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Is the Atheistic and Evolutionary Argument About the Recurrent Laryngeal Nerves Valid, Wrong, or a Fraud?
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The recurrent laryngeal nerves come out of the brain, travel down each side of the neck and then double back up the neck to innervate the neck and throat area. In the giraffe's neck, the nerves travel some fifteen feet. This doubling back is used by evolutionists to prove the body is not intelligently made.
Evolutionists argue that this so-called imperfection fits their belief because evolution is a trial and error natural selective process.
At first glance, it may seem to be a poor design. We learn in grade school that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
In a popular evolutionist YouTube video, Dawkins and National Geographic put on a dissection display of a giraffe's neck in front of what appears to be a class of student ingénues. He states, after he and cohorts fiddle around with scalpels and fingers probing and pulling nerves out into the open for all to see: "No engineer would ever make a mistake like that." He then declares that it is all perfectly reasonable once it's understood that we evolved from fish bodies.
But science is about facts, not cherry-picking them, omitting context, or displaying incomplete knowledge as if it were all-encompassing.
These are facts that militate against the idea that the laryngeal nerves are a poor design:
1. No scientist even knows what life is, what causes it, or more than a tiny fraction of what goes on in a single living cell, or why. To claim to know better how any life form could be built is unjustified hubris.
2. The body is not geometric with right angles and straight lines. It is rounded, spheroidal, globular, and flexible. Nerves, blood vessels, and lymphatics course throughout the body taking myriad paths, not just the shortest route to targets. It is not all just one enormous mistake.
3. Arguing that the laryngeal nerves should take the shortest path to their targets is like arguing that the intestines should be a straight line to the anus. After all, why travel 25 feet when about 16 inches will get food to its exit? Blood vessels should go from and return directly to the heart if distance is the game. The bicep tendon should leave the shoulder and insert directly on the wrist since that would be far more mechanically advantageous. In each case, ignorance of all the functions and anatomy involved leads to naïve conclusions.
4. Not mentioned in the video or by other protagonists of this non-intelligent design argument, is the fact that in studies of humans, up to 1% have an anomaly whereby the laryngeal nerve is shortened, as evolutionists claim to be the smarter route. This non-recurrent laryngeal nerve anomaly can result in serious consequences, including difficulty in breathing and swallowing, choking, drooling, and regurgitating food, sometimes through the nose creating the risk of aspirating food into the lungs.
5. Also, conveniently not mentioned by evolutionists, is the fact that there are variations of the pathway, some taking the short direct route to the pharynx. In the diagram that is seen as the pharyngeal nerve and the superior laryngeal nerve.
6. Also, ignored is the fact that the recurrent laryngeal nerves perform functions along their route, just as the digestive tract has functions along its tortuous route. The name laryngeal is a misnomer, implying that the nerve only innervates the larynx. The laryngeal nerves are not in a sealed conduit. They send tendrils to the muscles and mucosa of the esophagus, as well as to the trachea. Cardiac neural filaments emerge and travel to the deep part of the cardiac plexus at the base of the heart. Nerves course directly to the top of the pharynx, and also by a longer route from the bottom, performing functions along the way. Damage to either route can cause different and serious neck and voice malfunctions, proving that both routes are necessary for complete function. Just like two kidneys are better and safer than one. Two origins and innervations of nerves to the neck provide an important redundancy for functions in case of injury to one.
7. When the laryngeal nerves take the long route, they course down into the chest mediastinum. There they are in proximity to lymph nodes policing disease. Infection and inflammation of these lymph nodes cause swelling, resulting in irritation of the nerves which then produces hoarseness or coughing. This mechanism serves to alert the infected person and those around that disease is present.
8. The long route is workable in all mammals, creates no dysfunction nor disease state.
9. The non-recurrent laryngeal nerve (the short route) was discovered in 1823. But some 200 years later was conveniently ignored in the video in service to the theme of attempting to prove non-intelligent design. Moreover, if the short route is the most intelligent engineering, it is puzzling why the evolutionists' most fit short variation doesn't predominate. It can only be because the long road offers functions and advantages. Some have been noted above, it's likely there are many more to be discovered. In effect, natural selection disproves evolutionists' claim that the recurrent laryngeal nerve is non-intelligent engineering. The use of ignorance, or purposeful omission of contrary facts (fraud), to make an evolutionary argument is not new. In 1893, Wiedersheim listed 180 organs that were thought to be useless vestiges of evolutionary ancestors. These included the thyroid and pineal glands, tonsils, adenoids, thymus, appendix . . . all proven to either be essential to life or important to optimal health. As knowledge has been gained, the list has gotten whittled down to a handful. It should be zero. Lack of understanding of a body part's function—or the route it may take in a healthy body—doesn't mean it's useless or designed improperly, it means ignorance of the body is the norm no matter how much knowledge is gained. Respect and awe are appropriate, not feigned knowledge and disdain. This answer has nothing to do with man-made religions.
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