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Charles Darwin Troubled By The Complexity of The Human Eye?

Evolution of the Eye
Worldview Stories in Science Class

A student recently emailed with the following question:

"Isn't it true that Darwin admitted before he died that he couldn't explain the complexity of the human eye?"

Here is my answer:

Darwin did say that the eye gave him a problem based on his theory of gradual evolution, but he did not say it at the end of his life. He wrote it in his book, On the Origin of Species, published in 1859. Darwin mentioned the eye by way of illustrating how an organ this complex "could" have evolved. But then, instead of providing a scientific explanation, showing actual evidence from the fossil record for example, Darwin proceeds to tell a highly imaginative story, stringing together several "intermediate" stages to explain how the process from "simple" light sensitive spots to "complex" eyes may have transpired.

As it turns out, Darwin was totally ignorant of the inner workings of the cell and the actual chemical pathways required for sight. For images to be registered in the brain, it takes an incredibly complex arrangement of photo-chemical receptors, nerve cells, electrical signals to and within the brain, muscles, tear ducts, skeletal structures, not to mention the absurdly complicated arrangement of molecules which make up the eye itself.

For example, the retina is a very thin and complex tissue lining the back of the eye. According to Dr. Geoffrey Simmons, the retina contains 7 million cone cells for color assessment, 125 million rod cells for adaptation to the dark, and 1.2 million nerve cells that collect billions of bits of information![1] Put simply, the entire arrangement has to work or it doesn't work!

The bottom line is this: Darwin's explanation was totally inadequate to explain the origin of sight. In fact, after 150 years of research, today's evolutionary scientists have not produced any better explanation. While we observe various kinds of eyes throughout the animal kingdom today, there is no clear fossil evidence, nor any other evidence, supporting Darwin's story of gradual, step-by-step, evolution from simple to complex.

In fact, there are no natural processes (biological, chemical, or mechanical) that can produce coordinated, specific instructions and build complex biological mechanisms to do what a living organism does to live, survive, and reproduce. It takes an Intelligent Designer to produce that level of complexity.

While talking recently with a self-described skeptic, I simplified our discussion by pointing out that there are only two explanations for the origin of life. In a cause and effect universe, the effect (life) must have an adequate cause. Either life came from inanimate matter (from non-living molecules), or life came from some pre-existing life. The first theory assumes matter is all that exists; the second assumes that God also exists.

The question is: can we get life from non-life? Every experiment conducted since Pasteur in the mid 1800's affirms that life does NOT come from non-living stuff. Non-living molecules are not a sufficient cause for producing a living organism. Therefore, the only other explanation must be true: life came from a pre-existing, living God.

If there are clear scientific reasons not supporting the theory of naturalistic evolution, then it seems only fair to present this evidence to students in science class. Yet a current debate is raging over allowing scientific observations that counter evolution into the classroom and whether "intelligent design" is a viable alternative to naturalistic evolution.

Current scientific evidences are undermining evolutionary theory at its core, and evolutionists are fighting back with all they've got to maintain their absolute control over what is taught in school. This tells me that more than science is going on here. Evolution is being revealed as not just a scientific paradigm, but a religiously held belief in naturalism.

It's time to be honest with the evidence and with the fact that only one worldview is currently being allowed in class. Maybe science teachers should use the eye as an example for teaching students to see through the "just so" story of Darwin's naturalism to the more logical explanation for an Intelligent Designer. In that way, students will no longer be indoctrinated with only one worldview, but will be taught to think in terms of evaluating the available evidence to the best conclusion. Isn't that what science education is all about?

Recommended books:

  1. What Darwin Didn't Know, Geoffrey Simmons, M.D.

  2. Intelligent Design, William Dembski, Ph.D.

  3. Darwin's Black Box, Michael Behe, Ph.D.

  4. Icons of Evolution, Jonathan Wells, Ph.D.


  1. Geoffrey Simmons, What Darwin Didn't Know (Harvest House: Eugene, OR, 2004), p. 114.