Giraffe and Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Again

giraffe and recurrent laryngeal nerve debate

Incl. intelligent design, belief in divine creation

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Giraffe and Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Again

#1  Postby AlanF » Nov 25, 2019 6:55 am

I'm arguing about evolution with a typically stubborn Jehovah's Witness. She made the argument below, which of course shows she doesn't really know what she's talking about. But other readers on the forum seem to think she's some kind of authority. I want to request help to debunk this from people who know a lot more than I do about this giraffe/nerve business. I know from debating about this with other creationists that it's a favorite slippery topic with them.

I can give you another example with Mr Dawkins. He made a big do about analysing and cutting out the nerve of a giraffe on TV and demonstrating how unneccesary it was for the nerve to curve around the heart - he said it was bad "design"..... a left over from evolution.

As an African I immediately spotted his lack of understanding of animals and lack of thinking things through. Giraffes have exceptionally long necks and need the heart to get feedback of the pressure to get the blood to the head..... the design is perfect...... there are other reasons as well......in our bodies "everything" is connected ...... which is one of the several complexities which point to design.


If I were to argue against these claims, I would basically say that the recurrent laryngeal nerve is just a part of the entire vagus nerve, and only innervates the larynx, whereas the rest of the vagus nerve does into the thorax and innervates the heart and many other organs. Thus the two functions are independent, and there is no reason that the laryngeal nerve could not be made to go directly to the larynx by an all-wise Creator God.

What do y'all think?
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Re: Giraffe and Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Again

#2  Postby Thommo » Nov 25, 2019 7:14 am

I'm too much of a layman on this topic to be of help, but for the sake of my own understanding:

I'm not too sure why being an African is supposed to afford special biological knowledge, but I believe from what you've said her claim is that the recurrent laryngeal nerve provides the heart with feedback on the pressure of blood flow to the head. And the recurrent laryngeal nerve doesn't actually do that?

I guess from my own perspective (and I don't know how biologically savvy your audience is here) a plain English statement amounting to "It doesn't do that. Here's what it does do..." with the function of the nerve filled in would be the clearest approach.

Edit: Typo.
Last edited by Thommo on Nov 25, 2019 3:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Giraffe and Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Again

#3  Postby Ironclad » Nov 25, 2019 9:57 am

For Van Youngman - see you amongst the stardust, old buddy

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Re: Giraffe and Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Again

#4  Postby Ironclad » Nov 25, 2019 10:14 am

The nerve has two branches, left and right. In humans one is longer than the other as it is 'entangled' with the aorta. As we reach adulthood this branch gets longer and longer. In the giraffe it seems clear that evolution of the neck, to feed and fight, has made this detour dramatic.
What Dawkins is saying is - if you wanted to design a creature from scratch one wouldn't create a huge and seemingly unnecessary loop of costly nerve fibre, fibre that should go from the brain and into the larynx (it does not feedback information from the heart).
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Re: Giraffe and Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Again

#5  Postby Spearthrower » Nov 25, 2019 1:17 pm

As an African I immediately spotted his lack of understanding of animals and lack of thinking things through. Giraffes have exceptionally long necks and need the heart to get feedback of the pressure to get the blood to the head..... the design is perfect...... there are other reasons as well......in our bodies "everything" is connected ...... which is one of the several complexities which point to design.


As a European, I immediately spotted your lack of understanding of biology.
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Re: Giraffe and Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Again

#6  Postby hackenslash » Nov 25, 2019 2:41 pm

Worth pointing out that not only is Dawkins a recognised authority (albeit in ethology), but that he was also born in Nairobi, thus he's also African.
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Re: Giraffe and Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Again

#7  Postby Macdoc » Nov 25, 2019 11:47 pm

Besides ..we're all African and stardust :coffee:
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Re: Giraffe and Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Again

#8  Postby Ironclad » Nov 26, 2019 10:54 pm

British and star dust, if you don't mind.
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Re: Giraffe and Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Again

#9  Postby AlanF » Nov 27, 2019 4:40 pm

I want to thank everyone for their help. For your edification and entertainment my response to Arauna is below.

She appears to be fairly old and well past her prime, but retains the arrogance that I've seen in so many Jehovah's Witnesses who suffer severely from Dunning-Kruger. My guess is that, despite a good education, she fell into the JW cult and, like many of her fellow JWs, because of her education became a Big Woman in her African congregations. Thus the untoward arrogance. Most JWs are uneducated past high school, abysmally ignorant of science and any field past grade school, and often view educated JWs as demi-gods.

*==========*==========*==========*==========*==========*==========*
Arauna: I can give you another example with Mr Dawkins. He made a big do about analysing and cutting out the nerve of a giraffe on TV and demonstrating how unneccesary it was for the nerve to curve around the heart - he said it was bad "design"..... a left over from evolution.

You seem to think that Dawkins originated this idea. He did not. It has been a talking point of critics of creationism for a long time. Here's Dawkins' video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cO1a1Ek-HD0&feature=youtu.be

Of course, you've completely buggered what Dawkins said, most likely having merely parroted what creationist critics have said and then misunderstood even that.

Arauna: As an African I immediately spotted his lack of understanding of animals and lack of thinking things through.

As an American I immediately spotted the fact that you don't even know what nerve Dawkins was talking about. All you've managed to say is "the nerve" without specifying which nerve. In the video Dawkins was clear: he was talking about the recurrent laryngeal nerve. Your creationist sources have mixed that up with the vagus nerve. Here are links that clarify what each does:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vagus_nerve

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recurrent_laryngeal_nerve

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470179/

The mammalian vagus nerves, with right and left halves, descend from the brain, down through the neck, and into the chest cavity. Shortly after leaving the base of the skull, the left and right superior laryngeal nerves branch off and go directly to the larynx. As the vagus nerves descend further, various small nerves branch off. Near the heart the left and right recurrent laryngeal nerves branch off. The left branch loops around the aorta and back up to the larynx. The right branch loops around the right subclavian artery and back up to the larynx. Both branches give rise to small nerves at various points.

Note clearly that the superior (upper) laryngeal nerves branch off from the vagus nerves just below the base of the skull, close to the larynx, providing a very short path from brain to larynx. But the lower laryngeal nerves take a tortuous path all the way down to the heart, and back up again. This is especially so in the giraffe, where the extra length amounts to some 4.6 meters.

The fact that the upper laryngeal nerves go directly to the larynx proves that there is no engineering reason why the lower laryngeal nerves could not take the same direct path. And that any small nerves that branch off along the way could not better branch off from the vagus nerves without taking the tortuous loop around the heart vessels.

Dawkins' team's dissection of the giraffe neck graphically shows that the nerve length of 4.6 meters as opposed to the 5 centimeters it could have been proves that either the Supreme Engineer is a lousy or lazy Engineer, or that Evolution is the Engineer. In other words, Intelligent Design is not evident in the 'design' of the path of the giraffe's laryngeal nerves.

Given all this, we note your buggered creationist description:

Arauna: Giraffes have exceptionally long necks and need the heart to get feedback of the pressure to get the blood to the head..... the design is perfect...... there are other reasons as well......in our bodies "everything" is connected ...... which is one of the several complexities which point to design.

The laryngeal nerves have nothing to do with the heart. The heart can be served by the vagus nerves without having the recurrent laryngeal nerves come near it. The pressure feedback is not supplied by the laryngeal nerves but by the vagus nerves. Your argument is simply wrong.

The circuitous route of the laryngeal nerves is far better explained by gradual evolution of the nerve path from early fish-like ancestors. As shown by embryological studies, the vagus nerve in fish is equivalent to that of mammals. In fishy ancestors the nerve went from the brain past the heart and immediately to the gills. As creatures evolved, and the gills gradually transformed into other organs, the tiny steps of evolution required miniscule changes in embryological development. With tiny steps all along the way, there was nothing to influence development to require a complete rewiring of the vagus/laryngeal system. Evolution has no foresight but makes do with what is immediately available.

This is why all creatures so far examined, from fish on down, have essentially the same vagus nerve structure. Is your Supreme Engineer so limited that he cannot create something with better design?

On the other hand, a competent Engineer creating the giraffe 'kind' from scratch, or modifying it from some sort of ancestor, would have no such limitations. He could apply good engineering principles and create the nerve system with optimal path lengths from scratch.

See this link for another look. Plenty more such can be found:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cO1a1Ek-HD0&feature=youtu.be

At this point I know very well that you will either mostly ignore all of the above, or come up with some transparently ridiculous rationalization that any competent engineer would laugh at.
*==========*==========*==========*==========*==========*==========*

Arauna responded as I predicted:

*==========*==========*==========*==========*==========*==========*
Arauna: When I say to you that ALL nerves are connected in the body I talk from personal experience. My daughter had neuroblastoma - a nerve cancer. The growth was removed from the main nerve on the right hand side of the chest at almost 9 months of life.... it was in one area......but affected "everything " on the right hand side of her body....from head to toe. The smallest nerves in her hands and feet (extremities) were not functioning to allow normal growth as on the left side. She is a beautiful girl but on closer inspection one will find that everything is smaller on the right side. I do not need to get technical on this one because my own observation has taught me the truth about the connectedness of ALL nerves.

Arauna: Regarding all your other arguments - life could not exist if the cell does not have a membrane........... particles may have collided and after hitting the jackpot millions of times maybe formed some unstructured strings of material....... but how did they end up being in a "container" to keep them together so that the intricate structures and separate DNA of the mitochondria could develop .... and what about the cooperating structures within the cell which act like factories for the replacement of protein and the removal of garbage........ life is much more conneted and complex than evolutionists wish to give attention to.....
*==========*==========*==========*==========*==========*==========*

How do you respond to someone who, as Wolfgang Pauli quipped, "is not even wrong"?
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Re: Giraffe and Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Again

#10  Postby Spearthrower » Nov 27, 2019 5:37 pm

When I say to you that ALL nerves are connected in the body I talk from personal experience.


Personal experience is utterly irrelevant when it comes to talking about facts.

The only way in which ALL nerves are connected in the body is that they're all either the central nervous system, or connected to the central nervous system, which relays electrochemical impulses to the brain.

With this loose a definition of them all being connected, then everything in the body is connected anyway, so it's a pointless distinction.
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Re: Giraffe and Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Again

#11  Postby Spearthrower » Nov 27, 2019 5:40 pm

Regarding all your other arguments - life could not exist if the cell does not have a membrane........... particles may have collided and after hitting the jackpot millions of times maybe formed some unstructured strings of material....... but how did they end up being in a "container" to keep them together so that the intricate structures and separate DNA of the mitochondria could develop .... and what about the cooperating structures within the cell which act like factories for the replacement of protein and the removal of garbage........ life is much more conneted and complex than evolutionists wish to give attention to.....


And the answer to this is: stop pretending you know what you're talking about as you've been given a childish level of understanding from your religious overseers through a brainwashing Watchtower tract and have faithfully repeated it without bothering to inform yourself beyond that childish level of understanding. The only people you could hope to convince with this is people as poorly informed and intellectually lazy as yourself.

Evolution shows how life is connected and complex; your belief has a God magic all this complex interconnectivity POOF into existence from nothing.
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Re: Giraffe and Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Again

#12  Postby Thommo » Nov 27, 2019 5:42 pm

I also have personal experience of having connected nerves. I was led to believe this is commonplace. :nod:
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Re: Giraffe and Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Again

#13  Postby Spearthrower » Nov 27, 2019 5:44 pm

My personal experience of tri-geminal neuralgia is pretty insistent that it's my face that feels like its on fire, no other part of my body through 'connected nerves' has felt obliged to join in.
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Re: Giraffe and Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Again

#14  Postby hackenslash » Nov 27, 2019 8:28 pm

The damage to the nerves in my lower lumbar often makes it feel like I'm being repeatedly kicked in the left testicle, so her argument is a load of bollocks.
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Re: Giraffe and Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Again

#15  Postby Ironclad » Nov 27, 2019 9:28 pm

:lol:
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Re: Giraffe and Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Again

#16  Postby Rumraket » Nov 27, 2019 11:24 pm

We already had a similar topic her before, in which I wrote this post:
http://www.rationalskepticism.org/post2609728.html#p2609728

In which I pointed out that:
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Re: Giraffe and Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Again

#17  Postby Rumraket » Nov 27, 2019 11:30 pm

AlanF wrote:How do you respond to someone who, as Wolfgang Pauli quipped, "is not even wrong"?

You don't. There's no reason for this kind of have-the-last-word-ism. You've said all there is to be said on the topic, and you should not expect to be able to say something that will somehow shut down the conversation and make her agree with you. That will never ever happen.

Rational people who read your exchange can decide for themselves what to think. It genuinely doesn't matter that she got to go last and "say something back". If you've a significantly superior argument, that fact alone will stand out. Particularly given how her last words seem to have just been an incoherent rant based on some vague appeal to a personal medical experience.

Someone who isn't an idiot or already completely into the hole of creationist nuttery will be able to see through it.
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