The Philosophy of Evolution: Cambrian Explosion

“There is another and allied difficulty, which is much more serious. I allude to the manner in which species belonging to several of the main divisions of the animal kingdom suddenly appear in the lowest known fossiliferous rocks.” (Darwin, The Origin of Species, p. 348).”

“Evolutionary biology’s deepest paradox concerns this strange discontinuity. Why haven’t new animal body plans continued to crawl out of the evolutionary cauldron during the past hundreds of millions of years? Why are the ancient body plans so stable?” (Jeffrey S. Levinton, “The Big Bang of Animal Evolution,” Scientific American, Vol. 267, November 1992, p. 84)”


One of the most remarkable pieces of evidence (for creationism) that perplexes even the greatest of evolutionary thinkers for over 150 years now is the great quantity and diversity of life found in what is called the Cambrian layer of the geologic column. Earlier this year, two papers (here and here) were published in Geology where scientists have found even more animals suddenly appearing in the fossil record! One was found and assumed to be 8 million years earlier while “a variety of   novel body plans and ecological strategies already existed among echinoderms, pushing back the timing of important divergences into the lower Cambrian in Spain dating from the middle Cambrian.” These are the most diverse to be found so far according to the paper.

It is now confirmed “that all skeletalized metazoan phyla appeared in the Cambrian” which means that every body plan is found in the Cambrian while each discovery they find more animals earlier and earlier. No evolutionary sequence here, they are all coexistent simultaneously. Once more, observations from the layers above the Cambrian period gradually decrease with each successive layer. Once you reach the most recent layers approximately 98% of every thing that has ever lived is extinct.

This is obviously diametrically opposite to what would be predicted by evolutionary theory.  If evolution was true, then one would see simple organisms in the lowest layers and a gradual increase in diversity and complexity of life as you progress to more recent layers in the geologic time scale.

Darwin was certainly aware of this problem, it was thought during that time as well as many years after that the fossil record wasn’t sampled enough but once it was then it would solve the problem or at least come closer to solving it. However, today the fossil record is sampled quite a bit and more observations have only enhanced the problem like many other falsified predictions within the realm of evolutionary theory.

So why do scientists who are entrenched into the system avoid dealing with such things as what they observe in the Cambrian layer? It’s because they bought into the philosophy of evolution which entails a metaphysical premise with applications of ‘theory-rescuing’ devices that abandons the scientific method!

Dr. Scott Todd, of Kansas University speaks in nature magazine about this very subject, he states and I quote…“Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.” When you believe in a theory in spite of the evidence, it’s a religion unto itself.

Some scientists were drawn to Christianity while others went to the modern intelligent design movement but the reason why this philosophy mentioned by Dr. Scott Todd is put into place is because the alternatives for explaining origins is extremely limited and those entrenched into the system (who want everyone to believe like they do) know this well, various shades of explanations concerning nature depend on two options, evolution which represents naturalism and if it’s not that, then it’s supernatural in origin. There are no others!

Science in it’s truest sense of the word and practice has always been like a tool given to us in order to gain “knowledge (of something) by study or by experimentation where ever it leads.”

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26 thoughts on “The Philosophy of Evolution: Cambrian Explosion

  1. As predicted,[1] Michael has cut and run from any defense of his misreading of the”soft-tissue” paper in PNAS, and has embarked on yet another subject, hoping that his readers will forget his failure of basic reading comprehension in pursuit of his untenable views. The pace has picked up recently, and Michael hopes we won’t be able to keep up.

    This time we will be treated to a real dog’s breakfast—a regurgitation of the why the Cambrian explosion 550 million years ago proves that the Earth is only 6,000 years old.

    .

    And of course the previous questions remain unanswered—:

    (1) Blog readership numbers in response to Eelco’s February challenge that your readership asymptotically approaches zero’

    (2) Your qualifications to discuss any scientific subject, in response to the challenge to Olorin.

    (3) A substantive review of Signature in the Cell, promised for August 2009.

    ===============

    [1] Olorin comment May 11 at 10:56 pm in post dated May 11.

    Well, Michael, it’s time to cut and run. You’ve made claims that aren’t true, by misreading the NAS article. You can’t support them with evidence in any case.

    It’s time to plod on to another topic, and hope that no one will notice your lies about imaginary soft tissue in Archeopteryx fossils.

    ……..

    What’s next, Michael? We wait with bated breath how you will escape from the Neandertal [sic] donnybrook into the next debacle. Because we’ll be waiting.

  2. Michael hopes to convince us here that the Cambrian Explosion presents “[o]ne of the most remarkable pieces of evidence (for creationism).” Yet the first thing we should notice is that THE WHOLE CONCEPT OF A CAMBRIAN EXPLOSION IS FUNDAMENTALLY INCONSISTENT WITH THE STRUCTURE OF BIBLICAL CREATION.

    Genesis I[1] informs us that within the first six days of the existence of the Earth, there were already “vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit,” and “great sea monsters, and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, … and every winged creature”, and “cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth”, and “man.” In other words, at least some of the most complex of present-day organisms that now exist also existed from the very beginning of the earth.

    At the time of the Cambrian explosion, however, Michael’s reliance on the scientific data forces him to accept that only very primitive life forms existed over the entire period of the Cambrian—which scientist estimate at about 55 million years. There were no cattle, no fish, no birds, no plants, no trees, no life at all on the “earth” (i.e., dry land)[1.5]. Only tiny (1mm-5cm) burrowing animals. No plants at all—just green algae, hardly more than single cells.

    Yet if Michael wishes to argue for six-day creationism on the basis of Cambrian paleontology, he must also accept the parameters of the scientific data, which says that none of the complex biblical stuff was to be found at all. That is, the landscape of the Cambrian Explosion is fundamentally inconsistent with the landscape posited by Genesis.[2]

    .

    Then we have the age problem. The papers Michael cites, like every other paper in the scientific literature, places the Cambrian at about 550 million years before the present. Biblical creationism, however, demands the Earth—in fact, the entire universe—be less than about 10,000 years old. Although creationist do doubt all scientific dating methods,[3] they have never proposed any dating method whose evidence would place the Cambrian within a factor of 100,000 of the scientific methods. Nor have they ever proposed any actual evidence for doubting these methods—only arm waving that, well, the dating must be wrong, somehow.

    All current scientific papers in this area agree on a duration of about 55 million years for the Cambrian, the period during which these body plans appeared. This is hardly an “explosion”—it represents abourt the amount of time between dinosaurs and humans—that is, between T. Rex and Michael To be consistent with biblical creationism, creationists must shoehorn all animals[4] into stretch of three 24-hour[5] days. Yet the fossils from various body plan appeared spread out over what even creationists agree is a measurable period of time. Could the most rabid creationist condense these appearances to a few hours—and still allow that someone could tell the difference in the times of appearance, that some definitely occurred later than others? I can’t even tell which of my socks have been in th laundry basket a few hours longer then the others.

    By arguing that the Cambrian Explosion is evidence for a biblical literalism, creationist thus face a dilemma. They must selectively accept some of the scientific evidence, but at the same time ignore other evidence. While pretending that creationism is scientific, they then flout the very rules of science that they supposedly embrace.

    ======================

    [1] The account in Genesis II differs in enough aspects to make it incompatible with Genesis I..

    1.5] J.B.S. Haldane once said, when asked what would refute evolution,, “A rabbit in a Cambrian fossil bed.”

    [2] Michael may argue in desperation that the geologic column got all mixed up in the Noachian Flood. Sorry, Michael. The Cambrian stratum is very well defined; it is not mixed up with other layers. Did God unmix these layers after the Flood? Good luck. (Of course, we already know better than to expect consistency or logic from creationists.)

    [3] Including those that, like the three-daughters method, carry their own internal error indicators. It is truly a marvel that radiometric dating methods using different isotopes, sedimentation-rate dating that uses no radiometrics at all, magnetic-field reversals independent of both, and every other dating method, could all be in gross error, and yet be consistent with each other. If Michael is searching for miracles, this would surely be one of them.

    [4] Once again, remember that, contrary to the Genesis account, there were no “plants” of any kind during this entire period. No fruit trees or veggies.. Not a single fossilized eggplant parmigiana. The only green stuff at all was single cells. Would you care to explain that, Michael? No arm-waiving, please; we want the specifics.

    [5] Creationists may not be interested in knowing that the day (the period of earth’s rotation) was not 24 hours during the Cambrian. Evidence from mantle dynamics and from comparing the annual and diurnal periods of reefs indicates that the day was about 18 hours.

  3. Michael shows us a picture of a green marsh to represent a Cambrian environment.

    In his ignorance, Michael doesn’t know that at that time all dry land was a barren brown rockscape—no life at all. And there were no plants anywhere, as Olorin noted.

    Too bad, Michael. Just one more reason that knowledgeable people laugh at creationists.

  4. “Michael hopes to convince us here that the Cambrian Explosion presents “[o]ne of the most remarkable pieces of evidence (for creationism).” Yet the first thing we should notice is that THE WHOLE CONCEPT OF A CAMBRIAN EXPLOSION IS FUNDAMENTALLY INCONSISTENT WITH THE STRUCTURE OF BIBLICAL CREATION.”

    Where you the one who said in your black box of thought, one can’t pick and choose, it must be all or nothing? Testing for the age of the Earth is selective in evolutionary theory. It’s up for interpretation and many of the methods do not agree with the old earth theory. Since evolution requires massive amounts of time, only methods which show this would be accepted…I have posted various evidences that point to a young earth which confirms the Bible…Here is some of them…

    Evidence Indicates A Young Earth Rather Than Old

    Geological Change Surprises A Team Of Scientists

  5. Michael …… those questions !!!

    You have the answers, so just write them in the little box underneath this reply, and press ‘submit comment’.

    Easy !

  6. Michael: “Evidence Indicates A Young Earth Rather Than Old”

    Then PLEASE PROVIDE THIS EVIDENCE.

    You are playing a shell game, claiming “evidence” and never actually coming up with it. Same strategy as in your posts—make extravagant claims, then change the subject when they cannot be substantiated. If you throw enough mud on the wall, some of it might stick. Is that your strategy?

    So, enlighten us with an exposition of the techniques that creationists use to date all fossils to 4-5,000 years ago. What physical evidence supports these dates? How do you cross-check the accuracy of these techniques with each other? What physical evidence do you have from other, independent sources?

    Please be specific.

    .

    Chirp … chirp … chirp… chiiiiirp …

    Don’t change the subject quite yet, Michael. I have another comment coming.

  7. The rate of new knowledge about the Cambrian Explosion can only be described as “explosive.” New data emerges, old views are swept away with new evidence.

    Yet certain broad aspects persevere, and have remained essentially fixed since this geologic era was first identified by Adam Sedgewick, who gave it the Roman name for Wales. For more than a century, the Cambrian has been noted as a turning point between small, simple multicellular animals[1] and most of the modern phyla.[2] Some of the present phyla appeared before the Cambrian, and a couple appeared afterward. [3] There are no sharp boundaries.

    One matter we should note is that once again Michael tries to hoodwink us. He writes that “every body plan is found in the Cambrian,” even though the title of the Landing et al. paper in Geology is title “Cambrian origin of all skeletelized metazoan phyla.” Of the 15 most prolific existing phyla, only six possess skeletons.[4] So, very roughly, the paper speaks only of half the phyla.

    When we think of comparing body plans, the mental image we conjure up may be a rabbit (phylum Chordata) versus a housefly (phylum Arthropoda), or a jellyfish (Cnidaria) versus a snail (Mollusca). Their bodies are so different. Who would swat a rabbit, confusing it with a fly?

    But most of you—and certainly Michael—have never actually seen the Cambrian ancestors of these phyla, much less tried to identify them. Unfortunately, I can’t post pictures here, so you’ll have to believe that you would not be able to tell the difference between the earliest Cambrian ancestor of the rabbit and the Cambrian ancestor of a housefly. A large-scale visual inspection would not reveal that they had different body plans.

    The ancestors of almost all phyla that lived in the Cambrian era looked basically like a tube within a tube, with a body wall made up of layers of tissue surrounding a central cavity. Most of the plans had three layers, but some had only two.[5] That is, the Cambrian versions of most plans looked like a small worm.

    Scientists have in the past few years, discovered Cambrian fossils that they cannot definitively classify into an existing phylum. Its body plan looks like two, or even three, different phyla. There is not enough difference to assign a phylum unambiguously. Pitched battles rage through the halls of paleontology departments—It’s a Nematoda! No, you idiot, it’s a Platyhelminthes! Occasionally, they give up, and assign a new phylum entirely—or the coy new specimen is a TRANSITION between two phyla.

    We must always bear in mind that—unlike protons and neutrons, or Republicans and Democrats—phyla are not fundamental divisions imposed by nature.. Phyla—body plans—are high-level categories in a system devised originally by Linnaeus more than two centuries ago to group together what seemed to be similar organisms.

    We must also remember that gross appearance of existing species may not be a reliable guide to the classification of body plans. For example, spiders and barnacles belong to the same phylum—they have the same basic body plan. On the other hand, roundworms and tapeworms live in two entirely different phyla, even though they look very similar to the layman.

    It may help to consider the “tree of life.,”[6] a mighty, century-old oak. The small number of thick main branches are the phyla, which then divide into smaller but more numerous families, genera, and finally species—the tiny twigs of the spreading oak. The many species form a continuous canopy, yet the main branches, the phyla, the various body plans, can be clearly differentiated, and are not obscured by the twigs.

    Now consider the same tree, but as a young sapling only a few feet high. The later main branches are still there. But they are not large or widely separated. They are themselves only small twigs, and are as close to each other as are the twigs of the mature oak. That is, what we regard today as entirely different body plans were, during the Cambrian, mere variations on a theme.

    So we have the first, halting steps toward a number of body plans in the 55 million years of the Cambrian. But why different plans? And why then?

    When we investigate a suspect in a crime, we look for two factors: (a) motive and (b) opportunity. Translated into evolutionary terms, (a) what factors would encourage diversification, and (b) what mechanism affords the opportunity to generate new body plans?

    The earliest metazoan fossils appeared in the Ediacaran period, just before the Cambrian. Between the two periods, a mass extinction wiped out most primitive metazoans, leaving a great number of ecological niches unfilled. That is, there was a lot of food and no one to eat it.[7] (This same effect took place after each mass extinction—the latest being the rise of mammals when the dinosaurs drew their final breath..) Thus the Cambrian environment encouraged diversification—the “motive,” if you will.

    The “opportunity,” the evolutionary mechanism is less certain. However, at least a major factor is the rise of a new type of gene. Previous metazoans could express genes at different times during development; this is the basis of the cell differentiation needed for multicellular life.[8] The new kid on the block was the homeobox (“hox”) gene, which could be expressed not only at different times and different places, but cyclically. They determine overall body plans.[9] Early hox genes led to segmented animals, by expressing themselves repeatedly—the segments of an earth worm and the vertebrae of humans are examples. There are only a small number of hox genes.[10]

    Early hox genes, as would be expected, offered few functions and were not well integrated. Therefore, minor difference could easily produce many different body plans Although 37 phyla survive today, more than 100 different phyla have been identified—most of them from the early experimentation in the Cambrian. But most of the experiments failed, and, as expected from natural selection, only the best adapted ones survived for long.

    Which also may partly explain why new phyla do not appear today.[11] The occasional human baby born with six fingers on each hand is bad enough. Imagine hox genes running amok, sprouting eyes on your kneecaps and dual heads, like Zaphod Beeblebrox. So natural selection makes hox genes very highly conserved. Another factor, as indicated in GeoScience World, is that the existing body plans have already filled the ecological niches of the Earth. There simply is nothing left for a rug-shaped mat that curls around its prey and chews it with iron teeth on its underside. It wouldn’t last long.[12]

    So there we have it. Regardless of the newly discovered details of the Cambrian explosion, a few facts have remained unchanged for more than a century. The closeness of the phyletic ancestors to each other is raw data visibale to the naked eye—or microscope. Creationist bluster and thimblerigging may obscure some aspects, but cannot destroy them..

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    [1] “Metazoa.” There were no multicellular plants, however, as noted previously.

    [2] There are about 40 animal phyla at the present time. A recent investigator estimated that there were almost a hundred phyla in the Cambrian. Where did the rest of them go? Extinct. If God created the phyla during the Cambrian, He threw an awful lot of them away.

    [3] Creationists like to assert that all phyla emerged during this period. Not true.

    [4] A phylum is not the same as a “body plan,” although perhaps close enough that the terms will be used interchangeably.

    [5] Although sponges (Porifera) were easy. They’re a mess—no organized tissue at all. Creationists will tell you that God designed sponges for washing cars.

    [6] Like most metaphors, this has its limits. As noted before, creationists feel compelled to place everything into categories. Once placed, the thing magically assumes all the attributes of the paradigm for that category. Not so.

    [7] Recall the Black Death in Europe in the 14th Century. 35% of the people in Europe died. But their houses, their fields, their copper mines survived. This left 50% more wealth per capita than had existed before the plague. Everyone was richer. Many historians believe that this was a major factor in bringing about the Renaissance—the Cambrian Explosion of art, science, and philosophy.

    [8] Although, as discovered a few years ago, even single cells can differentiate, such as algal mats and biofilms. This evolutionary research has led to a potential new method for avoiding drug resistance in bacteria. (Look up “quorum sensing.”)

    [9] When you hear of scientists growing extra legs on a fruit fly, they are messing with the hox genes. Forcing the expression of a hoxgene at a specific time and place will grow the new legs without changing any other genes to develop all the nerves, muscles, and skeleton for the legs. This all happens automatically as a consequence of expressing the hox gene.

    [10] Primitive metazoans have 2 or 3. We have about a dozen.

    [11] Unlike creationists, scientists actively investigate this question; see, e.g., “Why no new phyla after the Cambrian? Genome and ecospace hypotheses revisited.”, GeoScience World, v. 10, no. 2, pp 190-94.

    [12] Some of the present phyla might not last much longer, either. Climate change has lowered the pH of the oceans from 8.3 to 8.1. If it goes significantly lower, molluscs will be chemically unable to precipitate calcium for their shells. No more clams, oysters, squid, etc.

  8. Well, what now, Michael? Stand and answer? Or do a cowardly dodge to a new subject? Yet again.

    .

    Michael:

    Science in it’s [sic] truest sense of the word and practice has always been like a tool given to us in order to gain “knowledge (of something) by study or by experimentation where ever [sic] it leads.”

    This is precisely the reason that creationism is not science. You might try reading your own blog’s subtitle:

    ………Promoting Curiosity of True Science which Verifies God’s Word

    Not wherever the evidence leads, but only in the direction of that confirms the Bible.

    You yourself have said it, Michael. Creationism does not fit the definition of science

  9. Michael

    I have posted various evidences that point to a young earth which confirms the Bible…Here is some of them…

    Evidence Indicates A Young Earth Rather Than Old

    Geological Change Surprises A Team Of Scientists

    Let’s take the second ref first. The only “evidence” for a young earth here is your groundless assumption that a geologic process is young because its rapid. This is ridiculous, as Eelco and I have pointed out many times, and given specific explanations.

    The 15 items in the first ref have no citations to any research or data. The reputation for veracity of creationists in general and Michael iin particular is so low that I would look out the window for myself if you said it was raining.[1]

    Eelco and others disposed of the planetary claims in the second ref, and you did not present any evidence to rebut their references.

    Some of the 15 items are truly bizarre. #3 for example. If “DNA can only last thousands of years,” and we have already been around for 6,000 years, then we’ll all be puddles of amino acid on the ground in just a couple more thousand years. Right? In fact, we should all be getting a little soggy in the nucleus already. Reason #67(c) why people laugh at creationists.[2]

    Let’s do #2 just to get some info on Michael’s elementary understanding this area. I challenge you to show me any scientific source[3] that mtEve is less than 10,000 years old. But here is a quiz question: Regardless how old mtEve is, how many human females were living at the time that mtEve was born? (Very rough answer is acceptable, but show your work.) Your answer will indicate whether you have any idea whatsoever as to what mtEve represents.

    I am surprised that you did not mention the polonium-halo papers from Answers in Genesis hack Andrew Snelling. You didn’t omit them just because of my refutations in this blog a few months ago, did you?[4]

    .

    Michael, your supposed “evidence” is a load of dingo kidneys. You didn’t reveal sources, some of it isn’t evidence even if true, some of it is false, and some is tres outre.

    In your haste to provide the citations requested above, don’t forget the little quiz.

    ================

    [1] Several days later, you have probably forgotten the lie about 125 million year old “soft tissue.” The rest of us have not forgotten.

    [2] Just to be complete here, there has been no DNA found in bacteria 425 million years old. Bacteria leave no fossils or other traces. I intend to chalk this up as another lie unless you can come up with a citation to a scientific paper.

    [3] What is “Carter 2007”? Don’t wave it in our faces unless you can provide an available citation. See footnote 1.

    [4] That one was really funny, because, although Snelling worked up a froth about the young age of the rocks that he studied, he noted that those rocks were embedded in rocks that were at least 200,000 years old. How can you show from some supposedly young rocks that the Earth is only a few thousand years old when you admit that surrounding rocks are much older?

  10. Olorin: “: Regardless how old mtEve is, how many human females were living at the time that mtEve was born?

    Here’s another question, one that goes to the reason for Olorin’s question:

    Michael: Suppose for the sake or argument, that your estimate of 10,000 years for mitochondrial Eve is correct. Tell us WHY this would be evidence of an age for the human race within the biblical time frame. Be specific.

    .

    One of the problems with many of Michael’s “evidences” of a young earth is that, even if the facts he cites were true, they do not lead to the conclusion that he asserts. (Many times, even his “facts” are wrong. As in the case of mtEve.)

  11. Michael:

    Dr. Scott Todd, of Kansas University speaks in nature magazine about this very subject, he states and I quote…“Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.”

    We have been through this several times before. It is hard to believe that Michael’s memory is so short. More probably, he hopes that his readers’ memories are short.

    Preliminarily, since creationists misquote scientists on a regular basis, we’ll have to see a citation to his quotation, and to identify who this Dr Todd person actually is.

    But suppose the sentiment is accurate. What is a “naturalistic” hypothesis? One that explains a explains a phenomenon in the physical world in a way that is repeatable and predictable.

    Michael would deceive you into believing that a “naturalistic hypothesis” is one that demonstrates that God does not exist. This, of course, is horsepuckry.

    Next, why does science confine itself to studying naturalistic (repeatable, predictable) phenomena? Because the goal of science is to determine more than merely the facts of one experiment—the goal is to be able to generalize the understanding of one set of facts to a broad range of similar situations. This is what scientists mean when they say that we “understand” something.

    Understanding is not the final goal. The ultimate aim of understanding is to control the physical world, to shape it to our benefit—as God himself commanded us to do. But, if one set of facts cannot be repeated in other circumstances, or if we cannot predict what will happen when we recreate the original conditions, then this goal is frustrated.

    By definition, God is all powerful, and need not be either repeatable or predictable by us mortals. Thus, if we allow supernatural hypotheses, which cannot be repeated or predicted, then we can neither understand nor control the phenomenon under investigation. That phenomenon is simply outside science.

    The limitation of science to natural hypotheses does not limit God. It limits science.

    .

    Once again Michael has been informed. The first or second time around for this claim might be explained by the hypothesis that Michael is merely abysmally ignorant of the subject about which he writes. However, he has now repeated it enough times, without any attempt at justification or rebuttal, that we may confidently conclude that his intent is deliberate deception of any remaining readers.

  12. I just ran across an interesting paper: “A Cambrian Peak in Morphological Variation Within Trilobite Species” Science vol. 317 no. 5837 (27 July 2007), pp. 499-502.

    Within the trilobites that appeared in that era, the morphological variation was greatest at the beginning, then decreased later. High intarspecific variation played a major role in their pronounced Cambrian diversification.

    Even among groups of species, the general rule is that that varaition is highest when the group first evolves. Thus, we would expect to saee many different species at the base of the Cambrian, and fewer later, as selection weeds out the misfits.

    I thought Michael might be interested.

  13. I am really tired of Creationists citing the Cambrian “Explosion” as if it were evidence against evolution. The truth is that it is completely compatible with evolution.

    — The quote taken from Darwin was from before paleontology had advanced. The fossil record is so much better now than it was 150 years ago, and therefore that quote is irrelevant. Uses of that quote to prove a point are misguided.

    There are remains of sponges (which are animals) that are dated to about 100 million years before the cambrian. Also, there are trace fossils of arthropods many millions of years before the cambrian.

    Let’s not forget the Ediacaran fauna. — Though the status of some of those fauna are in question, some of them HAVE been classified as “Anamalia” and are therefore POSSIBLE collateral (if not lineal) ancestors of the fauna from the Cambrian.

    Possible pre-cambrian ancestors of Trilibites include Spriggina, Bomakellia, and heaven forbid I forget to mention the Parvancorina.

    The Cambrian “Explosion” is ONLY an explosion in geologic terms. It lasted between 10 million to 25 million years. — Hardly an explosion in our sense of the word, and is enough time for evolution to take place.

    — To make matter worse for the creationist case, the Cambrian “Explosion” is part of an even longer evolutionary time which totals of 100 MILLIONS YEARS of life appearing and evolving.

    The Cambrian “Explosion” is therefore NOT SO EXPLOSIVE after all.

    Here is a good link: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2001/PSCF3-01Morton.html

    Michael, get informed before you talk about matters you know nothing about.

  14. Tim Cooley: “The Cambrian “Explosion” is ONLY an explosion in geologic terms. It lasted between 10 million to 25 million years”

    Tim, estimates still vary for the duration of the Cambrian. I used recent ones of about 55 million years. Some estimates extend upward to 80 million years.

    The gravamen of Michael’s argument, however, seems to be that (almost) all of the different “body plans” appeared within a relatively short time frame, and none since.

    I hope that the analogy above to the mature tree and the sapling will make that less of a mystery.

    ——————

    One thing you notice about creationists is that curiosity is congenitally absent. Their only interest in science is to deny what they feel is inconsistent for their faith. They would do it by main force if they could, but they are reduced to fighting science on its own ground. If the facts get in the way, then, as Martin Luther once said, “A small lie in the service of the Lord is no sin.”

    It is deliciously ironic that their theology is also bizarre. You might read “The Meaning of Creation,” written by the head of the Religion Department of a Lutheran college here in Minnesota. Conrad Hyers explains how the original writers and readers of Genesis understood its concepts and wording. Biblical literalists suffer from a fallacy that historians call whiggism—reading documents only in the light of their own milieu, without understanding that the people who wrote them may have had different outlooks, different values, different goals.

  15. Michael, your comment of May 13, 2010 at 1:36 am quoted my assertion that “THE WHOLE CONCEPT OF A CAMBRIAN EXPLOSION IS FUNDAMENTALLY INCONSISTENT WITH THE STRUCTURE OF BIBLICAL CREATION,” and then followed it with your own comments on an entirely different subject.

    Reread my comment, then see if you can come come up with any reason why, regardless of the time it occurred, the way in which the Cambrian period is internally organized is not inconsistent with biblical literalism.

    Remember that my primary point was the inconsistency of the various types of life forms in the Cambrian with the biblical account, and the sequence of their origins relative to each other, in opposition to Genesis.

  16. Michael (May 13 at 1:34 am): “Testing for the age of the Earth is selective in evolutionary theory. It’s up for interpretation and many of the methods do not agree with the old earth theory.”

    Name one scientific dating method that disagrees with an old (say, less than a billion years or so) earth. You say there are “many.” Shouldn’t be too hard to name just one, and tell us why it disagrees.

    .

    All these questions! And no answers. Not a single one. Ever.

    Big claims, no evidence. Say, speaking of evidence: Would you care to tell us why even a 10,000-year age for mitochondrial Eve would be any kind of evidence for creation of humans within a biblical time frame? I thought not..

    (Hey, I’ll even give you a hint. Look at the number of family names in China versus that in the US.)

  17. Olorin,

    The comment you responded to that gives an estimate to the duration of the Cambrian “Explosion” was mine. Not Tim Cooley’s.

    — Just letting you know.

  18. Sorry, krissmith, it’s hard to keep all you guys straight.

    ==Olorin
    ==Soc Puppette
    ==Upson Downes
    ==Beck N. Forth
    ==Cy Dways
    ==Helena Handbasket

    (Or maybe it was a test to see if anyone was listening. Nah. Pure brain bump.)

  19. Michael quotes Darwin”

    “There is another and allied difficulty, which is much more serious. I allude to the manner in which species belonging to several of the main divisions of the animal kingdom suddenly appear in the lowest known fossiliferous rocks.” (Darwin, The Origin of Species, p. 348).”

    Yes, Michael catches Darwin doing something that no creationist would ever think of doing—

    Darwin himself addresses the difficulties with his theory, instead of denying them!

    This is a difference between science and creationism.

  20. Michael quotes Scientific American:[1]

    “Evolutionary biology’s deepest paradox concerns this strange discontinuity. Why haven’t new animal body plans continued to crawl out of the evolutionary cauldron during the past hundreds of millions of years? Why are the ancient body plans so stable?” (Jeffrey S. Levinton, “The Big Bang of Animal Evolution,” Scientific American, Vol. 267, November 1992, p. 84)”

    One of the reasons I have enjoyed Scientific American for the past 55 years is that the articles tend to focus, not so much on completed advances, but rather on the research questions that remain. In light of recent progress, where do we go next? What new questions arise from what we have done?[2]

    This article is of that kind. What was our current state of knowledge of the Cambrian, as of mid 1992?

    The quotation that Michael shoveled up introduces the subject; of the article it does not dispose of it. It advances several then-current hypotheses, and the evidence for them. The author is not wringing his hands at the wreckage of a theory; he is proposing ways forward.

    .

    Of particular interest in this article are explanations for the lack of many new plans after the Cambrian. Well, it’s interesting to me because he advances a notion similar to the one I described above. The early Cambrian ancestors of the various body plans are hardly distinguishable from each other; only later can we discern the major differences.[3]

    He makes the point that body plans of many modern organisms in the same phyla are far different from each other than were Cambrian fossils from different phyla. Without the insight of evolution, we would indeed say that a barnacle and a spider have different body plans—and barnacles evolved much later than the Cambrian.[4] These two body plans differ from each other far more than those classified in different phyla from the Cambrian.

    The reason we classify them in the same body plan is that we can trace their evolution back to a common ancestor. How’s that for irony, Michael?

    Levinton has other reasons for the lack of new plans. As I noted earlier, hox genes appeared about the same time. These impose developmental constraints upon developing embryos. As J.B.S. Haldane once said, “There are two reasons men cannot be angels. The first is a certain moral turpitude. The second is the incompatibility of arms and wings in the same body.”

    Levinton also notes that the lack of new plans may result, not from any inability of development, but rather from the ability of the present plans to fill all available ecological niches rather quickly. Again, the present body plans can be quite plastic—consider the water-breathing swimming tadpole that changes into an air-breathing land-dwelling frog.

    There is one other aspect that Michael has no doubt not considered. The duration of the Cambrian has grown. When the age of the Cambrian was guessed at 5 million years, not very many of the body plans appeared in the Cambrian. Now that a common estimate is 55 My, many more can be said to have arisen then.. So it seems that if you define the Cambrian to be that period when different body plans arose, you will find that the different body plans arose in the Cambrian. A simple matter of definition.

    .

    Nevertheless, the appearance of few phyla after the Cambrian does remain unsettled. As noted in the GeoWorld papers above, researchers are still investigating this question.

    This, of course, is a major difference between science and creationism. Scientists ask questions.

    ==============

    [1] You’re in luck, Michael. I still have a copy of every issue of SA from January 1955 to the present.

    [2] his is a mindset foreign to creationists, who see all questions as having only six possible answers: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3,….

    [3] Levinton (the author) notes that the then recently discovered Wiwaxia fossil could not be reliably placed in any of the phyla; its body plan was intermediate. This points up the artificiality of the phylum classification system, as noted previously.

    [4] Although they definitely did evolve before ships had evolved. Ask any humpback whale.

  21. Evolutionism is a nebulous theory which can account for all contrary evidence by further nebulous theorising.

    Naturalism (the philosophy underlying Evolutionism), with its unreasonable prejudice, irrational presuppositions and absurd propositions, actively dissuades from usage of the critical faculties; this is why proponents of Evolutionism consistently employ logical fallacy as the bread and butter of their argumentation and perceive no problem doing so, commonly presenting false impression upon false impression without concern for either the constraints of rational, criticial thought or the rigours of true scientific method.

    They usually do so with great arrogance and pomposity, acclaiming for themselves the heights of all intellectual achievement, vehemently scorning any hint of any inadequacy in their ludicrous philosophy, and defensively ridiculing any criticism of their self-indulgent and deceptive story-telling which they insist in attempting to pass off as science.

  22. Dom

    Naturalism (the philosophy underlying Evolutionism), with its unreasonable prejudice, irrational presuppositions and absurd propositions, actively dissuades from usage of the critical faculties;

    Who is this talking about “critical faculties”?

    ==Could it be Dom, who grasps at a Karl Popper quote without even checking its source or sequelae?

    ==Could it be Michael, who imagines that an article about trace minerals in a fossil is instead about impossibly old “soft tissue”?

    A scientist with half that amount of uncritical gullibility would be laughed out of school.

    Sorry, Fra Dominic. Reason #263 why scientists laugh at creationists.

  23. Michael should look at the drawings in the left-hand column of page 86 in the Nov. 1992 Scientific American article.

    Then he should tell us again how no new body plans have emerged since the Canmbrian.

    Under the same Arthropoda body plan that first appeared in the Cambrian, there are now lobsters, beetles, spiders, and barnacles.

    Under The Chordata biody paln from the Cambrian, we now have a fish, a mouse, a snake, and a bird.

    Under the Echinodermata body plan are a sand dollar, a starfish, and a spiny spherical creature that look like a nerf ball.

    Under Platyhelmintes are a flatworm and what looks like a hairy trilobite.

    Representatives of the Mollusca body plan include a snail, a clam, and a squid.

    Who would imagine that the same Cnidaria phylum would include body plans as different as a jellyfish, a coral, and a tree-branched anemone?

    .

    All of these modern animals first appeared after the end of th Cambrian.

  24. There is a new review of “Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails) at Daily Kos, posted yesterday.

    [T]his is more a book about how evolution fits into our knowledge of the universe, how fundamental that knowledge is to science, and how important it is to prevent the substitution of non-science and nonsense for this critical concept. Young and Strode take the time to show, point by point, why this isn’t a fight between two opposing scientific theories, but an argument between the rational and irrational.

    ….

    For anyone taken in by creationism, this book is going to hit like a 2×4 between the eyes, and if that skeptical person really is a friend, you might want to cushion the blow by first reading it yourself and breaking it to them gently.

    Author Paul Strode isan evolutionary biologist, and Matt Young is a physicist. See Michael, you don’t have to be a biologist to know just a little about evolution.)

    E n j o y ;-)

  25. Huh. Meanwhile, Josh Rosenau, over at Thoughts from Kansas notes that ID/creationism, which would seem to be an antithesis, in fact has adopted the principles of Marxism and postmodernism.

    That creationists would adopt the language of Marxist cultural studies to advance their conservative religious and political agenda might seem odd, but this bizarre admixture is actually foundational to the ID movement.

    Or as Rob Pennock put it recently in Science & Education: “Intelligent Design Creationism is the bastard child of Christian fundamentalism and postmodernism.” By mixing ideas from Critical Legal Studies and postmodernism and deconstructionism with traditional denial of evolution and attempts to justify a fundamentalist reading of the bible, Philip Johnson and others crafted the bizarre mess that is ID creationism, as well as its successors.

    Not really all that far-fetched, when you think of both as belief systems that pretend to be scientific. And both of which survive only by tearing down other systems, rather than by accumulating any positive evidence for their own view.

    Michael will be giving me the hairy eyeball momentarily for straying off topic. So look up Josh’s analysis for yourselves.

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