Eye Optimization in Creation
by Brian Thomas, M.S. *
The more that is known about the human body, the more amazing its construction turns out to be. A recent New York Times article focused on eyeball optimization: "[The] basic building blocks of human eyesight turn out to be practically perfect."1
Simply put, the various parts of this optimized system are structured in ways that cannot be improved upon. Some people fail to see the relevance of optimization in the living world because they have been indoctrinated by naturalists' efforts to discredit such perfected features as eyes. Atheist and Darwinist Richard Dawkins described vertebrate eyes in his popular book The Blind Watchmaker:
Any engineer would naturally assume that the photocells would point towards the light, with their wires leading backwards towards the brain. He would laugh at any suggestion that the photocells might point away, from the light, with their wires departing on the side nearest the light. Yet this is exactly what happens in all vertebrate retinas.2
Dawkins and similarly minded authors mock the thought of a God who would wire vertebrate eyes "backward." But in asserting that retina wiring represents poor design, they have ignored or dismissed the design advantages for having photocells oriented away from the light. For example, in this configuration, the specialized light-gathering, energy-hungry cells are bathed in readily available nutrients. They are also protected behind a layer of nerve and other cells.
Discoveries in 2009 created another obstacle for this "bad design" argument. Researchers found that eyeballs have structures that completely cover the surface area of the part of the retina that is exposed to incoming light. This way, the finite space is fully utilized to gather photons that are used to make an image. The study's authors found that the eye "approaches the optimum for high-resolution vision."3
Physicists like Princeton University's William Bialek increasingly focus their attention on the perfected physics of biology, including the role of photoreceptor cells in vertebrate eyes. "Photoreceptors exemplify the principle of optimization, an idea, gaining ever wider traction among researchers, that certain key features of the natural world have been honed by evolution to the highest possible peaks of performance, the legal limits of what Newton, Maxwell, Pauli, Planck et Albert [sic] will allow," stated the New York Times.1
Ironically, however, Max Planck and Albert Einstein acknowledged that what they saw in nature looked like the handiwork of a purposeful Agent,4 and Isaac Newton and James Clerk Maxwell were both firmly convinced that the order in the cosmos was caused by the God of the Bible.5,6 Thus, the very founders of physics, thermodynamics, chemistry, and biology pioneered these core disciplines because of their conviction that God divinely created and commissioned mankind to investigate His creation through good science.7
Thus, although evolutionists claim that optimized designs, like human eyes, were "honed by evolution," no naturalistic mechanism or principle among all the legal limits of nature has been found to actually build such remarkably efficient machinery. In fact, what science does observe and measure is the sometimes slow breakdown of efficiency and organization. This means that eyeball evolution lies outside of those natural legal limits.
The New York Times reported that biophysicists have calculated that some biological systems, such as eyes, "couldn't get faster, more sensitive or more efficient without first relocating to an alternate universe with alternate physical constants."1
This level of quality design is best explained by a quality Designer.
- Angier, N. Seeing the Natural World With a Physicist's Lens. New York Times. Posted on nytimes.com November 1, 2010, accessed November 18, 2010.
- Dawkins, R. 1996. The Blind Watchmaker. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 93.
- How the retina works: Like a multi-layered jigsaw puzzle of receptive fields. Salk Institute press release, April 7, 2009. Quoted in Thomas, B. Retinal Coordination: Picture Perfect Presentation of Design. ICR News. Posted on icr.org April 15, 2009, accessed November 18, 2010.
- For example, Max Planck said, "There is evidence of an intelligent order of the universe." Quoted in DeYoung, D. B. 1985. Design in Nature: The Anthropic Principle. Acts & Facts. 14 (11).
- Dao, C. 2008. Man of Science, Man of God: Isaac Newton. Acts & Facts. 37(5): 8.
- Dao, C. 2008. Man of Science, Man of God: James Clerk Maxwell. Acts & Facts. 37(9): 8.
- "The very first divine commandment given to man was: 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion...' (Genesis 1:28). This 'dominion mandate,' as it has been called, is in effect a command to 'do science,' for Adam and his descendants could only 'subdue' the earth and 'have dominion' over all its living creatures by learning their nature and functions." Morris, H. 2010. Biology and the Bible. Acts & Facts. 39 (11): 4. See also Morris, H. 2008. The Biblical Origins of Modern Science. Acts & Facts. 37 (2): 9.
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on November 23, 2010.