wisdom teeth as an argument for evolution

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by fedr808, Nov 29, 2010.

  1. fedr808 1100101 Valued Senior Member

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    Here is an argument I have drafted using the existance of wisdom teeth as evidence for evolution. While I could have used almost any other vestigial structure I chose wisdom teeth because most people are familiar with them. This argument is intended for a debate against creationists, which is not whom many of you are.

    So if there are any suggestions or additions I would appreciate them. Here it is:


    85% of Americans have their wisdom teeth removed, which means that chances are all of you know exactly what they are. But as a brief recap, they are four teeth that make up the third molars in our mouths. These teeth commonly cause pain and trouble later on in life by causing cysts, impacts, and damage to the gums and nerves. Thus, they are removed by dental surgeons in order to prevent any of these problems from occurring.

    So if evolution is all about selecting individuals that survive better than the rest than why would evolution select a third molar which serves no practical purpose but rather causes pain and dental trouble later on in life? Well you see, evolution works on the scale of tens of millions, even hundreds of millions of years. It can take millions of years before there is enough change in a group of organisms to warrant a new species. Homo Sapiens are around 200,000 years old. Which considering we are some of the youngest species of animals yet by far the most successful in such a short period of time is extraordinary. Which means that the teeth are left over from when we were not a different species but rather a member of another species.

    This is supported by what we know of our oldest ancestors, the Neanderthals

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    Now, if you look closely you can see the two molars on the human skull. (They are the first two teeth from the left, they look wider than the other teeth). This is why wisdom teeth are a problem, our teeth already have to be spaced closely together as well as being more compact, there is simply not enough room for another set of molars and that is why they cause a problem. If you see the Neanderthal you can identify the third set of molars which we call 'wisdom teeth' (the first teeth from the right on the Neanderthal skull). Observe how they fit quite well inside the jaw, it is still a somewhat tight fit but you can see that they are not impacting into the molars next to them but are growing straight in the way that they should. This is why we have wisdom teeth, evolution has changed our skulls and bodies in a significant way from the Neanderthals which sported a more robust anatomy. But evolution has not completely changed the third molar. Why do I say 'completely'? Because we can actually see how in certain parts of the world the third molar is frequently absent from the population yet in others it is common. We are actually IN the process of losing our wisdom teeth through evolution. The agenesis (the failure of an organ or body part to grow during development) of wisdom teeth ranges from nearly 0% for Tasmanians all the way to nearly 100% in indigenous Mexicans.

    But what if we are wrong, and G-d gave us the wisdom teeth? Why exactly? According to theologians of the Christian faith the world was created in 4004 BCE. Around 1000 years prior to the Bronze age. The average life expectancy of the Neolithic age (predating the Bronze age) was around 25 years of age, the average life expectancy of the Bronze age was around 35 years of age. Wisdom teeth only develop fully around 17-25 years of age. Assuming no impaction the wisdom teeth will be finished growing at around the age of 25. Now, one of the reasons why we live a lot longer in the modern era rather than Neolithic times is because of medicine and a significantly better understanding of how our body works. Now G-d never created humans with this understanding, according to the bible mankind never became intelligent until after Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge. This means that according to the bible G-d never intended a human being to live beyond an average of 25 years of age. Wisdom teeth only become fully useful if they are completely and correctly grown (which is why some people never have to get them removed) which takes 25-26 years time. If G-d never intended us to live beyond 25 years of age because he did forbid us from eating from the tree of knowledge than by the time wisdom teeth would be finished growing, on average we would already be dead. Why would G-d ever give us wisdom teeth if they do not actually serve any sort of purpose because we would be dead before they could become useful? If G-d is a logical and orderly being as the bible describes him to be than why in the world would he give us something that at best is completely useless as well as taking up space, but at worst a source of severe pain and infection? When man ate of the tree of knowledge AGAINST G-d's will we gained the ability to seek and crave knowledge. According to the bible this is the basis for why we have risen above the other species and why we are so much more intelligent. And as part of that intelligence we gain a greater understanding of the human body which leads to modern medicine. And that greater understanding is why on average a human being in modern times will live almost 3 times the lifespan that G-d originally wanted us to live. According to the bible G-d never wanted us to live on average greater than 25 years, but why would he give us wisdom teeth if they can only become useful to us at the age of 25? He wouldn't, it is illogical and thus, it means that we could not have been created according to intelligent design because the fact that we have such a flaw and such a useful vestigial structure is an error, and we all know how according to the bible, G-d does not make errors.

    The existence of wisdom teeth and the variation in abiogenesis throughout the world gives a clear testament to the existence of evolution and it shows how evolution takes great periods of time to make such subtle changes as the removal of four teeth.
     
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  3. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    Neanderthals are NOT our ancestors. We both branched off from an early common ancestor but you raise an interesting question:

    As both have "wisdom teeth" it seems reasonable that that "earlier common ancestor" did too. From fact man's jaw is too small for them (and smaller than the Neanderthal's jaw) It seems reasonable to assume man's jaw evolved to be smaller (and his whole skull is too). Yet man, not the larger brained stronger Neanderthal, survived into the current era.

    The question is why we, and not the Neanderthal, are currently the dominate creatures on Earth? I gave one possible answer nearly two decades ago in a Johns Hopkins publication: Ref. 1 of the link below.

    The post of link below also gives that reason, as a minor point, in discussion of my suggestion that perception is not achieved as commonly accepted, but a creative process, the Real Time Simulation, RTS, of parietal brain.* The link below is focused on how the RTS also makes it possible that free will is not in conflict with the known neural process, which are 100% controlled by deterministic physical laws.

    See the RTS essay here: http://www.sciforums.com/showpost.php?p=905778&postcount=66

    * The RTS allowed the weaker humans to be much more successful fighters than Neanderthals, whose perception of the environment "emerged" with a slight delay due to the neural processing. I.e. was not a "real time" understanding of, for example, where a rock thrown at them was.

    Thus, humans could do more with a smaller brain and evolution reduced the human brain size as brains, not needed for survival, are a big biological expense, which is selected AGAINST by evolution.

    Perhaps in some distant day, evolution will have further reduced the size of the human brain. For example when everyone has had a tiny voice commanded calculator for a long time, we will not be able to tell 127 - 54 = 100 -27 = 63 without it as we lack the brain power.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2010
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  5. woowoo Registered Senior Member

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    Maybe we had better dentists than Neanderthals, tooth disease was
    a major cause of death in the middle ages, evidence from ancient
    Egyptian mummies indicates that these people suffered terribly from
    tooth decay but for all their science they never developed dentistry;
    their food contained grit and sand from the desert which was abrasive
    to their teeth.

    I had an impacted wisdom tooth with an abscess on top, was in agony
    for days, I can easily imagine dying a horrible death from blood
    poisoning without getting it pulled. We would all be much better off
    without any teeth at all, replacing them with plastic dentures, no
    more toothache.
     
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  7. fedr808 1100101 Valued Senior Member

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    I am somewhat confused on what part of my argument the first paragraph addresses.

    As for the second, I suppose there is the one argument that plastic dentures can wear down, especially from the brutal forces your mouth can achieve. Have you ever tried to take a skittle and squash it with your hands or fingers? I've never been able to do it, yet your mouth can crush it without a second thought. I'd be afraid of the plastic wearing down. Although I suppose you could make it so there is a root structure put into the gums and ends a millimeter above the gums and have a way to attach the teeth so you can swap them out when needed.
     
  8. fedr808 1100101 Valued Senior Member

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    Interesting reading. I definitely appreciated the use of chaos theory and quantum uncertainty.

    Before learning about entropy, QU, and Chaos theory I always figured chaos to be evil, bad, wierd.

    Afterwards I realized that it was order that was bad. Chaos gives us incentive to change. In a perfectly orderly world the amoeba has no incentive to involve into the fish, the molecule has no incentive to become the amino acid. etc...

    Ironic how we sprang from chaos yet we try and eliminate it with order.

    Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it.
     
  9. woowoo Registered Senior Member

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    The Egyptians teeth were so bad they would have been in constant
    pain and it would have been very difficult to eat anything. This included
    the royal family, can you imagine how the people would have suffered
    with their ruler and government constantly complaining of toothache,
    a bit like Obama getting smacked in the lip every day.

    Plastic dentures are held in place by suction, they crack occasionally
    but can be repaired with a laser, so good is the repair it's impossible
    to see the break. After a while they become completely comfortable,
    you would not notice them, anyway you can always keep a spare pair
    in you pocket in case of problems.
     
  10. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    Thanks. Glad you like my RTS essay.
    Yes, but you can get too much of even a good thing.
     
  11. fedr808 1100101 Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, if there is too much chaos than changes happen so quickly to make an inhospitable environment because life and evolution can't keep up (at least by our definition), but too little change and there is no reason for evolution to happen in the first place.
     
  12. Emil Valued Senior Member

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    I would have preferred to be like sharks.How to fail one, as it grows another one.
    There would be no need for dentists.
    But evolution is not over so who knows what the future holds?
     
  13. birch Valued Senior Member

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    evolution is not an efficient process. it takes a lot of time to adapt to changes and doesn't deal well with sudden changes either. it's a wonder considering how volatile life is.
     
  14. Emil Valued Senior Member

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    I guess.
     
  15. Hercules Rockefeller Beatings will continue until morale improves. Moderator

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    On the subject of tooth replacement, here's an interesting idea from the journal Medical Hypotheses....

    With the aid of science, perhaps we won't be too dissimilar from sharks afterall.
     
  16. Mr MacGillivray Banned Banned

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    The decrease of size of the mandible isn't necessarily evolutionary. A hard diet increases the growth of the mandible.

    the human diet has gone softer during its history.

    This isn't necessarily an example of selection.
     
  17. Emil Valued Senior Member

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    After seven generations of hard diet
    how much would increase the mandible?
     
  18. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    To Hercules Rockefeller, reference your post:

    I remeber reading about 7 years ago that an embrionic "stem cell" placed in rabbits jaw grew a complete and functional tooth. Do you know more about this? That would seem to be the way to become "shark like" in denture.

    I also believe that a tiny fraction of the population does get at least part of a third set of teeth, but usually that is a curse, not a blessing.
     
  19. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    I have noticed that removal of wisdom teeth in teenagers has increased greatly. It is like their mouth got smaller or something...
     
  20. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    Evolution only cares for those individuals capable of breeding.
    It doesn't care about people who are old, sick, impotent, disabled, or who need care.

    Only human beings can do that.

    Or perhaps animals.
    Do any animals care for their fellows if they have poor genes, or little possibility of breeding?
     
  21. fedr808 1100101 Valued Senior Member

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    Okay, so back to the main subject. How good is this argument as an argument for evolution? How good is it at questioning or denying creationism? How sound is the logic and information given?
     
  22. John99 Banned Banned

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    Well it is very good and you made a good presentation.

    However, one can argue: Why were the teeth left behind when all those other things had enough time to change so why not the wisdom teeth?
     
  23. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    b/c they were not much of a problem until AFTER the jaw became smaller.

    In my POV, that jaw shrinking did not happen until the RTS was developed in parietal brain region and smaller brains with this Real Time understanding of the environment were more than a match for the Neanderthals in battle (because they perceived the environment with slight delay due to the chain of neural processing delays before their perception could "emerge.") See post 2 and its links.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 1, 2010

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