THE EYES HAVE IT
By Dr. Eric LehrOphthalmologist. Indianapolis, IN
I am always amazed at the inconsistent thinking of some people regarding the creation/evolution issue. They look at an arrowhead, see the design, and realize it had to be created by a man. However, when they look at the Indian who made the arrowhead, they assumed he evolved – came about by random chance. They do not recognize the evidence of design when it stares them in the face.
Even Charles Darwin realized how well designed the eye is. In his “The Origin of Species”, he wrote: “ 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.”
Charles Darwin did not know the half of it! He wrote “The Origin of Species” in 1859 and was not privy to the details we know about the eye today. While there is not sufficient space to fully discuss the complexity of the eye, I would like to briefly describe this incredible organ.
First, light enters through the cornea. The cornea is the clear layer at the front of the eye. The reason it is clear is that it has a specialized layer whose main purpose is to pump water out of the cornea. If this one cell thick layer were not present, the cornea would be white and opaque. The cornea is also responsible for the lion’s share of the focusing of the eye. Light then passes through the crystalline lens.
This lens is composed of very specialized cells that not only make the lens transparent, but also very flexible. The lens is attached to a special set of muscles that can contract and focus the eyes, allowing us to read, for instance. The light then enters the retina, which is actually and extension of the brain. The retina is the portion of the eye that actually responds to the light and if you think of the eye as a camera, the retina would the film.
While the retina has nine layers, all with different functions, it would not function at all without the photoreceptor layer. It is in those photoreceptors that light energy is converted into the electrical signal that sends a message to the brain. What Darwin did not know, is that there needs to be 10 specific, and complex, chemicals in these cells for the signal to be generated. If only nine of them were present, the electrical signal would not occur. Even if the cell happened to mutate, which had all 10 chemicals, they would be depleted in seconds once light hit the cell. There actually is a more complicated biochemical pathway that has to be present in the cell to replenish the chemicals needed for further vision.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the eye (and the brain) is the ability to process the visual information. John K Stevens has calculated that to simulate 10 milliseconds of the complete processing of even a single nerve cell from the retina would require the solution of about 500 simultaneous nonlinear differential equations one hundred times. Since there are millions of retinal cells, it would take the fastest supercomputer years to process what goes on in our eyes and brain many times a second.
I have not scratched the surface of how intricate the eye really is (for instance the human eye can discern over eight million shades and colors). I have not discussed the special fluid and gel inside the eye, the muscles that align the eyes and have the ability to make the rapid precise movements, the iris, which has the ability to adjust the pupil size, thus regulating the amount of light entering the eye, the incredibly designed eyelids and the ability to make tears to protect the exterior of the eye.
What is even more amazing is that all these wonderful features of the eye are all interdependent on each other. For example, without the proper tear layer and eyelid function, the cornea would completely scar over. A functioning retina could be of no help if a clear cornea and crystalline lens were not present. And, of course, if the intricate organization of the nerve fibers in the eye and brain were not present, the eye would be rendered utterly useless.
The Window to the World
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