Medical Considerations for the Intelligent Design of the Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve

In the previous three posts (see part 1, part 2, and part 3), we’ve seen that the arguments of intelligent design (ID) critics based that the recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) is an “imperfect design” fail for a variety of reasons. These include: (1) There is evidence that supposed fundamental evolutionary constraints which would prevent loss of the circuitous route of the RLN do not exist. This implies that there is some beneficial function for the circuitous route. (2) The path of the RLN allows it to give off filaments to the heart, to the mucous membranes and to the muscles of the trachea along the way to the larynx. (3) There is dual-innervation of the larynx from the SLN and Read More ›

Direct Innervation of the Larynx Demanded by Intelligent Design Critics Does Exist

Intelligent design (ID) critics Jerry Coyne, Kelly Smith, and Richard Dawkins have all argued that the allegedly circuitous innervations of the larynx from the brain by the recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) is an “imperfect design” that refutes ID. What they rarely disclose, however, is that there are in fact nerves that innervate the larynx directly from the brain through the superior laryngeal nerve (SLN), without taking the longer path of the RLN–exactly as they demand. Thus, the larynx is in fact innervated from both above and below, by both the RLN and the SLN. This is clearly seen in the diagram below, from Elsevier’s Atlas of Regional Anesthesia, 3rd ed., hotlinked from here: As noted here, damage to the SLN Read More ›

The Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve Does Not Refute Intelligent Design

In the prior post, I discussed challenges to the claim that our supposed fish-ancestry dictates that the recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) must take a circuitous route from the brain to the larynx. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that common ancestry between mammals and fish is the best explanation for the nerve’s path. Would that refute intelligent design? Evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne assumes that ID is incompatible with common ancestry, which it isn’t. As one pro-ID biologist wrote me on this topic, “this is only a problem for design if one assumes design means designed from scratch for each taxon, and if one believes that the designer would necessarily use the shortest distance between two points (in other words, Read More ›