Scotch biologist J Arthur Thomson
"We speak of
the body as a machine, but it is hardly necessary to
say that none of the most ingenious machines set up
by modern science can for a moment compare with it.
The body is a self-building machine, a self-stoking,
self-regulating, self-repairing machine - the most
marvelous and unique automatic mechanism in the
In 1802, William Paley, the 59
year-old Anglican archdeacon of Carlisle, already
had a reputation as an apologist. That year he
published a design argument based on the
mind-boggling organizational intricacies of the
Like the top-of-the-line
modern camera, the eye contains a self-adjusting
aperture, an automatic focus system, and inner
surfaces surrounded by a dark pigment to minimize
the scattering of stray light. But no camera that
small is so complete.
The sensitivity range of the
eye, which gives us excellent vision in bright
sunlight as well as in the dimmest moonlight, far
surpasses any film. The eye adjusts to 10
billion-fold changes in brightness.
Its neural circuitry enables
the eye to automatically enhance contrast.
Its color-analysis system
enables the eye to distinguish millions of shades of
color and quickly adjust to lighting conditions
(incandescent, fluorescent, underwater, or sunlight)
that would require a photographer to change filters,
films, and housings.
The eye-brain combination
produces depth perception that is beyond the range
of any camera. Engineers have yet to design a system
that will, e.g., calculate the exact force required
for an athlete to sink a basket, on the run, from 25
feet away, in a split-second glance.
Consider the combination of
nerves, sensory cells, muscles, and lens tissue in
Light passes through the
cornea, which has the greatest effect on focus. It
is the cornea that determines whether someone is
nearsighted, or has astigmatism. This is the part of
the eye corrected by Lasik surgery.
The cornea is alive, one cell
layer thick, getting its food and oxygen from tears.
The tear gland not only feeds and lubricates the
eye, but also packs enzymes into the tears that kill
Then light passes through the
iris, the aperture. People had no idea how intricate
irises are until we started making biometric
scanners for identification purposes. Whereas each
human fingerprint has 35 measurable characteristics,
each iris has 266. The chance that two people will
have matching irises is one in 1078.
Passing through the lens, the
light is further focused, a fine-tuning. Then it
strikes the pigmented retina.
The retina has 127 million
photovoltaic receptors - only 7 million of which
provide color awareness and fine detail. The
information of these 127 million receptors is
converted from light to electricity and transmitted
along one million nerve fibers to the 1% of the
cortex of the brain.
As little as one photon can
trigger a photoelectric cell; a flashlight, eg,
fires 1018 photons per second. On a clear
dark night, the eye can see a solitary candle flame
from 30 miles away.
Think in terms of Polaroid
Instamatic cameras that printed out photos rapidly,
and compare. The retina never stops "shooting"
pictures, and each fiber of the optic nerve
processes one hundred "photos" each second. Each of
those individual photos would be represented
mathematically by 50,000 nonlinear differential
equations, to be solved simultaneously. Considering
both eyes, and allowing only five synapses
(connections) to other nerves from the retina to the
brain cortex, a 1983 Cray supercomputer would
require one hundred years to process the information
that your eye transmits every hundredth of a second.
How could chance, acting with
one gene at a time, start with a sightless organism
and produce an eye with so many interdependent
precision parts? The retina would be useless without
a lens; a lens would be useless without a retina.
"Is it possible to believe
that the eye was formed without any regard to
vision; that it was the animal itself which found
out that, although formed with no such intention, it
would serve to see with?"
"...There cannot be design
without a designer, contrivance without a
contriver...The marks of design are too strong to be
got over. Design must have had a designer. That
designer must have been a person. That person must
have been God."
Darwin himself suggested
the complexities of the human eye negate his own
theory of evolution.
More than 50 years later,
Charles Darwin himself wrote, (in a chapter from his
Origin of the Species entitled "Difficulties with
the Theory"), "To suppose that the eye, with all its
inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to
different distances, for admitting different amounts
of light, and for the correction of spherical and
chromatic aberration, could have been formed by
natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd
in the highest degree." Jeremy Rifkin, evolutionist,
writes in his book Algeny that Darwin confided to a
friend, years later, "The eye to this day gives me a