Answers in Genesis: The Eye Didn’t Evolve

A couple of weeks ago, PhysOrg reported something we paid no attention to at the time: Discovery sheds light on how vertebrates see. They said:

New research led by the University of Leicester has overturned a long-standing theory on how vertebrates evolved their eyes by identifying remarkable details of the retina in the eyes of 300 million year-old lamprey and hagfish fossils.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, led by Professor Sarah Gabbott from the University of Leicester Department of Geology, shows that fossil hagfish eyes were well-developed, indicating that the ancient animal could see, whereas their living counterparts are completely blind after millions of years of eye degeneration – a kind of reverse evolution.

The published paper is here, and you can read it online without a subscription: Pigmented anatomy in Carboniferous cyclostomes and the evolution of the vertebrate eye. Back to PhysOrg:

The details of the retina in the fossil hagfish indicates that it had a functional visual system, meaning that living hagfish eyes have been lost through millions of years of evolution, and these animals are not as primitively simple as we originally believed. As a result they are not the most appropriate model for understanding eye evolution.

Professor Gabbott added: “Sight is perhaps our most cherished sense but its evolution in vertebrates is enigmatic and a cause célèbre for creationists. We bring new fossil evidence to bear on an iconic evolutionary problem: the early evolution of the vertebrate eye. We will now scrutinize the eyes of other ancient vertebrate fossils to see if we can finally build a picture of the sequence of events that took place in early vertebrate eye evolution.”

Okay. Fair enough. Contrary to earlier opinion, today’s hagfish isn’t an example of an intermediate step in vertebrate eye evolution. But there are loads of other examples of eye evolution. Wikipedia has an article on Evolution of the eye.

However, as might be expected, creationists are now in a state of ecstasy. A good example is the latest article at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia. The title is Discovery of Hagfish Eyes Debunks Claim About Eye Evolution.

What a title! The loss of one data point — albeit a good one — totally “debunks” eye evolution. It was written by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, a creationist gynecologist. (Please, dear reader, we know it’s tempting, but let’s have no inappropriate hagfish jokes!) Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The discovery of sophisticated eyes in a fossilized hagfish has dethroned the modern blind hagfish as the only observable so-called intermediate form in eye evolution.

• Hagfish are blind because their eyes are missing many essential parts.
• Evolutionists have long seen hagfish as a living transitional form in the story of eye evolution.
Discovery of complex eyes in an ancient hagfish fossil robs evolutionists of their supposed intermediate form.
• Hagfish originally had good eyes and lost them, but this is not reverse evolution because eye complexity did not evolve in the first place.
Hagfish with complex eyes were designed by a wise Creator God, but they have degenerated like so many other things in this sin-cursed world.

Amazing, isn’t it? Her article is huge, so only a little bit will be excerpted here. For example:

So what happened to the hagfish’s eyes? Like blind cave fish, the modern hagfish has either lost the information for producing eyes or stopped expressing that information. Is that evolution or “devolution” or reverse evolution? Not at all. No one has shown that the information to make eyes in the first place was acquired through random natural processes, so the process of evolution has not been reversed. Neither is the loss of information or the end of its expression the same as acquiring new information.

Brilliant, huh? Then she tells us:

Fossil evidence indicates the ancient hagfish eye was not a transitional form. Having lost their only supposed intermediate form of the vertebrate eye, have evolutionists given up their model? Of course not. They still assume that the vertebrate eye evolved through a series of steps but presume that the fossil evidence for this bit of visual history remains undiscovered, deeper in history and perhaps lost to the ravages of time and chance.

Hey — we can’t give up faith! After that she says:

Why, some might ask, do evolutionists hang onto their story when the evidence does not support it? Well, it comes down to worldview. No scientist was around to observe the origin of eyes. And even if the fossil record contained a series of extinct vertebrate eyes that could be arranged from primitive to complex — and evolutionists concede it does not — those would represent only a collection of animals with different sorts of eyes. Only the evolutionary imagination — the belief that the existence of complex eyes means they must have evolved through a series of natural processes — connects the dots between such fossils.

She continues:

The loss of genetic information, or the cessation of its expression as is seen in blind cavefish [reference omitted], is not evolution but only the sort of loss that occurs in a world fraught with deterioration and degeneration since man’s sin introduced death into the perfect world God made. Once a person understands that the most reliable source of information about our distant past is the Word of the all-knowing God who created us and saw it all unfold, the existence of the blind hagfish makes sense.

Ah yes, that makes sense. Now we skip to the end:

Thus when we look at the modern hagfish not staring back at us, we should not see evidence of evolution as Gabbott [one of the researchers] suggests (despite her discovery to the contrary), but we should see an example of a well-designed animal that has degenerated since God created it about 6,000 years ago, joining in the world of death that has reigned since Adam’s rebellion against our Creator.

Once again, dear reader, evolution is wrong, and Genesis is right. Isn’t creationism wonderful?

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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17 responses to “Answers in Genesis: The Eye Didn’t Evolve

  1. “Isn’t creationism wonderful?”

    1. Creationism is always right.
    2. Hence Evolution Theory is wrong.
    3. In case Evolution Theory is right go back to 1.

  2. Charles Deetz ;)

    @mnbo #1 here is just a stunner:

    Once a person understands that the most reliable source of information about our distant past is the Word of the all-knowing God who created us and saw it all unfold, the existence of the blind hagfish makes sense.

    “The existence of the blind hagfish makes sense.” ??? How is this in god’s plan? How does it show his design? Why would the fall cause its eyes to disappear, was it watching too much porn? Oh yea, thats why most of mankind needs glasses. Doh.

  3. A simple web search for “blind cave animals” turns up numerous examples of blind animals that have evolved to not being able to see and some that don’t have eyes. So the example described in this article is not unusual at all. Creationists have nothing to gloat about, and their gynecologist needs to pay more attention to whatever she presumes she’s capable of doing rather than blathering about creationism.

  4. What caught my attention is the spectacularly uninformed thinking that treats the opposite of evolution as “reverse” evolution or “devolution”. The opposite of evolution is *stasis*. Any change in the genome *is* evolution, even when that change results in the loss of some functionality.

  5. Zetopan:
    “Any change in the genome *is* evolution, even when that change results in the loss of some functionality.”

    Exactly. And if the change persists through many generations, it must confer some advantage, even if there is a loss in functionality. In the case of blind cave fish, the loss of sight is not a problem since there’s no light in the cave, so the protein in the fish’s diet that would otherwise be going into eyes can be used for other, more useful, purposes. Waste not, want not.

  6. • Hagfish originally had good eyes and lost them, but this is not reverse evolution because eye complexity did not evolve in the first place.
    • Hagfish with complex eyes were designed by a wise Creator God, but they have degenerated like so many other things in this sin-cursed world.

    So God, having designed hagfish with “complex eyes,” allowed these poor creatures to go blind out of petulance at Adam and Eve?

    This kind of reasoning doesn’t even make sense in theological terms. The God of the Bible is not supposed to be some petulant super-being like so many of the ancient pagan deities, willing to punish the innocent along with the guilty. (Well, except that that’s exactly how He is portrayed, over and over, in the Old Testament.) Presenting it as science goes beyond absurdity.

  7. We got a couple of flight-less birds here in New Zealand. Also a proof of creationism? Of course, we need to assume that they lost their ability to fly only after flying here from Noah’s ark.

  8. Christine Janis

    Hagfish with complex eyes were designed by a wise Creator God, but they have degenerated like so many other things in this sin-cursed world.”

    And hagfish don’t even have jaws with which to bite the apple

  9. Dr. Mitchell inisists

    Like blind cave fish, the modern hagfish has either lost the information for producing eyes or stopped expressing that information.

    But, if as Creationists keep insisting, “information” has to come from somewhere else, then surely one should ask here, “Where did the information go?” Did the Grand Ole Designer back it up onto a memory stick, or load it up on the cloud, ready to be used another day?

  10. Mega asks a profound question: “Where did the information go?”
    It evaporated back to supernatural realms.

  11. Hagfish with complex eyes were designed by a wise Creator God, but they have degenerated like so many other things in this sin-cursed world.
    Guilt and shame, that’s what a lot of religions offer up to their followers, certainly not any reasonable knowledge of the natural world.Shocking that over 40% of Americans believe in this backwards creationism, poll numbers which would seem more appropriate in a third world country.

  12. Hambone & Co are wrong by their own statements the fossil evidence of the eye being advanced. Because there is no fossil evidence, the fossils were put there by their ahole gawd to fool people onto the wrong path.

  13. “…We should see an example of a well-designed animal that has degenerated since God created it about 6,000 years ago.”

    This eejit really thinks this a good argument for the creator? Well, let’s just look at the snake for a moment. Among other attributes, snakes not only have eyes which they can see OK with, but they also have a second vision system that, under certain circumstances, works far better than the human eye. In the dark, the snake can ‘see’ in the infra red spectrum, whereas humans cannot.

    This is remarkable enough. But when you consider Mitchell’s god supposedly cursed this creature to crawl on its belly (by the way, it doesn’t) and eat dust (by the way, it doesn’t), it’s a perfect example of vision that has far from degenerated, and has actually improved in the last 6000 creationist years.

    How do people like Mitchell claim that they’re real scientists when even I, not a trained scientist by any means, can spot where they’re talking utter garbage?

  14. @Woggle21
    BTW, about the serpent being cursed to crawl on its belly.
    It was a particular serpent which was involved in the incident, not its mate, let alone other, unrelated serpents, let alone their offspring. Why do today’s serpents still “crawl on their bellies”? And if the serpent was really a devil, then it makes the curse all the less meaningful.

  15. Woggle tries the reasonable approach to creacrap: “it’s a perfect example of vision that has far from degenerated”.
    Duh. The Grand Old Designer in His (only IDiots consider the options Her and Its) infinite wisdom and benevolence thought it sufficient to punish the snakes (and TomS, the Bible is the eternal truth and according to the Bible there is nothing wrong with collective punishments) by robbing them from their legs. The snake was created with its infrared vision, which did not degenerate. Praise the Grand Old Designer!
    All this is according to the principle:
    – if something is good, praise the Lord;
    – if something is bad, blame Homo Sapiens.
    That’s millennia old science, which beats the contemporary uncertain hypotheses.
    You can’t beat creacrap.

  16. If we had no fossil evidence at all, and certainly not the sophisticated evidence exploited by the Leicester researchers, we would still, from study of extant vertebrates, have a pretty clear picture of the evolution of the vertebrate eye.
    For the most part, all vertebrates have good vision, including colour vision. All over the place we find small groups with diminished or lost vision, usually for readily recognisable reasons, such as life in total darkness. We may therefore suppose that quite early ancestral vertebrates already had evolved good vision. Some larger groups too have reduced vision, for example snakes and mammals.
    Ancestral snakes lived mostly underground and came out, if at all, mostly at night, so vision was relatively unimportant and, and as an earlier commenter has said, the necessary resources could be diverted to other uses.
    Our mammalian ancestors apparently had, as many modern mammals still have, a crepuscular and nocturnal lifestyle and sacrificed colour vision for better vision with low illumination. The ancestors of some modern mammals, including some squirrels and some monkeys, were able to benefit from redeveloping some colour vision. We are lucky enough to be descended from such monkeys.
    I had not even known that modern hagfish are blind, but I suppose that if I had known more about their lifestyle it would not have surprised me. Nor does it in the least surprise me that their ancestors had good vision, that is what one would expect from the general pattern of vertebrate vision.
    Is there no straw that creationists will not clutch at?

  17. Please, Mighty Hand, pretty pretty please, change “there lifestyle” to “their lifestyle”, ere I die of shame!

    [*Voice from above*] I stretched forth my mighty hand …