The Evolution of the 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. When it was first said that the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false; but the old saying of Vox populi, vox Dei, as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science. Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certainly the case; if further, the eye ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case; and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered as subversive of the theory. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself originated; but I may remark that, as some of the lowest organisms, in which nerves cannot be detected, are capable of perceiving light, it does not seem impossible that certain sensitive elements in their sarcode should become aggregated and developed into nerves, endowed with this special sensibility.


"Absurd," Darwin admits, but entirely possible.

Folksonomies: eye evolution

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Natural selection (0.951040): dbpedia | freebase
Evolution (0.943682): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Life (0.807171): dbpedia | freebase
Logic (0.792180): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Lens (0.722862): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Sun (0.710749): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Optics (0.704841): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Charles Darwin (0.696696): opencyc | yago | dbpedia | freebase

 On the origin of species by means of natural selection,: Or, The preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Darwin , Charles (1911), On the origin of species by means of natural selection,: Or, The preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life, Hurst, Retrieved on 2011-05-20
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: evolution natural selection