The Intelligent Designer & Wisdom Teeth

One of the glaring design gaffes we mentioned in Buffoon Award Winner — The Intelligent Designer was: “Our teeth are troublesome — they decay, they don’t replace themselves, and there are too many of them for the size of our jaws.”

From time to time, creationists make silly attempts to deny the obvious — for example, in Discovery Institute Justifies Vestigial Organs, we discussed how the Discoveroids attempted to justify vestigial organs, including wisdom teeth, by saying:

Just because we don’t know something’s function doesn’t mean there isn’t one. … An ID advocate would be curious to investigate and discover the function, not dismiss the whole question out of hand. He or she would start with the assumption that if it’s there, it probably has a function.

The issue is back in the news today. At the News OK website, run by the The Oklahoman of Oklahoma City, we find this headline: Wisdom-tooth extraction presents challenges for people of faith. They have a comments feature, but there aren’t any comments yet. Here are some excerpts from the article, with bold font added by us:

For many teens, the extraction of four healthy teeth is a ritual of high school, much like getting a driver’s license or going to the prom. But some people question the wisdom of pulling wisdom teeth, saying that it’s a traumatic procedure that may be unnecessary. … And deciding whether to subject their child to surgery can be an especially tricky dilemma for people of faith who reject the reason dentists give for the need: the shrinkage of the jaw through evolution over millions of years.

That’s one of the many crises a creationist must face when dealing with the real world. Then the article says:

From a creationist viewpoint, wisdom teeth are valuable gifts from the Creator and should not be removed if healthy, wrote John D. Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research in Dallas.

Should not be removed if healthy? Why would they ever be unhealthy? No answer. The article is loaded with conflicting advice from dental authorities about removing wisdom teeth before it becomes necessary, and the risks of the procedure at any time. This isn’t a blog about dentistry — nor will it ever be! — so we’ll skip all of that. Scanning for some creationism, we come to this:

Scientists say that’s because our jaws are significantly smaller than those of our ancestors, largely because of what we eat. The transition from diets of meat and roughage to refined grain removed a lot of work our teeth and jaws used to have to do. This affects not only wisdom teeth, but our teeth’s alignment (meaning orthodontists have jobs because we started cultivating grain).

That’s Lysenkoism! Now that Stalin is dead, what scientist would say something like that? Eating differently from our ancestors won’t, by itself, alter the jaw size of our progeny. It might allow small-jawed individuals to survive long enough to reproduce, but it wouldn’t remove large-jawed people from the gene pool. Oh, wait — the mystery is explained:

For people who believe in the Bible’s account of creation, changes due to diet offer a plausible explanation for the wisdom-tooth dilemma, since they reject the idea of macroevolution.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Creationists will say anything, as long as it isn’t evolution. The article continues:

“Creation science says, God doesn’t make junk,” said Frank Sherwin, a zoologist and researcher with the Institute for Creation Research and co-author of [who cares?] and other books. “There’s a perfectly good reason for those teeth coming in, and it’s to grind the groceries, as it were,” he said. “When individuals who are maturing into adulthood have a diet that stimulates mandible development, they chew on material that stimulates the jaw to become more robust. Maybe the most robust thing we eat today is a Big Mac,” Sherwin said.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! If you chow down on dinosaur meat, like your ancestors used to do before the Flood, you would need those wisdom teeth, and your jaw would grow large enough to accommodate them.

The rest of the article is about dentistry, and that doesn’t interest us at all, so this is where we’re going to quit. Some may find the creationist viewpoint to be entirely satisfactory. Not your Curmudgeon. We’ll stick with our decision to give the designer — blessed be he! — our Buffoon Award. It’s well deserved.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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13 responses to “The Intelligent Designer & Wisdom Teeth

  1. And if you eat only whole dried corn kernels, you eventually gain the ability to distend your jaw like a snake and can swallow a cassowary egg whole.
    *nods*

  2. Facts:
    1. My 70+ year-old father still has wisdom teeth.
    2. I had my wisdom teeth removed shortly before my 22nd birthday.
    3. My daughter had her stingy two front teeth removed at the age of five to make room for the teeth growing in behind it.

    Conclusion: This just proves the loss of information in, and the deterioration of, the genome!

  3. Long ago when I was teaching high school biology in a small midwestern town, I sparked controversy by openly teaching evolution. This carried over into other courses, as a social studies teacher remarked that he told his students he would lecture on the evolution of governmental systems and a student proclaimed, “I don’t believe in evolution, so I’m not taking notes!”

  4. You Darwinist fools! Surely it is manifest that our ‘imperfect’ teeth have been lovingly hand-crafted by the Intelligent Designer to provide a lucrative living for dentists! In just the same way as our propensity for lower back pain does not arise from our ‘evolution’ (which did not happen) but is carefully built-in by the designer to provide a comfortable living to His Chosen Chiropractors.

    Your infallible intuition should have told you as much, and if not, then you should have heeded the words of Jebus himself, when he proclaimed in his Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the teeth-pullers, for they shall inherit fine mansions in gated communities with their own golf courses.”

  5. Our Curmudgeon reveals

    This isn’t a blog about dentistry

    What!? So now you tell us! All these years of faithfully following this blog, all the while wondering when you are finally going to get down to the real nitty-gritty and talk teeth, and when you finally do, you tell us, “That’s all, folks!”

    …But please tell me this is a blog about chiropractors! Please!

  6. Wisdom-tooth extraction presents challenges for people of faith

    Yup; extract one such tooth from one of these ID/creationists and that is the last vestige of “wisdom” they will ever experience.

  7. A shortened mandible and lack of room for wisdom teeth is not diet-related (or least, not solely) – it’s sexual selection. Research has shown a link between subjective facial attractiveness (in both guys and girls) and lower jaw length. In other words (all other factors being equal), the shorter the lower jaw, the more attractive the face. Over the centuries, the lower jaw has shortened as a result. So, anyone who’s suffered the trauma of wisdom teeth extraction surgery can blame sex. Ain’t science grand?

  8. If Curmy does make this a dental blog, I’ve got things to say about bicuspids, malocclusion, disclusion, and gum pockets.

  9. From Candide, Prof Pangloss opines,”It is demonstrable that things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for as all things have been created for some end, they must necessarily be created for the best end. Observe, for instance, the nose is formed for spectacles, therefore we wear spectacles.”

    and

    “it [Syphilis] was a thing unavoidable, a necessary ingredient in the best of worlds; for if Columbus had not caught in an island in America this disease, which contaminates the source of generation, and frequently impedes propagation itself, and is evidently opposed to the great end of nature, we should have had neither chocolate nor cochineal.”

    Voltaire was making fun of ID in the 1750s.

  10. I still have all my wisdom teeth, although they grew in abnormally; my sisters both had theirs removed. I’m in favor of leaving them alone as long as they’re not causing trouble. This is not he same as leaving the appendix alone; my grandparents didn’t have my mother’s removed when she was little, and as an adult she nearly died when it burst.

    “Creation science says, God doesn’t make junk,” said Frank Sherwin, a zoologist and researcher with the Institute for Creation Research and co-author of [who cares?] and other books. “There’s a perfectly good reason for those teeth coming in, and it’s to grind the groceries, as it were,” he said. “When individuals who are maturing into adulthood have a diet that stimulates mandible development, they chew on material that stimulates the jaw to become more robust. Maybe the most robust thing we eat today is a Big Mac,” Sherwin said.

    (1) There’s no such thing as “creation science.” It’s an oxymoron propounded by morons.
    (2) I assume by “grind the groceries” Dr. Sherwin means “chew up leaves, grass and bark,” which is what other species do. Humans don’t subsist on such a diet—but of course creationists think that in the Garden nothing, not even lions and tigers and bears, oh my, ate meat.
    (3) And on the subject of meat, rather than transitioning away from eating it humans historically have moved in the opposite direction as their societies’ wealth increased. Even in today’s America, in which vegetarianism is peddled as a health nostrum, a moral duty and even (for groups like the Seventh-Day Adventists) a religious requirement, there’s no serious sign of a “transition” away from meat-eating.

  11. A good part of the recent need to remove wisdom teeth is not a genetically smaller jaw but the lack of rigorous chewing. Normal chewing (i.e., prior to ca. 10,000 years ago) was tough work and the teeth moved up and down slightly in their sockets. The result–interproximal wear, whereby the teeth narrowed slightly front to back. This combined with mesial drift–gradual movement toward the centerline–seemed to have created just enough room in almost all erly folks for the third molars to erupt without problems.

    But then if you believe that humans have existed no more than 6,000 years that explanation is not possible.

    Such are the wonders of creation “science.”

  12. @Coyote Thanks to ever-present evolutionary pressure, roughly 25% of people now lack wisdom teeth completely. (This number is apparently as high as 45% in some populations.) The gene mutation responsible apparently goes back several hundred thousand years, suggesting that wisdom teeth were already being selected against before the introduction of agriculture.

  13. The mutation may go back several hundred thousand years, but this by no means implies that selection for or against was present at the time or soon after.