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16-02-2012, 11:59 PM
Creationist Articles...
I was sent these two articles that I hadn't seen before (I don't peruse creation.com often lol) and I was wondering if someone who's actually studied biology in depth could explain a bit. I'm fairly comfortable with refuting the first article, but the second is a bit more tricky.

http://creation.com/recurrent-laryngeal-nerve

Quote:Design features of the recurrent laryngeal nerve
As for good reasons Owen did not draw evolutionary conclusions, there are several. The well-known textbook Gray’s Anatomy states:

“As the recurrent nerve hooks around the subclavian artery or aorta, it gives off several cardiac filaments to the deep part of the cardiac plexus. As it ascends in the neck it gives off branches, more numerous on the left than on the right side, to the mucous membrane and muscular coat of the esophagus; branches to the mucous membrane and muscular fibers of the trachea; and some pharyngeal filaments to the Constrictor pharyngis inferior.”6
Dawkins considers only its main destination, the larynx. In reality, the nerve also has a role in supplying parts of the heart, windpipe muscles and mucous membranes, and the esophagus, which could explain its route.
That is, Dawkins considers only its main destination, the larynx. In reality, the nerve also has a role in supplying parts of the heart, windpipe muscles and mucous membranes, and the esophagus, which could explain its route.

Even apart from this function, there are features that are the result of embryonic development—not because of evolution, but because the embryo develops from a single cell in a certain order. For example, the embryo needs a functioning simple heart early on; this later descends to its position in the chest, dragging the nerve bundle with it.

Also, would a circuitous route necessarily be bad design? There could be reasons for this (and in the case of the RLN we have a good idea, as per Gray’s). Biologist and geologist John Woodmorappe’s review of Jerry Coyne’s book Why Evolution is True (which Dawkins recommends for its section on the RLN (note, p. 356) points out:

“Human-designed machines and structures are full of such things as circuitous wiring and plumbing, but that hardly means that they are not the products of intelligent design.

“Now let us consider situations in which a circuitous route is actually harmful to its bearer. The automobile with its engine in front requires a long, tortuous exhaust system perched underneath the car. This clearly makes it more vulnerable to injury from obstructions than the short exhaust system of engine-in-back cars (I speak from personal experience). Following Coyne’s logic, should we suppose that engine-in-front cars are not the products of intelligent design? No. We realize that there is an engineering trade-off between the advantages of the car with its front-situated engine and the concomitant disadvantage of its more easily-damaged long, circuitous exhaust system.”7

I think this one's fairly easy to refute... My response is below:

1) The nerve still takes a very circuitous route, even if it enervates a few other muscles along the way. It would have been simpler to run two nerves or to tag along on another nerve that didn't have to return up the neck (i.e. the vagus nerve). Running all the way down and all the way back up still doesn't make sense from a design perspective, since there's no limitation to that one nerve (the body has many nerves that split off).

2) The example that plumbers and electricians use circuitous routes is faulty - the plumbing designs aren't randomly circuitous, they are circuitous to the extent that they allow multiple fixtures to be serviced by one water line and one sewage line, reducing the number of connections to the mains. Electric is much the same way, you need to create a circuit and to connect to as many outlets as possible. Both plumbers and electricians will be using the most direct route feasible between fixtures and mains, in order to save on piping. There are many considerations that come into play that define "feasible" though, such as expandability (you don't want to run a water line down a wall that might be removed later, you want to pick a load-bearing wall), etc. The plumbing and electric need to come in and exit through similar locations in order to connect to the utilities...

3) A car's exhaust runs to the back for a few obvious reasons. Having it in the front would be idiotic in most scenarios, as it would fill the cabin with fumes (being too close to the intakes for A/C, etc). Some vehicles do have it in the front, but alleviate the aforementioned problems by running it up "smokestacks" like those in a semi or an obnoxious redneck's truck, or off to the side like on a Dodge Viper (which adds the problem of burning people's legs when exiting the vehicle - a choice of form over function). Having the engine in back as well as the exhaust presents its own issues, but has been done. The primary issues with a rear-engine car is that it tends to oversteer, which is far more dangerous than understeering. That's why the older 911s can be very dangerous to drive (newer 911s introduce electronics and better suspensions to overcome this problem). There is no reason to assume that the exhaust "should" be located in the front of the vehicle with the engine, if you know how a car works.

http://creation.com/fibre-optics-in-eye-...n-argument

Quote:Ophthalmologists obliterate obfuscation
However, ophthalmologists have denounced Dawkins’ claim repeatedly. E.g. George Marshall, the Sir Jules Thorn Lecturer in Ophthalmic Science, stated in reply to Dawkins:

‘The idea that the eye is wired backward comes from a lack of knowledge of eye function and anatomy.’2

Dr Marshall explains that the nerves could not go behind the eye, because that space is reserved for the choroid, which provides the rich blood supply needed for the very metabolically active retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). This is necessary to regenerate the photoreceptors, and to absorb excess heat. So it is necessary for the nerves to go in front instead.

It’s important to note that the ‘superior’ design of Dawkins with the nerves behind the photoreceptors would require either:

The choroid in front of the retina—but the choroid is opaque because of all the red blood cells, so this design would be as useless as an eye with a hemorrhage!

Photoreceptors not in contact with the RPE and choroid at all—but the photoreceptors would be slow to regenerate, so it would probably take months before we could drive after we were photographed with a flashbulb, as another ophthalmologist, Joseph Calkins, points out.

Another creationist ophthalmologist, Dr Peter Gurney in a detailed article, pointed out all the above with the RPE, but pointed out another use: extracting excess heat.

However, in the evolutionists’ fantasy world, it is only natural to take the word of evolutionists totally lacking in ophthalmology qualifications over creationist experts in ophthalmology, when the issue is ophthalmology.

Eye works well
The above section shows that inverted wiring is necessary for vertebrate eyes to work—but that is the direct opposite of what evolutionists claim would be the ‘correct’ wiring. Note that the evolutionists’ claim is actually undercut by their own assessment of squid eyes, which despite being ‘wired correctly’, don’t see as well as vertebrate eyes, according to the evolutionists themselves.

Interestingly, anyone with excellent eyesight is said to have ‘eyes like a hawk’, which are ‘backwardly wired’, not ‘eyes like a squid’.

The excellent sight provided by these allegedly ‘wrongly wired’ eyes makes Dawkins’ objection absurd even on the face of it. Surely if something works well, it is crass to whinge at alleged design faults. However, the precise reason for its excellent working was discovered only this year, as will be shown next.

Optic fibre plate
Dawkins’ claim that the nerves obstruct the light has been falsified by very new research by scientists at Leipzig University. They showed that the vertebrate eye has an ingenious feature that overcomes even the slight disadvantage of nerves in front of the light receptors.

The light is collected and funnelled through the nerve net to the receptors by the Müller cells, which act as optical fibres. Each cone cell has one Müller cell guiding the light to it, while several rods can share the same Müller cell.

The Müller cells work almost exactly like a fibre optic plate that optical engineers can use to transmit an image with low-distortion without using a lens. The cells even have the right variation in refractive index for ‘image transfer through the vertebrate retina with minimal distortion and low loss.’

Indeed, Müller cells are even better than optical fibres, because they are funnel-shaped, which collects more light for the receptors. The wide entrances to Müller cells cover the entire surface of the retina, so collect the maximum amount of light.

‘Nature is so clever. This means there is enough room in the eye for all the neurons and synapses and so on, but still the Müller cells can capture and transmit as much light as possible.’—Andreas Reichenbach, eye researcher.
One of the research team, Andreas Reichenbach, commented:

‘Nature is so clever. This means there is enough room in the eye for all the neurons and synapses and so on, but still the Müller cells can capture and transmit as much light as possible.’8

Conclusion
Not only is the inverted wiring of our eyes a good design, necessary for proper functioning, it is also coordinated with an ingenious fibre optic plate. So the vertebrate eye has the advantage of a rich blood supply behind the receptors without the disadvantage of nerves blocking out light. Such fine coordination of parts makes sense with a Master Coordinator, while it’s a puzzle for evolutionists.

This one's a little bit more tricky for me... I'm still reading up on it, but I never took college level biology, so...

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17-02-2012, 10:10 AM
RE: Creationist Articles...
I have a book on the evolution of the eye, but I haven't read enough to give you an answer. I'm still in the early part of the book which talks about the eye possibly descending from light sensitive cells use for photosynthesis in early life. It was written by Dr. Ivan R. Schwab. You might try contacting him, and I'm sure he could give you a good answer. Just don't let on that it' a YEC vs. Atheism debate. I'm not sure of his religious leanings, but he may find such a thing petty.
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17-02-2012, 06:50 PM
RE: Creationist Articles...
The eye one is easy to trash. The eye has evolved independently many, many times and there are several different implementations, including ones that are put together 'the right way', like the octopus.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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18-02-2012, 09:41 PM
RE: Creationist Articles...
Well, here's my response now. Hope it's decent...

Quote:"Ophthalmologists obliterate obfuscation." Aside from some nice alliteration and use of Big Words (this guy seems obsessed with them), he is simply misrepresenting information. The design itself IS inferior - in a perfectly designed eye, the wiring would be in the back and would account for supplying the photoreceptors through the back, which is very possible (the squid's eye does it that way, for example). Perhaps other features of the squid's eye give it worse overall vision than ours (fewer/less sensitive photoreceptors, a less powerful visual cortex, etc), but the more optimal wiring schematic is not it.

What he's saying is actually pointing out several adaptations to overcome the deficiencies that organisms' ancestral eyes gave them, such as the glial cells allowing light to pass through the retinal processing cells to the photoreceptors. Such an adaptation is something we would expect if greater visual acuity is useful (it is, for many reasons). He's not at all proven that an eye with the optic nerve passing through and connecting in front of the photoreceptors is optimal or better than one where the optic nerve connects through the back, he's just showing several adaptations that mitigate the disadvantage that the backwards eye wiring schematic creates.

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21-02-2012, 06:31 PM
RE: Creationist Articles...
Is this what it's come down to? You have to have a doctorate in biology to refute a 'proof' of God's existence?

I'm starting the think that the phrase "The Devil's in the details" could use a slight alteration...

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