The Surprising Origins of Lifeâ€™s Complexity
Charles Darwin was not yet 30 when he got the basic idea for the theory of evolution. But it wasnâ€™t until he turned 50 that he presented his argument to the world. He spent those two decades methodically compiling evidence for his theory and coming up with responses to every skeptical counterargument he could think of. And the counterargument he anticipated most of all was that the gradual evolutionary process he envisioned could not produce certain complex structures.
Consider the human eye. It is made up of many partsâ€”a retina, a lens, muscles, jelly, and so onâ€”all of which must interact for sight to occur. Damage one partâ€”detach the retina, for instanceâ€”and blindness can follow. In fact, the eye functions only if the parts are of the right size and shape to work with one another. If Darwin was right, then the complex eye had evolved from simple precursors. In On the Origin of Species, Darwin wrote that this idea â€œseems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree.â€