The Visual System (was The Eye)

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Administrator2, Apr 27, 2002.

  1. Administrator2

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    EXCREATIONIST

    Consider this picture: http://www.visiontests.com/Illusions/scingrid/
    The picture involves a grid with white dots and the problem is to count the
    black dots. There actually aren't any black dots there, but there appear to
    be.
    If our visual system evolved to allow us to hunt and gather, I wouldn't
    wouldn't be surprised if it didn't work properly for unnatural scenes like
    this one.
    But if our visual system was designed by an all-knowing creator, I thought
    it would be capable of seeing things fairly accurately. It appears that
    there is a bug in our visual system. And since everyone seems to have this
    bug, Adam and Eve would have had it too. So did Adam and Eve have this bug
    when they were created? Or did the same bug just appear in both of them when
    they were cursed?
    If God was all-knowing, he would have known that humans would eventually
    stop living naked in the Garden of Eden, gathering food, and go out and
    create things such as pictures like the one this thread is about. Or did God
    design humans to be suited to a primitive lifestyle?

    [ May 10, 2002, 01:14 AM: Message edited by: Administrator ]
     
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    THE GALATIAN

    It turns out that our vision is not quite perfect in another way. Because
    our retina is "backwards", with the nerves on the outside, and the rods and
    cones behind them, we have a blind spot. Cephalopods have theirs right side
    out, and don't have this defect.
    If "design" was part of creation, one would have to conclude that God did a
    better job on squid than on humans. This seems absurd.
     
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    HELEN
    The following is from a friend of mine, Stephen Jones, in Australia. I
    would also like to add before I quote it that the idea of a human
    judging God where anything God has done is concerned is bizarre and
    arrogant in the extreme.

    Here is Steve’s email:

     
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    EXCREATIONIST

    So far no-one has commented on my original post.

    Here are some better examples of the scintillating grid effect: http://members.ozemail.com.au/~wenke/illusions/scint.htm http://members.ozemail.com.au/~wenke/illusions/black_dots.jpg http://members.ozemail.com.au/~wenke/illusions/white_dots.JPG

    When you stare at a dot, it stays the correct colour, which shows that this
    isn't just simple computer animation. You can even see the effect if you
    print out these pictures but it helps to make the blacks and whites as
    intense as possible - by using dark inks and looking at it in the sunlight.

    The Hermann grid involves a similar effect but it is much less dramatic: http://dragon.uml.edu/psych/hg1.jpg

    If you focus on white parts of the picture you see the true whiteness, but
    areas that are only in your gaze can look darker.

    By the way, in the "Eye Design Book"'s table of figures, http://www.eyedesignbook.com/ch1/figuresch1.html
    there doesn't seem to be any optical illusion pictures so it isn't relevant
    to my original post. (Though it would be relevant to the Galatian's post)
     
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    JOHN PAUL

    Excreationist:
    Consider this picture: http://www.visiontests.com/Illusions/scingrid/
    The picture involves a grid with white dots and the problem is to count the
    black dots. There actually aren't any black dots there, but there appear to
    be.


    John Paul:
    I “saw” what appeared to be gray dots.

    Excreationist:
    If our visual system evolved to allow us to hunt and gather, I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't work properly for unnatural scenes like this one.


    John Paul:
    Evolved from what? Do all organisms with visual systems “see” black or gray dots when presented with your example? And which part of the visual system “…didn’t work properly for unnatural scenes like this one”? Is it something in the eye, something in the brain, something in-between or a collection of out-of-tolerance components?

    So if I took millions of these pictures and put them on every tree in every forest, do you think it would affect hunters? I guess I don’t get your point. That picture doesn’t appear in nature, thus the unnatural label. Seeing that it doesn’t appear in nature it wouldn’t affect our ability to hunt & gather, unless we hunted & gathered in man-made fields of optical confusion.

    Excreationist:
    But if our visual system was designed by an all-knowing creator, I thought it would be capable of seeing things fairly accurately.


    John Paul:
    Just because a Creator is “all-knowing” doesn’t mean the creation has to be perfect, as we perceive perfect. Then you have to realize that the originally Created visual system has been subjected to millennia of mutations acted upon by natural selection. IOW, even if the visual system were Created perfectly doesn’t mean it had to remain so.

    Excreationist:
    It appears that there is a bug in our visual system.


    John Paul:
    Or a bug in this line of thought.

    Excreationist:
    And since everyone seems to have this bug, Adam and Eve would have had it too.


    John Paul:
    What type of logic is that? Why couldn’t the alleged bug be the result of evolution on a once very good Special Creation?

    Excreationist:
    So did Adam and Eve have this bug when they were created?


    John Paul:
    Wait, you just said they would have had it. First we have to determine if a bug actually exists. Then we have to determine what part of the visual system is causing this bug.

    Excreationist:
    Or did the same bug just appear in both of them when they were cursed?


    John Paul:
    I’ll stick with the alleged bug being due to evolutionary processes. Adam & Eve didn’t have to have this alleged bug, just the genetic algorithm acting with an evolutionary algorithm acted upon by natural selection, that produced it.

    Excreationist:
    If God was all-knowing, he would have known that humans would eventually stop living naked in the Garden of Eden, gathering food, and go out and create things such as pictures like the one this thread is about.


    John Paul:
    But God, being all knowing, knew that unnatural scenarios like you have presented do not exist in nature and would not affect our ability to hunt & gather.

    Excreationist:
    Or did God design humans to be suited to a primitive lifestyle?


    John Paul:
    God, being all knowing, knew humans would require the ability to learn. So far it has worked out although we still have much to learn. But that is what science is for.

    Here’s an experiment- Take a small population of humans. Put them in a large “bio-dome” type structure. In place of natural backdrops put unnatural man-made optically confusing backdrops. Then we could see if that population’s visual system evolves to compensate and at what cost.

    God Bless,

    John Paul
     
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    PAUL OF EUGENE

    Helen's quote from Darwin, listed above, might lead some to think Darwin felt the eye didn't, after all, evolve. In the interests of accuracy, here is a more extended quote from the same passage, which makes some headway into explaining how the eye could, in fact, come about through evolution (The rest is directly from Darwin)
    [ May 04, 2002, 12:29 AM: Message edited by: Administrator ]
     
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    EXCREATIONIST

    John Paul:
    I'm assuming that you are a creationist that believes that the world is
    about 6000 years old.

    I "saw" what appeared to be gray dots.
    Actually that was a very poor example of the scintillating grid effect. In
    my later post I gave links to much better examples, such as these:
    http://members.ozemail.com.au/~wenke/illusions/scint.htm
    http://members.ozemail.com.au/~wenke/illusions/black_dots.jpg

    Anyway, even though you saw gray dots rather than black dots, there actually
    weren't any gray dots there! If you stare at a single dot rather than move
    your eyes around, you'll see that it is completely white. This works much
    better in my later examples.

    Evolved from what?
    That's irrelevant. "Intelligent Design" is on trial here.

    Do all organisms with visual systems "see" black or gray dots when
    presented with your example?


    Maybe. At the moment the only way to find out if someone sees it is to ask
    them and it is hard to talk to animals. But that is irrelevant. I'm talking
    about the creature that was supposedly created in God's image - humans.

    And which part of the visual system ".didn't work properly for unnatural
    scenes like this one"? Is it something in the eye, something in the brain,
    something in-between or a collection of out-of-tolerance components?


    That is irrelevant. I'm just pointing out that a problem exists. I mean it
    isn't necessary to know how a car works to recognize that it isn't working
    properly.

    So if I took millions of these pictures and put them on every tree in
    every forest, do you think it would affect hunters? I guess I don't get your
    point. That picture doesn't appear in nature, thus the unnatural label.
    Seeing that it doesn't appear in nature it wouldn't affect our ability to
    hunt & gather, unless we hunted & gathered in man-made fields of optical
    confusion.


    Basically we didn't have a reason to see these kinds of pictures properly if
    we evolved from primitive hunter-gatherers - but *if* we were perfectly
    designed then we shouldn't have major flaws like that. In my later examples
    (see earlier in this post) I showed this effect more dramatically.

    Just because a Creator is "all-knowing" doesn't mean the creation has to
    be perfect, as we perceive perfect.


    In Genesis 1:31 it says that everything God made was "very good" (i.e.
    perfect). But I agree that he could have different standards than we do -
    e.g. he thinks eternal punishment for making some mistakes is perfectly
    just, etc. But anyway, creationists normally go on about how things are so
    perfectly designed - that infinite intelligence must have been involved. If
    our inability to see that simple picture somewhat accurately is perfect
    design then the word "perfect" isn't being used how I'd normally use it - I
    thought "perfect" means that it is impossible to improve on it.

    Then you have to realize that the originally Created visual system has
    been subjected to millennia of mutations acted upon by natural selection.
    IOW, even if the visual system were Created perfectly doesn't mean it had to
    remain so.


    But look at the other mutations people have - like short-sightedness or
    obesity or acne, etc - there are always people who escape these mutations.
    I've posted this these pictures on four different messageboards and no-one
    has ever claimed to be able to see this picture without having major
    problems. I've also looked over the internet about it and there is no
    mention of anyone ever being immune to problems seeing those pictures. There
    are about 3 billion pairs of bases in human DNA... let's assume that the
    mutation of any one or more of 3000 particular bases results in problems
    seeing that picture. Well there is still a one in a million chance of a
    non-affected person giving birth to someone who has the problem. It is
    extremely unlikely that this mutation would be present in all of us by
    chance. And maybe someone is immune to the problem - they'd be like 1 in
    1000 or 1 in 10,000. It would still be a virtually universal mutation. It is
    much more likely that this 1 in a million mutation happened to all of Adam
    and Eve's children than for it to happen later. If it happened later then it
    this 1 in a million mutation would have to happen to every family line which
    could involve thousands or millions of babies.
    http://members.ozemail.com.au/~wenke/bible/genealogies.htm
    This is a webpage I made which talks about the genealogies in the Bible. As
    you can see, there were about ten generations before the world-wide flood.
    http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/3563.asp
    According to that Answers in Genesis article, the flood happened about 4300
    years ago. If we assume that the time for each generation is 20 years on
    average, then we each had about 200 generations before us. There is a
    0.000001 chance for a generation to get that mutation and a 0.999999 chance
    not to get it. Now to be generous, let's say we were the millionth
    generation after Adam and Eve. Each ancestor before us had a 99.9999% chance
    of escaping the 1 in a million mutation. So that's 0.999999 to the power of
    1,000,000. That is about 0.36787925723164509428579812527037 or 36.8%.
    There's a 36.8% chance that for any given person in the one millionth
    generation after Adam and Eve, that every single one of their ancestors
    didn't get the mutation. So they didn't inherit the one in a million
    mutation and they didn't develop the mutation either. Now say there were
    only 200 generations after Adam and Eve. 0.999999^200 =
    0.99980001989868666468241443236634 so virtually all people today wouldn't
    have inherited that mutation from their ancestors - only 0.02% would have -
    or 1 in 5000. (It would be a fairly rare thing)
    So it seems unlikely that this was just another mutation - like
    short-sightedness. Unless it is so widespread (or universal) due to chance.

    "It appears that there is a bug in our visual system."
    Or a bug in this line of thought.


    Even you said that you saw gray dots. Well there were only white dots there.
    If our eyes were designed to let us see the world accurately - with some
    limitations such as the amount of detail we can see then this looks like our
    visual system isn't working properly.

    "And since everyone seems to have this bug, Adam and Eve would have had
    it
    too."
    What type of logic is that? Why couldn't the alleged bug be the result of
    evolution on a once very good Special Creation?


    Earlier in this post I talked about the extremely low chances of this
    problem being present in virtually everyone (that I know of at least). Some
    might see gray dots rather than black, but that is still a problem.

    "So did Adam and Eve have this bug when they were created?"
    Wait, you just said they would have had it.


    If Adam and Eve had it then you don't have to worry about these probability
    problems. Or maybe you think that an extraordinarily improbable thing has
    happened with these mutations spreading to (virtually?) everyone.

    First we have to determine if a bug actually exists.

    You said you saw gray dots but if you study them closely they should appear
    their true colour - white. I would say that this could easily be improved
    upon by us seeing white dots in the first place. So it appears less than
    perfect. And you yourself think that a mutation is involved. By "bug" I mean
    flaw or mutation anyway.

    Then we have to determine what part of the visual system is causing this
    bug.


    It would either be our eyes or our brain. I don't think it makes any
    difference which it is.

    "Or did the same bug just appear in both of them when they were cursed?"
    I'll stick with the alleged bug being due to evolutionary processes. Adam &
    Eve didn't have to have this alleged bug, just the genetic algorithm acting
    with an evolutionary algorithm acted upon by natural selection, that
    produced it.


    Well as I said earlier, it is extremely unlikely that this mutation would be
    so universal today. And could you decide whether what you saw was a result
    of a mutation or if it is how God intended humans to see the world? (And
    therefore Adam and Eve would see that picture in the same way)

    But God, being all knowing, knew that unnatural scenarios like you have
    presented do not exist in nature and would not affect our ability to hunt &
    gather.


    In the Bible humans were originally naked gardeners, then they were farmers
    and animal herders. It is in the evolutionary story that people were
    originally hunter-gatherers. And then Cain built a city - God should have
    forseen that humans would be civilized.

    "Or did God design humans to be suited to a primitive lifestyle?"
    God, being all knowing, knew humans would require the ability to learn. So
    far it has worked out although we still have much to learn. But that is what
    science is for.


    Well in the first few chapters of Genesis, people discover things like
    iron-working and build cities. So they were very innovative back then. What
    my question meant was whether God would want us to see non-primitive
    pictures accurately or not or if he designed us to be naked gardeners.
    (Which is similar to evolution's story about ape-men)

    Here's an experiment- Take a small population of humans. Put them in a
    large "bio-dome" type structure. In place of natural backdrops put unnatural
    man-made optically confusing backdrops. Then we could see if that
    population's visual system evolves to compensate and at what cost.


    Well our brains can naturally adapt to different environments - e.g. after a
    month of wearing "inverting goggles" which made everything look upside-down,
    a person could ride a bicycle around.
    http://www.newscientist.com/lastword/answers/795body.jsp?tp=body1
    It mightn't be possible to stop having problems seeing those white dots - a
    change in the person's genes would be required. And there would need to be a
    selecting mechanism. e.g. those that had the problem could be sterilized and
    those that could see the white dots easily could be bred. The problem is to
    find someone that doesn't have the problem. Maybe after hundreds of
    thousands of generations there could be one person that doesn't have
    problem. Then eventually you'd have a population of people that don't have
    it.
     
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    PAUL OF EUGENE

    Excreationist above makes the argument that having the eye susceptible to illusions is a design flaw.

    This might not necessarily be the case. It could be that being immune to illusions would impose other handicaps, such as slowing down the visual processing, which would in themselves present a hazard to our lives. Leaving in place susceptibility to a few illusions, then, could be construed as a kind of optimization for our visual system.
     
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    HELEN

    Excreationist, you are involving yourself in a number of fallacious
    arguments here.

    1. You are not discussing the eye, you are discussing the brain’s
    interpretation of what we are seeing. That is very different. We can
    train our brains to interpret things differently, but the eye cannot
    ‘help’ seeing what it sees. This is why, on an optical illusion, you
    can make yourself ‘switch’ the ways you are seeing it. It has nothing
    to do with the eyes at all. The eyes simply gather the light and
    associated images and send them back to the brain. Whether or not the
    brain has been trained by its owner to interpret one way or the other is
    no business of the eye’s.

    2. Therefore it has nothing to do with the intelligent design of the
    eye.

    3. What makes you think that a perfect, or even a very good, design is
    that way because you, with your finite knowledge and understanding, have
    chosen to define it that way? Conversely, how can you know if something
    is NOT intelligently designed or very good with your finite knowledge
    and understanding. I think you are being a bit presumptuous in making
    judgments like that!

    4. “Perfect” as used in the Bible does NOT mean ‘unable to improve upon
    it.’ It means “complete, lacking nothing.”

    5. Your figuring of generations and heritability is not taking into
    account genetic bottlenecks, such as the Flood, when a mutation by one
    person could have drastic effects on all generations coming from him
    which, after a bottleneck, would be a significant proportion of the
    ensuing population.

    6. You have NO evidence that any mutation is involved in the ‘problem’
    you are stating, which actually has nothing to do with the eye at all.
     
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    EXCREATIONIST

    Paul of Eugene:
    Well I've been experimenting with pictures like the scintillating grid and I think I'm beginning to understand how it works. I've got to do some more research about this...

    Helen:
    1. You are not discussing the eye, you are discussing the brain’s interpretation of what we are seeing. That is very different....

    Well I originally wanted this thread to be called "Is our visual system perfectly designed?". For some reason this admins called the thread "The Eye". I agree with what you said.


    ...2. Therefore it has nothing to do with the intelligent design of the eye.

    As I said, I didn't choose to call this topic "The Eye". I might have started talking about the eye in the wrong way in some places because the new topic title threw me off.


    3. What makes you think that a perfect, or even a very good, design is that way because you, with your finite knowledge and understanding, have chosen to define it that way? Conversely, how can you know if something is NOT intelligently designed or very good with your finite knowledge and understanding. I think you are being a bit presumptuous in making judgments like that!

    I said it appears to me that there is a problem with our visual system when looking at those pictures. I've studied an image processing subject and subjects about neural networks at university so I know quite a lot about image processing. (This is what would be involved here). And in my opinion, it could be improved with a bit of tweaking. I realize that some Christians might think that this isn't a flaw and could still be an example of perfect design. I thought I.D. theory would be refutable but from your last two sentences, it is impossible to refute.


    4. “Perfect” as used in the Bible does NOT mean ‘unable to improve upon it.’ It means “complete, lacking nothing.”

    What about the term "perfect visual system"? If it was complete and lacked nothing then it would be able to handle special inputs such as that scintillating grid picture. Or maybe "complete" means that it is complete as far as ordinary cases go.


    5. Your figuring of generations and heritability is not taking into account genetic bottlenecks, such as the Flood, when a mutation by one person could have drastic effects on all generations coming from him which, after a bottleneck, would be a significant proportion of the ensuing population.

    Ok, I'll do that then. So there's 8 on the ark and let's assume that the mutation has a one in a million chance. For all of them to be born with that mutation it is about a 1,000,000^8 chance = 1 in 10^48. I haven't formally studied biology but I was under the impression that mutations involve two alleles. So both of their alleles would need to be mutated otherwise there could be an allele that is ok (but recessive). So that would be a 1,000,000^2^8 chance = 1 in 10^96. They may have inherited some mutations before the flood which would reduce those odds, but creationists usually would say that there were hardly any mutations before the flood - which explains the long life-spans.


    6. You have NO evidence that any mutation is involved in the ‘problem’ you are stating, which actually has nothing to do with the eye at all.

    I didn't mean to say that the eye was involved - sometimes I wasn't very precise - like when people say "your eyes are fooling you!". I didn't say that I think a mutation was involved. I just offered that as an explanation that creationists might want to use. It was kind of a set-up.
     
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    HELEN

    Thought this article might be of interest here, as it seems to address
    the topic perhaps a little more closely regarding what the eye picks up:

    =========

    Imperfect optics may be the eye's defence against chromatic blur
    James S. McLellan, Susana Marcos, Pedro M. Prieto, & Stephen A. Burns
    Nature, 417, 174 - 176 (9 May 2002)

    The optics of the eye cause different wavelengths of light to be
    differentially focused at the retina. This phenomenon is due to
    longitudinal chromatic aberration, a wavelength-dependent change in
    refractive power. Retinal image quality may consequently vary for the
    different classes of cone photoreceptors, cells tuned to absorb bands of

    different wavelengths. For instance, it has been assumed that when the
    eye is focused for mid-spectral wavelengths near the peak sensitivities
    of
    long- (L) and middle- (M) wavelength-sensitive cones, short-wavelength
    (bluish) light is so blurred that it cannot contribute to and may even
    impair spatial vision. These optical effects have been proposed to
    explain
    the function of the macular pigment, which selectively absorbs short-
    wavelength light, and the sparsity of short-wavelength-sensitive (S)
    cones. However, such explanations have ignored the effect of
    monochromatic wave aberrations present in real eyes. Here we show
    that, when these effects are taken into account, short wavelengths are
    not as blurred as previously thought, that the potential image quality
    for
    S cones is comparable to that for L and M cones, and that macular
    pigment has no significant function in improving the retinal image.

    From the conclusion:
    It has been widely assumed that chromatic defocus from the eye's optics
    degrades the retinal image of short-wavelength light. But this
    assumption has not previously been tested in a manner that takes into
    account all of the eye's optical aberrations, measured at multiple
    wavelengths. We have shown that there is actually little variability in
    the
    eye's image quality, as quantified by MTF, across the visible spectrum.
    Wave aberrations cause the visual system to sacrifice resolution at a
    single wavelength but allow it to gain approximate constancy in spatial
    sensitivity across the spectrum. This constancy might provide an even
    more effective solution to the problems of chromatic blur than could be
    attained by attenuation and sparse sampling of short-wavelength light in
    an eye with perfect optics.
     

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