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Thursday, April 10, 2008

A voice in the desert

Funny how I can imagine the workings of evolution, yet find it nearly impossible to imagine a Creator-less unguided evolution, or the natural evolution that some think not only possible when given eons of time for environment shaping factors plus the countless chances over that long span of time for positive mutations to occur, but find natural evolution a certainty. Today as I was hiking I was delighted to hear the sounds of many song birds, and that got me to thinking about humans and their vocal cords. I recall reading that the vocal cords in birds are entirely different than the "voice box" in humans, so I brought this up later with Bro. Clarence.

He said that the "voice box" is first seen in homo erectus about a million years ago. So I replied, that seems a long enough time for those forces of environment and mutation to go to work in producing a real, usable voice box. To that he only smiled. Then he took a forefinger and thumb and touched his throat and said, "If only evolution took place here, then an easy trick it would be." By my quizzical expression, he resumed, "The blueprints. Change must take place in the blueprints for the physical change to occur ... DNA, your genes!" And then as though speaking to a child, he began gesturing with his hands, like painting the picture in the air so that I would get the point. "The FoxP2 gene is called the 'language gene' because when there is a defect in this gene, then a child will not develop vocalization, even though the child has a perfect set of vocal cords. So you have this complex system of interaction between brain and all the parts of the voice box that originate in the genetic blueprint. So when you think evolution, you must understand that the blueprint, the DNA, must be mutated in a way that the pre-homo erectus throat suddenly finds a growth that isn't simply a tumor, but a structure with potential, a structure that will benefit this new baby that has the mutated gene. And further, you must understand the complexity of the voice box or larynx, the orchestration of all the components, from lung that provides wind, to tongue that provide articulation, and all the 'mutated' pieces -- vocal cords and the various muscles that provide the intricate movements of the cords. But then we have to figure out how that primitive voice box provided any useful function while it was developing into a useful organ of language expression."

He paused while I marveled at the complexity of it all. Hurriedly I scribbled more notes while thinking that even when given eons of time, I just couldn't grasp it all working out so precisely without a guiding Creator. Again I tried to imagine how simple unguided natural evolution could orchestrate the sub-microscopic changes in the DNA along with the developing circuitry of the brain along with the flesh and muscle construction taking place in the throat and a host of other "things" that had to move into place to make this "voice box" not only successful, but useful, things like self-awareness and the "need" to communicate abstract thoughts to fellow beings. I could only blurt out, "Wow!"

With that Bro. Clarence rose from his seat and said he had to get back to work (as he always says when he realizes that a dialogue has become his monologue), but before departing he left me with this, "The universe is creative and the laws of nature guide matter and energy to organize, self-organize, to grow from simple to complex, all the way to here (he tapped his head with his forefinger), complexity to the point of life and consciousness. In the beginning God created ... created a creative universe!" And with a cheshire smile, he headed straight for the trail into the desert. I remained under the cottonwood tree, still seated on my favorite wicker chair with pencil trying to make sense of it all on the blank pages of my journal.

1 comment:

Lucy said...

'With that Bro. Clarence rose from his seat and said he had to get back to work (as he always says when he realizes that a dialogue has become his monologue)'

Dear man!

I heard the voice box supports the aquatic ape theory, the only thing resembling it in its ability to breathe so as to generate speech is found in seals...

Just by the way.