Archive for November, 2010

Laryngeal Nerve — designed or evolved?

November 17th, 2010 1 comment

An interesting argument made against life being designed is the path of the Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve (RLN.) If life was designed why would God take such an un-optimal path for the nerve — especially as seen in the giraffe?

The claim is that if you look at the RLN in fish you’ll see a more direct path, and as species evolved this nerve just got wrapped up and ended up taking a very indirect route below the heart. It makes sense, it looks like we can simply say “evolution did-it tm” and shrug it off. However, before we do that let’s think how un-useful that is towards our knowledge of biology. If we look at this “junk DNA” and say evolution did-it, we hinder our progression in science. It’s more interesting and useful to first assume there is a plan behind it and figure out why it is the way it is. That’s what we did with “junk DNA” and it ended up not being junk!

Even if I believed macro evolution was true (which I don’t,) I wouldn’t say that the indirect path of the LN was caused from it. How can evolution pay attention to such details like our eye lashes and eye brows yet take such a strange path for the LN? Just like most other things with evolution (like vestigial organs, junk DNA, eyes being wired backwards (, etc.) it will probably end up going against the Darwin theory.

So what are some possibilities behind this RLN? I have heard some good ideas, check out

As a computer programmer I try to relate code to biology. I may look at code that someone else wrote and wonder why the heck they did that. I may even go as far as rewriting what they wrote trying to improve it only to find out that once my new elegant code is executed I discover major bugs. Then further digging reveals that what the original author did had an elegant purpose. I have the same view with life. Until we’re at the point where we can design life ourselves we should be very skeptical about un-optimal design. I am willing to bet that if we designed a giraffe from the¬†embryonic stage to adult life with a short RLN we would find some very serious bugs.

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