Creationists have a flair for asserting that scientists dodge certain evolution-related queries by claiming that they simply don’t make sense. In the comment string under last night’s post about the addled YEC, Jim notes with regard to certain lines of questioning: “There’s wrong and then there’s this whole other category that’s beyond wrong because it’s nonsensical.”
That’s precisely the situation with Isaac’s “7 questions evolutionists can’t answer,” which appear under his lesson on the anatomy of the human eye and are as follows:
1) In the evolution of the eye. Which evolved first. A) The eye itself, or B) The vision center of the brain?
What would make this guy think that these structures wouldn’t evolve in concert? That’s the default answer in any case. Does he think that people gradually developed noses with no stomata beneath, only later evolving mouths?
2) In the evolution of the eye, how long did it take before it became a funtional organ (in other words, how long was the eye useless, which made us blind)?
Why would he think that animals would be wandering around with strictly non-functional organs of any sort? If you’ve got eyes, they’re going to be functioning at some level, period. Isaac clearly has no concept of gradients, among many, many other things.
3) Which evolved first? The eye, or the muscles that hold it in place, and control it?
See my response to 1). (Of course, extraocular muscles aren’t required in less intracate eyes that essentially consist only of optic cups and are therefore a later development, but that’s not the point.)
4) When we finally where able to use this organ, where we able to see in almost real time as we do now? Or did the vision center of our brain have to evolve more to process the information the eye was sending to it?
This is just goddamned strange. How would it be possible to see (or merely perceive light/dark contrasts) in anything but “real time”? Does Isaac think that eyes can store visual information for a few millennia, patiently waiting for a visual cortex to evolve? Actually, he probably does.
5) Did we see in color, or black and white?
This is actually a sensible (i.e., answerable) question, although an inability to answer it would hardly strike a blow against evolution. I’m sure that by the time the first mammals appeared they possessed color vision.
6) In what sequence did the parts of the eye evolve? There are over 40 parts that all have to work together for the eye to function properly.
See answers to 1) and 3). And “function properly” is a loaded term; “function optimally” would be more accurate (if I lose my abducens nerve or my cornea’s scratched or my eyeball’s too long or too short, I’ll still be able to see).
7) Some parts of the eye are not found in any other part of the human body. How did natural selection devise all this to come together for this organ to work?
This, again, is a somewhat legitimate question, though it underscores a grim lack of understanding of the topic at hand. The fact that some structures (e.g., vitreous humor, islet cells, lachrymal glands) appear only in certain anatomical locations is precisely the result of selection. If an organism gains a visual advantage as a result of greater accumulations of vitreous, eventually the population will be full of specimens with vitreous-filled eyes. But if there’s no functional advantage to having such an esoteric compound anywhere else — vitreous humor probably wouldn’t be a good base for, say, a bile duct or a femur — we simply wouldn’t expect to see it anywhere else.
Isaac would probably fail to accept these answers owing to his pre-existing commitment to creationism, his inability to understand the relevant biology, and, most of all, his being stymied by the complex notion that evolutionary events are not postulated to be segregated in time. Regardless, it wouldn’t be worth wasting time explaining any of this stuff to him, any more than it would be worth anyone’s time to write this post. Hmmm…