The eyeball as testimony to evolution?

Are you suggesting that nature and matter and energy do not generally exhibit regularities? Because if they don’t, science is toast. And when there are quantum events that cannot be explained by Newtonian physics or that cannot be accurately predicted, are you suggesting that these events are random?

Hi Craig -

I’m afraid I must not have explained the analogy clearly enough. Let’s try again.

I was not referring to the mixing of dough or the laying of doughballs on sheets. I was referring solely to the baking process inside the oven.

As a reminder: Scientists consider the process of baking to be a chemical process. With heat acting as a catalyst, molecules are linked together into new structures, according to this theory.

The problem with the chemistry theory of baking is that it cannot give a detailed account. Which molecules in a lump of dough link first, and which link last? The theory does not, and cannot, give us that information.

So there’s a big gap in the theory. How shall we treat that gap?

Should we say that Grandma carefully links all those molecules one-by-one into new structures?

Does God directly and miraculously intervene inside the oven to link all those molecules one-by-one into new structures?

Or should we content ourselves with the chemistry theory of baking, a summary explanation which seems consistent with our observations?

You would have to define random for me to give a proper answer. What I can say is that quantum models are stochastic; a probabilistic distribution of outcomes can be predicted for every class of quantum event that physicists have studied. Furthermore, per the law of large numbers, the larger the number of events, the more closely the observed distribution will on average conform to the predicted distribution.

In the same way, several mechanisms in the theory of evolution are stochastic.

Also, this:



No evidence for God?

you can be able to reason but stay will-fully ignorant about something. A lot of people reason but deny having faith which is coherent. However to have faith without reason can not work as to trust into something to hold truth you have to be able to reason. You have to value your evidence, e.g. reason in order to decide to trust

It is argued that since a human law requires a lawgiver that natural laws also must require a lawgiver.

How is this evidence for God creating the natural laws?

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Please read what I wrote.

“I have never seen any positive evidence for the processes they claim created the eye.”

God created the eye when he created man. So, again I ask.

T_aquaticus has stripped the argument down to it’s essentials; in practice they tend to be less direct.

In my experience this is a fairly common creationist style of argument - the idea that if doubt can be cast on the accepted scientific explanation for some feature or trait, that is support for, or even proof of design.

Disproving one explanation doesn’t make another explanation true. It’s a form of false dichotomy.


Wow, I am old enough to remember the exact opposite argument. Evolutionists thought that all eyes evolved from one common ancestor, and were surprised to find from genetic evidence that eyes developed several times. Now multiple designs are “evidence for evolution,” which shows you how flexible evolutionary accounts can be. Everything can be evidence for evolution, both “A” and “not A.”

Creationists are not at all surprised there are multiple designs for eyes. Why would a designer not use several ways to design eyes? Is a painter obligated to keep painting the same scene the same way over and over again? In the same way, is God constrained in his resources or creativity? As a matter of fact, the more kinds of eye designs there are, it seems the less likely they evolved, and the more likely that God did this to demonstrate his power and creativity and wisdom. (And maybe to confound evolutionists.)

After all, one of God’s purposes in creation is to help us understand his greatness. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20).

Who is asking for a molecule by molecule account of the evolution of the eye? Certainly not the creationists I know. There are plenty of reasonable and thoughtful creationists around—hang out with them.

When a creationist asks for a “detailed account” of how the eye was formed, it would be rather like this conversation with Henry Ford about how an automobile is manufactured. He would tell us about the mines for iron ore, then the iron and steel mills where iron and steel were made, the foundries where iron is cast and rolling plants where steel is made into sheets. He would regale us about the machine shops where parts were made, and the manufacturing plants where components were assembled. Then the finished parts are transported to the final assembly point where the cars are put together. Ford could also show engineers drawing up plans and making specifications.

This is the level of information and evidence creationists are looking for when they ask for a “detailed account” of the evolution of the eye, but it is not available. If a few details were not yet known, they would still be impressed. So why suggest otherwise and put creationists in a bad light?

Craig, remember this exchange upthread?

You noted that it’s unfair to expect creationists to provide a stepwise account of what they claim happened by fiat. Good point! But then…

In other words, “Unless you show me how the eye was designed – with machine shops, engineers and plans – I’ll continue to believe it was designed and couldn’t evolve!” You’re asking for the kind of account that, if it existed, would disprove evolution.

Same mistake, just rotated 180°.


Both convergence and descent may provide evidence for evolution. It depends on the pattern in the convergence and descent. Eyes that emerged independently to function quite similarly should have major differences in how they are built and how they are genetically specified. Eyes related by descent that have major functional differences (such as seeing colour, etc.) should have fundamental similarities in how they are build and genetically specified. Evolution can do both “A” (descent) and “not A” (convergence), but each leaves a distinctive pattern.

Similarly, the gospels in our Bibles today may be shown to witness to real people and events in history both by the obvious common descent of various manuscripts of a particular gospel, such as John’s, and by the convergence of less closely related gospels, such as Mark and John, on many of the people and events they record. But we expect different things for convergence and descent. For convergent testimony, we expect a core similarity even though the precise words and grammar and thought structure will differ. For testimony that has descended through the ages reliably, we expect the structure and thought sequence to be virtually identical and most changes to be minor and incremental – except when a copy only preserves a fragment of the whole.

So, both manuscript convergence and manuscript descent can support the thesis that the gospels preserve history, and both convergent eyes and eyes modified through descent can support evolution. In both cases, the key is to dig into the actual patterns of convergence and descent that we find.

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That doesn’t really tell us much. Did He wink it into existence with His left or right eye … or did He put into motion conditions from which evolution would arise and stand back? Please support your answer.

It seems to me that, ultimately, whichever explanatory or descriptive route you choose, you’re going to end up with something fundamental that ‘just is’ and which harbours unanswerable questions. For example, in the case of the material (physical) world, you can’t ask what the fundamental stuff is ‘made of’ because it is what everything else is ‘made of’.

For atheists, this fundamental thing or stuff that ‘just is’ will be the stuff that gives rise to the appearance and behaviour of the world we see - for example, what is described by quantum field theory, or whatever underlies it.

For theists, this fundamental thing or stuff that ‘just is’ is also what gives rise to the appearance and behaviour of the world we see, but it generally does so as an ontologically separate entity - in a variety of different guises, from non-intervening ‘first causes’ to interventionist anthropopsychic paternal authority figures.

To the atheist, the theist version is unjustified and unnecessary (e.g. Occam’s razor). To the theist, the atheist version is hollow and incomplete.

Just my take.

I could come up with “what if” and possibilities like evolution, but, just like evolution, they would belong in a story beginning with “Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away…”

Some big picture articles have already been cited by Christy early in this thread. What do you think of those two articles?

Also, please bear in mind that when a stochastic process occurs over millions of years, lots of details get lost. And biology is a stochastic process.

Describing an evolutionary history is not the same thing as describing an automobile assembly line because, in principle, everything above the quantum level can be explained in an automobile factory. This is not true of stochastic processes such as stock market indexes and biological evolution.

That you think an auto factory is a suitable analogy makes me wonder how deeply you understand biology.


EDIT: Another recent BioLogos thread has links to additional resources on the evolution of vision. I think you will find it illuminating, Craig.


Those multiple designs fall into a nested hierarchy, so why wouldn’t they be evidence for evolution? Bats have a different wing design than birds, and the different designs stay within those lines of descent, exactly as we would expect from evolution.

Creationists need to explain why eye designs fall into a nested hierarchy. Why does everything with a backwards facing retina also have a backbone?

Is God forced to give everything with a backbone a backwards facing retina?


We can observe all of the mechanisms of evolution in action. We can observe mutations, replication, competition, speciation, and natural selection, to name just a few. They aren’t what if’s or possibilities, they are very real and observable mechanisms.

And in over a hundred years of research, not one mutation has led to a second or third in a process toward a new feature in an animal or plant. What they always lead to is useless excess features, degradation, sterility and death.

Quite a broad statement. How would you characterize the mutation that permitted the persistence of lactase in older humans that allowed cultures that domesticated cattle and other milked animals to better use milk and make cheese, thus improving their nutrition? While vegans might object, I think the ability to eat ice cream without diarrhea is pretty good, and like having that mutation.


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