Didn't Darwin admit that the eye was too complex to have evolved?

No, he didn’t.

Evolution deniers are very fond of quoting the following passage from On the Origin of Species, chapter 6:

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 possible degree.

…but they invariably neglect to quote the remainder of the section, where Darwin goes on to say that, absurd though it might seem, he had no problem believing it.

…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. But I can find out no such case.

Indeed, in a later edition of On the Origin of Species, Darwin went on to have a go at so-called common sense:

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.

Now there’s a man with confidence in his theory.

Richard Carter, FCD

Writer and photographer Richard Carter, FCD is the founder of the Friends of Charles Darwin. He lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteNewsletterMastodonetc…

One comment

  1. A year or so ago, you could Google "eye too complex to have evolved" and gotten tonnes of supporting results, not due to it being true, but purely due to it's popularity of being mis-quoted. Now, fortunately, the non-religious have caught up and nearly 90% of the search results are pages saying "Stop saying this! Where are you getting your information from??" 🙂

    Glad to see things have finally been set right.

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