Understanding the Cambrian Explosion Part 3 Neo-Darwinian Explanation

CAN NEO-DARWINISM EXPLAIN THE CAMBRIAN EXPLOSION?

Let’s examine how Neo-Darwinian evolution explains the way life should develop over time and therefore, what we should discover in the fossil record.  Neo-Darwinism states biological transformation occurs in small, random genetic changes and mutations, as a result of natural selection.  Over time these small changes, which contribute to the survival of the species, accrue and eventually, result in massive large scale changes in the morphology (body plans) of the organisms.  Thus, what we should observe in the fossil record is a series of gradual small changes accumulating over a vast period of geological time, moving in the direction of biological complexity.

If Neo-Darwin evolution is true we should find in the fossil record this gradual move from simple to complex leaving multiple transitional forms leading to new phylum-level body plans.  Second, we should see small-scale morphological diversity coming before large-scale morphological disparity (uniqueness).  Third, we should observe a steady increase in the number of phyla over time.

Darwin saw the Cambrian strata as a real challenge to his theory.  He predicted that the strata below the Cambrian would be loaded with transitional forms during a time interval far greater than the amount of time from the Cambrian to the present.  Not only was there to be gradual change but Darwin anticipated the fossil record would reveal a gradual increase in complexity over time.

In general the fossil record does show an overall increase in complexity of organisms from the Precambrian to the Cambrian period.  What it doesn’t show is the existence of many intermediate forms, nor novel organisms arising gradually over time as Darwin had predicted.  Instead what we do find are examples of living organisms with articulated body plans, intricate nervous systems, and compound eyes all appearing fully formed at the beginning of the Cambrian strata along with other phyla of equal complexity.  Oxford Zoologist Richard Dawkins said, “It is a though they [the invertebrate phyla] were just planted there, without any evolutionary history.”[1]  This is an incredible admission from an evolutionist.

Since the time of Darwin on up to today, the situation has even become increasing worse.  Not only has paleontology failed to turn up the needed transitional forms predicted by the theory but the sudden appearance of novel structures has become increasingly more pronounced.  The Neo-Darwinian evolution theory predicts a “bottom-up” model, which refers to the fact that lower levels in the biological hierarchy should emerge before the higher ones.  What we find in the Cambrian strata is just the opposite.  In the words of paleontologist James Valentine and his colleagues, the Cambrian pattern “creates the impression that [animal] evolution has by and large proceeded from the ‘top down’.”[2] This is completely opposite of what the theory predicts.  The fossils evidence found in the Cambrian geological strata appears to be strong evidence against the Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory.

Go to part 4 here


[1] Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution (W.W. Norton New York, 1986) pg. 229

[2] Jonathon Wells Icons of Evolution (Regnery Publ., 2000) pg. 42

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