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How Vision is Assembled

The eye might be a window to the outside world, but in our sense of sight it plays only the role of an instrument. The spot where vision is established is deep inside the brain.

To recap the steps of seeing: Beams of light enter the eye and pass through the cornea, the pupil and lens. The cornea's convex structure and the lens break up the light beams and, after turning the picture or image of the scene upside down, direct it to the retina. Light-sensitive receptor cells—the cones and rods—then convert the light into electrical signals, to be sent to the brain. The image that comes from the retina is an upside-down picture of the world. But the brain reverses this accordingly, letting these electrical impulses provide it with information about the object—its type, size, color, and distance. This entire process takes place in less than a tenth of a second.14

During the assembly of a visual image, a staggering number of processes take place in less than a second. No computer in the world has yet been able to match this speed. But equally as staggering is the fact that the brain's optic nerves invariably restore reversed images from the retina back to their original state.15

The Role of the Brain in Seeing

After the retina converts beams of light into electrical signals, they are sent to the brain via the optic nerves in a thousandth of a second. Signals received from each eye contain all the visual information about the object one perceives. The brain combines the two images received from each eye to create the single three-dimensional image you see. It also chooses out the shapes and colors that are of interest in that image and determines the distance involved. In other words, it is the brain—not the eye—that sees.16

Electrical signals from the eyes first reach the primary visual cortex at the back of the brain. This area, a few centimeters wide and only 2.5 millimeters thick, is made up of six layers containing a total of hundred million neurons (nerve cells). The visual impulse reaches the fourth layer first, where it is momentarily analyzed before being distributed to other layers. Each neuron in these layers receives signals from—and sends new signals out to—over a thousand other neurons. This exchange of information between neurons with the connections and the ability necessary to process the information is definitely something that couldn't have come about through a series of coincidences. These neurons were created with the ability to exchange information.

(Figure 2.1). Vision takes place not in the eye, but in the brain. The eye is merely an instrument by which electrical signals are sent, similar to how a camera transmits images to a television screen. But these images are meaningful only if someone is there to watch them. If there is no viewer to watch, there is little point in compiling any images on the television screen. The important question here is not the sending of electrical signals or the assembling of images in the brain; but of who or what perceives the final image. It cannot be the eye, being merely an instrument. Neither can it be the brain, which is merely a collection of tissue made up of fats and proteins, and acts like a screen where the electrical impulses are decoded. Both eye and brain are made of cells, which are themselves made of unconscious molecules. This begs the question: Who "looks" and "sees" the image in the brain?

1- Visual Nerves
2- Optic Radiation
3- Visual Center

The brain, working like an advanced computer, is actually a collection of millions of living cells. In one square millimeter on the surface of human brain, there are over 100,000 nerve cells—adding up to a total of 10 billion (10,000,000,000) cells in the entire brain. A mere fraction of these cells work together to analyze signals from the eye.

In the following pages, we'll examine in greater detail the technicalities of the eye—such as how different cells distribute incoming signals to different locations, and how many cells there are in the visual center—that outline the basic functioning of the brain.

The process of receiving and converting beams of light into electrical signals, their journey to a specific part of the brain for processing, and the fact that both eyes work together in synchronization comprise just the physical and technical aspect of seeing. None of these specifics really tells us how the end result comes to be; that is how the abstract term we call "vision" is perceived, and by "whom" this vision is interpreted to become meaningful. Only a conscious, unbiased individual truly realizes that technicalities aside, the process of seeing reaches beyond the boundaries of physical laws and enters a metaphysical dimension.

We'll soon look into this topic in greater detail, but for now let us continue with the miracles of creation and the eye's many functions. While considering technical details, we must not forget that we expended no effort to attain this miraculous pair of organs. This flawless system came to be thanks to the splitting of one single cell in the mother's womb, and that the process of vision continues even as you read these very words. Immediately after analyzing the details, every human realizes how impossible it is for such a system to have evolved coincidentally, without a superior mind and power. Those who remain in utter denial, despite the clear evidence before them, are described in a verse as follows:

When Our signs came to them in all their clarity, they said, "This is downright magic," and they repudiated them wrongly and haughtily, in spite of their own certainty about them. See the final fate of the corrupters. (Surat an-Naml, 13-14)

Missing Signals and Cells with Responsibility

Electrical signals converted by the retina are transmitted by a bundle of about one million nerve cells from the retina to the visual cortex, which contains over 100 million nerve cells. All of the nerves in this group originate in the retina, but do not connect directly with the light-sensitive area. Some other cells record the visual information, then transmit it to the optic nerve.

At any one time, over ten million electrical signals are being sent down one million nerves from the eye to the brain. Owing to this magnitude of information, from time to time the links are known to snap, sending any signals they were carrying to a wrong location in the brain. The eye's flawless design is equipped for such an eventuality, however, so that our vision is never disrupted.

Even more amazing is that a vast network of cells allows the signal to be carried down another path, from the wrong part of the brain to the visual center. Considering this, is it possible to call such parts of the brain "wrong"?

In reality, the answer is no. An apparent mistake in fact reveals a miraculous phenomenon. While one would expect misled visual signals to simply be lost and unrecoverable, the brain cells rescue and restore them to their original destination. When such a signal reaches them, the cells act as if they knew it was a signal coming from the eye that needs to go to the visual center. They have no obligation to do so, but allow the signal to go to the brain's visual center by building the requisite connections and organization. In this way, there are no defects in an image which otherwise, would be interrupted and fragmentary.

Who gave the brain cells this unique ability? Is it truly possible that billions of tiny cells, each with the same instructions, could have evolved into their current state? Moreover, besides knowing their own function, these cells, must be aware of other actions occurring throughout the body and have to be able to come into play in case of any failure, even though it is not their responsibility. Could this really have come to pass through a series of coincidences?

These details up until now constitute the first phase of the seeing process; one which still contains many unknowns. When we consider the later phases of seeing, it becomes apparent how much of a mystery the entire process actually is.

For over twenty years, David H. Hubel and Torsten N. Wiesel have been researching the eye. At the end of his book Eye, Brain and Vision, the Harvard neuroscientist Hubel stated:

This surprising tendency for attributes such as form, color, and movement to be handled by separate structures in the brain immediately raises the question of how all the information is finally assembled, say for perceiving a bouncing red ball. It obviously must be assembled somewhere, if only at the motor nerves that subserve the action of catching. Where it's assembled, and how, we have no idea.17

Put another way, mankind has been exploring the brain for centuries. Yet what we know still continues to be limited.

Man's present knowledge and technology has not allowed us to fully understand the structure of the brain. So how did such a complicated organ ever develop? Can billions of cells and trillions of proteins have come together over time to develop trillions of connections, each of which have particular significance, to eventually create the brain we know today?

The dilemma that evolution is still unable to escape is that not even one of the billions of cells making up the brain or even one of the billions of proteins making up the cells can possibly have formed by chance.

A Life in a Few Cubic Centimeters

From birth, everything a human sees is assembled in the dark, damp atmosphere of the brain known as the visual center, a few cubic centimeters in size. To put this in perspective, everything we own, our childhood, the schools we went to, our home, work, family, neighborhood, country, the world, the universe, every single detail we have ever seen—briefly our entire life—all came to be in a small piece of flesh.

If it did not exist, we wouldn't be able to see anything. None of the eye's other miraculous features would be enough to allow us to see and retain memories. The eye would be nothing more than a useless round mass filled with fluid. Clearly, the eye alone could not function without the brain and the visual center, both of which play an indispensable role in seeing.

The Role of the Brain in Seeing

By looking at the brain's visual functions, we can understand how closely it works in synchronization with the eye. For instance, the brain

  • Combines the images received from the retinas of both eyes,
  • Compares the two images to calculate depth,
  • Recognizes lines and boundaries,
  • Analyzes color at the visual center,
  • Determines luminosity,
  • Controls the pupil's diameter,
  • Controls eye movements with the muscles,
  • Reassembles the pieces of the broken-down image sent by the retina and completes them with visual memory,
  • Reverses the upside-down image and
  • Fills in whatever small portion of the picture that falls on the retina's blind spot (a small round area of the retina, that has no light-sensitive cells) so we do not perceive a blank spot in our visual field.

A Map of the Brain

(Figure 2.3). An image of the links between certain parts of the brain's visual center.

1- Optic Chiasma
2- Optic Tract
3- Occipital Lobe (Visual Cortex)

(Figure 2.4). A detailed information of the brain's structure indicates what a miracle of creation it is. However, classifying different regions of the brain and calling them by sophisticated Latin names cannot solve the secret of the brain's existence. Evidently, it can't possibly have been created through a series of coincidences—though ironically, in making their claims, evolutionists use the brain given to them by God. They made no effort to achieve their brains—they were there since before their birth.

By closely analyzing cells, Korbinian Brodmann, a German neurologist, has created a map of the human cerebral cortex—which proves once again that evolution is a false claim. His map has revealed that the mechanism of vision is far too complicated to have been created via a series of coincidences.

Brodmann's map forms the basis of later studies on brain functions. For example, the brain's first visual area is Brodmann's area 17. This part of the cerebral cortex receives the most recent visual information through the optic nerve. Brodmann's areas 18 and 19, which lie just in front of area 17, store the previous visual knowledge. Information received by the first visual area is then transferred to areas 18 and 19 for further processing. Visual information from the upper right region of the visual field is processed in the brain's left hemisphere. Similarly, information from the left is processed in the right hemisphere. Because the signals are inverted in this way, each side of the cerebral cortex processes data from the opposite visual field.

Brodmann's map forms the basis of later studies on brain functions. For example, the brain's first visual area is Brodmann's area 17. This part of the cerebral cortex receives the most recent visual information through the optic nerve. Brodmann's areas 18 and 19, which lie just in front of area 17, store the previous visual knowledge. Information received by the first visual area is then transferred to areas 18 and 19 for further processing. Visual information from the upper right region of the visual field is processed in the brain's left hemisphere. Similarly, information from the left is processed in the right hemisphere. Because the signals are inverted in this way, each side of the cerebral cortex processes data from the opposite visual field.

They have sworn by Allah with their most earnest oaths that if a Sign comes to them they will have iman in it. Say: 'The Signs are in Allah's control alone.' What will make you realise that even if a Sign did come, they would still not have iman?

We will overturn their hearts and sight, just as when they did not have iman in it at first, and We will abandon them to wander blindly in their excessive insolence. (Surat al-An'am, 109-110)

Those who reject the apparent truth, telling lies, are treated in other verses as well:

Shall I tell you upon whom the Satans descend?

They descend on every evil liar.

They give them a hearing and most of them are liars. (Surat ash-Shu'ara', 221-223)

The system existing within the brain has been explored and illustrated in detail by leading scientists. Every step of this discovery process offered proof of the brain's magnificent, miraculous nature. It cannot possibly have evolved on its own, by means of a series of coincidences—which is also evidence that God has no partner or counterpart in creation.

The Blind Spot and the Brain's Supplemental Function

You look at the words on this page and assume you see them completely. But this is certainly not the case—there is one small spot on this page which you cannot perceive. In a sense, you are blind to it. This is a scientifically proven fact, and does not just apply to this page. In every image you have looked throughout your life, there is always one little spot you have not seen in the representations of the external world.

You cannot see this spot because where the optic nerve enters the eyeball, there exists a small round area of the retina that has no cone or rod cells. This optic disk, which is not sensitive to light, forms the blind spot of the eye.

With such a blind spot, how can we still see seamlessly? This is thanks to the brain's supplementary ability. The missing part of your vision caused by the blind spot is "painted" with whatever color most closely matches the background, and thus camouflaged.18

This is why you are unaware that you have a blind spot in the first place!

In order to understand the concept better, refer to the test in Figure 2.5, then follow these steps: Shut your right eye and hold this book 50 centimeters (19.7 inches) away from your nose. Now, focusing only upon the red cross with your left eye, slowly draw the book toward your nose. As the book comes closer, you will see the red circle disappear, to be replaced by the background pattern of diagonal lines. At this moment, you are blind to that spot. But you perceive no gap in your vision, because your brain assumes that the spot would contain the linear background. How the brain forms this assumption is a mystery that neither psychologists nor neurologists have been able to solve. Some have put forward a theory that each eye compensates for the blind spot of the other eye, since with respect to the optic axis, the blind patch on one eye lies at a different location than the other's. This is only part of the theory, however. Defenders of this theory are far from an adequate explanation as to how we still manage to see a continuous picture with only one eye.19

We do know that the brain's "cover-up" for the blind spot is an illusion we are made to believe and accept. This means that any vision that you think is real may not be wholly accurate. It's a little like a dream: While it takes place, you believe you are actively taking part in the events, while they are nothing but an illusion created in your mind.

Now try another experiment. Look at the left-hand cross with both eyes, for a full minute. Now, move your eyes to the right-hand cross. In a few moments, color will appear around it, even if it isn't really there. Your brain is fooling you—you are under the impression that something is there, when it's actually not.

An Image Breaking Down

Every detail of an image falling on the retina travels around the skull as electrical signals. Their destination, where they will be interpreted, is the visual cortex in the occipital lobe, located at the back of the brain.

Information from the retina reaches the visual center as jumbled signals, which nerve cells decode and convert into the three-dimensional images we see. In a sense, the brain works like a very advanced computer, solving billions of electrical signals instantly.

The brain is an organ of two hemispheres. As already mentioned, the occipital lobe in each hemisphere takes signals only from the opposite eye. In other words, information about the right side of the visual field is sent to the left occipital lobe, and vice versa.

In his research papers, neuroscientist Colin Blakemore poses a question we have yet to answer effectively. What, he asks, does the brain do after collecting and dispersing visual information? He goes on to ask why the dispersing occurs in the first place, if the brain then reassembles everything to form the picture.20

The phenomenally complicated process works, thanks to the combined effort of eye components, eye-to-brain nerve cells and electrical signals. But despite this, the process is regulated and seemingly immune to confusion and chaos.21 This is because the body's perfect design allows every task, from the basic to the complicated, to be carried out flawlessly. Thanks to God's infinite power, we are able to live our lives—except in times of illness—with no physical difficulties.

Knowing What You See

The human mind stores some of the images it sees. These stores are regularly reopened, to be used again. When a child sees a pencil for the first time, for example, a file opens in his memory for that pencil. Later, when he comes across another pencil, the file opens again and the image within is compared with the image of the present pencil. In this way, the child determines a pencil is what he's looking at.

This pattern is by no means unique to infants and children. All human minds—yours included—follow it automatically, all the time. When you come across an image, it's immediately compared with any similar images from your archives, and thus the image is recognized or not. This process may sound needlessly simple, but if it didn't take place, you couldn't recognize your own child.

Associative memory also enables movement recognition. If you happen to be looking at an object in motion, your memory compares its movement with any action that may follow. As on a roll of film, the motions are recorded, one after the other, in a sequence of images; and the present location of the object is compared with its previous location. All of these factors contribute to how we perceive movement.

To recap the main details covered up until now, the mind records certain images and stores them for regular re-use. But where and how are these images recorded? Why and by whom are they recovered?

A computer records all data on a hard or floppy disk, but the amount of data it can store is limited to those disks' capacity. A brain contains no such disk, yet this piece of flesh can easily store millions of images.

Every computer disk on the market today has been designed and manufactured by humans, and in great numbers. But if anyone came forward to claim that years ago, certain amounts of iron, plastic and silicon coincidentally came together to form the first computer chip, the ancestor of today's computers, no one would take him seriously. Yet despite this, it appears to be legitimate for people to claim that the brain and the eye, both far superior to the computer or the camera, did indeed evolve through a series of coincidences. The story of evolution is presented as scientific fact when in reality it is a deceptive forgery.

There is only one reason for this. It's perfectly acceptable to believe that the computer was designed by the human mind. But when it comes to the superior mind behind the brain and the eye, things change completely. If the concept of creation is accepted, then the Creator, and His laws must be accepted also. In other words, religion must be accepted unconditionally. This is why those who seek to maintain their non-religious establishments have always supported the theory of evolution. Influenced by their propaganda, those who know little about the subject believe that evolution is already an accepted fact. In reality, it's been scientifically proven to be merely an ideological myth. Scientific evidence proves that evolution is both incoherent and invalid.

The Visual Memory

The process of recognizing objects doesn't occur thanks to the eye and the visual center only, because the memory plays an important role in this process as well.22 In order for the brain to achieve recognition, all the "visual association areas" must work together, letting us to interpret perceptions at an advanced level, with the help of memory.

Despite the field of neurophysiology's many significant advances over the past half-century, we've yet to explain how memory works. What we do know is overshadowed by far by what we have yet to learn. But we have learned what symptoms arise when the visual association area of the brain is damaged. A damage or a tumor in this area does not lead to blindness. This area is activated by the impulses of the primary visual cortex, but the sufferer becomes significantly less able (even totally unable) to recognize familiar objects on sight—a condition termed visual agnosia.23

For a healthy individual, it's hard to imagine what such a condition is like. The inability to recognize "familiar" objects puts sufferers in a helpless position. When you consider that these symptoms can arise after even the smallest impact to the brain, it is clearer that the organ we carry in our heads is extremely sensitive.

Two Eyes, One Sight—Binocular Vision

(Figure 2.7). The image that every eye perceives is split down the middle (indicated above in black and green on the retina). Signals from the eyes come down different paths, but meet and merge at the visual center. As seen in the diagram above, the process of decoding and reassembling these images requires geometric precision and countless calculations. Even more amazingly, the brain accurately compiles the broken-down picture with no discontinuity or slip, just like the original. It is not possible for such a flawless structure, of whose workings we're completely unaware, to have developed on its own, coincidentally. The entire system has to be present as a whole; it cannot develop bit by bit. It came to be from nothing, in the mother's womb. Put another way, the principle of gradual development, one which forms the basis of the evolution theory, is again rendered erroneous.

(Figure 2.8). In the diagrams above,

a) When the eyes focus in on point P, it becomes a single image. As a result, point Po is outside the focus and becomes doubled.

b) When we focus on point F, we experience double vision at point P, which is between our eyes and the object we look at.

c) When we focus on point F, we experience double vision at the more distant point P. As you can see, there is flawless geometrical harmony between the two eyes.

Evolution cannot claim to be behind either the eyes' structure or the mathematical communication between the two.

We humans find ourselves born with two eyes, but never question why this is so. Is it a coincidence that we have two, or is there a special reason for this?

Each of the two eyes has a different perspective to the outside world, as they are spaced apart from the other (Figure 2.7). The two images seen by the eyes are subtly different, but complement each other. By picking out the differences between them, the brain is able to determine depth and distance. Even though a single eye can see only two-dimensionally, the brain creates the "final" three-dimensional image.

Our interpretation of the minute differences between those two images enables the image to be perceived as three-dimensional. If the two images formed separately in the eyes were combined not fully in the brain, then we would see double—and in two dimensions only.

By means of a simple experiment, you can see the difference between the two images. Look at the branches of a tree, first with both your eyes open. After a few moments, shut one eye and keep staring at the branches. A minute later, uncover your eye, and you'll notice that the branches appear "deeper" than before.

Another experiment is trying to thread a needle with one eye closed. You will find this impossible, because with monocular vision, you have no sense of depth.

Sometimes, certain objects appear "doubled" to our vision. This happens when we focus in on one specific point—near or far—and consequently pay less attention to its surroundings. Hold a pencil in the air close to your face. Then with your other hand, take another pencil and hold it behind the first, at arm's length. When you focus on the more distant pencil, the closer one will appear doubled. If you focus on the closer one, the distant pencil will similarly appear doubled. Without this ability to focus, you would always be seeing double, no matter what you focused on.

Merging two separate images and creating a three-dimensional result is a process that requires perfect calculations. If the eyes had developed coincidentally, what are the odds that such fine synchronization could be achieved? What coincidences would achieve a system that can analyze and combine millions of bits of information every second? If the eyes did not work in harmony, the brain would receive confused signals and create a jumbled image for us to perceive. But since this is not the case, it's not possible to reason this system was developed through a series of coincidences. The flawlessness of God's creations is described in a verse as follows:

He who created the seven heavens in layers.You will not find any flaw in the creation of the All-Merciful. (Surat al-Mulk, 3)

How Distance is Determined

In order to determine how far away something is, the brain considers how large it appears in the image on the retina. As long as that object's actual size is known, the brain makes a rough calculation—based on the perceived size of the image—of how far away that object really is.

One extraordinary aspect of this process is that it takes place completely below the conscious level. You don't notice it, but you are actively determining whether every object in view is nearby or far away. If this process never took place, you would be unable to drive or even walk. Without perspective, the outside world would become a jumble of shapes and colors.

God has given mankind countless blessings. Some we are aware of, but remain unaware of so many others. God treats His followers with mercy and compassion.

Do you not see that Allah has made everything on the earth subservient to you and the ships running upon the sea by His command? He holds back the heaven, preventing it from falling to the earth – except by His permission. Allah is All-Compassionate to mankind, Most Merciful. (Surat al-Hajj, 65)

NOTES

14. "The whirling dance of Working Memory," Bernard J. Baars, Science and Consciousness Review, August 2002; http://psych.pomona.edu/scr/news/articles/20020803.html

15. Arthur C. Guyton, Textbook of Medical Physiology, Harcourt International Edition, 10th edition, 2000, p. 570

16. "Disturbed Vision," Dr. A. Vincent Thamburaj; http://www.thamburaj.com/disturbedvision.htm

17. John Horgan, The Undiscovered Mind: How the Brain Defies Explanation, [1999], Phoenix, London, 2000, p. 23; http://members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/cequc206.html

18. Meliha Terzioğlu, Fizyoloji Ders Kitabi (Textbook of Physiology), vol. 1, Cerrahpasa Tip Fakultesi Yayinlari, Istanbul, p. 494

19. Meliha Terzioğlu, Fizyoloji Ders Kitabi (Textbook of Physiology), Volume I, Cerrahpasa Tip Fakultesi Yayinlari, Istanbul, p. 494

20. Anthony Smith, Insan Beyni ve Yasami, Inkilap Kitabevi, Istanbul, p. 227

21. Ibid., p. 224

22. Anthony Smith, Insan Beyni ve Yasami, Inkilap Kitabevi, Istanbul, p. 227

23. http://www.mercksource.com

 

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