Christian Research Institute

What Is the Cambrian Explosion?

The Cambrian Explosion* is biology’s version of the Big Bang. Just as cosmology’s Big Bang undid the dogma of an eternal universe, biology’s Big Bang uprooted Darwin’s Tree of Life.

First, if all of geological history were compressed into a twenty-four-hour clock, most of the distinct animal forms the world has ever known would appear suddenly within a two-minute time span at around the twenty-first hour. The abrupt and simultaneous appearance of this wide array of complex body plans signals an infusion of a vast amount of information that can rightly be attributed only to an intelligent Designer*.

Furthermore, Darwin theorized that every organism evolved from a common ancestor as a result of natural selection* acting on random variations. The Cambrian Explosion points in precisely the opposite direction. Darwin said it best: “The distinctiveness of specific forms, and their not being blended together by innumerable transitional links—is a very obvious difficulty.”

Finally, while Darwin predicted hundreds of thousands of transitional forms* leading to the fossils of the Cambrian Explosion, none actually appear. And since Darwin, the problem has only gotten worse. The fossil record has greatly expanded. Yet all known animal body plans appear in the form they possess today. In the words of Rudolf Raff, distinguished evolutionary biologist, “All of the known animal body plans seem to have appeared in the Cambrian Radiation*.”

Darwin’s candor is to be commended: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” And this is precisely what has happened.

For further study, see Darwin’s Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record (DVD) (Illustra Media, 2010).