The problem with the so-called "Cambrian explosion" is that many basic
different body plans of animals appeared relatively instantaneously -
in geologic time - about 600 million years ago. This is exactly the
opposite of Darwinism's prediction of gradual development of life forms.
I quote here from "Darwin on Trial", a very well written book by Philip
Johnson published in 1991 that has significantly raised people's
awareness of the problems of Darwinism.
The single greatest problem which the fossil record poses for
Darwinism is the "Cambrian explosion" of around 600 million years
ago. Nearly all the animal phyla appear in the rocks of this
period, without a trace of the evolutionary ancestors that
Darwinists require. As Richard Dawkins [a staunch advocate of
Darwinism] puts it, "It is as though they were just planted
there, without any evolutionary history." In Darwin's time
there was no evidence for the existence of pre-Cambrian life, and
he conceded in "The Origin of Species" that "The case at present
must remain inexplicable, and may be truly urged as a valid
argument against the views here entertained." If his theory was
true, Darwin wrote, the pre-Cambrian would must have "swarmed
with living creatures."
In recent years evidence of bacteria and algae has been found in
some of the earth's oldest rocks, and it is generally accepted
today that these single-celled forms of life may have first
appeared as long ago as four billion years. ... And then dozens
of independent groups of multicellular animals appeared without
any visible process of evolutionary development. Darwinist
theory requires that there have been very lengthy sets of
intermediate forms between unicellular organisms and animals
like insects, worms, and clams. The evidence that these existed
is missing, however, and with no good excuse.
The problem posed by the Cambrian explosion has become known to
many contemporary readers due to the success of Gould's book
"Wonderful Life". ...
The general picture of animal history is thus a burst of
general body plans followed by extinction. No new phyla
evolved thereafter. Many species exist today which are absent
from the rocks of the remote past, but these all fit within
general taxonomic categories present at the outset. The
picture is one of evolution of a sort, but only within the
confines of basic categories which themselves show no previous
evolutionary history. Gould described the reclassification
of the Burgess fossils as the "death knell of the artifact
theory." [the theory proposed by Darwin that it is only an
accident of the record that the evidence is so bad.] ...
An orthodox Darwinist would answer that a direct leap from
unicellular organisms to 25 to 50 complex animal phyla without
a long succession of transitional intermediates is not the
sort of thing for which a plausible genetic mechanism exists,
to put it mildly. Gould is describing something he calls
"evolution," but the picture is so different from what Darwin
and his successors had in mind that perhaps a different term
ought to be found. The Darwinian model of evolution is what
Gould calls the "cone of increasing diversity." This means
that the story of multicellular animal life should begin with
a small number of species evolving from simple forms. The
dozens of different basic body plans manifest in the Cambrian
fossils would then be the product of a long and gradual
process of evolution from less differentiated beginnings.
Nor should the cone have stopped expanding abruptly after the
Cambrian explosion. If the disconfirming facts were not
already known, any Darwinist would be confident that the
hundreds of millions of years of post-Cambrian evolution
would have produced many new phyla. [But none were
Instead we see the basic body plans all appearing first,
many of these becoming extinct, and further diversification
proceeding strictly with the boundaries of the original
phyla. These original Cambrian groups have no visible
evolutionary history, and the "artifact theory" which
should supply such a history has to be discarded. Maybe
a few evolutionary intermediates existed for some of the
groups, although none have been conclusively identified,
but otherwise just about all we have between complex
mulicellular animals and single cells is some words like
"fast-transition." We can call this thoroughly
un-Darwinian scenario "evolution," but we are just
attaching a label to a mystery.
Sudden appearance and stasis of species in the fossil
record is the opposite of what Darwinian theory would
predict. (pp 54-56)
Gould's book "Wonderful Life", mentioned above, studies the Cambrian
period from the "Burgess Shale in Canada that gives the best fossil
record of the Cambrian period up to that time. In doing just a
little research on the Cambrian period on the internet, I came
across this information on a yet better and more recent fossil
record of that period, the Chengjiang site. This site is "much older
than the Burgess Shale and the preservation of the specimens is much
The following interview is between "Real Issue", a Christian outlet,
and Dr. Paul Chien, now a Christian due to his findings and who has
changed his career in biology to further study this issue. Dr. Paul
Chien was born in China and graduated from university in Hong Kong
where he earned degrees in chemistry and botany. He completed his
doctorate at the University of California, Irvine, and his post-doc
at Cal Tech in marine biology. Presently he is the chairman of the
biology department at the University of San Francisco.
Chien recently accepted a unique invitation to travel to China to
study the fossils at the Chengjiang site. What Chien found and what
he has since learned about the Cambrian fauna, has changed the
focus of his career. Today, Chien concentrates on further exploring
and promoting the mysteries of the Cambrian explosion of life.
Subsequently, Chien possesses the largest collection of Chinese
Cambrian fossils in North America.
Real Issue: As you became more interested in this and discovered
more about it, did you find it really was an "explosion of life"?
Chien: Yes. A simple way of putting it is that currently we have
about 38 phyla of different groups of animals, but the total
number of phyla discovered during that period of time (including
those in China, Canada, and elsewhere) adds up to over 50 phyla.
That means [there are] more phyla in the very, very beginning,
where we found the first fossils [of animal life], than exist now.
Stephen J. Gould, [a Harvard University evolutionary biologist],
has referred to this as the reverse cone of diversity. The theory
of evolution implies that things get more and more complex and
get more and more diverse from one single origin. But the whole
thing turns out to be reversed. We have more diverse groups in
the very beginning, and in fact more and more of them die off
over time, and we have less and less now.
RI: What information is the public hearing or not hearing about
the Cambrian explosion?
Chien: The general impression people get is that we began with
micro-organisms, then came lowly animals that don't amount to
much, and then came the birds, mammals and man. Scientists were
looking at a very small branch of the whole animal kingdom, and
they saw more complexity and advanced features in that group.
But it turns out that this concept does not apply to the entire
spectrum of animals or to the appearance or creation of different
groups. Take all the different body plans of roundworms,
flatworms, coral, jellyfish and whatever all those appeared at the
very first instant.
Most textbooks will show a live tree of evolution with the groups
evolving through a long period of time. If you take that tree and
chop off 99 percent of [the earlier portion of] it, [what is left]
is closer to reality; it's the true beginning of every group of
animals, all represented at the very beginning.
Notice Chien's conclusion "all represented at the very beginning."
It is also interesting that Gould calls this a "reverse cone of
diversity". The complete opposite of what Darwin proposed.
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