth. It’s said that what we call wisdom teeth were needed to chew a rougher diet. Then, as man supposedly evolved, the jaws became smaller to match the softer diet, and the wisdom teeth were no longer needed. In fact, they’re even a problem in the smaller mouth. Some evolutionists speculate that the extra teeth were needed to replace other molars that fell out.
The major problem with viewing the molars this way is that evolutionists can’t explain why a smaller jaw is an advantage to human beings. Some modern studies have shown that jaw and tooth development and alignment have a lot to do with how strong the jaw muscles are. Foods that require more chewing (not modern processed foods) have a big determination in how the molars develop and align.
What’s more, this evolutionary perspective would have more weight if every case of erupting wisdom teeth required removal, but studies have shown that most of the cases involving removal of wisdom teeth were done preventatively. Studies have shown that about 80 percent of wisdom tooth removal was done whether there was a dental problem or not.
The bottom line is that wisdom teeth should be treated as any other tooth—useful in chewing the food we eat, or treated appropriately if they fail to function properly.
Sitting at the junction of the small intestine and large intestine, the appendix is a thin tube about four inches long and normally in the lower right abdomen. As might be expected, evolutionists claim that the appendix was useful for digestion during our early plant-eating years, but is now useless since we started eating more easily digestible foods. Modern medical science is now admitting this is not the case.
The more research done into the natural world and understanding our bodies, the more obvious it becomes that evolution fails to account for the complexity of life.
Doctors have discovered that the appendix is very important in the immune system of babies in the womb and young adults. Loren Martin, professor of physiology at Oklahoma State University, wrote in Scientific American:
“The appendix serves an important role in the fetus and in young adults. Endocrine cells appear in the appendix of the human fetus at around the 11th week of development. These endocrine cells of the fetal appendix have been shown to produce various biogenic amines and peptide hormones, compounds that assist with various biological control . . . mechanisms.
“During the early years of development . . . the appendix has been shown to function as a lymphoid organ, assisting with the maturation of B lymphocytes (one variety of white blood cell) and in the production of the class of antibodies known as immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies. Researchers have also shown that the appendix is involved in the production of molecules that help to direct the movement of lymphocytes to various other locations in the body” (“What Is the Function of the Human Appendix? Did It Once Have a Purpose That Has Since Been Lost?” Oct. 21, 1999).
Some medical doctors believe that the appendix acts as a storehouse for good bacteria, “rebooting” the digestive system after diarrheal illnesses.
Evolution’s useless arguments
These examples can’t begin to detail all the arguments regarding parts of the human body that are considered vestigial, unnecessary or of “unknown use.” The point is that medical science eventually finds that these parts do have purposes.
But one great failing of evolutionary thinking is to not recognize that God has also designed our bodies to adapt to survive. Can we survive without an appendix, or wisdom teeth or any other “minor” part of our body? Of course we can. Humanly, we can adapt to a loss of an appendage, sight or hearing and still have a productive life. Adaptability is not evidence of evolution—it is evidence of good design.
The more research and study that’s done in the natural world around us and in understanding our bodies, the more obvious it becomes that evolution fails to account for the complexity and resiliency of life—life that God created. There is no doubt that the human body is amazing. The more scientists study it, the more complexity they discover. The bodies of other creatures are of course amazing too—as we all share the same Designer. The evidence is abundantly clear that God created us, and we are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made (Genesis 1:26; Psalm 139:14; Romans 1:20).
God made you and me, and He did so for a purpose. The next time you hear or read some statement about how evolution has shaped us, take the time to do the research and find out more about why God designed our bodies to work the way they do.
(This Beyond Today article first appeared in the October - December 2012 issue of Vertical Thought.)