Whether I speak at a church, a university, a seminary, or a research firm, during the Q&A time I am inevitably asked about the Cambrian explosion. I also get emails about the Cambrian explosion. Here is an an example from our inbox and my answer:
Q: Have evolutionists come up with any valid explanation for the sudden appearance of the Cambrian explosion?
A: The Cambrian explosion refers to the sudden, simultaneous appearance of most of the animal phyla (body plans) that occurred 542–543 million years ago. Ten of the many challenges the Cambrian explosion poses to evolutionary explanations for life are as follows:
- While evolutionary scenarios, as opposed to worked-out theories, exist for hypothesizing how new genera, new orders, and new families of animal life might appear, there is no rational evolutionary scenario for explaining how a new animal phylum might appear.
- From 50 to 80 percent of the animal phyla known to have existed at any time in Earth’s history appeared within no more than a few million years of one another, as the Cambrian geological era began.
- Of the 182 animal skeletal designs theoretically permitted by the laws of physics, 146 appear in the Cambrian explosion fossils.
- The Cambrian explosion marks the first appearance of animals with skeletons, bilateral symmetry, appendages, brains, eyes, and digestive tracts that include mouths and anuses.
- Virtually every eye design that has ever existed appears simultaneously in the Cambrian explosion.
- The moment oxygen levels in Earth’s atmosphere and oceans permit the existence of Cambrian animals, they suddenly appear.
- The Cambrian explosion occurs simultaneously with the drastic change in sea chemistry known as the Great Unconformity.
- The Cambrian explosion includes the most advanced of the animal phyla, chordates, including vertebrate chordates.
- Both bottom-dwellers and open ocean swimmers appear simultaneously in the Cambrian explosion.
- Optimization of the ecological relationships among the Cambrian animals, including predator-prey relationships, occurred without any measurable delay.
These challenges and several more are documented and described in some depth in chapter 13 of my new book, Improbable Planet (releasing September 2016).
The world’s leading experts on the Cambrian explosion are aware of just how profound and intractable these challenges are to any conceivable evolutionary explanation for the Cambrian explosion. Here are a few of their in-context quotes from their research papers: