Discovery Institute: The Intelligently Designed Eye

You won’t believe this unless you read it for yourself, but the eye is still being touted as evidence of intelligent design. At least, this time around, the argument doesn’t involve quote-mining Darwin.

Except for “Why are there still monkeys?” the eye is probably one of the oldest ploys in the creationist bag of tricks. We wrote about this subject before, because sooner or later creationists always bring it up, but they’re never able to make the case — as they must — that eye evolution is impossible. See Evolution of the Eye. Wikipedia has an article on it: evolution of the eye. Well, brace yourself, dear reader, because this hoary old argument is once again making the rounds.

We’re talking about this article, Optimistic Optics: “Scientific American” Makes Bold Claims About the Origin of the Eye, which appears at the blog of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

The Discoveroid article starts out like this, with bold font added by us:

A couple of weeks ago, an interesting article appeared in Scientific American, titled “Evolution Of The Eye.” The subheading of the article makes the bold claim, “Scientists now have a clear vision of how our notoriously complex eye came to be.” When I saw that this article had been published, I was immediately filled with a sense of intrigue. I looked forward to reading a proposed solution to a fiendishly vexing problem.

Yes, it’s “a fiendishly vexing problem.” This is the article in Scientific American: Evolution of the Eye. It’s by Trevor Lamb, who begins by saying:

So intricate is the eye that its origin has long been a cause célèbre among creationists and intelligent design proponents, who hold it up as a prime example of what they term irreducible complexity — a system that cannot function in the absence of any of its components and that therefore cannot have evolved naturally from a more primitive form.

Indeed. But after discussing recent research, Lamb concludes:

The results indicate that our kind of eye — the type common across vertebrates — took shape in less than 100 million years, evolving from a simple light sensor for circadian (daily) and seasonal rhythms around 600 million years ago to an optically and neurologically sophisticated organ by 500 million years ago. More than 150 years after Darwin published his groundbreaking theory, these findings put the nail in the coffin of irreducible complexity and beautifully support Darwin’s idea. They also explain why the eye, far from being a perfectly engineered piece of machinery, exhibits a number of major flaws — these flaws are the scars of evolution.

Okay, back to the Discoveroid blog, which goes through some exquisite nit-picking about the eye’s lens, and then says:

But here’s the bottom line: This is not the type of system which one might intuitively expect to be the product of trial-and-error Darwinian-type tinkering. To simply appeal to the addition of a lens is to fundamentally trivialise the matter at hand.

You’ll need to read the Discoveroid article to see how lame that is. One could respond by pointing out that conjuring up a magical designer to solve a problem is the ultimate way to “fundamentally trivialise the matter at hand.”

The Discoveroid article then goes on to cite a number of creationists who disagree with eye evolution, including such notable names as Richard von Sternberg, Michael Behe, and Casey Luskin. It concludes by saying:

… I hope that this article has given readers a sense for why Darwinists are going to have to do a lot better than they are currently doing if they are to convince us of the plausibility of their model.

So there you are, dear reader. The eye is back in play as a major creationist argument. According to the Discoveroids, if you can see well enough to read our words, then you must abandon science and give thanks to the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — who bestowed the miracle of sight upon you.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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7 responses to “Discovery Institute: The Intelligently Designed Eye

  1. “…if you can see well enough to read our words, then you must abandon science and give thanks to the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — who bestowed the miracle of sight upon you.”

    I always wondered what Michael’s middle name was.

  2. Ha – good one Magpie!

    Once again, a DI flack trots out the central argument for ID – cells are just so darn complicated. The critique provides quite a bit of data on how complex the eye is, and it’s development, as though that somehow counters the original article’s proposed evolutionary history for the eye.

    Just because cells (all cells, not just the eye) are exceedingly complex does not mean that they did not evolve. If “Jonathan M.” wishes to show that the eye was designed by a far more complex and mysterious supernatural designer, then he needs to produce evidence in support of his position. Stating that cells are complicated and that development is complicated is just reciting the obvious.

    Single cell life had, most likely, at least 3 billion years of evolution during which multiple generations occurred every single day (based on modern single celled creatures). There were probably trillions of these creatures reproducing continuously on the ancient earth, and as we now know, there would have been a lot of genetic transfer among microbes in addition to normal mutation and copying errors. That sort of activity for billions of years would produce very complex cellular mechanisms – all before multi-cellular life arose.

    If life were not complicated – that would be evidence for a designer.

  3. “Darwinists are going to have to do a lot better than they are currently doing if they are to convince us of the plausibility of their model.”

    Not a chance. No matter what evidence is presented, nothing will convince them to give up such a comforting mantra – ‘God-did-it’.

  4. @b_sharp:
    Not a chance. No matter what evidence is presented, nothing will convince them to give up such a comforting mantra – ‘God-did-it’

    Amen brother. It will never matter. There will never be enough evidence as long as there are any unexplained areas in science. And even if everything had a tested explanation, they would say the godless scientists are misinterpreting or twisting the evidence. We can never win the argument, all we can do is give enough food for thought to enough people, especially children who are unconvinced that we eventually win the war.

    Overall, creationists are a dying breed, and they know it. Their tactics are getting every more repetitive and and sounding ever more foolish.

  5. On the topic of eye complexity, there is an interesting current story on PhysOrg.. http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-06-feather-cap-birds-big-powerful.html … about avian eyes which notes that birds’ eyes are much more capable and complex than mammal eyes, and that they have a better way of getting oxygen to the retina without as many blood veins. It makes one wonder why the designer did not use that better system on humans and other mammals. That way the creationists would not called upon to defend the design weaknesses in our eyes so often.

    I want an upgrade!

  6. …It makes one wonder why the designer did not use that better system on humans and other mammals…

    Perhaps for the same reason He made three quarters of the world’s life forms parasitic. Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to blindly accept as a matter of faith. (He sure works in mysteriously stupid ways, though.)

  7. Curse you Magpie, for behe-ting me to it.

    Anyway, I don’t expect to live that long, but someday, most people will know what only a tiny minority now does, that any rant that whines about “Darwinists” is a “heads I win, tails you lose” game, “designed” to bait “Darwinists into supplying more data with which to spin incredulity arguments, while letting them off the hook about any alternative “explanation” they might have.

    The first question I have for the pseudoskeptic author is whether he agrees with Sci Am – and Behe – that, whatever other process occcurred, it occurred in the same 600 – 500 MY ago time frame. The second question is whether he agrees with Sci Am – and Behe – that, whatever other process occcurred, it occurred “in vivo.” I didn’t read the article yet, so maybe he’s one of those rare ones that actually answers those important questions before they’re asked. Maybe one of you will be kind enogh to let me know before I waste my time reading it.