Everything Created is Useful (In Praise of Vestigial Organs)
No one will dispute the fact that science is continuing to advance. Our knowledge of how the world works increases each year. But that new information is also doing something amazing. It is showing us the importance of vestigial organs, creating a stumbling block to evolutionary theory.
To help you understand all the science-y stuff, let me give you an example from a (hypothetical) kitchen. Let’s say a person once spent lots and lots of time baking bread. This was in an effort to produce a good, healthful, relatively inexpensive food for her family. She went a little overboard and bought stoneware loaf pans, a grain mill to grind multiple grains, and lots of yeast and vital gluten to make the bread come out soft and fluffy. These tools were used to feed her family for a few years. But then things got super busy. She found herself not having much time to devote to baking. The family became busier and busier, and the kids were growing and moving out. Two of them identified that they had an intolerance to gluten.
Thus this (hypothetical) mom stopped baking bread. Yet if you go into her kitchen today, you would find remnants of this once-used activity. There’s a neglected grain mill and some baking pans stored in the back of the cabinet collecting dust. They once served a purpose in this kitchen but they now no longer do. They are a vestigial part of the kitchen body.
They're like our appendix.
People think some parts of the human body, like the appendix, are no longer useful. They think it is a vestigial organ. By definition, a vestigial organ or body part is something that once served a purpose within the body but is no longer useful.
According to evolutionary theory, unnecessary parts are a negative thing for organisms, hindering their ability to survive. That’s because it takes precious energy to maintain something that serves no purpose. So any organisms that happen to be born with smaller unnecessary parts will better survive as compared to those with larger ones. As they pass on the genetics for smaller unnecessary parts to their offspring, the next generation will do the same, and eventually that non-useful part is no longer there.
But living organisms are NOT like that hypothetical person’s kitchen!
It turns out that the structures in the human body that are considered non-useful actually serve important purposes. The appendix was once embraced as a vestigial organ – thought to be a remnant of a time before people evolved when the diet our “ancestors” had was filled with rough, leafy foliage. But thanks to scientific advances, we know the human appendix has lymphatic tissue which indicates it has a job in the body, serving important roles in the immune system.
Similarly, the coccyx – or tailbone – is sometimes called a vestigial structure, suggested to have been a tail in an evolutionary human ancestor. The coccyx is located at the lower end of our backbone. Scientists now know that it serves an important purpose for humans. Several ligaments and muscles are attached to it in order to provide structural support for the body to work well.
Evolutionary scientists like the idea of vestigial organs. They think these organs once served a use, but through the evolution of creatures that came before humans, these organs lost their purpose. Since they were no longer “needed” as organisms evolved, those organs started to decrease in size. Eventually, as humans continue to evolve, these organs would disappear. It seemed to make sense to them and fit their purpose.
However, thanks to scientific research, we are seeing that there is indeed purpose for all these structures. Of course we can survive without them, but we wouldn’t survive as well. For example, I can live without my pinky on my hand, but my grip would not be as strong without it. These organs can be removed and the person survives, but that is not a measure of function!
As more and more “unimportant” structures in nature are being found to have purpose and function, the idea of vestigial organs as a support for evolutionary theory is becoming less and less valid in the scientific community. Indeed, everything created by God is useful. God, in His infinite wisdom, is the perfect designer and everything He creates is important!