Does the Diversity of Eyes in Nature Support Evolution?

Simple or complex, small or large, conventional or unusual, the many sorts of eyes in the biological world are perfectly suited to the creatures they serve. When lined up according to complexity, they form a sequence that—according to evolutionists—affirms the prophetic power of Darwinian thought. "Inside the Eye: Nature's Most Exquisite Creation," a recent National Geographic feature, paints the many eyes in nature as masterpieces of evolution, each representing an evolutionary stage. The National Geographic author accuses creationists of misusing Darwin's famous quotation in which he supposedly called the idea that eyes could evolve "absurd." We at Answers in Genesis do not. Refuting this misconception, Dr. Tommy Mitchell in "Didn't Darwin Call the Evolution of the Eye Absurd?" includes Darwin's quotation in its entirety. He points out that Darwin's God-rejecting presupposition that evolution was our "maker" led him to believe that the existence of eyes at such varying complexity was evidence that natural selection really was the agent the built them all, no matter how "absurd" such a notion seemed.

Observations and Evolutionary Conjectures

The National Geographic article is based largely on the work of Lund University's Dan-Eric Nilsson. The Lund Vision Group explores topics ranging from night vision, deep-sea vision, and color vision to the navigational abilities of birds and beetles. Our appreciation of visual diversity is augmented by the information they and groups like them gather about the structure and function of the many eyes of the world.

Nilsson's particular interest is in the box jellyfish, and he is an expert on the animal's 24 eyes and the different jobs they do. This tiny sea creature, as shown in National Geographic, is equipped with four six-eyed clusters (rhopalia). Each cluster is attached to a flexible stalk. Within each cluster (rhopalium) are not only four simple light-detecting eyes but also two low-resolution lensed eyes, one of which is always aimed upward thanks to a bit of ballast in the cluster. The lower-lensed eye equips the box jelly to avoid obstacles, and the up-turned eye — by detecting the variation in light from above — equips the brainless little animal to remain in food-rich regions beneath the mangrove branches where it thrives and survives. Nilsson believes that when the eyes in nature are lined up from simple to complex, they reveal how eye evolution must have happened. Thus the box jelly's rhopalium is practically an evolutionary model on a stick!

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