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Jerry Coyne proven wrong by physicists about the eye

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Coyne is not an engineer. He’s sort of a glorified fruitfly farmer. He doesn’t have engineering insights and it shows. He’s also one of the most militant ideologues out there ( protesting the appointment of Francis Collins MD,PhD as head of NIH because Collins was a Christian).

Jerry Coyne argues the human eyes is poorly designed:

The human eye, though eminently functional, is imperfect—certainly not the sort of eye an
engineer would create from scratch

the nerves and blood vessels that attach to our photoreceptor cells are on the inside
rather than the outside of the eye, running over the surface of the retina.

The whole system is like a car in which all the wires to the dashboard hang inside the driver’s compartment.

Jerry Coyne, case aginst ID

The latest from physics.org

(Phys.org) —Having the photoreceptors at the back of the retina is not a design constraint, it is a design feature. The idea that the vertebrate eye, like a traditional front-illuminated camera, might have been improved somehow if it had only been able to orient its wiring behind the photoreceptor layer, like a cephalopod, is folly.

Fiber optic light pipes

In light of physicist’s skewering of Jerry Coyne, I reminded of the one thing he said:

In Science’s pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics.

Jerry Coyne

HT JoeCoder at reddit/r/creation

22 Replies to “Jerry Coyne proven wrong by physicists about the eye

  1. 1
    jerry says:

    Coyne makes a fundamental mistake. Namely, we have no idea exactly what optimum is. If one of the organisms of an ecology is designed to maximize it capabilities it might destroy the ecology in which it exists and then itself. So optimum design is one that has all or many of the organism’s capabilities limited. This is exactly what we see in nature.

    So even more complicated than the organism is the ecology which must be designed so that it can subsist using thousands of organisms. Thus, each organism must be limited on nearly all of its characteristics for an ecology to be successful.

    Coyne is a stupid man.

  2. 2

    After following Coyne for quite some time I gave up on him … why?
    Coyne seems to have given up on being a scientist and has taken on the title of full time “Professional Atheist.” It’s not clear to me how he maintains his position as a science professor in a major university, nor is it clear how he maintains any government research funding now that he is a full time professional atheist … is there a department of atheism at his school?
    In following Coyne for close to a year, seldom did I find him passing forward much of what could be interpreted as science.
    As part of his training in “Professional Atheism”, he seems to have earned some sort of high degree in theology, and has become one of the worlds leading authorities on the Bible, Christianity and Judaism … I wonder if he has ever read that book he has become the worlds leading authority of.

    Cheers

  3. 3
    Robert Byers says:

    Its unlikely the eye is anything but well done. However this Coyne guy probably is intimidated by claims the eye shows Gods fingerprints. so he says its imperfect in this or that.
    The eye is just a machine. Vision , I say, is from our souls reading a memory of what the eye put into the memory. All senses like this. We never have seen anything in the real world . This is why optical illusions are common.
    We only see edited versions of the real world. our souls can’t see anything.
    We are not looking out a window by using our eyes.

  4. 4
    anthropic says:

    Can’t agree with you about the eye (and the rest of our material body) being “just a machine” incapable of seeing anything in the real world.

    The material world is good. God said so repeatedly when he created it. Hard to square that with Platonic thinking.

    Bear in mind that the resurrected Jesus was material. He could be touched, He could eat. He didn’t lose his divine nature by being material — and more than material.

    Since we will one day have bodies like His, we will still be material beings, too, not spirits in the sky. Ultimately we will be in a new heaven and a new earth, but note that we will still be embodied.

  5. 5
    Moose Dr says:

    This “bad design” eye argument is well published. It certainly goes much farther than Coyne. (I don’t know, he may have been the first to suggest it.) The argument seems to go on about how dastardly that darn blind spot is. You know, the blind spot where the nerve bundles go from the front of the eye to the back.

    As a user of one of these poorly designed eyes with blind spots, I must say that it never has been a problem for me. In fact I can’t even see my blind spot.

    On the topic of blind spots, we seem to have much greater blind spots with our theories than we do with our eyes.

  6. 6
    EugeneS says:

    Regarding the ‘I could do it better’ argument: a picture comparing how well resources are used in technology and biology.

    http://orthodoxchristian-blogg.....ed-to.html

  7. 7
    Joe says:

    Jerry Coyne is correct- no HUMAN engineer could design a vision system that has to arise from the joining of two gametes. 😉

  8. 8
    Kajdron says:

    Such paradoxical constructions appear also in technical design. E.g. the PT6 (From wikipedia):

    In most aircraft installations the PT6 is mounted backwards in the nacelle, so that the intake side of the engine is facing the rear of the aircraft. This places the power section at the front of the nacelle, where it can drive the propeller directly without the need for a long shaft. Intake air is usually fed to the engine via an underside mounted duct, and the two exhaust outlets are directed rearward. This arrangement also aids maintenance by allowing the entire power section to be removed along with the propeller, exposing the gas-generator section.

    This turboprop engine is mounted the “in the wrong direction” making it necessary to redirect the airflow twice.
    Still this is intelligently designed; or is it just blind evolution? 😉

  9. 9
    rich says:

    Sal, you need to let go of your childish and spiteful writing style.

  10. 10
    jerry says:

    I believe everyone is missing the essential point. Sub-optimal design is evidence against Darwinian evolution and for intelligent design while optimal design (depending on how it is defined) is evidence against intelligent design.

    To understand this, it is key to consider the concept of an ecology. Optimal design (depending on how it is defined) would enable certain organisms to dominate the ecology and thus, eventually destroy it. Darwinian evolution does not recognize the type of sub-optimal design necessary to keep an ecology working. It postulates that the organism will continue to get more effective/efficient in its reproduction. But this will will eventually lead to its destruction. Only a teleology will allow for optimal distribution of characteristics which limits the effectiveness of an organism thus allowing the organism to persist without destroying the ecology.

    That is why I called Coyne a stupid man. He is essentially arguing for the opposite of what he wants to be true.

  11. 11
    NeilBJ says:

    I love the irony of the “bad design” argument. After all, something that is badly designed is still designed, is it not?

    Badly designed or not, scientists are still unable to explain how natural processes produced the design.

    Kajdron makes a good point. Anyone criticizing a design found in nature may not not know all the factors affecting the design.

  12. 12
    Moose Dr says:

    Jerry, “Optimal design … would enable certain organisms to dominate the ecology and thus, eventually destroy it.”

    Jerry, I believe you have hit on a MAJOR key, a MAJOR ID argument. If it can be demonstrated that an organism maintains reduced optimization for the good of “the system”, this would surely be strong support for ID and a neo-Darwin killer.

    I have seen a few candidates for just such a case.

    One that I have noticed is the liger (lion, tiger cross). It is larger than both the lion and the tiger. Wikipedia says, “it is the largest of all known extant felines.” Why would nature be limiting the size of both the lion and the tiger? Could it be to maintain ecosystem balance?

    A second case I have noticed involves a mouse gene. My understanding is that one of the genes in the mouse, when removed, causes the mouse to be in many ways superior — smarter. (I wish I had a reference.) Is this an example of a gene being actively maintained to limit the capacity of the mouse to “fit into the ecosystem”?

    A third is brought up by one of the ID theorists, I don’t remember which one. It involves an energy storage chemical required by plants. For some inexplicable reason, it is never used in nature as an energy source (though it is digested by some to allow access to other energy sources.) If this were used as an energy source, a few millennia later the plant kingdom would fail. Nature is protecting the ecosystem by avoiding an energy source!

    I do believe that this path of reasoning is important for the ID community to follow. The stronger the “diminished for the sake of the system” case, the harder it is to defend the painfully selfish neo-Darwinian model.

  13. 13
    Moose Dr says:

    Oh yeah, and acquired savant syndrome. It appears that periodically (has been identified only a half dozen times in history) accidents have produced uber-abilities in humans. If these uber-abilities can be produced by accidents, then they likely lay dormant in all of us. How can such be explained by neo-Darwinism? Is this not an example of our capacity being diminished ostensibly to maintain the balance of the ecosystem?

  14. 14
    Joe says:

    jerry:

    Optimal design (depending on how it is defined) would enable certain organisms to dominate the ecology and thus, eventually destroy it.

    I would say only if optimal design is narrowly defined as you describe it would that be so.

    However if optimal design is a design in which organisms live in a peaceful coexistence- ie a cooperative circle of life- then your scenario would not be borne out.

  15. 15
    scordova says:

    Rich,
    Sal, you need to let go of your childish and spiteful writing style.

    Hey Rich, are you the Rich of ATBC, the one Joe calls “my little cupcake”? If so, my irony meter just blew hearing that complaint coming from you.

  16. 16
    rich says:

    Sal,
    It’s apparent you love talking about yourself and your personal details (expensive tuxedo!) Please don’t go fishing for mine.

  17. 17
    ppolish says:

    Joe, optimal Eco Design has been prophesied;
    “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat
    and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.
    Isaiah 11:6
    http://www.andrewcorbett.net/articles/lion-lamb/

  18. 18
    Robert Byers says:

    anthropic
    Well i am confident our soul can’t see and that it is the eye machine that allows us to see by putting images into our memory. Our soul reads the memory real quick but still a lag in time. thats how magicians can catch us.
    our souls are immaterial and so could only be connected to the universe by a special operation. This is being meshed to the memory I believe.
    We have never seen anything ever as it really is. just close or perfect copys by way of the memory machine. Thats why all or most of what we see is remembered. The memory is not just connected to our sight but is the sole mechanism for sight within the skull.
    this is why blindness never is because of problems inside the skull save in very rare cases.
    Its all outside dealing with the eyes.

  19. 19
    Robert Byers says:

    Moose dr
    I’m sure any uber abilities do not come from latent unused human abilitites.
    This is not that uncommon and is very likely the result of the memory being triggered into a greater concentration and so a greater ability.
    No different the loads of retardation cases.

  20. 20
    Moose Dr says:

    Robert Bayers, please read the following article: http://www.popsci.com/science/.....ius-within
    Please tell me that you are not prepared to equate waking up to discover that you are a skilled musician or sculptor with “retardation cases”.

  21. 21
    Axel says:

    I believe it’s God’s way of mocking ‘de facto’ atheists who worship the worldly intellect; generally, one would suppose, on the basis that they are more intellectually gifted than most – but, irrespective of their ‘retarded’ world-view composed by their chosen assumptions, which ultimately makes fools of them. ‘What does it profit a man…?’

  22. 22
    groovamos says:

    We have never seen anything ever as it really is. just close or perfect copys by way of the memory machine. Thats why all or most of what we see is remembered. The memory is not just connected to our sight but is the sole mechanism for sight within the skull.
    this is why blindness never is because of problems inside the skull save in very rare cases.
    Its all outside dealing with the eyes.

    Trained physiologist and tenured philosopher, a two-for-one deal fer sure.

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