Let’s imagine that you were asked to build a machine that can detect and process sound waves.
To do this, you would need many different electronic parts and components. And in order for that machine to work, you would need to do the right things, at the right time, in the right order.
First of all, you would have to choose the right components, and put them together in the right order. You would also have to be careful about the connections between the parts. Any small mistake in the selection of the parts, assembly plan or the connections in between, could cause the failure of the entire system. You would need the necessary know-how and experience to build such an electronic device and make it work.
While these are the facts, if someone came up to you and said that such a device could still come into being without anyone making a plan of it and then building it accordingly, and offered theories to supposedly prove that illogical notion, what would you think of that person?
Of course, you would know that he wasn’t a person to be taken seriously. But, still, let’s test that claim with the following scenario:
Let’s assume that all the necessary components of this audio device have been correctly selected and placed side to side on a shelf. And let’s say there is a box on the shelf that contains the tools to be used for the assembly process. You would still be sure that this audio device could never come into being by chance, not even in a hundred or a thousand years. It doesn’t matter if it is hit by lightning or if each part is electrified; the result will still be the same. This device could never come into being by itself; only a specialist in electronic devices could build it.
However, some people really are claiming that a mechanism far superior to that audio device, in other words, our sense of hearing, came into being by chance. It is obvious that such a claim is sheer nonsense. Our ears are incomparably superior to the audio devices that perceive sound waves. The structure in our ear is the amazing work of Omnipotent Allah.
The movie you are about to watch will show the excellent structure of our ears, demonstrating the perfect creation of Allah.
Sound is one of the most important elements in our lives, something that adds to the meanings of our lives. Think for a moment: what would it be like to live in a world with no sound?
Try to imagine such a world: there would be no sound or noise in that world.
We would never know about a danger approaching from behind. We would be oblivious to our surroundings, we would know no such thing as music. We would be unable to communicate with our loved ones, or express our emotions and tell others about what we know, without great difficulty.
The inner ear, the core of our sense of hearing, and the hearing center in our brains, occupy a place smaller than one cubic centimeter (cm3), or a sugar cube. Our ears are like a miniature engineering miracle with very complicated mechanical, hydraulic and electronic structures.
You already know that the technology we see around us is the product of complex plans and projects. Every new building, every new machine, reflects new and improved information, stemming from years of know-how and experience. However, the formation of the ear is much more than mere engineering know-how.
It is amazing, the way that random vibrations in the air are used for one of our senses. This is a unique structure. There is only one explanation for the auditory system: this engineering wonder is the result of a ‘unique creation’. This superior creation is the work of Allah, Who created the heavens, the earth and everything in between.
It is He Who has created hearing, sight and hearts for you. What little thanks you show!
(Surat al-Muminun, 78)
We are now going to look into the elements of our auditory system. The sound waves entering our ears are collected in the area represented by the letter A, pass through B and trigger the mechanical system between C and E. After E, the mechanical energy reaches the purple area and causes the liquid contained in it to move. The result is an electrical impulse.
These signals are transmitted through the red tapes at the very right, to a computer. The sounds are processed in this computer, and this process results in hearing. This computer is actually the hearing center in our brain.
The hearing center in the brain is the part that interprets the signals coming from the inner ear and makes ‘hearing’ possible. Most interestingly, this place where all sounds are processed is actually very quiet. The hearing center in our brain is still a source of mystery, but does a most miraculous job. The information related to hearing is transmitted to this hearing center through the acoustic nerve, 2.5 cm long.
The hearing center
When the brain receives a signal, it compares it to some 400,000 different sounds we have heard before in our lives, thus preparing the body for its next reaction. If the brain didn’t do that, we would be unable to hear a car coming from behind and jump out of the way in time.
Another quality of the hearing center is its capability to filter sounds. When we are in an enclosed place, we still can hear everything perfectly despite the different sounds coming from different parts of the room, such as the radio or TV. We would not normally be able to do that, because the sound waves strike the objects in this and this should create an echo. In other words, we would normally hear not only the original sound, but its echo, as well.
On top of that, there is another point that would normally increase the echo effect: our own heads. Because sound waves strike our heads first, and then reach the hearing center; and this should increase the echo effect. But that never happens, because all echoes other than the sounds we are supposed to perceive, are eliminated in the brain stem.
Eric Young, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Hearing Sciences, explains:
Johns Hopkins Center for Hearing Sciences
Our cells in the brainstem are ready to locate the sound. This way, they analyse hundreds of sounds with different tones and characters. The sounds are differentiated with no special effort. For example you can tell a bagpipe from footsteps. Auditory signals also get sharper, because the clever brain stem deletes a clutter of echoes, so they never reach awareness. As your friend's voice and piano playing bounce off the walls, fireplace, and ceiling, a processing center picks out the echoes as duplicates because they arrive a tad later. It deletes all but the original signal--a neat trick, given the complexity of the sound.
(Johns Hopkins Magazine - September 1996, Issue)
Then, how come we hear some echoes and not others, despite this amazing selective quality of the brainstem? Surely, if the distance involved is very large, for example if we are in a valley or in an empty room, high volumes will create echoes. Because they reach us seconds later than the original sound.
In this case, they are not eliminated by our brains and are perceived as a different sound. But in the meantime, the brain has already completed the evaluation of the first sound. So there is no longer any possibility of the echo becoming mixed up with the original sound and causing confusion.
Sound travels through the air at a specific speed, just like water ripples. And our auditory system is perfectly created to benefit from this feature of sounds.
The distance between our ears is around 20 cm.
Therefore, a sound reaching one side of the head reaches the other ear with a delay of three five-thousands of a second. Some cells in our brain immediately perceive this small difference and accurately detect the direction of the sound. But if the distance between the sound waves is shorter than the distance between our ears, then this method will not work.
But despite that, we can still hear this type of sound waves and locate the direction they come from. But how?
The sound center achieves this by creating a ‘shadow of the sound’. Let us examine this with an example: When light is projected onto one side of our heads, the shadow of our heads forms on the other side. In the same way, when a sound arrives from the side, there will be a ‘sound shadow’ with a lower sound intensity. Although the sound reaches both ears at almost the same time, very sensitive cells use the difference in the sounds’ intensities to detect the direction the sound is coming from. The hearing center does all these things by analyzing the electrical impulses it receives.
But how do the sound waves in the air turn into electrical impulses?
Here we see other miraculous qualities of this amazing work of engineering.
Our outer ear is like a gate opening onto the outside. It could also serve as a way in for foreign bodies such as germs and dust. But the secretory glands and hairs inside this canal prevent such germs, dust or other similar foreign bodies from entering our body.
These glands secrete not only sweat but also liquids containing fat and sugar. These liquids make the hairs sticky, so they stick to the germs and dust right at the beginning of the canal and stop them from going any further. The liquid secreted in the outer canal has anti-bacterial properties and also houses the body’s immune system cells.
Another point of interest is the fact that the liquid is acidic. This acidity in the outer canal usually kills most bacteria.
The path from the auricle to the eardrum is not a straight tunnel, it is more like a winding road going down to the eardrum. This specific structure serves as a protection from external effects. For example, if a child pokes a pencil in his ear it probably won’t reach his eardrum and will just cause minor damage to the outer canal. If the ear is subjected to compressed water, it will still not suffer any damaged since the water will not reach the eardrum directly. If it wasn’t for this special structure in the ear canal, our eardrums could be torn very easily.
Another very important quality of the ear canal is the fact that it can renew itself. The accumulation of waste products on the skin helps prevent abrasion. Here we see another miracle of creation. The skin on the ear canal renews itself by migrating from the center towards the outside. For example, skin lying 2 cm inside the entrance will in time travel outwards and move a distance of 1.5 cm.
After a while, it will move 1 cm and eventually it will completely renew itself. The self-cleaning resulting from this migration is unique to the ear canal in our bodies.
At the end of the day, our ear canals are like fortresses defending our ears from external effects.
In the early 20th century, many evolutionists regarded the auricle as an organ that lost its original function. This organ, according to evolutionists, would become smaller and smaller within the evolutionary process and eventually disappear.
Many evolutionists, based on this thesis, didn’t include the auricle in their imaginary drawings of the supposed human beings of the future. But today’s scientific findings show that evolutionists were wrong once again.
The auricle acts like a megaphone and directs sound waves towards the inner part of the ear.
Each part of the auricle, each curve within it, has a very unique creation and purpose. In other words, our ear selects those sounds that should have a higher intensity. For example, the sound of speech is amplified for us, while others are kept low, and this shows that hearing and speaking are specially created for us by Almighty Allah in a harmonized manner.
The part of the ear from the auricle to the eardrum is called the ‘ear canal’.
The ear canal
This quality of ‘selectively amplifying sound’ of our ears, which starts at the auricle, continues in the ear canal, as well. The ear canal also intensifies sound and carries it inside. Research suggests that the pinna and the ear canal intensify the pressure of the sound on the eardrum 10-fold.
Another important role in hearing of the outer ear is making the ambient air temperature equal to the temperature of the body. This is an important function in hearing. Because the ambient temperature has an effect on the speed of gas molecules. If it were twice as hot, we would also hear the movement of the gas molecules, themselves. But thanks to the superior qualities Allah has created in the outer ear, we never encounter such difficulties.
The eardrum that vibrates and helps us hear, almost has an intelligence of its own and is capable of taking decisions on its own. Covering barely half a square centimeter (cm2), the eardrum is like a cone with the sharp side pointing outward.
Sound signals strike the eardrum, causing vibrations. The eardrum is so sensitive that some sound waves can cause the drum to move one millionth of a centimeter. That is smaller than the diameter of a hydrogen atom. But even with that minute movement the eardrum ensures that the sound is sent on to the hearing center.
In the first stage, vibrations reach the external surface only.
The outer surface of the drum
The inner surface of the drum
If sound reached both surfaces, it would vibrate with the sounds coming from inside the body, and that would result in a jumble noise. But the drum only vibrates at certain frequencies.
If it were susceptible to every frequency arising outside the ear, it would vibrate all the time and be a source of huge irritation. Our eardrums make a distinction between the sound waves that cause vibrations. Although it can vibrate at just a whisper, it can also process sounds that are 40 times stronger than that. This helps protect our ears from loud sounds which could damage the sensitive cells inside them. The eardrum would vibrate with every sound, regardless of the direction it came from. Otherwise, we would never be able to hear someone speaking in front of us, and could only hear sounds coming from the sides.
The drum also acts as a muffler. Even after a high level of vibration takes place with loud sounds, it can stop movement in just four thousandths of a second. This is an admirable skill indeed.
Normally, when other objects vibrate they continue to do so for a few seconds before coming to a halt. Our eardrums are different, however, and can stop very quickly, enabling us to catch every new sound without missing anything in between. If they did not stop that fast, we would miss new vibrations while still processing the previous ones, and instead of clear and crisp sounds, we would hear a jumble of noises and buzzes.
All this shows us one plain truth. The eardrum, which is only millimeters long, was created for a special purpose. The cells making up the eardrum have no intelligence of their own. They do not choose their functions. They follow Allah’s orders, just like everything else. The only reason our ears have these perfect qualities, is the infinite wisdom and knowledge of Allah.
It is Allah Who created the seven heavens and of the earth the same number,the Command descending down through all of them,so that you might know that Allah has power over all things and that Allah encompasses all things in His knowledge. (Surat at-Talaq, 12)
The eardrum enhances the vibrations it receives and transmits them to the middle ear, to three ossicles there that are connected to each other in a very special way; these are the hammer, incus and stapes.
These three ossicles are located between the eardrum and the inner ear, and are connected to each other.
The eardrum pushes and moves the ossicles. As the eardrum vibrates due to external sound signals, its vibration creates movements, thus setting up a chain reaction where the hammer pushes the incus and the incus then pushes the stapes.
These three ossicles in the middle ear move like the parts of a lever, transmitting the energy from the drum to the cochlea, another component of the auditory system.
Allah created the three bones very specifically, with their shapes, length and connections to each other, so that they can amplify sound by 30%.
But, how come the ear is not damaged by a sound wave that is amplified still further despite being already very loud? This doesn’t happen, because intelligent precautionary measures are taken in the ear. The ossicles that work like a lever can also step on the ‘brakes’. This is intended to protect the sensitive internal structure of the inner ear from loud sounds.
The middle ear has another ‘buffering’ quality that it uses to reduce very loud sounds. This is done by the means of the two smallest muscles in the body, which control the hammer, incus and stapes. One of the muscles is connected to the hammer and the other to the stapes. When a loud sound is made, the nerve impulse reaches the brain through hearing nerves and a reflex goes into action. These two muscles are effectively ‘woken up’ by means of the nerves. As the muscles contract, the hammer and the stapes reverse the direction of the sound signal and thus ‘step on the brakes!’ The sound reaching the inner ear is thus reduced.
This reflex goes into action very quickly, in just a fifth of a second. These tiny muscles are not only fast, but also clever, because they contract only when needed! If they contracted regardless of the intensity of the sound, they would reduce the intensity of normal sounds as well and everyone on earth would suffer hearing difficulties.
Let’s say you are in a crowded place with lots of loud noise. Since our muscles go into action, all these background noises are suppressed and we can hear the person we are speaking to properly.
These muscles, the product of Allah’s unique creation, are there for a very special purpose; because they will contract only when there are loud sounds that might damage the inner ear. The fact that there are such elaborate calculations and that there have been tiny structures flawlessly carrying out their tasks for millions of years shows that the ear is not the product of blind coincidences as claimed by evolutionists, but rather the product of the magnificent creation of Allah.
He is Allah – the Creator, the Maker, the Giver of Form. To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies Him. He is the Almighty, the All-Wise. (Surat al-Hashr, 24)
The middle ear, with such an amazing structure, needs to maintain an important balance.
The pressure on both sides of the eardrum must be equal, as a rise or fall in pressure could mean impaired hearing. However, this balance is maintained with a perfect ‘ventilation system’ between the middle ear and the outside world.
This canal is the Eustachian tube, stretching from the middle ear to the mouth. This tube goes into action when the pressure of the air and the pressure inside the middle ear are different, and soon restores equilibrium between the two.
The hearing signals reaching the relevant center in our brains originate from the inner ear.
Our inner ear works like a power station that turns mechanical impulses into electrical ones. The sound waves in the outside world reach the eardrum and then the middle ear and move the drum and ossicles there. This movement comes to an end with the movement of the liquid in the inner ear.
The part of the inner ear that is in charge of hearing is the ‘cochlea’. The cochlea is surrounded by a canal made of hard bone. This winding structure is 3-4 cm long and full of liquid. When the movement of the ossicles reaches the cochlea, this liquid moves.
The inner walls of the cochlea contain small fibers that are affected by the movement of this liquid. There are more than one million hairs on the 32,000 cells inside our ears. These hairs sway along with the movement of the liquid. When there is a strong vibration, the hairs can move 20,000 times a second. When the sound waves are weak, they move only very little.
The hairs are extremely sensitive to any movement. Indeed, one hair moving only as much as the diameter of a hydrogen atom, one 400 billionth of a millimeter, can be enough to trigger the electrical impulse. In other words, if we compare the hair to a building 500 meters tall, the equivalent of a 2 cm movement could trigger the impulse.
When the hairs detect a vibration, they push against each other just like dominoes. This movement opens the doors of the cells underneath the hairs, which allows ions to enter the cells.
When the hairs move the other way, the cell gates close. The hairy cluster of cells works like a power switch. The hairs open when they lean to one side and close when they lean to the other. The continuous movement in the hairs changes the chemical balance of the cells all the time, causing them to produce electrical impulses.
In other words, the hair cells inside the cochlea act like batteries. It is rather like having 16,000 batteries inside our inner ears. But these batteries have an advanced technology incomparably better than that of the batteries we use. They are much more sensitive, can process information much faster and never need to be recharged. On top of that, you could fit them all inside a single pea if you put them all together.
Scientists examined the hairs outside the ear and were astonished to see that they react to even the slightest sound. David Corey, who has been examining the inner ear at Rockefeller University for more than 20 years, explains how he feels about this feature of hair cells:
The mechanics of the hair cell is is amazing. The movement of a hair bundle enables us to hear almost in a magical way. These cells are so magnificent, I could never get tired of looking at them. (Hudspeth, A. J., The ionic channels of a vertebrate hair cell. Hear Res 1986, 22: 21-27.)
While the cells in the inner cell produce these electrical impulses, they also manage to reflect the intensity and rhythm of the sound waves coming from the outside world. This is such a complex process that scientists are still unsure if the frequency distinction takes place in the inner ear or in the brain.
Inside the cochlea, there is an organ called the ‘corti’. This accommodates the miraculous batteries, in other words the hairs, and is made of many interactive different parts. It is isolated from other parts of the body as it is filled with liquid. It has no blood veins such as are found in other tissues of our bodies. If it did, we would hear the sound of blood circulating there as a constant background noise and that would soon become a never-ending torture.
For example, it would be impossible for you to watch this movie or even meet your simplest needs, such as sleep. Our lives would be very difficult indeed.
What we have learned so far shows that our hearing organs have a very complex and flawless structure.
In order for us to be able to hear, many different parts need to co-exist and work together in a flawless manner. If just one component, the ‘hammer’ for example, is removed then the ear cannot hear anything. The ear needs the eardrum, hammer, incus, stapes, cochlea and hair cells to all exist together. Such a system cannot develop ‘gradually,’ as evolutionists claim. Because in the interim stages the ear will be of no use, at all.
The idea that such a complex organ as the ear evolved gradually through such a random and completely unconscious process as evolution, is both unscientific and illogical.
That explains why the evolutionist Crick makes the following suggestion to biologists:
The biologists must always keep in mind that what they see is not a design, but the product of evolution.” (What Mad Pursuit: A Personal View of Scientific Discovery," , Penguin Books: London, 1990, reprint, s.138)
This remark is vital in that it shows the prejudice and unscientific approach of evolutionists. Although the author of that suggestion later said he no longer believed in evolution, his words are an important clue to the evolutionist state of mind.
First of all, although Crick is a famous evolutionist, he knows how biologists will feel when they see complex structures in living things, as this feeling is based on a common sense in human beings, regardless of whether or not they are scientists or biologists: ‘If there is a work of art, then there has to be an artist’. The beauty and the magnificence of the work only make us appreciate it more.
The biologists that Crick warned can be compared to ordinary people looking at a beautiful painting after grasping its stunning artistry. It doesn’t matter if a person is a scientist or not, no normal human being who looks at a work of art and feels the extraordinary magnificence in it can say ‘there is nothing extraordinary in this, it is just coincidence’. This attitude requires an unnatural and pre-conditioned attitude and a prejudiced state of mind.
However, the systems in living things are so unique that many scientists feel obliged to admit that there is a superior order in these, of which the auditory system is one.
We are still far from building a device that can replace the ear. Hearing aids are used to compensate for a range of problems affecting the ear drum and the middle ear. But not even the most advanced aid can even come close to replacing the eardrum and middle ear.
We possess a pair of organs that we don’t need to install every day, and that clean, regulate and power themselves. And we didn’t need to do anything to possess them, and we were not asked to pay anything for them.
The structure in the ear is just one example of the glorious creation in our bodies. And the only thing we have to do is give thanks to Allah. Allah explains that He shows favor to people as follows:
Allah shows favor to mankind but most of them are not thankful. (Surat an-Naml, 73)