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Seeing Is Believing

In Articles, Delusion Articles, Views by Andrew HallowayLeave a Comment

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Latest research shows the eye is an example of optimal design – not poor design as evolutionists often claim.

One of Richard Dawkins’ famous arguments against intelligent design is his claim that there are many examples of sub-optimal design in creation.

The classic example he gives is that a human engineer would reject the eye because of its imperfections, so it can’t be the work of an intelligent designer. Consequently, the so-called poor design of the eye has been cited endlessly by other atheists as an argument against God.

In his widely acclaimed book The Blind Watchmaker, Dawkins devotes much attention to this organ as a prime example (as he supposes) of only apparent design. And so he denigrates the Creator for bungling (in his view) the design of the retina with its ‘back-to-front’ wiring, which he labels as a “revealing flaw”.

The eye is still much better than anything engineers have been able to design, so it’s a little premature to reject it, but is the vertebrate eye really a bad design? As time goes by, researchers are refuting Dawkins’ argument. In fact, so many of nature’s designs are being admired that a whole new branch of technology has sprung up to copy them for human benefit: biomimetics or biomimicry. And the icing on the cake is that evidence is also coming to light of the brilliance of eye design.

First, in 2010, a paper in Physical Review Letters, ‘Retinal Glial Cells Enhance Human Vision Acuity’1, began to dismantle Dawkins’ claims. It found that special “Müller glia cells” sit over the retina, acting like fibre-optic cables to channel light through the optic nerve wires directly onto the photoreceptor cells. Dawkins had asserted that the vertebrate eye is flawed because the optic nerve runs over the retina, creating a ‘blind spot’. In fact, the funnel-shaped Müller glia cells ensure that there is no loss of vision due to the route of the optic nerve. Instead, the Physical Review Letters paper cited the retina “as an optimal structure designed for improving the sharpness of images.” New Scientist magazine explained that glia cells “act as optical fibres, and rather than being just a workaround to make up for the eye’s peculiarities, they help filter and focus light, making images clearer and keeping colours sharp.”

This article was taken from The Delusion of Evolution.

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