Darwinism Design inference Human evolution Intelligent Design

Jonathan Wells on Lents’s claim that the human eye is wired backwards

Spread the love

From Jonathan Wells at ENST:

… Dr. Lents just published his own book titled Human Errors, in which he repeats on page 5 his claim that the human eye is badly designed because the photoreceptor cells “appear to be installed backward.”

Over thirty years ago, Richard Dawkins had used this claim as an argument for Darwinian evolution in his 1986 book The Blind Watchmaker. Since then the argument has been repeated by evolutionary biologists George Williams, Kenneth R. Miller, Douglas Futuyma, and Jerry Coyne, among others.

But even before Dawkins published his claim in 1986, scientists writing in standard textbooks on eye physiology had shown why the “backwards retina” is functionally better than its opposite. Those scientists and textbooks included Gordon Walls in The Vertebrate Eye (Hafner, 1963); Sidney Futterman in Adler’s Physiology of the Eye (Mosby, 1975); and Paul Henkind, Richard Hansen, and Jeanne Szalay in Physiology of the Human Eye and the Visual System (Harper & Row, 1979). Abundant evidence that Dawkins’s claim was false had also been published in scientific journals in 1967, 1969, 1973, and 1985.More.

The evidence actually doesn’t matter because the mere fact that a prominent Darwinist makes and repeats the claim creates credibility for it. Nature’s input is desirable, of course, but not really necessary. Another Skeptic will make the same claim in three years, probably, with even more evidence against it, which also won’t matter.

Note: Lents’s book, calling the human eye and other body parts are poorly designed is Human Errors: A Panorama of Our Glitches, from Pointless Bones to Broken Genes:

See also: At Skeptic: Five Questions about Human Errors for Proponents of Intelligent Design Lents: “The one thing that a species absolutely must be able to do is reproduce, so this is an area that humans must have mastered, right? Not even close. In fact, humans may be the least fertile of the apes.” One wonders, in that case, how the Population Bomb movement ever got started or why … But that’s clearly not a question that a Skeptical reader would ask.

3 Replies to “Jonathan Wells on Lents’s claim that the human eye is wired backwards

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Wells talks about the need to nourish the rods and cones. There’s more to it. The photosensors are behind glial cells that run through the retina. The transparent glial cells act like fiberoptic lenses, focusing and filtering each ‘pixel’ of the incoming light to favor the specific color of the photoreceptor at the back.

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    The argument is that if human engineers can see ways in which the “design” of something like the human eye could be improved then to what extent can it be held up as evidence of the handiwork of some alien designer who was presumably more advanced millions of years ago than we are now?

    And the fact remains that in the fovea – the small ‘pit’ in the retina which provides the sharpest vision – all the ‘plumbing’ and ‘wiring’ is drawn aside. This suggests that even the putative alien designer recognized that the best vision was created by allowing the image-forming light an uninterrupted path to the sensors in the retina.

  3. 3
    LocalMinimum says:

    Seversky @ 2:

    The argument is that if human engineers can see ways in which the “design” of something like the human eye could be improved then to what extent can it be held up as evidence of the handiwork of some alien designer who was presumably more advanced millions of years ago than we are now?

    I’d hope most engineers would know better than to pointlessly blab about how a system they have no experience designing and only partly understand the workings of was done “wrong”. A lot of biologists don’t, obviously.

    Looking at work that you don’t and can’t do and naming everything you’d do better on the basis of your inexperience and ignorance is everything it sounds like.

    Suboptimality is an article of Darwinian faith. It only hinders real science by burdening the reverse engineering of these still mysterious systems with trashy assumptions, as proven time and time again with items like “vestigial organs”, “junk DNA”, and the “backwards eye”.

    It’s just another revolving failure of evolutionary prediction/”theory”.

Leave a Reply