The Eye – A Biological Miracle … but of what sort?


The eye and its origin is a constant battleground contested between those in the Darwinian evolutionary camp and those in the Intelligent Design camp. I have written about this controversy in these pages in the past, and visit the topic once more here. The reason I tackle this once more is a discovery  I stumbled across recently, where the authors have compiled, in engineering terms, a quite fascinating list of the attributes of the eye.

The eye is essentially a very sensitive radio receiver and image sensor.

  • It has a wide band tuner, the retina, with a bandwidth of 390 THz (TeraHertz = 1012Hz) which can detect electromagnetic radiation in the frequency range from 400 to 790 THz, (200,000 times higher than microwaves). In more detail:
    • It has an automatic gain control system, the iris, which protects against signal overload.
    • It has a broadband, narrow beamwidth, directional, variable focus antenna, the lens, which captures the radiation.
    • It has an automatic focusing system, accommodation by cilary muscles, which optimises the reception for different distances, from close-ups to infinity, by controlling the shape of the lens.
    • It has a rangefinder function, as well as 3D vision, provided by the eyes taken in pairs, parallax between the images.
    • It has an image scanning system, the rods and cones, with a resolution of 150,000 pixels/ sq. mm. which enables the relative spatial position of the sources to be identified.
    • It has signal amplitude sensors, the rods, which measure pixel luminance (brightness) with a dynamic range of more than 10 million to 1
    • It can detect amazingly low photon fluxes of 5 to 9 photons per millisecond. (See Photon Energy above)
    • It has signal frequency sensors, the cones, which identify the pixel chrominance (colour) with a frequency range of 390 TeraHertz..
    • It has a spectrum analyser display mechanism, colour. The received radiation itself has no colour. Colour is the way the eye perceives and represents the frequency of the radiation.
    • It has a self cleaning and protection mechanism, the eyelid.
    • It has an expected lifetime of 70 years or more.

There is no electronic equipment which comes anywhere near to this level of performance.

You will read my take on this list below at:  The Eye – An Intelligently Designed  Biological Miracle.

But first I revisit the standard evolutionary tale explaining how the eye evolved from a simple sheet of cells to the complex organ of today’s mammals – including you and I. 

 

I.  The Eye – A Mindless Evolutionary  Biological Miracle

From Richard Dawkins:  “ … Creationists and supporters of Intelligent Design like to point to what they call the “irreducible complexity” of the eye as proof of the existence of a designer/creator. In other words, they like to say that complex components of our physiology like the eye could not have come about through a process of evolution because they are not of any use until everything is in place and working.  … “
Source:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nwew5gHoh3E

From The University of Utah:  “ … 96% of animal species have eyes. The first animal eyes did little but detect light—they helped to establish day/night cycles and coordinate behavior—but more-complex eyes soon evolved. A predator who can see its prey from a distance, or a prey animal that can see the shadow of a predator approaching, has a clear survival advantage over those who can’t. Even a slight improvement in image quality provides a significant survival advantage, allowing for the step-by-step evolution of increasingly complex eyes. … “
Source:
http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/selection/eye/

image

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nwew5gHoh3E    (or click on the image above)

The evolutionary world view relies heavily on the concept of design in nature as being merely the “Appearance of Design.”  Take a look at a sampling of comments on evolution’s concepts of design – – from Yahoo.com.


** Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins writes, “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

** Likewise, Nobel laureate Francis Crick writes, “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.”

**  “Evolution is a form of design, where form follows function through an adaptive process where successful mutations and refinements genetically succeed and the failures die out. The design is a function of environmental adaption and successful exploitation of resource niches. There does not have to be a designer (and, in fact, there isn’t) for this to occur.”

Source: https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070623200210AATiQhn

 Analysis

A deeper look at Richard Dawkins in the video above shows a polished showman – an illusionist and magician … indeed an ideologue — a fraud — but not a scientist. The title of the video is “Richard Dawkins demonstrates the evolution of the eye”  and that is indeed his purpose in this demonstration. But look at what he shows – look at what he doesn’t show – and look at the props he uses in his supposed proof of the evolution of the eye and his debunking of Intelligent Design or creation views on the eye.
He does indeed give a somewhat good lesson on the fundamentals of optics using his homemade props, but is it anymore scientific that that?.
He attempts to show that this demonstration is indeed what has happened over the course of  ‘deep evolutionary time’ in developing the eye as we now know it.
But … the demonstration is the sort of slight of hand we would expect to be entertained with from stage illusionists and magicians such as David Copperfield.

image

Dawkins demonstrates a ‘just so story’ which looks and sounds plausible enough, but unlike a Copperfield who masks the illusion with exotic drapes and covers, Dawkins masks his illusion with pictures of the eyes of various animals which happen to fit his scenario of evolution,  and then drapes this scenario over with the cloth of “deep time”  – and he calls it reality and science.

Another of his props you may notice is his “Mount Improbable”, a paper mache model of a mountain seen on the table in the demonstration.

Furthermore, left out of this evolutionary ‘just-so’ story of the eye are countless other examples of “irreducible complexity” contained within (and without) the body … all of the body systems such as the skeletal system – the circulatory system – the hearing system – the digestive system … and more … each and every one working in concert with one another.  The trillions of cells that make up the body consists of multiple machines –  another example of what I see as “massively complex synchronicity.”

A significant weakness of the evolutionary tale of eye evolution is that it centers almost exclusively on the mechanical characteristics of the eye alone, and ignores the fact that the eye is but one component of the total visual experience. Left out in the evolutionary tale is the brain and the interface between the eye and the brain, namely the optic nerves, as well as the nervous system that interfaces the visual experience to the muscular system that is commanded to act on information provided by the visual experience of the eye and brain. My favorite example of this interaction is the double play in baseball …DoublePlay
where the many various parts of the human body – actually several bodies – work in synchronous harmony to execute an athletic performance that excites many a fan. So to counter the evidence and argument of Irreducible Complexity by “debunking” particular machines of life such as the eye or bacterial flagellum falls far short of a convincing case against the Intelligent Design of the entire organism, bacteria or man, let alone the vast scope of life itself on this planet. 

Dawkins, in his book “The Blind Watchmaker”, states regarding the origins of the universe and life: “given enough time, and an infinite number of chances, anything is possible.” 

Deep time is the drape that explains everything … deep time is the unifying theme in evolutionary thinking and theory.

Yes “deep time” explains how random mutations coupled with natural selection works to create the living world we all live in.

When we take a close look, or even a superficial look for that matter, at deep time what do we find in terms of an explanatory story of how life developed on this place we call planet earth.  We find “given enough time, and an infinite number of chances, anything is possible.” 

That’s it!!!

 


II. The Eye – An Intelligently Designed  Biological Miracle

Source: http://www.mpoweruk.com/radio.htm

The following is an excerpt from Electropedia, a source of  Battery and Energy Technologies. The site is quite different from the typical Evolution, Creation and Intelligent Design sites I frequently reference, in that it is quite technical in documenting  energy technologies.  But in this site I find a quite interesting synopsis of the characteristics and attributes of the eye:

The eye is essentially a very sensitive radio receiver and image sensor.

  • It has a wide band tuner, the retina, with a bandwidth of 390 THz (TeraHertz = 1012Hz) which can detect electromagnetic radiation in the frequency range from 400 to 790 THz, (200,000 times higher than microwaves). In more detail:
    • It has an automatic gain control system, the iris, which protects against signal overload.
    • It has a broadband, narrow beamwidth, directional, variable focus antenna, the lens, which captures the radiation.
    • It has an automatic focusing system, accommodation by cilary muscles, which optimises the reception for different distances, from close-ups to infinity, by controlling the shape of the lens.
    • It has a rangefinder function, as well as 3D vision, provided by the eyes taken in pairs, parallax between the images.
    • It has an image scanning system, the rods and cones, with a resolution of 150,000 pixels/ sq. mm. which enables the relative spatial position of the sources to be identified.
    • It has signal amplitude sensors, the rods, which measure pixel luminance (brightness) with a dynamic range of more than 10 million to 1
    • It can detect amazingly low photon fluxes of 5 to 9 photons per millisecond. (See Photon Energy above)
    • It has signal frequency sensors, the cones, which identify the pixel chrominance (colour) with a frequency range of 390 TeraHertz..
    • It has a spectrum analyser display mechanism, colour. The received radiation itself has no colour. Colour is the way the eye perceives and represents the frequency of the radiation.
    • It has a self cleaning and protection mechanism, the eyelid.
    • It has an expected lifetime of 70 years or more.

There is no electronic equipment which comes anywhere near to this level of performance.

Analysis

This listing above of  attributes of the eye lends itself very nicely to the idea of design – Intelligent Design.

Further, it lends itself to a powerful analogy that we see every day in the things that we see and use in our everyday world. We see it in the automobiles we drive … we see it in the computers we use … we see it in the TV programs we watch … we see it in the utilities we use around the house – gas furnaces – electrical outlets and appliances … we see it in the airplanes we fly in and the trains we commute in … in the military we see it in the weapons systems and training systems used by all branches of the military.

This analogy is the what’s known as “systems engineering” and now lets take a look at what that means in the context of the development of the eye. Since the majority of my working life (45+ years) has been associated with defense contracting, I will walk through a typical system life-cycle using the characteristics of the eye above to illustrate my point:

  • Operational Requirements Document (ORD).
    Somewhere a person or group identifies a need and documents this need in what is known as an Operational Requirements Document (ORD).

The Operational Requirements Document is the primary force driving the search for a realistic and affordable solution to mission need during Investment Analysis. The initial Requirements Document is developed early in Investment Analysis by the sponsoring line of business. It translates the “need” in the Mission Need Statement into initial top­level requirements addressing such concerns as performance, supportability, physical and functional integration, human integration, security, test and evaluation, implementation and transition, quality assurance, configuration management, and in-service management. The initial Requirements Document must not describe a specific solution to mission need, and should not preclude leasing, commercial, or non-developmental solutions. During Investment Analysis, these initial requirements are evaluated against the cost, benefits, schedule, and risk of various candidate solutions and brought into balance with an affordable solution.

At the Investment Decision, the Requirements Document defines exactly the operational concept and requirements the approved acquisition program is intended to achieve. It is the basis for evaluating the readiness of resultant products and services to become operational. Sponsor requirements not included in the Requirements Document at the Investment Decision are returned to the sponsoring line of business for disposition.

NOTE: The Requirements Document is NOT a design specification; it contains only top­level requirements.

  • Request for proposal (RFP)
    A request for proposal  is a solicitation, often made through a
    bidding process, by an agency or company interested in procurement of a commodity, service or valuable asset, to potential suppliers to submit business proposals.[1] It is submitted early in the procurement cycle, either at the preliminary study, or procurement stage. The RFP presents preliminary requirements for the commodity or service, and may dictate to varying degrees the exact structure and format of the supplier’s response. Effective RFPs typically reflect the strategy and short/long-term business objectives, providing detailed insight upon which suppliers will be able to offer a matching perspective.
  • System Developmental Process
    The winning bidder then goes thru a formal series of processes culminating in the delivery of the end item to the end user.
    In this developmental process, a typical series of documents and products are produced based on the requirements set forth in the ORD and the RFP.

    • Requirements Specification
    • Design Specifications
    • Prototypes
    • Manufacturing Drawings and Plans
    • Manufacturing Work Orders
    • Test Plans
    • Test Procedures
    • Acceptance Testing lends

The listing of attributes  identified by Electropedia lends itself to such an  intelligent design oriented process, and thus is a reasonable analogy between the naturally designed eye that is currently reading these words, and a human designed eye.

An example, though admittedly far-fetched, is if the Veterans Administration in an effort to restore sight to wounded warriors, issued an RFP to manufacture a replacement eye, fully compatible and interoperable with the naturally designed eye.

Though theoretically possible, we would be hard pressed to come up with a successful bidder. The point is that the pieces of an Intelligent Design are there and the progression from start to finish would be evident.

    ___________________

A Darwinian Evolutionary development process on the other hand would be almost impossible to document, let alone implement. Such a process would forever remain in the rich imagination of the Evolutionary Biologists such as a Richard Dawkins.

Perhaps they would start with proposing to gather up samples of the various eye types of the various animals Dawkins presents in his eye evolution “proof.” They would then proceed to somehow “evolve” to a fully functional eye by, perhaps, randomly mixing eye type combinations, and periodically selecting results that in some fashion approach the specification listed in the Electropedia  paper.

But such an approach would be forbidden by the terms of the RFP which would prohibit any sort of intelligence or design in the development of the end product.

But not to worry — the team building this version of the eye simply trot out their ultimate design process and tool – ready for this?

 —  Deep Time —

Coperfield

Yes, Deep Time — the exotic drape that will cover the collection of eyes and hide from public view the rich imaginations of Richard Dawkins, the lead researcher and Program Manager in this magnificent effort. 

In the meantime, the soldier needing the replacement eye will have to wait … wait to the limit of deep time, measured in unknown billions of years.

Not to worry: “given enough time, and an infinite number of chances, anything is possible.” 

________________

Why does it matter?

The Darwin Lobby is very effective in assuring that their version  of reality – this “illusion of science” called Darwinian Evolution  is the only game in town … the only version presented to the public and taught to present and future generations. 

I say … quit the censoring … quit the book burning!

Don Johnson – July 2015

 

 

 

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