There You Go Again, Nathan Lents

first_imgCongratulations to Science Magazine for an Honest Portrayal of Darwin’s Descent of Man Requesting a (Partial) Retraction from Darrel Falk and BioLogos TagsAdler’s Physiology of the Eyeblood vesselsDouglas Futuymaepithelial cellsevolutionGeorge WilliamsGordon WallsHuman Errorshuman eyeintelligent designJeanne SzalayJerry CoyneJohn Jay College of Criminal JusticeKenneth R. MillerNathan LentsPaul Henkindphotoreceptor cellsPhysiology of the Human Eye and the Visual SystemRichard HansenSidney FuttermanThe Blind WatchmakerThe Vertebrate EyeZombie Science,Trending “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design”: The Study Guide Origin of Life: Brian Miller Distills a Debate Between Dave Farina and James Tour A Physician Describes How Behe Changed His MindLife’s Origin — A “Mystery” Made AccessibleCodes Are Not Products of PhysicsIxnay on the Ambriancay PlosionexhayDesign Triangulation: My Thanksgiving Gift to All Nathan Lents is professor of biology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. In 2015, Dr. Lents wrote on his “Human Evolution” blog, “The human eye is a well-tread [sic] example of how evolution can produce a clunky design.” It’s clunky becausethe photoreceptor cells of the retina appear to be placed backward, with the wiring facing the light and the photoreceptor facing inward…. This is not an optimal design for obvious reasons. The photons of light must travel around the bulk of the photoreceptor cell in order to hit the receiver tucked in the back. It’s as if you were speaking into the wrong end of a microphone.According to Lents, “there are no working hypotheses about why the vertebrate retina is wired in backwards. It seems to have been a random development that then ‘stuck’ because a correction of that magnitude would be very difficult to pull off with random mutations” in the course of evolution.In 2017, I published a book titled Zombie Science, which included a chapter on the human eye showing why the “clunky design” claim doesn’t fit the evidence. The claim is false because the photoreceptor cells in the human retina are so active that they must be nourished by a dense network of blood vessels and constantly renewed by a layer of specialized epithelial cells. If the blood vessels and epithelial cells were in front of the photoreceptor cells, where Lents thinks they should be, we would be almost blind. Instead, human eyes (and the eyes of other animals with backbones) are very well designed.Apparently, Dr. Lents didn’t read my book. That’s OK; I don’t have time to read every book written even by my own colleagues. Instead, Dr. Lents just published his own book titled Human Errors, in which he repeats on page 5 his claim that the human eye is badly designed because the photoreceptor cells “appear to be installed backward.”Over thirty years ago, Richard Dawkins had used this claim as an argument for Darwinian evolution in his 1986 book The Blind Watchmaker. Since then the argument has been repeated by evolutionary biologists George Williams, Kenneth R. Miller, Douglas Futuyma, and Jerry Coyne, among others.But even before Dawkins published his claim in 1986, scientists writing in standard textbooks on eye physiology had shown why the “backwards retina” is functionally better than its opposite. Those scientists and textbooks included Gordon Walls in The Vertebrate Eye (Hafner, 1963); Sidney Futterman in Adler’s Physiology of the Eye (Mosby, 1975); and Paul Henkind, Richard Hansen, and Jeanne Szalay in Physiology of the Human Eye and the Visual System (Harper & Row, 1979). Abundant evidence that Dawkins’s claim was false had also been published in scientific journals in 1967, 1969, 1973, and 1985.Obviously, Dawkins didn’t bother to check the scientific literature before claiming that the human eye is badly designed. He simply assumed that Darwinian evolution is true and that he knew how an eye should be designed. Williams, Miller, Futuyma, Coyne, and Lents also neglected to check the scientific literature when they repeated Dawkins’s false claim.For most people (myself included), science is an enterprise that pursues truth by comparing hypotheses with evidence. For some people, science is an enterprise that searches for natural explanations on the assumption that everything can be explained in terms of material objects and the forces among them. Mind, spirit, free will, and God are excluded from consideration. The first is empirical science; the second is applied materialistic philosophy. When people persist in defending materialistic explanations even when they don’t fit the evidence (and are thus empirically dead), I call this enterprise “zombie science.” The argument that the bad design of human eyes provides evidence for Darwinian evolution and against intelligent design is an example of zombie science. Photo credit: analogicus, via Pixabay. Recommendedcenter_img Intelligent Design Jonathan WellsSenior Fellow, Center for Science and CultureJonathan Wells has received two Ph.D.s, one in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California at Berkeley, and one in Religious Studies from Yale University. A Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, he has previously worked as a postdoctoral research biologist at the University of California at Berkeley and the supervisor of a medical laboratory in Fairfield, California. He also taught biology at California State University in Hayward and continues to lecture on the subject.Follow JonathanProfileWebsite Share Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Share Life Sciences There You Go Again, Nathan LentsJonathan WellsMay 11, 2018, 1:58 AM Jane Goodall Meets the God Hypothesis Email Print Google+ Linkedin Twitter Sharelast_img read more

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