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How Did Evolution DO This Amazing Thing? (Hint: It Didn’t!)

The Atlantic magazine has this fascinating article on the humble scallop.  Spoiler alert:  Might not want to ever eat a scallop again after reading this article!

The eyes of a scallop are like a complex telescope.  Read this description from the Atlantic article:

In 2019, if everything goes according to plan, the much-delayed James Webb Space Telescope will finally launch into orbit. Once assembled, it will use an array of 18 hexagonal mirrors to collect and focus the light from distant galaxies. This segmented-mirror design was developed in the 1980s, and it has been so successful that it will feature in almost all the large telescopes to be built in the near future.

But as always, nature got there first. For millions of years, scallops have been gazing at the world using dozens of eyes, each of which has a segmented mirror that’s uncannily similar to those in our grandest telescopes. And scientists have just gotten a good look at one for the first time.


Inside the eyes, the weirdness deepens. When light enters a human eye, it passes through a lens, which focuses it onto the retina—a layer of light-sensitive cells. When light enters a scallop eye, it passes through a lenslike structure, which … doesn’t seem to do anything. It then passes through two retinas, layered on top of each other. Finally, it hits a curved mirror at the back of the eye, which reflects it back onto the retinas. It’s this mirror, and not the lens, which focuses the incoming light, in much the same way that those in segmented telescopes do.

Now I knew the writer (Atlantic and the New Yorker has great writing but their editorial positions tend to be toward the left.) would spin this for evolution and here it is (Warning: Might hurt yourself laughing too hard!):

The whole structure is a master class in precision engineering. “When there is an elegant physical solution, the evolutionary process is very good at finding it,” says Alison Sweeney, a physicist at the University of Pennsylvania who studies animal vision.


So not only must the cells control the growth of the crystals inside them, but they also have to communicate with each other to arrange themselves just so. “How do they do that? I really don’t know,” she adds.

Okay everybody, stop laughing.  This is serious science.  Now read this:

This precision is all the more remarkable because guanine crystals don’t naturally form into thin squares. If you grow them in the lab, you get a chunky prism. Clearly, the scallop actively controls the growth of these crystals, shaping them as they form. Guanine crystals grow in layers, and Addadi thinks that the scallop somehow shifts the orientation of each layer by 90 degrees relative to the ones above and below it. As the layers grow outward, they do so in only four directions, creating a square. How it does that is a mystery, as is everything else about the way the mirrors form.

Guanine is a chemical that is one of the four bases of DNA and RNA, too.

Now let’s turn to Charles Darwin himself on the subject of the eye and evolution:

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.

To be fair, Darwin attempts to answer his own objection as stated in this article here.  What Darwin attempts to argue is that it occurred over a long period of time in tiny small changes into a completed eye.   But it is asking evolution a lot to come up by small stages and even Darwin admits that:

If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. I can find out no such case.

I will leave it up to the reader if the incredibly complex scallop’s eye is such an organ.  I would say it is extremely unlikely such an eye could form in such a way in small stages as it seems two retinas and a mirror system rivaling the most complex telescopes built by mankind but I contend:  Creation is a matter of faith – science cannot prove it.  But neither can evolution.  It also is a matter of faith.

Time to ponder the scallop’s wonderful complex eye and ask:  Did a Creator do it?  If the Holy Spirit is speaking to you right now, here’s where to go to find out more about how to know Jesus.



About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

One Response to “How Did Evolution DO This Amazing Thing? (Hint: It Didn’t!)”

  1. Bob Shannon

    Makes me almost grateful I developed gout and had to give up all shellfish !

    Bob Shannon King William


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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