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Time Magazine’s Error Regarding The “Fight Or Flight” System

In its February 17, 2003 edition Time magazine carried a story titled “Evolution’s Role: A frazzled mind, a weakened body.” Written by Michael D. Lemonick, the article dealt with stress and the problems is produces in the body. It referred to the “fight or flight” reaction, which occurs in human beings in sudden situations, claiming that this reaction was a form of behavior which had come about with evolution. Lemonick”s claim is backed up by no scientific evidence, and all he had to say consisted of preconceptions.

The “flight or fight” reaction comes about as the result of extremely rapid reactions that take place in our bodies when faced with a danger, harm or attack. The reaction is an expression of the preparations our bodies make to either fight or run away which stem from this situation, during which signals sent from the hypothalamus region of the brain place the body in a state of alarm. The activation of the nerve cells and chemicals secreted by a gland above the kidneys prepare the body to fight or flee. When this reaction is given a series of nerve cells are fired and chemicals such as adrenalin, noradrenalin and cortisol are secreted into the blood. These lead to rapid changes in the body. Blood in the digestive system is directed to the muscles in the arms and legs, which have a greater need of energy in order to fight or flee. Our pupils expand and our concentration focuses. Our pulse accelerates and our pain perception levels fall. The exceedingly complex physical adjustments of the fight or flight reaction are a marvelous system which goes into operation in a very short space of time.

In his article, Lemonick makes the following claim with regard to this reaction:

Humanity”s physical reaction to stress, known as the “fight or flight” response, probably evolved to help our primitive ancestors deal with a treacherous world. When confronted with imminent danger – a saber-toothed tiger, say, or a club-wielding enemy Homo erectus – the body had to be instantly ready either to defend itself or to run like hell. (1)

As we have already made clear in various other articles, evolutionist accounts such as this have absolutely no scientific foundation. The only point which those evolutionists who make such claims base them on is their mistaken belief that evolution is true. Starting from that belief, they produce an evolutionary “tale of development” for every structure in living things. This method, which may be described as “deductive,” is dogmatic rather than scientific, and rests on belief, not evidence.

Such evolutionary tales reveal an enormous error and ignorance on the part of media institutions which impose their views on readers by saying “new proof of the theory of evolution has emerged.”

We can clearly see this in the situation outlined above: Lemonick is using classic evolutionary tale-spinning and is unable to offer any scientific evidence to support his claim. What he is doing is formulating evolutionary scenarios by describing the benefits of a perfectly functioning system found in the human body. He then sets out one by one the stages which emerge during this reaction, again spinning a yarn with no evidence to support it:

So the terrified brain would signal the adrenal glands, located on top of the kidneys, to release hormones, including adrenaline (its more technical name: epinephrine) and glucocorticoids (see chart), and the nerve cells to release norepinephrine. These powerful chemicals made the senses sharper, the muscles tighter, the heart pound faster, the bloodstream fill with sugars for ready energy. Then, when the danger passed, the response would turn off. (2)

Careful attention here reveals that the only support for this story is Lemonick”s own imagination. There is absolutely no evidence that such a chemical development ever took place. Indeed, no mutation, which might bring about such a development, has ever been described.

On the other hand, when the physiology of the fight or flight system is considered it emerges that Lemonick”s evolutionary claim is an enormous deception. The mere examination of adrenalin, of all the thousands of factors that play a role in the system, is sufficient to demonstrate the inconsistency of this claim.

Adrenalin is an extremely powerful chemical hormone. The amount of it in the human blood stream can be made clear by means of an example: if the blood in our bodies were compared to a 2-metre deep 100-metre wide lake, the amount of adrenalin present would be one teaspoonful. (3)

A command from the brain at a moment of danger immediately causes a gland above the kidney to secrete adrenalin, which quickly spreads to all parts of the body by means of the blood stream. Vein cells perceive the message carried with the adrenalin and immediately respond by altering the blood flow traffic in a perfect manner. The blood supply to the liver and the skin is cut off and directed to the brain, heart and muscles.

In this way, the heart beats faster and the muscles receive the blood they require for greater strength. This adjustment is totally flawless: the veins to the heart or brain never contract by mistake and those to the liver or skin never expand.

When the adrenalin molecule reaches the muscle cells it allows the muscles to contract in a more powerful manner. Adrenalin molecules reaching the liver command the cells there to mix more sugar. The sugar level in the blood thus goes up, providing extra fuel for the muscles.

As we have seen, when the cells in different tissues encounter adrenalin they undergo changes aimed towards a single purpose. Each one recognizes the message sent to it and obeys instantly. All this is controlled in a most conscious manner, and the system functions flawlessly. If even a single fault were to occur in this so rapid chain of reactions, for instance if the adrenalin went to the wrong tissue, or if the stimulated tissues failed to obey the adrenalin then possibly lethal consequences might result in the body. In fact, however, the hormone adrenalin”s activities are directed perfectly. All these physiological changes call for great intelligence, knowledge and skill.

Several molecules, functioning just as flawlessly as adrenalin, play a role in the fight or flight reaction, making the system even more marvelous. Different molecules display perfect communication and an awareness of responsibility, and the way that they operate so flawlessly together reveals an astonishing organization. Naturally, this perfect organization cannot be the product of unconscious mutations. These all reveal that the fight or flight reaction is actually the product of a superior intelligence.

The way that evolutionists maintain that the fight or flight system came into existence by chance is like claiming that materials such as cement, bricks and electric cables, piled in a field, chanced to turn into a huge skyscraper as the result of a storm, following which, after a second storm, they happened to provide the building with an electrical system, and that in a third storm they constructed a flawless security system inside the building. Nobody reasonable, logical person could possibly accept such a claim. Yet what evolutionists maintain is even more illogical.

For that reason, the scientific facts show that the origin of the fight or flight system lies not in chance-based evolution but in creation, just like all the other complex organs and systems in the body. By creating this system, God has equipped man with an alarm system which strengthens him in times of danger. Since the author of the Time magazine article, on the other hand, rejects this fact right from the outset, he attempts to suggest that evolutionist speculation is actually scientific fact and engages in Darwinist propaganda. We suggest to Time magazine that it adopt a more consistent, rational and unprejudiced attitude towards the origin of life.

(1) Michael D. Lemonick, “A Frazzled Mind, a Weakened Body”, Time, January 20, 2003.
(2) Ibid.
(3) Helena Curtis, Sue Barnes, Invitation To Biology, p. 467

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