The Cambrian Explosion…and the Abraham Explosion 1

            In the Cambrian Explosion of 535-million years ago the genetic information that went into the formulation of the new and varied body-plans of complex creatures appearing suddenly in the fossil record, requires explanation.

            The fossil record reveals no transitional, trial-and-error intermediates found in the Precambrian rock layers below the Cambrian geological strata. 

            These missing intermediates would otherwise provide a continuous linkage of incrementally developing life-forms leading-up gradually and seamlessly into this Cambrian Period date of 535-million years ago.

            If in existence they would essentially remove the perplexing phenomenon of this being a sudden and isolated event, of being an abrupt explosion of new life-forms exhibiting newly actualized genetic information at a very specific and definite point in time.

            The Cambrian Explosion is undisputed, universally accepted, scientific fact-based evidence acknowledged by professional paleontologists, biologists, microbiologists, and biochemists around the world.

            If we are a biblical creationist, we can see this new appearance of genetic information and its accompanying physical characteristics in life-forms, as a top-down arrangement of information and body-plan architecture, producing fully functional living organisms in a very brief span of geological time “right out of the box” with no assembly tools required.

            Biblical creationists see the infusion of new genetic information at the Cambrian Explosion as an extension of the same brilliantly creative and ordered input of information that brought the universe into being at the Big Bang in a split-second moment of time around 13.7-billion years ago, and that started complex life going on earth about 3.8-billion years ago.

            These are two events that required unimaginable quantities and qualities of coordinated information to produce the organized complexity, beauty, and functionality we observe in the natural world.  

            One thing that must be included in this discussion is the need for a complimentary level of biodiversity to be in-place to support a new system of living organisms coming into existence, which can be termed as prior fitness.[1]

            This would include the varied lifestyle habits of the many predator/prey relationships, along with the functional coherence of the surrounding ecosystems. 

            This is an integration and coordination of complementary realities that when viewed as a whole, stretches beyond credulity the belief that all of this came into being through materialistic causation, through the self-assembling properties of matter and energy alone.

            Solve the question of the sudden appearance of new genetic information in action in the introduction of new architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits springing into life during the Cambrian Explosion, and only a fraction of the total ensemble of interacting realities has been explained.

            For example, in the 1930’s wolves were unwisely exterminated from Yellowstone National Park in the state of Wyoming, being the prime predator within the biodiversity of a fine-tuned natural ecosystem.

            Without wolves, elk became over-populated, that then over-grazed the vegetation and created serious erosion problems. 

            But equally problematic, coyotes then became the new highest-ranking predator, preying mostly on small rodents, which is also the prey of hawks and owls.  These majestic birds of prey drastically reduced in numbers until wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone decades later, reinstating biodiversity and ecological balance back to the park.[2]

            In the Cambrian Explosion, we not only need to explain the origin of the genetic information that gave rise to this varied group of suddenly immerging new creatures, but also their coordinated lifestyle environment of biodiversity, and the prior fitness set-up within equally complex ecosystems, all requiring information on a quantifiably unimaginable scale.

            If we are a scientific materialist, we must interpret the new appearance of genetic information and its accompanying life-forms during the Cambrian Explosion as a bottom-up arrangement of information. 

            This viewpoint endorses the introduction of novel genetic information building-up in gradual steps sequenced over time in the preceding Precambrian Period over several hundred million years, slowly progressing in the positive direction from the simple to the complex.

            This hypothesized, bottom-up arrangement from the simple to the complex, is currently theorized to be achieved through malleable, developmental gene regulatory network molecules that have the flexible capacity to build-up and store the required body-plan information over the long span of the Precambrian time-period. 

            This genetic information is released by these regulatory networks that are “re-wired” at the Precambrian/Cambrian boundary.  This creates the varied and complex life-forms we see radiate-out in the Cambrian Explosion.[3]

            The developmental gene regulatory networks (DGRN’s) instruct the different cell-types where to position themselves during embryonic development, to perform their particular functions as bones, muscles, tendons, and organs, for example.

            DGRN’s are the molecular control circuits that guide cells in living organisms during the embryonic development phase to reach the end-point, body-plan architectures of becoming a Trilobite, Wiwaxia, Hallucigenia, Opabinia, Marrella, Anomolocaris, and several other creature types, in the Cambrian Period.  

            DGRN’s and other epigenetic factors perform this same function today in crafting unique, differentiated, and discontinuous architectural body-plans in the ten-million different living species on earth.

            The current theory being researched of the possible flexibility of DGRN’s proposes that this body-plan information was latent and hidden at the molecular level, ready and waiting to produce the new physical characteristics in life-forms rapidly emerging suddenly at the Cambrian Explosion. 

            For millions of years this genetic information was building-up in successive phases inside living cells, being visually undetectable in the simpler life-forms prior to the Cambrian Period, all through purely naturalistic processes.

            At this present time, neither theists nor atheists can point to empirical scientific evidence that supports a materialistic or a creationist explanation for the origin of the vast amount of highly specified, genetic information required to get complex life going to initiate the start of single-cell, self-replicating, living bacteria cells on earth around 3.8-billion years ago.

            Origin of life research has been stuck roughly in the same place for sixty-plus years now[4] ever since Watson and Crick discovered the doubled-stranded DNA molecule in 1953, and its enormously complex and highly specified code of approximately 3.5-billion bits of information (1957), spelled-out using a four-letter chemical alphabet. 

            This is the longest single word in existence, which has been called the language of life.

            The fundamental question facing theists and atheists regarding the explanation of the Cambrian Explosion is how full function could be reached at the start of life…of existence…in a widely varied group of complex organisms that require a minimum of coordinated and integrated parts.

            This requires sophisticated programs of information that exhibit functional coherence that must be simultaneously up-and-running at a very high plateau for new life to survive and replicate itself.

            The organized complexity of the dynamics of gene regulatory networks interacting with DNA and the protein driven molecular machines inside living cells, to produce new and different cell-types, their unique locations inside living organisms, and their specific functions to perform in coordination with other cell-types…already makes the compelling case for the existence of intelligent agency.

            For the biblical creationist, this dilemma is brilliantly sketched-out in the book Darwin’s Black Box (1996) by Michael Behe in the concept he coined as irreducible complexity, that every complex thing has to have a minimum of its parts in-place to produce a well-defined functional essence…whether a skateboard, tennis racket, hair brush, or a full-grown African elephant.


[1] Michael Denton: The Miracle of the Cell, published Oct. 28, 2020 by Discovery Science, on You Tube.

[2] Helene Grimaud: Living With Wolves, 2002 podcast on You Tube.

[3] Stephen Meyer & Charles Marshall: Darwin’s Doubt, debate hosted by Premier Radio, Nov. 30, 2013 on You Tube

[4] James Tour: The Mystery of the Origin of Life, published Mar. 18, 2019 by Discovery Science, on You Tube. 

Author: Barton Jahn

I worked in building construction as a field superintendent and project manager. I have four books published by McGraw-Hill on housing construction (1995-98) under Bart Jahn, and have eight Christian books self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I have a bachelor of science degree in construction management from California State University Long Beach. I grew up in Southern California, was an avid surfer, and am fortunate enough to have always lived within one mile of the ocean. I discovered writing at the age of 30, and it is now one of my favorite activities. I am currently working on more books on building construction.

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