Creationist Wisdom #117: The Eye

WE present to you, dear reader, a letter-to-the-editor titled Scientific evidence supports intelligent design, which appears in the Springfield News-Leader of Springfield, Missouri, nicknamed “The Queen City of the Ozarks.”

We’ll copy most of today’s letter, omitting the writer’s name and city, adding some bold for emphasis and our Curmudgeonly commentary between the paragraphs. The letter-writer begins by telling us that he’s responding to an earlier letter (13 February) by James Vokac: Darwin’s evolution theory passed many tests. Then he says:

First of all, I would like to point out that despite the thousands of hours scientists have dedicated to proving the theory of evolution, it still requires as much faith as believing in the theory of intelligent design. Many scholars and scientists, in their attempt to prove evolution, have come to see that much of the evidence points toward intelligent design. The more we know, the more we find out we don’t know.

That’s a very promising start. The letter has only begun, yet we’ve already been told that science requires faith, loads of scientists are flocking to Oogity Boogity, and the more we know, the less we know. Let’s read on:

Secondly, Mr. Vokac brought up the example of the eye. What he is referring to is called irreducible complexity. Irreducible complexity argues that the eye could not have evolved through small, incremental changes over time.

Oooooooh! Irreducible complexity — the first (and only) thought that enters a creationist’s mind whenever he sees a biological structure. We continue:

Since the components do not function independently, over time each would likely be eliminated by natural selection (which chooses systems that are already working well) as being “unnecessary” before they could all get together to create a functioning eye.

Wow! That means a primitive eye in some ancestral species is going to get eliminated rather than persist and — by tiny, incremental improvements — evolve into something more advantageous. Who knew? Here’s more:

This means that the complete eye would have had to appear spontaneously in its entirety. However, the eye is much too complex an organ to be the result of a random, undirected process.

Brilliant thinking! Michael Behe, the guru of irreducible complexity, couldn’t have explained it better. Hey, maybe the intelligent designer is a cosmic chicken! See: Chickens ‘one-up’ humans in ability to see color.

Moving along:

Darwin himself stated that if any organ existed that could not have been formed by numerous successive, slight modifications, his theory would break down (if only Darwin had known then what we know now!).

Yes, if only Darwin could have been instructed by today’s letter-writer. Another excerpt:

The example of the laryngeal nerve in mammals serves to illustrate that macro-evolution tends to lead to genetic defects and inefficiencies, as defined by the Law of Entropy.

Aaaargh!! On with the letter:

Belief in a creator does not require you to check your brain at the door. There is much scientific evidence to support intelligent design.

We frequently encounter allusions to such evidence, but somehow we’ve never seen any of it. Anyway, now we come to the letter’s end:

To learn more about intelligent design, read “The Case for a Creator” by Lee Strobel.

[Writer’s name and city can be seen in the original.]

Your Curmudgeon always strives to be helpful, so here’s Lee Strobel’s website. Get over there and learn something, before it’s too late!

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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9 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #117: The Eye

  1. Curmy,
    All of these “Creationist Wisdom” letters to the editor you’re finding sure sound like they’re coming from one source, despite the fact they’re signed by different people and appearing in various newspapers.

    Do you have any ideas on that?

  2. It is always amazing wow woefully creationists misunderstand natural selection. I mean come on. How are small benefits going to disappear in a competitive arean, if the ones with those benefits are the most likely to survive and breed. Its not hard. And how does adding a Designer (unspecified, of course…) make things simpler. Does the Designer have to design each eye in particular, or does he/she/it get a general concept and let natural selection take place? How do the feature appear anyway? How and why are features added or subtracted? When? For what purpose? All of these concepts lead inevitably into theological questions where preference and prejudice are bound to influence the answers. Answers that aren’t provable and don’t help the discussion anyway. It’s just stupid.

  3. retiredsciguy says: “Do you have any ideas on that?”

    I’ve noticed what may be coordinated letter-writing efforts when there’s a legislative campaign going on in a state. Otherwise, the letters that pop up from time to time around the country are probably individual efforts. If they all sound alike, it’s because they use the same sources. Lots of people lurk at creationist websites, and also get their creationism from various preachers. There are loads of such people out there.

  4. I’m rather curious as to how you find these letters. I use saved Google News searches to keep up to date on the subjects I’m most interested in. I sometimes pick up op-eds with those searches, but rarely letters to the editor (and a few of my searches are certainly broad enough that they should).

    The coolest eye in nature probably belongs to the Mantis Shrimp, but I need to go read the link about the chicken eye.

    Sometimes I like to turn this discussion around and focus on the supposed intelligence of the designer. Why do we have an appendix? Why do men have nipples? Why do we get sunburned? Surely the deity could have made that ozone layer a little thicker, or made our skin a little more resilient.

  5. Oroboros says: “I’m rather curious as to how you find these letters.”

    I don’t specifically search for them, they just pop up. I suspect I miss most that are out there. And I only write about those that strike me as interesting, which grows increasingly difficult after having seen so many.

  6. I suspect I miss most that are out there.

    Well, that’s the bummer thought for my day.

  7. retiredsciguy

    Oroboros asks,
    “Why do we have an appendix? Why do men have nipples? Why do we get sunburned? Surely the deity could have made that ozone layer a little thicker, or made our skin a little more resilient.”

    There are some natural selection answers to these questions:
    1. Appendix – it stores a reservoir of “good” bacteria to replace the gut flora lost when we eat something bad and we crap our guts out.
    2. Nipples – men and women both have nipples because we are undifferentiated during early fetal development. The nipples of young boys and girls continue to look the same until puberty, when hormonal changes initiate breast tissue development. i.e., there’s no reason for men not to have nipples.
    3. Sunburn – Caucasians have light skin because they evolved in a part of the globe with weak winter sunlight. If they had dark pigmentation to protect the skin from UV damage, they wouldn’t form enough Vitamin D to remain healthy. However, if they remained light-skinned in the summer, they would be more prone to developing skin cancer. Thus, the fact that some Caucasians tan in response to UV.

  8. re oroboros: “Sometimes I like to turn this discussion around and focus on the supposed intelligence of the designer. ”
    Sorry, sir, but mr letter writer anticipated your line of attack:
    “The example of the laryngeal nerve in mammals serves to illustrate that macro-evolution tends to lead to genetic defects and inefficiencies, as defined by the Law of Entropy.”

    You see, the eye is evidence that life was intelligently designed and the terrible designs are evidence that macroevolution which is at work here only produces terrible designs and therefore is not at work here and goddidit except for the bits which aren’t very good and those would be evolution’s fault except evolution has just been proved false because it’s not intelligent enough. Entropy. QED.

    [For those who don’t recall: the recurrent laryngeal nerve is the one that originates in the head as part of the vagus, loops down under the aortic arch, and returns to the larynx instead of just going straight there and being done with it.]

  9. wait what says:

    You see, the eye is evidence that life was intelligently designed and the terrible designs are evidence that macroevolution which is at work here only produces terrible designs …

    Keen analysis! You have the mind of a creation science scientist. With a bit more effort, you will be fully qualified to teach the controversy.