Posted by: Randall Niles | May 2, 2009

The Eyes Have It

“To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree possible.”

— Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, Bantam Books, 1999 (reprint of 1859 original), 155.

The human eye is enormously complicated – a perfect and interrelated system of numerous individual parts, including the cornea, lens, pupil, iris, retina, optic nerve, and visual cortex.

Here’s a “simple” snapshot…

The cornea and lens refract light. The cornea is the transparent front of the eye that provides the primary focusing power, while the lens tunes the focus depending on an object’s distance. Similar to a camera, the pupil is the aperture and the iris is the aperture stop, together controlling the amount of light that enters the eye.

The retina is comprised of over 100 million photoreceptors that capture the light impressions and translate them to electrical pulses and chemical events. The retina is a complex, layered structure of rods and cones that functions like camera film.

The electrical pulses and chemical events captured on the “film” are sent to the brain via the 1.2 million fibers contained in the optic nerve. Special visual centers in the brain, including the primary visual cortex, process the electrical/chemical information as color, contrast, clarity, depth, etc., which, when everything comes together, allow us to see “pictures” of our world.

Incredibly, the eye ball, optic nerve, and visual cortex are three totally separate and distinct subsystems. Yet, collectively, they capture, deliver, and interpret up to 1.5 million pulse messages a millisecond! Ask a savvy computer programmer how difficult it would be to perform this task!

Clearly, if all the separate subsystems aren’t present and performing perfectly at the same instant, the human eye won’t work and has no purpose. Logically, it is impossible for random processes, operating through gradual mechanisms of natural selection and genetic mutation, to create numerous separate subsystems when they provide no advantage to the whole until the very last stage of development and interrelation.

When it comes down to it, Darwinian Theory declares that everything we see in the organic world merely has an “appearance of design.” Richard Dawkins, professor at Oxford University, writes:

“Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.

“…the living results of natural selection overwhelmingly impress us with the appearance of design as if by a master watchmaker…”

— Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, W.W. Norton & Company, 1996, 1, 21.

Nevertheless, Richard Dawkins is an atheist who staunchly maintains that the design we see in the world is merely an illusion – that these amazingly complex systems are an accidental product of natural selection.

I’m Still Thinking,

Randall Niles



  1. So. . . he who refuses to see simply will not see. . . how sad. ‘without faith it is impossible to please God.’

  2. Genuinely genius. God is so great if you stop to think about any single thing he’s created.

  3. You “forgot” the majority of the Dawin quote:

    “Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real.”

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