Backward Eyes

March 29, 2022
2 min read

Are we as human beings poorly designed? Let’s examine the human eye:

In his New York Times bestseller, Greatest Show on Earth, released in 2009, the famous atheist Richard Dawkins wrote the following regarding the human eye:

“… suppose I tell you that the eye’s photocells are pointing backwards, away from the scene being looked at.” He concludes, “Once again, send it back, it’s not just bad design, it’s the design of a complete idiot.”1

And Dawkins is correct, our eye’s photocells are in fact pointing backwards, not towards the scene being looked at. So then, are our eyes designed poorly? A shallow observation would suggest yes, but deeper analysis shows that our eyes are perfectly designed.

Let me explain.

Even though our photocells are pointing backwards, we have living fibre optic cells (Muller cells) that transmit what we see directly to the photocells, so there is basically zero lag time. Because of this design, the retina is revealed as an optimal structure designed for improving sharpness of images according to a study published in 2010.

But why are the photocells pointing backwards?

Well, it’s a design element. Dr. Joseph Calkings (MD Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, John Hopkins) explains that: “The first time someone took a picture of you with a flashbulb at close range, that would be it for your central retina – it may take months to regenerate the foveal cones without enough nutrients. You would have to avoid reading or driving a car for months.”2

Just like any good engineer would do, our Creator designed our eyes to go through the practicalities of day-to-day life. We are designed by an awesome God. I agree with what is said in the Psalms:

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made … (Psalms 139:14).

1Dawkins, R. “Greatest Show on Earth”, Random House, 2009, pp. 353-354.

2Calkins, J. “Design in the Human Eye”,, Creation Moments, 2021, Accessed Feb 28, 2022.

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