The original question was:
The eye is often used as evidence life did not evolve, since something so complex could not have come about without design input. Why then do we have eyes that are not as good as they could be? Things like macular degeneration, astigmatism, long and short sightedness, etc. make the eye less than perfect. Why would someone design a faulty thing and leave it at that?
Answer by Diane Eager
This question raises a vital issue: how do we distinguish between an original faulty design and a good design that has suffered from wear and tear, degeneration or even abuse? For example: if I dropped my camera and cracked the lens no-one who saw the camera after that would suggest it was designed with a cracked lens. Similarly, if you came across an old car full of rust with flat tyres and a seized up engine, you would not claim that the manufacturer made it that way. You would just say it has had a long hard life. Furthermore, the people who cracked the camera lens or drove the car to death are not the creators of the camera or the car, so it is irrational to blame the creators for degeneration and defects that result from wear and tear, use and abuse.
Now let’s apply this to eyes. The most obvious evidence that the defects identified in the question are not part of an original design is that only a minority of eyes have these problems; the vast majority of eyes work well. Furthermore, no-one has ever observed a defective eye turn into a better functioning eye, but good eyes are regularly observed to lose function, i.e. degenerate. These changes are the opposite of evolution, so let’s consider the examples given in the question, and then place them in a Biblical context.
Macular degeneration is a classic example of an odious combination of degenerate genes, environment and behaviour. The main risk factors for this are a family history of the disease and cigarette smoking. We still have much to learn about this disease (in all its variations) but recent research has identified mutations in some genes associated with the control of inflammation in people who have this disease.
Astigmatism, long and short sightedness all result from irregularities in the shape of the eye. These occur because of uneven growth of the eye, and seem to be the result of a combination of genes and environment. The genetic component is probably to do with defects in the switching of growth control genes on and off at the right time. Myopia (short sightedness) is also associated with doing lots of close work in artificial light, especially at night. The long-sightedness of advanced age is due to degeneration of the lens of the eye that occurs with the aging process, but such people started with good eyes.
Now let’s consider the Biblical history of the human body. The Bible clearly states that God made the world very good. (Genesis 1:31) Therefore, human eyes had no defects to start with. In the beginning human beings had access to the Tree of Life, could have lived forever in this good state as long as they obeyed God. The Bible also clearly states the world did not stay very good. The first humans rebelled against their Creator and were expelled from their beautiful garden home and prevented from having access to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3). From then on, instead of being constantly renewed, human bodies have gradually degenerated until they died. Following the collapse of the climate and the environment during and after Noah’s flood human bodies have degenerated due to a combination of degenerate mutations in our genes and from living
in an increasingly harsh environment. (Genesis 8ff) Mutations that occur in reproductive cells are passed onto the next generation, so that over the generations since the end of the flood there has been a build up of genetic disorders, and now we all start life with some defective genes. The first mention of someone suffering the defective vision of advanced age is Isaac, the father of Jacob. (Genesis 27:1) But we should note that the aging process, and it’s inevitable progression to death, is part of God’s judgement on mans sin and not part of His original design. In the next generation, Leah, one of Jacob’s wives, is described as having “weak eyes”. (Genesis 29:17) This could have been myopia, astigmatism or strabismus (squint) all of which can affect young people, and are the result of defects of growth in the eyes or eye muscles.
As a general principle, the worse your genes and the worse the environment you live in, the shorter your life and the more diseases of degeneration you are likely to suffer. Part of that degenerative process involves the accumulation of mutations that prevent genes from working properly during our own lifetime, rather than inherited from previous generations. This accounts for many of the degenerative diseases of old age. Sadly the evidence also shows that our own behaviour contributes to some of the diseases and defects that plague our eyesight, either directly or by making the environment worse. Eventually, for all human beings, degenerative processes overtake repair processes and we die, but death and disease are not a biological necessity of God’s original design.
Death and disease are both the direct and indirect result of man’s rebellion, which is called sin, against our Creator. However, by making death the penalty for sin, God also made a way for the penalty to be paid. He sent Jesus Christ to die for our sin and rise from the dead, so that all who put their faith in Christ will also rise from the dead and enjoy everlasting life in a New Heavens and Earth with perfect eyes to see all its beauty.
Illustration from: Ayscough, James, A short account of the eye, and nature of vision. Chiefly designed to illustrate the use and advantage of spectacles (London, 1752) p30 Public Domain
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