Click to return to the Evolution Home Page
darwin change extinction survival sex humans religion
thumbnail image of human eye life's grand design
large brown eye of a horse
Horses have
vision and a
blind area
directly in
front of them.
Design flaws  
Another way to respond to the theory of intelligent design is to carefully examine complex biological systems for errors that no intelligent designer would have committed. Because intelligent design works from a clean sheet of paper, it should produce organisms that have been optimally designed for the tasks they perform. Conversely, because evolution is confined to modifying existing structures, it should not necessarily produce perfection. Which is it?  
The eye, that supposed paragon of intelligent design, offers an answer. We have already sung the virtues of this extraordinary organ, but we have not considered specific aspects of its design, such as the neural wiring of its light-sensing units. These photoreceptor cells, located in the retina, pass impulses to a series of interconnecting cells that eventually pass information to the cells of the optic nerve, which leads to the brain. cut-away image of interior of eye
Light passes
through the lens
to the retina,
and then to the

An intelligent designer, working with the components of this wiring, would choose the orientation that produces the highest degree of visual quality. No one, for example, would suggest that the neural connections should be placed in front of the photoreceptor cells -- thus blocking the light from reaching them -- rather than behind the retina.

page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 next page
  related web activities  
Science & Faith
How can we reconcile evolution and religion?
Evolution Revolution
Explore the revolution and the controversies around it.
All in the Family
Test your skills at judging who's who on the tree of life.
related topics  
Science, Faith, and Politics  
Adaptation and Natural Selection  
Why Evolution Matters  
Source Credits      
Videos Web Activities Site Guide About the Project FAQ Glossary Site Map Feedback Help Shop