Did Nathan Lents Refute Design?

Picture credit score: Perchek Industrie through Unsplash.

The attention, as I famous right here earlier this week, has historically been admired as highly effective proof of design within the pure world. And for good cause. Whereas biology is filled with fantastically adaptive, fine-tuned, designs, it appears that evidently imaginative and prescient programs should be someplace close to the highest of the listing. However Professor Nathan Lents insists that is all incorrect and, in reality, the human eye is nothing lower than a robust refutation of design.

In centuries previous the human imaginative and prescient system was admired for options that we take without any consideration as we speak. However simply because a function is clear doesn’t imply it can’t inform us one thing about its design. Such options have been highlighted 300 years in the past by the main naturalist John Ray. The pupil, Ray famous, dilates and contracts in dim and brilliant circumstances, respectively. The incoming gentle passes by way of the lens of the attention, and so is inverted on the retina. But the nerves rectify the picture to its “proper or pure Posture.”

Six muscle tissue present quick and correct rotation of the attention “to maneuver it upward, downward, to the Proper and Left, obliquely and spherical about,” to direct one’s subject of view with out requiring head movement. These and different options led Ray to conclude that the attention was designed, for it was “extremely absurd and unreasonable to affirm, both that it was not Design’d in any respect for this Use, or that it’s imposible for Man to know whether or not it was or not.”

Far Extra Detailed Information

In fact, as we speak our data of the attention’s design is much extra detailed. Notably placing are the unimaginable mechanisms on the molecular degree. There’s the imaginative and prescient cascade inside the rod and cone photoreceptor cells giving us extraordinarily delicate imaginative and prescient. And there are the analog optical mechanisms working on the incoming gentle, and the digital electro-chemical mechanisms post-processing {the electrical} alerts produced by the photoreceptor cells.

Just isn’t all this highly effective proof of design? Not in keeping with Lents. Sure, Lents agrees that the human eye is certainly a marvel. However together with all of the complexity, there’s a lengthy listing of faults. There’s, for instance, myopia, or near-sightedness acquainted to so many individuals. The issue is that myopic eyes are too lengthy in order that the picture comes into focus earlier than reaching the retina in the back of the attention. In fact, the other drawback, far-sightedness, can be acquainted.

Whereas near-sightedness and far-sightedness might pose inconvenient imaginative and prescient issues, Lents has solely begun. Subsequent there are the intense issues of glaucoma, cataracts, and retinal detachment. And if that was not sufficient, all of us face a way forward for weakening and even lack of our imaginative and prescient over our lifetime. Add to all this the issue of color-blindness (affecting a whole bunch of tens of millions of individuals worldwide) and Lents has made his level: there are substantial issues with human imaginative and prescient which refute design. “Why,” asks Lents, “an clever designer would deny his favourite creatures the superb imaginative and prescient that he supplied lowly birds is sort of a thriller.”

The truth is, Lents’ argument goes additional than summary proof. He has private expertise with this organic shortcoming as his imaginative and prescient is, by his personal admission, “horrible.” “In pre-history,” Lents experiences, “I might have been nugatory as a hunter. Or a gatherer, for that matter.”

Two Issues

However herein lies the primary of two issues. For Lents’s “junk design” argument is simply too good. He appropriately factors out very important issues with what might be an important human sense; no less than insofar as evolution is worried. Imaginative and prescient is essential in evolution’s calculus of reproductive health. Even Lents admits his personal imaginative and prescient would have rendered him an evolutionary loser. Such issues, as Lents eagerly factors out, are each important and customary. Lents thinks he has refuted design, however in reality this horrible human imaginative and prescient system by no means would have survived evolution’s ruthless pure choice filter. Its very existence refutes evolution.

Lents has made a robust argument in opposition to evolution quite than clever design, for evolutionary concept predicts no such failure would survive evolutionary historical past. This actually is an odd approach to formulate an argument in opposition to clever design. How is it that Lents concludes proof that contradicts evolutionary concept refutes design?

Now we have already seen, above, the reply to this query. It lies in Lents’s view of what an clever designer would and wouldn’t do. Lents concludes this “dangerous design” proof refutes design as a result of he believes an clever designer wouldn’t permit for a imaginative and prescient system that has the issues Lents describes.

Merely put, Lents’s argument entails an assumption in regards to the designer. This brings us to the second drawback together with his argument — it’s not based mostly on empirical science, however quite on metaphysics. There is no such thing as a scientific experiment one may carry out to check Lents’s declare as a result of it’s not scientific within the first place. As an alternative, it’s based mostly on theological utilitarianism, a metaphysical place on which ID is agnostic, however evolution requires.1

Nathan Lents finds many faults with the human eye. He subsequently insists that the human eye is a robust refutation of design. What Lents doesn’t perceive is that he’s not arguing in opposition to design; quite, he’s making a theological argument, and within the course of, he has refuted evolution.


  1. Hunter, Cornelius. 2021. The Function of Non-Adaptive Design Doctrine in Evolutionary Thought. Religions 12:282. https://doi.org/ 10.3390/rel12040282.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button