Unintelligent Design - The Giraffe's Laryngeal Nerve

The complexity and intricacy of the bodies of living organisms seems like the epitome of science and art coming together in an explosion of perfection. But that appearance is deceiving, and it has given rise to the popular but erroneous belief that such delicacy must be the inevitable result of design and foresight on the part of some intelligent designer.

When you look at the details a bit more closely, however, what you start to notice is that what these bodies actually show is the accumulation of historical antecedents that have gradually evolved over eons of time, and that no intelligent designer would design such systems.

As you'll see in the following example of the giraffe's recurrent laryngeal nerve (which can be traced back to our fishy ancestors), and as Richard Dawkins explains in this clip from the Inside Nature's Giants documentary series, evolution is not so much a designer (who can always go back to the drawing board and start from scratch) as a tinkerer (who only gets to slightly modify what's already there).

But of course, even the giraffe would not have had the longest recurrent laryngeal nerve...

That would be what, 30 feet to connect two spots that are only inches apart?


  1. Why should I listen to anything a monkey philosopher has to say?

    What rationale is there in trusting an evolved monkey brain?

    Doesn't make sense to me!

    Besides how do you know that your evolved monkey brain works better than the guy next to you?

    Just sayin' it doesn't add up.

  2. Doesn't make sense? Well, compare a brain that evolved to get a fairly accurate representation of the world vs one that didn't (say, when it comes to deciding whether those eyes and teeth getting 'larger' are just a bunch of disembodied and unconnected, or whether they are facial features of a hungry predator getting closer). Which is more likely to have an evolutionary advantage?

    This is not to say human perception/judgement are perfect. But obviously, although this may not always be the case, organisms that have ever-increasingly accurate representations of the world around them have a fairly strong evolutionary advantage.


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