More creationist misconceptions about the eye

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Jonathan Sarfati, a particularly silly creationist, is quite thrilled — he's crowing about how he has caught Richard Dawkins in a fundamental error. The eye did not evolve, says Sarfati, because it is perfectly designed for its function, and Dawkins' suggestion that there might be something imperfect about it is wrong, wrong, wrong. He quotes Dawkins on the eye.

But I haven't mentioned the most glaring example of imperfection in the optics. The retina is back to front.

Imagine a latter-day Helmholtz presented by an engineer with a digital camera, with its screen of tiny photocells, set up to capture images projected directly on to the surface of the screen. That makes good sense, and obviously each photocell has a wire connecting it to a computing device of some kind where images are collated. Makes sense again. Helmholtz wouldn't send it back.

But now, suppose I tell you that the eye's 'photocells' are pointing backwards, away from the scene being looked at. The 'wires' connecting the photocells to the brain run over all the surface of the retina, so the light rays have to pass through a carpet of massed wires before they hit the photocells. That doesn't make sense…

What Dawkins wrote is quite correct, and nowhere in his refutation does Sarfati show that he is wrong. Instead, Sarfati bumbles about to argue against an argument that no biologist makes, that the eye is a poor instrument for detecting patterns of light. The argument is never that eyes do their job poorly; it's that they do their job well, by a peculiar pattern of kludgy patches to increase functionality that bear all the hallmarks of a long accumulation of refinements. Sarfati is actually supporting the evolutionary story by summarizing a long collection of compromises and odd fixes to improve the functionality of the eye.

There's a fundamental question here: why does the vertebrate eye have its receptors facing backwards in the first place? It is not the best arrangement optically; Sarfati is stretching the facts to claim that God designed it that way because it was superior. It ain't. The reason lies in the way our eye is formed, as an outpocketing of the cortex of the brain. It retains the layered structure of the cortex, even; it's the way it is because of how it was assembled, not because its origins are rooted in optical optimality. You might argue that it's based on a developmental optimum, that this was the easiest, simplest way to turn a light-sensitive patch into a cup-shaped retina.

Evolution has subsequently shaped this patch of tissue for better acuity and sensitivity in certain lineages. That, as I said, is a product of compromises, not pre-planned design. Sarfati brings up a series of odd tweaks that make my case for me.

  1. The vertebrate photoreceptors are nourished and protected by an opaque layer called the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE). Obviously, you couldn't put the RPE in front of the visual receptors, so the retina had to be reversed to allow it to work. This is a beautiful example of compromise: physiology is improved at the expense of optical clarity. This is exactly what the biologists have been saying! Vertebrates have made a trade-off of better nutrient supplies to the retina for a slight loss of optical clarity.

  2. Sarfati makes the completely nonsensical claim that the presence of blood vessels, cells, etc. in the light path do not compromise vision at all because resolution is limited by diffraction at the pupil, so "improvements of the retina would make no difference to the eye's performance". This is clearly not true. The fovea of the vertebrate eye represents an optimization of a small spot on the retina for better optical properties vs. poorer circulation: blood vessels are excluded from the fovea, which also has a greater density of photoreceptors. Obviously, improvements to the retina do make a difference.

    It's also not a condition that is universal in all vertebrates. Most birds, for instance, do not have a vascularized retina — there is no snaky pattern of blood vessels wending their way across the photoreceptors. Birds do have greater acuity than we do, as well. What birds have instead is a strange structure inside their eye called the pecten oculi, which looks kind of like an old steam radiator dangling into the vitreous humor, which seems to be a metabolic specialization to secrete oxygen and nutrients into the vitreous to supply by diffusion the retina.

  3. Sarfati also plays rhetorical games. This is a subtly dishonest argument:

    In fact, cephalopods don't see as well as humans, e.g. no colour vision, and the octopus eye structure is totally different and much simpler. It's more like 'a compound eye with a single lens'.

    First, there's a stereotype he's playing to: he's trying to set up a hierarchy of superior vision, and he wants our god-designed eyes at the top, so he tells us that most cephalopods have poorer vision than we do. He doesn't bother to mention that humans don't have particularly good vision ourselves; birds have better eyes. So, is God avian?

    That business about the cephalopod being like a compound eye is BS; if it's got a single lens, it isn't a compound eye, now is it? It's also again pandering to a bias that our eyes must be better than mere compound eyes, since bugs and other lowly vermin have those. Cephalopods have rhabdomeric eyes, meaning that their photoreceptors have a particular structure and use a particular set of biomolecules in signal transduction, but that does not in any way imply that they are inferior. In fact, they have some superior properties: the cephalopod retina is tightly organized and patterned, with individual rhabdomeres ganged together into units called rhabdomes that work together to process light. Their ordered structure means that cephalopods can detect the polarity of light, something we can't do at all. This is a different kind of complexity, not a lesser one. They can't see color, which is true, but we can't sense the plane of polarity of light in our environment.

    I must also note that the functions of acting as a light guide (more below) and using pigment to shield photoreceptors are also present in the cephalopod eye…only by shifting pigments in supporting cells that surround the rhabdome, rather than in a solid RPE. Same functions, different solutions, the cephalopod has merely stumbled across a solution that does not simultaneously impede the passage of light.

    Color vision, by the way, is a red herring here. Color is another compromise that has nothing to do with the optical properties of the arrangement of the retina, but is instead a consequence of biochemical properties of the photoreceptors and deeper processing in the brain. If anything, color vision reduces resolution (because individual photoreceptors are tuned to different wavelengths) and always reduces sensitivity (you don't use color receptors at night, you may have noticed, relying instead on rods that are far less specific about wavelength). But if he insists, many teleosts have a greater diversity of photopigments and can see colors we can't even imagine…so humans are once again also-rans in the color vision department.

  4. Sarfati is much taken with the discovery that some of the glial cells of the eye, the Müller cells, act as light guides to help pipe light through the tangle of retinal processing cells direct to the photoreceptors. This is a wonderful innovation, and it is entirely true that in principle this could improve the sensitivity of the photoreceptors. But again, this would not perturb any biologist at all — this is what we expect from evolution, the addition of new features to overcome shortcomings of original organization. If we had a camera that clumsily had the non-optical parts interposed between the lens and the light sensor, we might be impressed with the blind, clumsy intricacy of a solution that involved using an array of fiber optics to shunt light around the opaque junk, but it wouldn't suggest that the original design was particularly good. It would indicate short-term, problem-by-problem debugging rather than clean long-term planning.

  5. Sarfati cannot comprehend why the blind spot would be a sign of poor design, either. He repeats himself: why, it's because the eye needs a blood supply. Yes, it does, and the solution implemented in our eyes is one that compromises resolution. I will again point out that the cephalopod retina also needs a blood supply, and they have a much more elegant solution; the avian eye also needs a blood supply, but is not invested with blood vessels. He gets very circular here. The argument is not that the vertebrate eye lacks a solution to this problem, but that there are many different ways to solve the problem of organizing the retina with its multiple demands, and that the vertebrate eye was clearly not made by assembling the very best solutions.

Sarfati really needs to crawl out of his little sealed box of creationist dogma and discover what scientists actually say about these matters, and not impose his bizarre creationist interpretations on the words of people like Dawkins and Miller. What any comparative biologist can see by looking at eyes across multiple taxa is that they all work well enough for their particular functions, but they all also have clear signs of assembly by a historical process, like evolution and quite unlike creation, and that there is also evidence of shortcomings that have acquired workarounds, some of which are wonderfully and surprisingly useful. What we don't see are signs that the best solutions from each clade have been extracted and placed together in one creature at the pinnacle of creation. And in particular — and this has to be particularly grating to the Genesis-worshipping creationists of Sarfati's ilk, since he studiously avoids the issue — Homo sapiens is not standing alone at that pinnacle of visual excellence. We're kinda straggling partway down the peak, trying to compensate for some relics of our ancestry, like the fact that we're descended from nocturnal mammals that let the refinement of their vision slide for a hundred million years or thereabouts, while the birds kept on optimizing for daylight acuity and sensitivity.

382 Comments

Plus, cephalopod eyes are wired FORWARDS, this debunking the claim by Dr George Marshall that eyes of vertebrates have a good reason to be wired backwards.

It doesn’t matter what you claim your scientific credentials to be; if you get caught lying to promote a false dogma, you should be publicly whipped over it.

“The vertebrate photoreceptors are nourished and protected by an opaque layer called the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE). Obviously, you couldn’t put the RPE in front of the visual receptors, so the retina had to be reversed to allow it to work. This is a beautiful example of compromise: physiology is improved at the expense of optical clarity. This is exactly what the biologists have been saying! Vertebrates have made a trade-off of better nutrient supplies to the retina for a slight loss of optical clarity.”

This doesn’t make sense to me – octopus retinas are successfully from behind, with the nerves also going out behind as well. All it requires is that the supply cells and the nerve cells interdigitate, which can’t be that hard at all for e.g. the hypothetical intelligent designer who allegedly was able to design the rest of the eye.

For the real source of the vertebrate backwards retina, look at the arrangement of the light-sensitive nerve in Amphioxus (the nerve enters the light-sensitive cup from the front).

“They can’t see color, which is true, but we can’t sense the plane of polarity of light in our environment.”

I doubt very much that ALL cephalopods lack color vision. E.g. cuttlefish display compex colored patterns to each other, it seems likely that they can see them. Have the tests been done?

I remember watching a nature show on elephants. The narrator (or possibly the naturalist, its a bit hazy) was explaining that you don’t try and approach elephants at night, because their night vision is very poor in comparison to most animals and that tends to make them jumpy and aggresive after dark. Their night vision is so poor, he went on to say, that its almost as bad as a human’s.

Dawkins did the eye to death in CLIMBING MOUNT IMPROBABLE. But alas, how could we possibly be the least surprised at creationists recycling of their oldest arguments?

Of course, the whole question of “what the Designer might or might not have done” is a trap of sorts. We can point to particular structures as evidence for evolution, but as far as Design goes, there’s no structure that *isn’t* compatible: IT WAS JUST MADE THAT WAY!

The only question that arises is what the motives of the Designer might be, and since the Designer hasn’t seen fit to inform us of His Design decisions, we can pull any rationale we like out of our back pocket, sensible or silly, and defend as having every bit as much support in the evidence as any other (which is, for those with irony deficiency, is precisely none). Indeed, JUST MADE THAT WAY is exactly perfect an answer for ALL the sciences.

The interesting question is: what evidence is NOT compatible with Design? Rabbits in the Precambrian would be showstopper for evo science, but no problem for Design: IT WAS JUST MADE THAT WAY!

The interdigitation is exactly what the cephalopod eye does. As you well know, though, you don’t get to demand what’s best for vision in your eye via evolution, which is what I mean when I say it’s a compromise: vertebrates have adapted an epithelial tissue for nutritive function, which isn’t quite as clever or efficient as the cephalopod solution, but it still gets the job done.

Only one species of cephalopod has shown any evidence of color vision, a firefly squid. Many others have been thoroughly tested, and also examined biochemically for color opsins. They only see intensities. Octopus, for instance, can discriminate very fine shades of gray, but try to train them to choose between a red block and a blue block with the same luminance, and they can’t tell them apart.

Cuttlefish: no color vision. Surprising, isn’t it?

Could I ask a favor? Could you please use a bigger font? You see, I’ve lost my reading glasses and am having trouble reading your posts. Thanks.

Here’s more about cephalopod vision and camouflage. They’re color blind. They try to match textures and patterns.

Most browsers have a command to enlarge text – on my Mac Firefox, I just hit command-+.

Wayne said:

Could you please use a bigger font?

This may not work on all browsers, but try “Ctrl +” to scale up the font. It works on IE 8 and works on Firefox – suggest you upgrade to latest browser if you use them, it’s free. To scale back down, try “Ctrl -“.

mrg said:

Wayne said:

Could you please use a bigger font?

This may not work on all browsers, but try “Ctrl +” to scale up the font. It works on IE 8 and works on Firefox – suggest you upgrade to latest browser if you use them, it’s free. To scale back down, try “Ctrl -“.

Now here I laughed when reading Wayne’s comment. He did have a sarcastic smirk on his face, didn’t he?

he’s trying to set up a hierarchy of superior vision, and he wants our god-designed eyes at the top, so he tells us that most cephalopods have poorer vision than we do.

This being one of the big howlers. The whole idea of there being a hierarchy and a ‘top eye’ is ridiculous on its face. What is evolutionarily optimal is based on your local ecological niche. There isn’t any hierarchy. The best eye for a hawk may not be the best eye for a human (I have better uses for my brain than optimized visual signal interpretation, thank you); same goes for the octopus.

Of course having said that, Sarfati’s still wrong. Even if we assume that current human vision is the “goal” (i.e. saying for sake of argument that our actual visual capability is optimal for us), it is still true that one could design a better eye to achieve that visual capability. Which as PZ says is the point: not that the eye is poor - its not - but that there are obvious better ways of achieving the same result.

I am going to kick square in the nuts the next creationist who says the eye is perfectly designed. The eye is a flawed organ; but for optometrists and opthomologists, many humans would be functionally blind before adulthood.

And I’m betting eagles have better eyes than any human.

But what if they say that on a blog rather than in person?

fasteddie said:

I am going to kick square in the nuts the next creationist who says the eye is perfectly designed.

A little violent for my tastes … I would at least suggest restraint until a creationist says the eye is perfectly designed …

… and then, when confronted with obvious evidence of evolutionary kludging, answers without blinking an eyelash: “Well, how do we actually know how a Designer would do things?”

Heads I win tails you lose!

Would colour vision be of any use to benthic creatures? Is there any indication that modern cephalopods developed from deep-sea dwellers?

That is very strange about cephalopod color vision. I always imagined that if I wrote a science fiction story, the aliens could be similar to squid and would communicate entirely by detailed pattern and color changes on their skins. That would be so much more subtle than human speech it would given them an advantage over us. And imagine what it would look like when they performed their analog of opera. But then, I suppose, they would want to eat us when the stars are right.

It would indicate short-term, problem-by-problem debugging rather than clean long-term planning.

This is what I do at work most of the time. It’s hardly contrary to intelligent design.

Regarding the Muller cells, Myers wrote:

“This a wonderful innovation, and it is entirely true that in principle this could improve the sensitivity of the photoreceptors. But again, this would not perturb any biologist at all — this is what we expect from evolution, the addition of new features to overcome shortcomings of original organization.”

Hmm. “This is what we expect from evolution”? According to David Tyler, that’s simply not correct. Evolutionists didn’t see it coming at all:

“Darwinists never predicted the function performed by Muller cells, but once they were recognised, they are dubbed a “retrofit”, with credit given to the amazing powers of mutation and natural selection (without any valid supporting evidence). This strategy is to Darwinism what epicycles were to the Ptolemaic cosmology.”

–David Tyler, “Post details: The contribution of glial cells to human vision acuity.”

http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.php/[…]lls_to_human

Always drawing more and more circles, it seems. Anything, anything, to keep evolution from dying a slow, painful, scientific death.

FL

There was no expectation that Müller cells would act as light guides – the range of possibilities generated by evolutionary processes are so great and so unpredictable that no one can lay out a specific next step for anything. What we expect from evolution is novelty of some sort that, if beneficial (and sometimes if not), will be used to compensate. That’s what kludges are.

If you think evolution is dying, you need to get out more.

mrg said:

Dawkins did the eye to death in CLIMBING MOUNT IMPROBABLE. But alas, how could we possibly be the least surprised at creationists recycling of their oldest arguments?

Of course, the whole question of “what the Designer might or might not have done” is a trap of sorts. We can point to particular structures as evidence for evolution, but as far as Design goes, there’s no structure that *isn’t* compatible: IT WAS JUST MADE THAT WAY!

The only question that arises is what the motives of the Designer might be, and since the Designer hasn’t seen fit to inform us of His Design decisions, we can pull any rationale we like out of our back pocket, sensible or silly, and defend as having every bit as much support in the evidence as any other (which is, for those with irony deficiency, is precisely none). Indeed, JUST MADE THAT WAY is exactly perfect an answer for ALL the sciences.

The interesting question is: what evidence is NOT compatible with Design? Rabbits in the Precambrian would be showstopper for evo science, but no problem for Design: IT WAS JUST MADE THAT WAY!

Well first of all the PreCambrian Rabbit is not a valid falsification. And evidence that would really hurt ID would be fossil evidence of gradualism. But evolution cannot be falsified because no matter what we see in the fossil record it can always be claimed: IT EVOLVED THAT WAY!. Sorry.

Thinking out of the box, maybe the purpose of the design is not optimal vision. The eye presents the brain with information that needs to be processed. If our brains were processing all the information presented to bird brains they wouldn’t have the computing resources for higher level thought processes.

But evolution cannot be falsified because no matter what we see in the fossil record it can always be claimed: IT EVOLVED THAT WAY!.

Uh, no. A theory rests on data, not claims. A fossil rabit unequivocally in the precambrian would of course have to be explained, but doing so would at the very least require some pretty massive changes to current theory. Yes, such a find would trigger a whole lot of diligent research, but the result would be the falsification of the CURRENT THEORY. The result would never be “I give up, goddidit.” It would be a different theory. And the new theory would have to explain HOW it evolved that way.

You are confusing science with religion. It’s religion that just waves a hand and says POOF, this is how it is.

meganfox said:

And evidence that would really hurt ID would be fossil evidence of gradualism.

Such evidence is found in the fossil record, you just have to look for it. You also have to study paleontology.

Niles Eldredge wrote a book entitled ‘Time Frames, The Evolution of Punctuated Equilibrium’ (Princeton University Press, 1985) where he describes his find of a gradual transition between two species of trilobites, seemingly long before the apparent disappearance of the older species and the emergence of the newer species. This apparent abruptness of one species into another is an illusion. He found the actual transition in a quarry in upstate New York (page 78 onward).

Every fossil in every museum around the world, and still uncollected in every sedimentary formation, is a FACT of evolution. The Theory of Evolution seeks to explain the Facts of Evolution.

If you are an honest person you should learn about these things and you will be amazed at what you will discover.

David Tyler is indeed an expert on evolution. He has laid out his published research on the topic in such prestigious journals as, er, Stitch World and other textiles related venues:

http://www.hollings.mmu.ac.uk/~dtyler/

He’s also a maverick when it comes to Young Earth Creationism - our Dave believes the early to be as old as 10,000 years and that the Flood deposited only the very earliest part of the geologic record. He thinks outside the box does David J Tyler.

Definitely an authority to be trusted when dealing with the latest news relevant to evolutionary biology. You can see why he was the go to guy for ARN.

Thinking out of the box, maybe the purpose of the design is not optimal vision

But of course, the “purpose” of evolution is not to produce “optimal”, but only “works better, everything considered.” And what’s considered seems to be survival. Most biological structures seem to evolve toward cost-effective. If visual acuity AND higher level thinking were both necessary, one might expect something else to shrink, OR a larger brain.

John Vanko said:

meganfox said:

And evidence that would really hurt ID would be fossil evidence of gradualism.

Such evidence is found in the fossil record, you just have to look for it. You also have to study paleontology.

Niles Eldredge wrote a book entitled ‘Time Frames, The Evolution of Punctuated Equilibrium’ (Princeton University Press, 1985) where he describes his find of a gradual transition between two species of trilobites, seemingly long before the apparent disappearance of the older species and the emergence of the newer species. This apparent abruptness of one species into another is an illusion. He found the actual transition in a quarry in upstate New York (page 78 onward).

Every fossil in every museum around the world, and still uncollected in every sedimentary formation, is a FACT of evolution. The Theory of Evolution seeks to explain the Facts of Evolution.

If you are an honest person you should learn about these things and you will be amazed at what you will discover.

John Vanko said:

meganfox said:

And evidence that would really hurt ID would be fossil evidence of gradualism.

Such evidence is found in the fossil record, you just have to look for it. You also have to study paleontology.

Niles Eldredge wrote a book entitled ‘Time Frames, The Evolution of Punctuated Equilibrium’ (Princeton University Press, 1985) where he describes his find of a gradual transition between two species of trilobites, seemingly long before the apparent disappearance of the older species and the emergence of the newer species. This apparent abruptness of one species into another is an illusion. He found the actual transition in a quarry in upstate New York (page 78 onward).

Every fossil in every museum around the world, and still uncollected in every sedimentary formation, is a FACT of evolution. The Theory of Evolution seeks to explain the Facts of Evolution.

If you are an honest person you should learn about these things and you will be amazed at what you will discover.

I guess I was not clear enough. What would falsify ID would be a very complete incremental fossil record that showed gradualism. Yes of course there is a lot of spotty evidence but a complete set of fossils from the first cell to humans would weigh heavily against ID. Have you studied much biology?

Flint said:

But evolution cannot be falsified because no matter what we see in the fossil record it can always be claimed: IT EVOLVED THAT WAY!.

Uh, no. A theory rests on data, not claims. A fossil rabit unequivocally in the precambrian would of course have to be explained, but doing so would at the very least require some pretty massive changes to current theory. Yes, such a find would trigger a whole lot of diligent research, but the result would be the falsification of the CURRENT THEORY. The result would never be “I give up, goddidit.” It would be a different theory. And the new theory would have to explain HOW it evolved that way.

You are confusing science with religion. It’s religion that just waves a hand and says POOF, this is how it is.

Please read Popper. The Cambrian Rabbit is NOT a falsification for evolution. Of course some people do not accept falsification as a concept so the point might be moot.

Intelligent Designer -

Thinking out of the box, maybe the purpose of the design is not optimal vision.

That’s a very good point. After all, we can’t predict in advance what a super-human, inscrutable designer would want to design.

The idea of common descent, on the other hand, leads to testable predictions.

Let’s review how just a few have turned out. These are just a few examples.

1) Of course, common descent was first inferred by the observation of nested hierarchies in biology, which allow organized taxonomy.

2) One of the first advances in the life sciences was the beginning of biochemistry in the early to mid nineteenth century. For common descent to be strongly supported, we should see common biochemistry across life. Completely unique biochemistry in different lineages would argue against common descent. In fact, we see the former.

3) Around the same time, light microscopic examination of cell structure developed. To strengthen the claim of common descent, we should see common elements of cell structure across life. That is, indeed, what we see.

4) Mendelian or “classical” genetics developed. To support evolution and common descent, it needs to be compatible with that concept; it is.

5) The electron microscope became available, allowing a much greater understanding of cellular structure. To strongly support common descent, we should see common cellular structures across life. We do.

6) Molecular genetics became understood. Now some really convincing tests. “Design” could do anything, but for strong support of common descent, we’d need to see such things as a common genetic code across life. We do.

I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here and ask you a question.

How do you explain the fact that, even if life has been designed, it has been designed to look exactly as if it had evolved?

Are you an advocate of Omphalos - the idea that “the designer” falsely creates the appearance of age and evolution? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omphalos_hypothesis

Please explain how life appears to have been evolved. Thank You.

meganfox said:

… a complete set of fossils from the first cell to humans would weigh heavily against ID.

Oh, I see. “A complete set of fossils from the first cell to humans,” in other words THE complete set of fossils for all life on Planet Earth - every parent and every child, every organism that has ever lived.

Nothing else will satisfy you. And yet there is indeed an incomplete set from the first cell to humans - we have it, it is called the fossil record. You just refuse to acknowledge it.

Gradualism is not a requirement of evolution. Gould and Eldredge proposed Punctuated Equilibrium as a better explanation of much of the fossil record and then offered actual examples. Gradualism still exists in the fossil record but it is not the only way evolution proceeds.

By the way, every human being grew from just one cell. (I think that’s biology, no?) Very peculiar, don’t you think?

I think it weighs heavily against ID.

Henry J said:

Evolution fans? Does this guy think people accept evolution theory because they like the conclusions?

I keep wondering that myself. I keep telling these guys: “I have absolutely NO reason to accept evolutionary science except for the fact that the evidence demands it. If things worked some other way, I would accept that instead.”

I believe the Sun is yellow because that’s the color I observe it to be. It could in principle be orange if it were a bit cooler, and if it were, I would accept that it is orange with no difficulty – but it’s NOT.

I have never had one of them answer me on this. Of course I generally add that I feel more reassured in my acceptance by the fact that all the criticisms of evo science are obvious baloney that make Marvel comics looks like the Encyclopedia Brittannica in comparison. Given the astounding level of effort they’ve invested, if there was much honestly wrong with evo science, they’d have come up with something more impressive.

FL said:

Regarding the Muller cells, Myers wrote:

“This a wonderful innovation, and it is entirely true that in principle this could improve the sensitivity of the photoreceptors. But again, this would not perturb any biologist at all — this is what we expect from evolution, the addition of new features to overcome shortcomings of original organization.”

Hmm. “This is what we expect from evolution”? According to David Tyler, that’s simply not correct. Evolutionists didn’t see it coming at all:

“Darwinists never predicted the function performed by Muller cells, but once they were recognised, they are dubbed a “retrofit”, with credit given to the amazing powers of mutation and natural selection (without any valid supporting evidence). This strategy is to Darwinism what epicycles were to the Ptolemaic cosmology.”

–David Tyler, “Post details: The contribution of glial cells to human vision acuity.”

http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.php/[…]lls_to_human

Always drawing more and more circles, it seems. Anything, anything, to keep evolution from dying a slow, painful, scientific death.

FL

What, no Oro quotes? No claims that b ecause two things are mentioned in the same paragraph that they are thus the same thing?

FL said:

Always drawing more and more circles, it seems. Anything, anything, to keep evolution from dying a slow, painful, scientific death.

FL

Yeah. Any day now, FL, the entire house of cards will come crashing down.

It’s only a matter of time.

After all, the TOE has only been around for 150 years, only been brutally attacked from every conceivable angle without anybody ever finding a significant flaw, despite mountains of potential refutations from new science - no, from entire new branches of science - that were inconceivable to Darwin in 1860.

And now, in it’s 15th decade, faces it’s biggest challenge ever, having to refute exactly zero countervailing evidence, the shimmering product of a century and a half of hard “research” by the creationist nutjobs.

Ya know, FL, I can’t help but notice a distinct pattern of you talking a good game, but never, ever, ever actually putting anything solid on the table by way of actual evidence.

Now, why might that be, FL?

Ya know, FL, I can’t help but notice a distinct pattern of you talking a good game, but never, ever, ever actually putting anything solid on the table by way of actual evidence.

Now, why might that be, FL?

Probably because FL has placed a ton of religious evidence on the table, just no scientific evidence. Religious evidence consists of sincere assertions. SAYING that religious assertions are “scientific” MAKES them scientific, according to the rules of religious evidence.

Flint said:

Ya know, FL, I can’t help but notice a distinct pattern of you talking a good game, but never, ever, ever actually putting anything solid on the table by way of actual evidence.

Now, why might that be, FL?

Probably because FL has placed a ton of religious evidence on the table, just no scientific evidence. Religious evidence consists of sincere assertions. SAYING that religious assertions are “scientific” MAKES them scientific, according to the rules of religious evidence.

I never recall FL putting even “religious” evidence or even any “sincere assertions.”

After all, remember, all of the assertions FL has ever made have ultimately turned out to be false, or insincere, or snide yet hypocritically illogical.

After all, remember, all of the assertions FL has ever made have ultimately turned out to be false, or insincere, or snide yet hypocritically illogical.

That’s not how I read it. I think FL actually believes everything he says. False is not possible to religious evidence, which is true by definitiion irrespective of any conceivable observation. I know he’s snide, but I read that as misguided confidence in his own infallibility.

Really, just because creationists are impervious to such inconveniences as truth, facts, logic, or integrity doesn’t mean they are insincere. If it were otherwise, creationist evidence would look much like what you think of as evidence.

So I’ll try to make it more clear. Creationist evidence is anything supporting creationism, EVEN IF it’s false, fabricated, illogical, or plain stupid. Anything that does NOT support creationism IS NOT EVIDENCE, and no possible weight of replicated observation or intersubjective validation can change that.

FL believes everything he says?

Even when he claimed to know the exact location of the Garden of Eden, then suggested that I was a lunatic for asking him why he hasn’t tried to find it? Or, how he claimed to be concerned for our spiritual wellbeing, even though he also lied about us allegedly chasing PvM out of Panda’s Thumb for being a Christian, or how FL hopes that God will send us to Hell to burn forever for not mindlessly agreeing with him?

Of course what FL doesn’t seem to realize is that there is actually nothing contradictory about the two statements he quotes. He tries desperately to paint this as some kind of inconsistency and some kind of a problem for evolution. He tries desperately to insinuate that is is somehow something so preposterous that it means that all of evolution must be somehow be wrong. What he fails to realize is that evolutionary theory can easily account for these observations, his alternative explanations cannot.

Evolution is just what happened. Sometimes, the particulars cannot be accurately predicted, but the general principles always apply. We know that the original organization of the vertebrate eye was suboptimal because there was no foresight (no pun intended), planning or intelligence involved. We know that whatever adaptation evolved to improve the suboptimal function would involve “retrofitting”. We might not have been able to predict exactly what “retrofit” would evolve, but that in no way invalidates the theory.

Robert Byers said:

Really. These would be better for us. Are they better options for apes? Night vision is for creatures who need and not for just walking around. No need for this for us. God expected us to conquor night right away. The other things likewise are your idea of what we need better. our eyes are fine. Besides in a advanced state of ability God may of expected us to manipulate our eyes to give us sight of any kind. What animals have is a possible option for us with some tinkering.

Robert Byers said:

Your kidney thing doesn’t work here. Knowing how the kidney works and fixing it are two things. Knowing the origin of how the kidney came about is three. Evolution fans here are trying to say they know how the eye evolved and why it couldn’t be a created concept but can’t cure blindness. They can’t move around it or readapt or tinker to any positive way for modern blindness. This is evidence of the eyes basic profound complexity in nature. So knowing how it evolved and how its wrongly developed is unreasonable from such philosophers. even fixing it wouldn’t give much authority to its origin. Yet a little credibility.

I don’t see why the corruption of our bodies and so our eyes possibly at the fall would bring your idea of sameness of problems.?

Robert Byers said:

I have had many things fixed with my eyes yet NO they don;t fix blindness. not even close. They can’t stop most declines into still. You say its modern medicine that is the problem and not the complexity of the eye. No. The complexity is still too great to fix or make new eyes and the intelligence in medical fields is just a revealation of this. It is so complicated like crazy.

Upon the fall all biology was shattered. So an option is that eyes had to be innately redisn themselves to deal with a new universe. Just like out DNA or atomics having to deal with disease and all kinds of new concepts. I know evolutionists are far from accepting the fall impact on biology but nevertheless to YEC folks this can always explain away anything in biology that seems not like the way a creator would first do it. Thats because its imperfect to deal with imperfection thats new. I.D. folks however have more problems.

You keep babbling your silly arguments based on absolutely nothing but your desire to defend some 2000 or 3000 year old book and its dogmas. Why bother? If you blame the fall of man for the imperfections and failings of nature and humanity, you are saying that sin is a more powerful force in the universe than virture. You might as well disbelive in God and worship Satan instead, you blasphemous hypocrite!

… and you keep feeding their egos.

fnxtr said:

… and you keep feeding their egos.

It would be helpful that, if it really is so bad to point out the fact that these Lying Idiots for Jesus are lying idiots, that the ability of these lying idiots to derail threads to be curtailed.

As it is, this is like complaining about complaining about deranged vagrants deliberately relieving themselves on every public bench.

Robert Byers said:

Your kidney thing doesn’t work here. Knowing how the kidney works and fixing it are two things. Knowing the origin of how the kidney came about is three.

Fair enough. I’ll accept that correction.

Evolution fans here are trying to say they know how the eye evolved and why it couldn’t be a created concept but can’t cure blindness. They can’t move around it or readapt or tinker to any positive way for modern blindness.

Which, as you noted above, is fine since they aren’t related. As you said, knowing how something came about, how it works, and how to fix it are three different things.

This is evidence of the eyes basic profound complexity in nature. So knowing how it evolved and how its wrongly developed is unreasonable from such philosophers. even fixing it wouldn’t give much authority to its origin. Yet a little credibility.

Well, if one knows how something evolved, that person isn’t going to think that something was wrongly developed. Those are two mutually exclusive perspectives.

Be that as it may, a person who understands how the eye evolved could also understand in what ways the human eye is inferior to other species’ eyes.

I don’t see why the corruption of our bodies and so our eyes possibly at the fall would bring your idea of sameness of problems.?

Based on your statement: “its a option that all body parts had to react to a new universe. so its possible our present eye is a change from the original. like women acquiring changes that made them newly have grea birthing pains.

As in our DNA and everything we could also have had profound eye change in order to deal with a new type of world.”

If the fall lead to “profound eye changes in or to deal with a new type of world”, then by assocation there would be no one without eye changes to deal with the new type of world. We don’t see this. Further, those with with unchanged eyesight would not be able to deal with the new type of world based on your statement. Clearly we don’t see that either.

“In fact, cephalopods don’t see as well as humans, e.g. no colour vision, and the octopus eye structure is totally different and much simpler,” saith the creationist.

Once again, trying to understand creationist logic has left me confused. Isn’t that the point? Isn’t that quote just another way of saying the eye isn’t irreducibly complex, and can work even without many of the fancy bells and whistles of the human eye?

Andrew Stallard said:

Robert Byers said: Your kidney thing doesn’t work here. Knowing how the kidney works and fixing it are two things. Knowing the origin of how the kidney came about is three. Evolution fans here are trying to say they know how the eye evolved and why it couldn’t be a created concept but can’t cure blindness. They can’t move around it or readapt or tinker to any positive way for modern blindness. This is evidence of the eyes basic profound complexity in nature.

Former YEC here–

Mr. Byers, I think you are right here but only in a trivial sense. Of course doing eye surgery is very complicated and often goes awry because it is very hard for to understand the anatomy and physiology of our peepers and operate all that ultra-sophisticated, ultra-sterile equipment that you can’t even buy at Home Depot.

However, to say something is simple or complicated has only meaning with respect to subjective human understanding. “Complexity” is not a physical quantity like force, velocity, temperature, or electric current. It refers only to difficulty in understanding and not any property of the phenomenon itself. (Now, there is such a quantity called Kolmogorov Complexity that concerns the maximum compressibility of bit strings, but that is not what you are talking about.)

Blathering about complexity or anything else that exists only in your head has nothing to do with whether evolution occurs, whether the Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe Last Thursday, or why cats have kittens.

If you want to challenge me on that point you must explain exactly how we measure or calculate this quantity, what dimensions it is measured in, and what the consequences with respect to other physical quantities are when it goes up and down. It also helps if you explain whether it is an intensive or extensive property. (An intensive property like temperature does not depend on system size. An extensive property like mass does.)

I asked you this once before, and you merely brushed me off.

So knowing how it evolved and how its wrongly developed is unreasonable from such philosophers. even fixing it wouldn’t give much authority to its origin. Yet a little credibility.

I don’t see why the corruption of our bodies and so our eyes possibly at the fall would bring your idea of sameness of problems.?

“Corruption” is even more nebulous than complexity. This refers not even to human thinking, but only to human values. If “corruption” just means things that are deleterious to human fortunes then what does it have to do with science at all? Try to understand the difference between “How I think and feel about things” as opposed to “How things are.”

I realize you’re probably a Poe troll who will most likely respond, if at all, with brush-offs, insults, and higher levels inanity. Nevertheless, you’re thinking is close enough to real Creationists that this post might inform some lurkers. And, what the heck, I’m bored.

Complexity is a valid interpretation of mankind to biological things. its valid to see things as so complicated that even if we understand we can still say that. Is nothing in scientific discoveries or conclusions in the last hundreds of years complex. Is physics not complex. If it is then surely biology is greater by leaps then physics in complexity. Subjective? well some subjective conclusions are true. Yes we can say the eye is complex and not yet understood because of this. When understood and healed that person will be called a genius. too much but the point is the eye complexity demands only the most careful thought before making conclusions. The stuff here about it being not well done or what they would do is coming from those who can’t fix it, though staring at it, much less invent its principals. Those who can’t ; speculate.

Robin said:

Robert Byers said:

Your kidney thing doesn’t work here. Knowing how the kidney works and fixing it are two things. Knowing the origin of how the kidney came about is three.

Fair enough. I’ll accept that correction.

Evolution fans here are trying to say they know how the eye evolved and why it couldn’t be a created concept but can’t cure blindness. They can’t move around it or readapt or tinker to any positive way for modern blindness.

Which, as you noted above, is fine since they aren’t related. As you said, knowing how something came about, how it works, and how to fix it are three different things.

This is evidence of the eyes basic profound complexity in nature. So knowing how it evolved and how its wrongly developed is unreasonable from such philosophers. even fixing it wouldn’t give much authority to its origin. Yet a little credibility.

Well, if one knows how something evolved, that person isn’t going to think that something was wrongly developed. Those are two mutually exclusive perspectives.

Be that as it may, a person who understands how the eye evolved could also understand in what ways the human eye is inferior to other species’ eyes.

I don’t see why the corruption of our bodies and so our eyes possibly at the fall would bring your idea of sameness of problems.?

Based on your statement: “its a option that all body parts had to react to a new universe. so its possible our present eye is a change from the original. like women acquiring changes that made them newly have grea birthing pains.

As in our DNA and everything we could also have had profound eye change in order to deal with a new type of world.”

If the fall lead to “profound eye changes in or to deal with a new type of world”, then by assocation there would be no one without eye changes to deal with the new type of world. We don’t see this. Further, those with with unchanged eyesight would not be able to deal with the new type of world based on your statement. Clearly we don’t see that either.

Indeed however every living creature could have any change in its body , including eyes, to deal with the new world. For example in New Zealand there are lizards with a eye or a remnant of a eye above the other two eyes. Unless I’m dreadfully in error. The tuatara I think. Just to protect it from modern or ancient danger from above. yet this would not be its original state. its only after the fall it got another eye .

The whole concept of looking at biology today to evaluate the creator doesn’t work in a fallen world as historic Christianity and modern biblical creationist would insist. I.D does and has problems. If biblical creationism is true then our bodies before the fall would not have ability to fight disease for there was no disease. Everything would be so different. So after the fall anything could of been changed. So if somthing looks indeed imperfect one can say it was a reaction to other problems. Its not the original idea and creation. Its an option.

Five points for sheer delerious incomprehensibility. A wonderful effort, dancing right on the ragged edge of complete incoherence, without ever falling over into random word-salad.

But the tension between insanity and incoherence is a delicate one. How can you demonstrate that your ideas are barking mad if true incoherence makes it impossible to actually enunciate them? This is one of those tensions one finds inherent in all true art.

In this case, alas, the idea is a very old and somewhat hackneyed one: “biology is complex, therefore God”. Only one, or at the most, two points for that, then. One more point for the opening sentence, which is worthy of Macgonigal at his finest.

I make it a seven.

Robert Byers verbally crapped:

Indeed however every living creature could have any change in its body , including eyes, to deal with the new world. For example in New Zealand there are lizards with a eye or a remnant of a eye above the other two eyes. Unless I’m dreadfully in error. The tuatara I think. Just to protect it from modern or ancient danger from above. yet this would not be its original state. its only after the fall it got another eye .

You are in dreadful error: the so-called “third eye” of the tuatara is not an eye at all: it is its pineal gland, which is so big that it has its own foramen in the skull, and is warmed by sunlight.

That, and it is not a lizard at all.

The whole concept of looking at biology today to evaluate the creator doesn’t work in a fallen world as historic Christianity and modern biblical creationist would insist. I.D does and has problems. If biblical creationism is true then our bodies before the fall would not have ability to fight disease for there was no disease. Everything would be so different. So after the fall anything could of been changed. So if somthing looks indeed imperfect one can say it was a reaction to other problems. Its not the original idea and creation. Its an option.

No it isn’t: it’s just using the Bible, God and Jesus as a pathetic excuse to bullshit and remain ignorant.

Robert Byers said:

Indeed however every living creature could have any change in its body , including eyes, to deal with the new world. For example in New Zealand there are lizards with a eye or a remnant of a eye above the other two eyes. Unless I’m dreadfully in error. The tuatara I think. Just to protect it from modern or ancient danger from above. yet this would not be its original state. its only after the fall it got another eye .

Which has what exactly to do with my point?

The whole concept of looking at biology today to evaluate the creator doesn’t work in a fallen world as historic Christianity and modern biblical creationist would insist.

The whole concept of a creator designing elements in certain organisms that do not function as well as they do in other organisms even after a fall is the concept that doesn’t work. Actually the concept of the fall doesn’t work either, but that’s another subject.

I.D does and has problems.

A very true statement.

If biblical creationism is true then our bodies before the fall would not have ability to fight disease for there was no disease. Everything would be so different.

Here’s the problem with the literal utopian concept of the “pre-fall” - to have life, one must have energy transfer. If there was no disease, carnivour consumption, and death, there could be no such thing as energy transfer. Under no circumstances can life exist without a complete energy cycle.

So after the fall anything could of been changed. So if somthing looks indeed imperfect one can say it was a reaction to other problems. Its not the original idea and creation. Its an option.

It’s not a viable option.

Robin said:

So after the fall anything could of been changed. So if somthing looks indeed imperfect one can say it was a reaction to other problems. Its not the original idea and creation. Its an option.

It’s not a viable option.

And then there are the problems of how there is no way to test for “Pre-Fall/Post-Fall” changes, that there is no evidence of “Pre-Fall/Post-Fall” changes, and that the Bible never mentions organisms changing specifically due to Adam and Eve screwing up the entire universe.

And there is the problem of how saying something changed because God got mad at the whole Universe because Adam and Eve screwed up does nothing to explain anything, nor does it help solve any problem.

Not to mention the fact that it makes God a pathetic, childish, psychopathic, Vengeance Master–who punishes babies forever into the future for what one couple did once.

And it calls to attention the fact that (in Genesis) God LIED about what would happen if the fruit were eaten. The snake told the truth.

Robert Byers said:

Complexity is a valid interpretation of mankind to biological things. its valid to see things as so complicated that even if we understand we can still say that.

Well, I don’t know. I thought calculus was complex when I started to learn it. Now I think measure theory is complex since I have yet to master it. However, students who I tutored thought calculus, and even algebra, was dreadfully complex; my goal was to change their minds by explaining to them.

Is nothing in scientific discoveries or conclusions in the last hundreds of years complex. Is physics not complex.

Well, coming from a man who has stumbled, wheezed, and coughed his way to a B.S. in the subject it does seem that way when studying for a final in a class I could not attend due to my work schedule.

If it is then surely biology is greater by leaps then physics in complexity.

I was a biology minor. The above statement still applies.

Subjective? well some subjective conclusions are true.

Gee, I guess they are true for the people making them. See all the subjective statements above.

Yes we can say the eye is complex and not yet understood because of this. When understood and healed that person will be called a genius. too much but the point is the eye complexity demands only the most careful thought before making conclusions.

No doubt about it. However, the point I am trying to make is that you are talking only about human understanding of natural phenomena, not the phenomena themselves. Saying something is “simple” or “complicated” has no implications outside of human skulls, for you are only taking about ease or difficulty in learning and understanding. What you seem to be engaging in is a veiled argument from ignorance. You observe things are complex, that is, hard to understand, and you insert some deity in gaps in understanding. Human ignorance or confusion about phenomena is not evidence some deity is involved.

The stuff here about it being not well done or what they would do is coming from those who can’t fix it, though staring at it, much less invent its principals. Those who can’t ; speculate.

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on June 7, 2010 11:42 AM.

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