|EVOLUTION AND THE HUMAN EYE
E. Norbert Smith, Ph.D.
Perhaps it is the time by myself or maybe the distance from the daily classroom struggle that allows the mind to roam more freely. Or it might be the ever changing scenery and routine. Regardless of the cause, it seems many things are coming into sharper focus since I left the college classroom to drive an 18-wheeler. It is sad that after spending a couple of weeks to get my CDL I can earn more money driving a truck than I could teaching college in Oklahoma with a Ph.D., over 300 published papers and 20 years college teaching experience. Go figure!
I have long struggled with why Creation is so self-evident to me, yet eludes the majority of modern biologists. To me ALL living things shout to their Creator. I have long agreed with the Psalmist that, The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. ( Ps 19:1 , NIV). And the simple proclamation that, The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God," ( Ps 14:1, NAS). seems only to state the obvious. I see all living things as having been authored by God-The-Creator in the language of DNA. Yet, I have not always seen the world thusly.
In high school when my Biology teacher, Mrs. Norman, got to the textbook portion presenting evolution she closed the school book and read the first two chapters of Genesis to the class. I do understand her motivation and respect her courage to do so, yet it had the opposite effect on me. As a somewhat typical rebellious teenager, I was outraged and promptly went out and purchased Charles Darwin's Origin of Species. I wanted to see what she was trying to hide. For the next decade I was infatuated with evolution. At first I saw it is the means by which God created the endless variety of plants and animals. Later, I began to question the reality of the Genesis Flood and the Biblical time scale. It took a friend at Texas Instruments to loan me Morris and Whitcomb's classic work, The Genesis Flood and the Holy Spirit to show me there is no need to apologize for the science in the Bible (for God is Author of both). And it soon became abundantly clear that the facts of science simply do not support evolution.
It is evolution, not creation that is accepted by faith. I know in Whom I believe! Indeed, proof of supernatural creation surrounds us. Those failing to comprehend it do so out of spiritual blindness or as Peter says: But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. (2 Pet 3:5, NIV) Or perhaps more vividly as it reads in KJV those not seeing evidence of Creation and the Flood are willingly ignorant. Looked at objectively the fossil record alone precludes evolution and is positive proof of a global flood and the fact that all major groups of plants and animals have lived together in times past. Pollen of "advanced" plants have been found in among the oldest fossils! Even our rich and diverse fossil record bespeaks rapid water burial, for few fossils are being made today. Fossil linking major groups of plants or animals to other major groups are nonexistent. Darwin recognized this fact and hoped future paleontological research world show the necessary transitional fossils. It has not. Paleontologists now admit the transitional fossils are missing and excuse this by "Punctuated equilibrium" in which evolution occurred in "spurts" much to rapid to have left fossils. Yea, sure. And some still today think science is objective!
In college it was very obvious in many of my professors' lectures and in most textbooks that evolution was on shaky ground. The evidence was simply not there, yet professor and textbook author worshiped at Evolution's Altar. Logic, reason and the facts of science were sacrificed. The vast majority of the so-called evidences supporting evolution are at best circumstantial. Other equally tenable interpretations are possible. For example some see similarities between man and beast as proof of common ancestry. Others see it as proof of a common Creator. Surprisingly, most college textbook author's are far more honest than are most professors. One of my professors at Texas Tech claimed there was far more factual evidence supporting evolution than their was for gravity. In Oklahoma we have an appropriate verbal response: HOGWASH!
The authors of each of my textbooks in Zoology, Botany, Comparative Anatomy, Comparative Embryology freely stated that they accepted evolution to be true and interpreted the data into that framework. Some even admitted the evidence was circumstantial and that other interpretations were justified. On this they did agree, for the real proof of evolution all appealed to the fossil record, the only proof of actual historic evolution. Long after I had an earned Ph.D. I had the opportunity to teach a graduate course on Invertebrate Paleontology at the Institute of Creation Research. The first thing I did was throw out the textbook they were using because it soft peddled evolution. Instead, I adopted the textbook used by leading secular universities. And in that leading edge textbook the author clearly stated that evolution was assumed in spite of the lack of fossil evidence. In fact he even admitted that an objective look at the fossil record provides better support for creation than evolution. Yet he blindly insisted that for proof of evolution students should refer to courses in Biology, Botany, Comparative Anatomy and Comparative Embryology. Am I the only one that sees this circular reasoning? So much for objective science! Must reason continue to be sacrificed on the alter of Evolution?
It remains as true today as it was in Darwin's day, evolution is NOT accepted because of the overwhelming scientific evidence. One is not forced to accept evolution and reject creation due to the facts of science as our students are relentlessly taught. Instead, evolution is eagerly embraced because it allows for the intellectual removal of God from Creation and in so doing also removes Him from consciousness. It is nothing more than a delusional "Out of sight, out of mind" exercise. Or as I have said for years, "Evolution is a fairy tail for the ungodly." At the core it was in Darwin's time and remains today a MORAL ISSUE. The bottom line is that removal of God from Creation makes living an immoral lifestyle more agreeable. God still makes people feel uncomfortable, even ungodly people. They cannot or will not long entertain even the remote possibility of accountability and judgment. Nothing new here! This thesis can be supported by confessions of leading evolutionists each decade since Charles Darwin and remains rampant today. Why is this not told in our classrooms and textbooks? Where is objective science when you need her?
And I was and continue to be outraged by the use of known fraudulent material in high school and college Biology textbooks. For example, to show how embryology supports evolution recreations of the original series of drawings by the German Evolutionist, E. Hackel (Sometimes called Darwin's Bulldog) are still presented as factual today. This is in spite of the fact he was accused of making the early embryo drawings look more alike than they actually did. He was tried in a court of law, found guilty, paid a fine and finally confessed, yet his drawings are still seen in our children's textbook! Why, you ask? The reason is obvious to any inquiring mind. Evolution lacks legitimate factual support. Fraudulent evidence beats no evidence. Other arguments could be added, but this is sufficient for now.
Just as Charles Darwin was troubled by the human eye and how it could possibly have evolved, still today there is a major conflict between the design of the human eye and evolution. Let me explain in more detail.
Human senses: Each of our five senses provide important information about the external environment. Taste and smell bring sensual pleasure to eating and can warn of tainted food. Our sense of smell provides an early warning of impending fire or a chemical spill. Touch provides insight into the texture and temperature of our environment and is an important method of communication. Newborn babies can be provided with the "biological necessities" food, water and cleanliness, yet will die or become mentally dysfunctional without being touched, cuddled and held...without being loved. Love making without touch is cold and devoid of feeling. A hug or touch on the shoulder or arm of the ill or elderly says more than a thousand words. It shouts that you care.
Hearing and vision provide information from great distance and both require sophisticated organs of extreme sensitivity and complexity. Both approach theoretical limits of sensitivity with extraordinary powers of resolution. Human cochlea cells inside the ear respond to sound vibrations no larger than the diameter of a hydrogen atom and properly dark adapted human eyes can respond to a single photon of light. In addition, our ears provide our sense of balance and equilibrium, which explains why a severe ear infection can lead to dizziness. Hearing is necessary for speech and singing. Most remarkable of all our sense organs are the eyes.
Vision in humans and animals. Life is possible without any of our five senses...possible but severely lacking. Vision is the sense most people prefer over all others. It is vision that enables to recognize a face across a crowded room and even detect emotion in that face. The world of reading is easiest to enter with good eyesight. Vision provides beauty from flower, sunset and a starry night.
Eyes abound among animals in endless variety as do their uses. For many, eyesight enables them to find and capture prey or elude a predator, to find a mate and to build a nest. Vision helps in recognition of young and stranger and is useful in play of many species. Many invertebrates from single celled organisms to worms and snails have light sensitive organs although these are not eyes in the true sense. Although useful, such "eye spots" cannot provide detail about the visual world to the degree image forming eyes provide. For example flatworms respond to a bright light by retreating and when hungry are attracted to dim light. They "see" about as well as you and I do with our eyelids closed. We can still detect a bright light and orient toward or away from it.
To see requires a light tight chamber and for the image of the outside world to be focused on the light sensitive retina inside the eye. Human technology mimics the eye with a camera. Although a useful analogy, the camera is soon seen as far inferior to the human eye. For example our eyes automatically adjust to light levels and enable us to read in a wide range of light levels from moon light to bright sun. No single camera film can accept this range in light. In the human eye, the image is focused on the retina by changing the shape of the lens. Cameras (and fish) move the lens toward or away from the film (or retina) to accomplish this feat. The human eye repairs itself from accidental overexposure to bright light. Over exposed film must be discarded.
Perhaps most amazing is the amount of data reduction that occurs in the bipolar neuron layer of the retina. It is here contrast and lines are enhanced and the amount of data sent on to the visual centers of the brain are greatly reduced. It has been said that the amount of data processed by each eye each second would require the world's best computers hours to process. Details of how visual information is so quickly used, such as the recognition of a face, remain to be fully understood. Yet what we do understand about eyes and vision fills me with praise for its Creator!
The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them. ( Prov 20:12 , KJV)
Vision and evolution. Evolution fails miserably in explaining the origin of eyes or of the transformation of light sensitive cells into the detection of visual images. Evolution must always work under two extremely severe restraints...restraints seldom mentioned in textbooks. The restraints are these. Evolution must always proceed slowly and in very small steps because of the conservative nature of the transmission of genetic information to each succeeding generation. We now have an excellent grasp precisely what genetic information is and how this information is passed on. Major genetic change is always detrimental! No one disputes this. This is why we try to avoid mutagentic agents such as radiation. Only small changes will be passed on successfully and the vast majority of these are harmful. The simple analogy of some random change enhancing the performance of your computer or automobile engine are remote. So it is with the language of DNA. Living cells are orders of magnitude more complex than computers or engines.
The second constraint of evolution is that each step along the way must be advantageous. For if some alteration is not advantageous natural selection will surely eliminate such changes from the gene pool. It is precisely here evolutionists run amuck regarding the evolutionary "creation" of the eye or any other complex organ. To function at all and thus have a selective advantage it must have all the parts fully functional along with pathways to the brain and centers for interpretation of visual information. To accept by faith a light sensitive "eye spot" could mystically become transformed into an image forming eye through countless millions of steps, each somehow begetting its owner some significant advantage is incredible beyond reason.
Stop for a moment and consider the many intermediate steps necessary to transform a light sensitive pigment on the outside of the body, to a much more sensitive retina deep inside a light-tight chamber. And do not forget the lens and a method to focus it. Plus a system to compensate for changing light levels. Oh, yes this must all be connected to regions of the brain for interpretation. All this by random change. Yeah, sure! It is no wonder Charles Darwin was troubled by the human eye throughout much of life. For he feared the intricacies of the human eye were profound evidence of design. And where there is design, there must be a Designer. Even as an old man thinking of the human eye made him sick to his stomach. Here is one point Charles Darwin and I are in full agreement, the human eye does show evidence of design, but unlike Darwin, I know the Designer...and praise him and I rejoice that He is aware of and cares for me!
He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see? (Ps 94:9, KJV)
Modern argument: I know of no other organ in which the classroom discussion of its evolutionary origin evokes such emotion as does the eye. Perhaps it is because professors are aware of how troublesome the human eye was for Darwin, although none shared this concern. I think it is more. I think any objective scientist must have lingering doubts as to the origin of such a complex organ as the human eye by random change. I believe there might even be suppressed fears. What if there is a Designer? And a Judgment? What else could possibly account for the emotion? Let me explain the modern argument in more detail.
In many classroom discussions by professors that I have been exposed to and in more than a few textbooks the human eye is held up as proof that creation is false. After a brief discussion of the anatomy and physiology of the eye the statement is forcefully made that such an organ proves creation to be untenable. For if God created the eye then God was a fool. They of course are referring to the way the retina is constructed with the light sensitive cells deep near the back of the eye with the bipolar neurons and nerves lying in front (toward the visual field). They argue such a design is flawed for light must pass through the neurons before reaching the light sensitive cells. Here professors will often ridicule any student espousing belief in God or any form of creation. This can be a highly persuasive argument for students hearing it for the first time. Rebuttal however is easy and complete.
Before getting to the counter argument let me illustrate what an emotionally charged issue this is for students. Throughout my over 20 years spent teaching physiology in secular colleges I always gave a one hour lecture, "Scientific Evidences of Creation." The two years I was teaching Medical Physiology in the College of Optometry was highly structured and I simply did not feel I could take "lecture time" for such an excursion. I did however agree to provide it as an optional lecture at 7:00 AM on a Saturday morning, thinking few if any of the optometry students would attend. Both years I taught EVERY STUDENT in my Medical Physiology course attended. This is indeed an emotionally charged issue and students are eager to hear both sides of the origins argument...at least regarding the human eye. As an aside, it is a sad commentary that I had more freedom to talk about Creation in secular colleges than I would have in many Christian colleges in our land. Three examples will suffice. When my professors at Baylor University found out I was a creationist and rejected evolution (months after my graduation), they informed me had they known about my views I would have never been accepted for graduate study. At Baylor there were few professing Christians in the Biology Department and no creationists.
Dr. Jeff Black, then at a major denominational University invited me to give a professional seminar about my alligator thermoregulation studies in the Biology department. I did so and it was well received. Since Jeff knew I was a creationists he arranged for me to give a "Scientific Evidences of Creation" talk to a small group of Christians on campus. I did, but word got back to the Biology Department that Dr. Black had invited a creationist to speak at the university. He was fired over my speaking on creation.
Many years ago I gave a similar lecture another major Christian University. There the science faculty openly professed being Christian and three were openly creationists. Within two years each of the creationists were "removed." I do think this is a sad state of affairs, but such is life in the land of the free. Now back to the human eye.
Upon reading and hearing that the human eye was being held up as proof positive that creation was false and if the eye was created then God was fool, I laughed for the logic was obviously flawed on two fronts. First how can anyone deride such an exquisite organ that approaches the theoretical limits imposed by physics? It is far superior to anything our technology can produce and to say it is flawed is arrogance in excess. Aside from that the logic is also flawed for any alleged imperfections would also argue against evolution. How could such a flawed organ be chosen by natural selection? But there is much more.
True Design: Any evolutionist that argues inherent flaws in the design of the human eye makes belief in creation impossible is only showing their own ignorance of how the eye functions. First, since light is reflected from the rear of the eye it actually goes through the retina twice ("Red-eye" sometimes seen in flash photos) the order of where the light sensitive cells are located is moot. But here is a clinching reason. Accidental exposure to sunlight or strong ultraviolet light can irreversibly damage the light sensitive rods and cone cells in our retina. Aging also destroys them. Their rebuilding by mitosis requires a great deal of oxygen and energy. In other words the fragile light sensitive portion of the eye needs a rich supply of blood...which only exists at the rear of the retina. Without this blood supply accidental exposure to bright light and aging would result in premature and permanent blindness. The eye is exquisitely designed! The more I learn of its workings the more I want to lift my hands in praise of the Designer! How anyone can allege, in the name of science, that light sensitive pigment could evolve into an organ so complex as the image forming eyes of insects, vertebrates and yes even cephalopods such as squids and octopuses is indeed a game for fools.
Your comments please.
Norbert Smith, Ph.D.
College professor turned truck driver.