Your Darwin Quote on the Human Eye –and Reply

Posted by Chris Parker
Apr 22 2006


I was reading your website on the struggle between Creationism and Evolution, and I discovered an interesting quote by Charles Darwin. It is the quote on the development of the human eye…

“To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.” [The Origin of Man, Chapter 6.]

The problem with quoting this as a defense of Creationism is that it doesn’t take into consideration what Charles Darwin really believed. It was only his way, as a writer, of generating a thought in his readers. He later confesses, after piling over volumes of evidence…

“When we reflect on these facts, here given much too briefly, with respect to the wide, diversified, and graduated range of structure in the eyes of the lower animals; and when we bear in mind how small the number of all living forms must be in comparison with those which have become extinct, the difficulty ceases to be very great in believing that natural selection may have converted the simple apparatus of an optic nerve, coated with pigment and invested by transparent membrane, into an optical instrument as perfect as is possessed by any member of the articulate class.” [The Origin of Man, Chapter 6.]

In June of 1982, Ronald Reagan wrote “Marx was right.” But, he conclude his remark with, “We are witnessing today a great revolutionary crisis — a crisis where the demands of the economic order are colliding directly with those of the political order. But the crisis is happening not in the free, non-Marxist West, but in the home of Marxism-Leninism, the Soviet Union…. ” Wouldn’t it be a bit foolish to write a defense of Communism and Socialism, and begin it with the quote “Marx was right,” and attribute it to Ronald Reagan? Only a little more foolish than quoting Charles Darwin out of context in regards to the human eye, right?

Thanks for your time,

For Life,


Dear Sir/Ma’am,テつテつ

Thank you for your note. Let me first say that I don’t for a moment agree that Reagan’s quote about Marxism is a fair comparison to Darwin’s quote about the eye. Setting that completely aside for a moment, perhaps with all do respect you have missed the point of our use of the quote.テつ Think about it; do you think that for one secondテつ we didn’tテつunderstand that Darwin despite the quote– Believed that the eye had evolved? On the contrary, Darwin recognized this potential problem butテつreasoned much as you’ve noted here that it (eye evolution) was accomplished in any case.

Darwin certainly; underestimated the complexity of the cell, supposed that many transitional fossils would be found (highlighting it as a key test of the theory) but was wrong, wrongly believed thatテつ mutation and natural selection had the power to serve as the engine of evolutionary change; wrongly interpreted Malthus and certainly in our humble opinion wouldn’t recognize the “science” that his theory fostered. However, especially with the recent advent of intelligent design theory and the notion of irreducible complexicity of biological systems like the eye, he may have, ironically enough really been on to something. Reagan did not for one moment intend to convey that Marxism was “correct” but Darwin in fact did intend to convey that; it must seem that a biological system as complex as the eye could not be formed by natural selection–and then goes on to list reasons why that would at least “appear” to be the case.

As a consequence, it is entirely proper for us, we believe, to quote him in the context that we do. Again not to imply that Darwin didn’t believe that the eye had evolved but rather that he recognized that his theory needed to hurdle this obstacle, which would in the mind of his readers he supposed, seem insurmountable.

We might very well make the same argument, only we would not go on to say that nevertheless, natural selection could accomplish it. Just as some might have believed that Saddam had something to do with 9-11, due to the proximity of his name to other comments by certain politicians about 9-11-some may misconstrue that quote–but surely only a few would believe that the “father” of evolutionary theory didn’t believe that the eye had evolved!

Maybe Behe should have given him some credit for the term “irreducible complexity” in his book–but that –that would have been as you say “foolish”. テつ Thanks for your time,



2 Responses

  1. vanessa says:

    hey i eally like this when u send a new one in send one to me

  2. Ron says:

    That was worth looking at!

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