May 7, 2010 | David F. Coppedge

Can Darwin Be Rescued from a New Eye Discovery?

Scientists find waveguides and
noise receptors built into the retina


Darwinists have claimed for years that the human eye is an example of bad design, because it is wired backwards – the photoreceptors are located behind a tangle of blood vessels and other material. But then in 2007, German scientists found that cone-shaped cells called Müller cells act like waveguides that transmit the light through the tangles straight into the photoreceptors (05/02/2007).  Some Darwinists responded that this was only a makeshift correction effected by the “tinkering” of natural selection. It did not change the argument that the eye was poorly designed, they said.

Darwinists play a shell game with stories about eye evolution.

Now, more facts have come to light about those Müller cells (also called retinal glial cells). Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa have found out that they do far more than just conduct light to the photoreceptors. Kate McAlpine reported for New Scientist that Müller cells offer several advantages. They act as noise filters, tuners and color focusers:

At least two types of light get inside the eye: light carrying image information, which comes directly through the pupil, and “noise” that has already been reflected multiple times within the eye.  The simulations showed that the Müller cells transmit a greater proportion of the former to the rods and cones below, while the latter tends to leak out.  This suggests the cells act as light filters, keeping images clear.

The researchers also found that light that had leaked out of one Müller cell was unlikely to be taken up by a neighbour, because the surrounding nerve cells help disperse it.  What’s more, the intrinsic optical properties of Müller cells seemed to be tuned to visible light, leaking wavelengths outside and on the edges of the visible spectrum to a greater extent.

he cells also seem to help keep colours in focus.  Just as light separates in a prism, the lenses in our eyes separate different colours, causing some frequencies to be out of focus at the retina.  The simulations showed that Müller cells’ wide tops allow them to “collect” any separated colours and refocus them onto the same cone cell, ensuring that all the colours from an image are in focus….

These findings were made by Amichai Labin and Erez Ribak at Technion and published in Physical Review Letters.1 In the abstract, they said, “The retina is revealed as an optimal structure designed for improving the sharpness of images.” Their findings specifically argued against the idea that the retina is poorly wired:

In this study, wave propagation methods allowed us to show that light guiding within the retinal volume is an effective and biologically convenient way to improve the resolution of the eye and reduce chromatic aberration.  We also found that the retinal nuclear layers, until now considered a source of distortion, actually improve the decoupling of nearby photoreceptors and thus enhance vision acuity.  Although this study was performed on data from human retinas and eyes, most of its consequences are valid for eyes with other retinal structure and different optics.  They are also valid for the more common case of eyes without a central fovea.

At the end of the paper, they restated their design theme: “The fundamental features of the array of glial cells are revealed as an optimal structure designed for preserving the acuity of images in the human retina.  It plays a crucial role in vision quality, in humans and in other species.”  One of the authors of the 2007 study, Kristian Franze of Cambridge University, was glad to see this work complement theirs.  “It suggests that light-coupling by Müller cells is a crucial event that contributes to vision as we know it,” he said.

What will Darwinists do with this new revelation? After all, reporter McAlpine showed that the backward-wired retina was listed by New Scientist in 2007 as one of “evolution’s greatest mistakes”. She started out confessing that “It looks wrong,” but then had to admit that “the strange, ‘backwards’ structure of the vertebrate retina actually improves vision,” according to this new study.

She couldn’t leave Darwin without a prayer, so she brought in Ken Miller, the Brown University prof who is Catholic but a staunch Darwinian evolutionist and a tireless foe of intelligent design. Never at a loss for words in the defense of Darwin, he got his chance to tell the readers what this finding does and does not mean, evolutionarily speaking:

However, Kenneth Miller, a biologist at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island cautions that this doesn’t mean that the backwards retina itself helps us to see. Rather, it emphasises the extent to which evolution has coped with the flawed layout. “The shape, orientation and structure of the Müller cells help the retina to overcome one of the principal shortcomings of its inside-out wiring,” says Miller.

But if that is so, why would Ribak and his colleague think humans should imitate a flawed layout? McAlpine ended, “The new understanding of the role of Müller cells might find applications in more successful eye transplants and better camera designs, says Ribak.”

1.  A. M. Labin and E. N. Ribak, “Retinal Glial Cells Enhance Human Vision Acuity,” Physical Review Letters, Volume 104, Issue 15, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.104.158102.

It’s Miller time for the SEQOTW award. The fast-talking Darwin Party ideologue has shown to all that facts and logic are not as important to him as defending the shrine of the Bearded Buddha. Some Catholic. Does he not read the Bible? Ears that hear and eyes that see— the LORD has made them both (Proverbs 20:12). He would rather say that God’s creations have a flawed layout and principal shortcomings and are done all wrong than to offend his real god, the one whose work is flawless, Charley daddy. He tries to have it both ways; keeping his Catholic faith and his evolution (Finding Darwin’s God), but when someone has to give on a matter of propositional truth, it is always God, not Darwin. Cornelius Hunter has made some important points about Miller’s response to this paper in his blog, Darwin’s God.

Look; let’s understand something about this dysteleology argument. Flawed is as flawed does. The vertebrate eye is a marvel of engineering. Its performance is so good, we cannot come close to imitating it in all its specifications that must be met simultaneously (stereoscopic, motion-picture, miniature, high-def, self-repairing in many cases, self-cleaning, high signal-to-noise ratio, high depth of field, high dynamic range, low chromatic aberration, fast focus, image processing, long life, and much more). In fact, it may well exhibit the best of all possible optics (see 05/09/2002). What does Miller want God to do better? Does God have an obligation to listen to a fallible human’s uninformed opinion about how to design an eye? The audacity. There are reasons why the eye is wired the way it is. The photoreceptors shed parts and require a lot of energy; they need to be near the blood vessels in the back of the eyeball, not facing the inside (for rebuttals to the backward-design argument, see footnote 1 of the 05/02/2007 entry).

Now we find that it is not just a necessary evil to keep the photoreceptors in back near the blood vessels. It actually provides optical advantages. The Müller cells act as waveguides, color focusers and noise reducers. If the photoreceptors were facing the inside, there is a good chance our vision would be inferior – color focus would be poorer, and stray reflections from inside the eyeball would produce distracting flashes and reduce clarity. Octopi and squid, which have the photoreceptors in front, live in a completely different environment. They have to operate in the dim light of a watery medium. Each animal has the eyes it needs for its habits and habitat. Don’t you think the Creator knows a few things about optics and wiring that Ken Miller doesn’t?

One of the stupidest evolution quotes ever made has been memorialized in our Baloney Detector. Jared Diamond wrote this groaner for Discover magazine 25 years ago (6/1985, p. 91) after parading the old bad-design-of-the-human-eye argument (you see, it’s been around a long time). It’s doubtful he has ever disowned it, because he still is a staunch evolutionist. He said, “the eyes of the lowly squid, with the nerves artfully hidden behind the photoreceptors, are an example of design perfection. If the Creator had indeed lavished his best design on the creature he shaped in his own image, creationists would surely have to conclude that God is indeed a squid.”

Jared and Ken have been waltzing around this planet for the last 25 years enjoying their eyes, looking at wonders of creation, and telling the rest of us that evolution is a fact because no God would ever do such a bumbling design job. Take note of three little words (underlined below) in the classic Bible passage of why such people deserve the wrath of God for their unbelief, as stated in Paul’s letter to the Romans: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead [sum total of his divine attributes, including wisdom, omniscience, goodness, and ability to design things], so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools….” (Romans 1:18-22). Talk about evidence being manifest in them. It’s right there in their eye sockets. If you are not thankful with all the evidence in front of you, there’s no hope.

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