Atheists try to refute any notion of design in the natural world. They look for examples of what they call “bad design.” In a National Geographic documentary titled Inside Nature’s Giants, Richard Dawkins criticized the design of the recurrent laryngeal nerve in giraffes. He said, “No engineer would ever make a mistake like that.” The distance from the brain to the larynx is about two inches, but instead of going directly to the larynx, the nerve runs from the brain all the way down the giraffe’s neck and into its chest. There it makes a U-turn and runs back up the neck to connect to the larynx. In a mature giraffe, that distance can be more than 16 feet (4.9 m).
Dawkins calls it “a ridiculous detour.” Atheists refer to Jerry Coyne’s book Why Evolution is True, in which he calls this “one of nature’s worst designs.” The question is whether there is any reason for this design of the laryngeal nerve.
The laryngeal nerves activate muscles that make sounds and also aid the animal in breathing and swallowing. What atheists fail to mention is that two nerves connect the brain to the larynx. The primary nerve, called the superior laryngeal nerve, makes a direct connection from the brain to the larynx. The recurrent laryngeal nerve, which goes to the chest before returning to the larynx, also connects to the heart and has branches to the mucous membrane and muscular coat of the esophagus.
The design of the laryngeal nerve is not a ridiculous detour but an example of incredible technique, making efficient use of the nerves to allow the animal to have its long neck so it can reach food that other animals can’t. Dr. Wolf-Ekkehard Lonnig of Germany’s Planck Institute says that the system’s design demands that “the recurrent laryngeal nerve needs to be, indeed, very long.”
The lack of integrity in the best-known atheists of our day is as distressing as the hypocrisy of some TV preachers. Dawkins’ videos are popular on YouTube, even though it is hard to believe an expert in biology would not be aware of the complexity of the giraffe’s nervous and vascular system. When assuming there must be bad design, a scientist must resort to explanations that don’t match the facts. The design of the laryngeal nerve shows the wisdom that God has demonstrated in every corner of creation.
— John N. Clayton © 2021
HERE IS A LINK to the video where Dawkins makes his argument for evolution.
HERE IS A LINK refuting what Dawkins said.