Evolution’s Useless-Organ Argument

By Wayne Jackson

According to the advocates of evolution, many of earth’s creatures have within their bodies certain structures which are entirely useless. Reputedly, these body features are the remnants of a former phase of the animal’s evolutionary past.

Even human beings are supposed to have these physical relics of their evolutionary background. H. G. Wells and his colleagues described the human body as a “Museum of Evolution” (1934, 415).

Here is an example to illustrate the vestigial principle. Men have buttons on the sleeves of their jackets. These buttons have no present function. However, in a bygone era, they served as attachments for lacy shirt sleeves which extended out of, and folded back along, the coat sleeves. Currently, though, the buttons are vestigial.

Similarly, it is alleged, different creatures, including humans, possess vestigial organs that point to a more primitive existence. Reflect upon this assertion for a moment.

First, arguments of this nature are simply groundless speculations born of the desire to find some evidence for evolution. For example, the claim is made occasionally that the fact that birds have scales on their legs must indicate that at some point in the past they were reptiles.

Where is the logic in that type of reasoning? Scales constitute a very effective protective feature which evinces design on the part of a designer. Is some biological law violated by the fact that both reptiles and birds have scales? Certainly not. And it is sheer fantasy to suggest that this similarity establishes a kinship between them.

Second, the fact that scientists examine a particular feature in an organism and are unable to observe a specific function does not mean that the trait is purposeless. Our knowledge of biological anatomy is expanding continually. As shall be noted subsequently, many organs, once thought to be useless, are now acknowledged to be quite vital.

Third, it is possible that an organ may be more functional during an earlier stage of one’s life than is required later. If a structure serves a purpose at any time, to any degree in a creature’s existence, it cannot be classified as vestigial.

Consider some examples of alleged vestigial organs.

(1) It is argued that whales have the remnants of legs in the posterior region of their massive bodies. There are certain cartilaginous bones (six to ten inches long) in the rear area of the whale, but there is absolutely no proof that these were once legs. These bones serve wonderfully well as anchors to support certain muscles in this region of the sea monster’s great body.

Actually, though, this leg argument presents more of a problem than proof for the evolution theory. If the whale has the remnants of legs, that must mean it once lived on land. This would suggest that the ancestors of these creatures first lived in the sea (as fish), eventually crawled out on land (where they evolved legs), and then, at some point, went back into the sea, where their legs shriveled into the vestiges now observable. This is ridiculous.

(2) The pineal body is a small gland located in the brain. Evolutionists once contended that the pineal is merely the vestigial remains of a primitive eye. H. G. Wells and his partners wrote:

Apparently the pineal gland is a forehead eye which first became blind and useless and then (at least in higher vertebrates) was turned to another purpose, and made into a ductless gland (1208).

Blind evolution can certainly perform miracles if it can turn an eye into a ductless gland! And why would that third eye have been discarded? If two heads are better than one, would not three eyes be better than two?

Some medical authorities now believe that the pineal body plays a vital role in human reproduction. Dr. William Beck, an evolutionist, comments:

The function of the pineal body in man has only been recently elucidated. It is apparently another neuroendocrine transducer—that is, it converts neural information into endocrine information (1971, 445).

“Neuroendocrine transducer”? That sounds an awefully lot like a specially designed organ, does it not?

(3) The thymus, located between the lungs near the top of the breastbone, was once regarded “as an evolutionary left-over—useless, nonproductive, a source of no good and possibly of trouble.” It is now known that the thymus is the chief component of the body’s defense system.

One writer, an evolutionist, says that it is “more complex than the defense system of any country” (Ratcliff 1980, 64, 65). And yet, it is supposed to have developed entirely by accident. (For further discussion of this concept, see Jackson 2000.)

(4) The appendix is an organ which evolutionists long considered as vestigial. They suggested that “we should be better without” the appendix (Wells, 87). But Dr. R. G. Taylor, a specialist in internal medicine, has affirmed that the appendix is only beginning to be understood since the 1960s. He observes that organs like the tonsils and the appendix are apparently involved in the body’s defense mechanism, preventing disease germs from entering the system (Nelson 1967, 196).

Again, however, the appendix presents a problem for evolutionists. If it is a vestige of some former evolutionary state, it ought to be more clearly defined as we proceed backward, examining our family tree. Curiously, though, our supposedly near “relatives,” the monkeys, do not even have an appendix, while our more distant “kinsmen,” the rabbit and opossum, do possess the organ. This is not a reasonable circumstance in the evolutionary scheme of things.

(5) Evolutionists have frequently alleged that human body hair is “purely vestigial.” It is argued that we needed this hair during cold weather back when we were furry creatures; now, however, we are merely cumbered with “thousands of useless hairs” which testify to our apeish history (Wells, 415).

Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. Each hair shaft lies within a follicle. Near the base of the follicle is a tiny muscle. When the muscle contracts, the hair functions like a lever, squeezing a sebaceous gland near the follicle, which deposits an oily substance (sebum) into the upper layer of the skin. This oily secretion helps keep the skin pliable and also serves as a waterproofing material. Body hair is hardly useless.

It is thus quite apparent that the argument for evolution, based upon the existence of so-called vestigial organs, is simply insufficient to establish the case. Rather, time and again, these allegedly useless organs have been shown to be quite valuable.

Evolution must be rejected by reasonable people.

Sources/Footnotes
  • Beck, William S. 1971. Human Design. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.
  • Jackson, Wayne. 2000. The Human Body – Accident or Design? Stockton, CA: Christian Courier Publications.
  • Nelson, Byron C. 1967. After Its Kind. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany.
  • Ratcliff, J. D. 1980. I Am Joe’s Body. New York, NY: Berkley Books.
  • Wells, H. G., Julian S. Huxley, and G. P. Wells. 1934. The Science of Life. New York, NY: The Literary Club.
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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.