Creation Commentary - March 2002

Wisdom Teeth

Dr. John Morris (of the Institute for Creation Research) wrote an article, “Is Lack of Room for Wisdom Teeth Proof of Evolution?”, in the March 2002 Acts and Facts. He ended the article by saying,

“As far as evolution goes, how can it be said that loss of a useful feature, or loss of room for that feature demonstrates evolution? This is the opposite of evolutionary development! How much better if evolution could explain the origin of structures, not their loss.” [italics in the original]

Although we agree with Dr. Morris, as far as he went, we think he should have gone farther. He stopped when he had made the point that if a toothless jaw changed into a jaw with teeth, that would be evolution. If a jaw with teeth changed into a jaw without teeth, that would actually be devolution. Loss of a previously existing feature does not show how that feature appeared in the first place. Dr. Morris is absolutely right about this.

But Dr. Morris’ rhetorical question deserves to be answered because the answer shows another serious flaw in evolutionary thinking. If one had asked Charles Darwin, “As far as evolution goes, how can it be said that loss of a useful feature (such as teeth) demonstrates evolution?”, Mr. Darwin would have had a ready answer.

“From the facts alluded to in the first chapter, I think there can be little doubt that use in our domestic animals strengthens and enlarges certain parts, and disuse diminishes them; and that such modifications are inherited.” [emphasis supplied] 1

Mr. Darwin would then, we suppose, have argued that if someone fed an animal a diet consisting entirely of acorns and walnuts, the animal would have developed stronger, sharper teeth to chew these harder foods. Furthermore, these “adaptations” (acquired traits) would have been inherited. In subsequent generations a new species would have resulted, with very hard, sharp teeth. On the other hand, if the animal was feed a steady diet of nothing but milk shakes, its teeth might have gotten very soft from lack of use (and tooth decay). The soft teeth would have been inherited, and eventually might have disappeared entirely in subsequent generations. Thus, Mr. Darwin would have argued that the loss of a useful feature does, indeed, show how evolution works because it shows that disuse diminishes certain parts, and that such modifications are inherited.

Of course, modern scientists know that acquired characteristics are not inherited. It makes no difference to the strength of your offspring if you have won a body building contest or are a couch potato. Whenever evolutionists appeal to vestigial organs (including wisdom teeth) as evidence for evolution, their argument is based on a nineteenth century notion that has been disproved by modern science.

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1 Darwin, 1859, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, Chapter 5