Darwinists claim that the Neo-Darwinist theory of natural selection acting on random mutation is sufficient to explain all complexity we see in life. However, The Cambrian explosion poses a serious challenge to this claim.
The Cambrian explosion was the relatively rapid appearance, around 530 million years ago, of most major animal phyla, as demonstrated in the fossil record, accompanied by major diversification of organisms including animals, phytoplankton, and calcimicrobes. In the fossil record, most of the major animal phyla appear fully formed at the beginning of the geological period known as the Cambrian, with no fossil evidence that they branched off from a common ancestor.
To say that the fauna of the Cambrian period appeared in a geologically sudden manner also implies the absence of clear transitional intermediate forms connecting Cambrian animals with simpler pre-Cambrian forms. And, indeed, in almost all cases, the Cambrian animals have no clear morphological antecedents in earlier Vendian or Precambrian fauna. Further, several recent discoveries and analyses suggest that these morphological gaps may not be merely an artefact of incomplete sampling of the fossil record, suggesting that the fossil record is at least approximately reliable.
So can the Darwinian mechanism explain this rapid appearance, specially the origin of the information necessary to build novel animal forms? Dr. Stephen C. Meyer has, in his peer-reviewed paper, The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories, that created a huge controversy, has analysed serious challenge that The Cambrian Explosion poses to the Darwinian mechanism to account for origin of the information necessary to build novel animal forms.
In the Cambrian explosion, new cell types emerged with the Cambrian animals. New cell types require many new and specialized proteins. New proteins, in turn, require new genetic information. Thus an increase in the number of cell types implies (at a minimum) a considerable increase in the amount of specified genetic information. Transitions from a single cell to colonies of cells to complex animals represent significant (and, in principle, measurable) increases in specified information. In order to explain the origin of the Cambrian animals, one must account not only for new proteins and cell types, but also for the origin of new body plans.
Can natural selection acting on random mutation account for the origin of this genetic information or the hierarchically organised system of parts? Natural Selection can act only on the information that is already present. So one has to rely only on random mutation (chance) to account for the origin of this information.
Dr. Meyer has shown, in his paper, that the Darwinian mechanism fails to account for the biological information necessary for the new body plans that immerged in the Cambrian period, given the time constraint. He concludes
Thus, whether one envisions the evolutionary process beginning with a noncoding region of the genome or a pre-existing functional gene, the functional specificity and complexity of proteins impose very stringent limitations on the efficacy of mutation and selection. In the first case, function must arise first, before natural selection can act to favour a novel variation. In the second case, function must be continuously maintained in order to prevent deleterious (or lethal) consequences to the organism and to allow further evolution. Yet the complexity and functional specificity of proteins implies that both these conditions will be extremely difficult to meet. Therefore, the neo-Darwinian mechanism appears to be inadequate to generate the new information present in the novel genes and proteins that arise with the Cambrian animals.
He also points out that the problem is even greater
Gene products provide necessary, but not sufficient conditions, for the development of three-dimensional structure within cells, organs and body plans (Harold 1995:2767). But if this is so, then natural selection acting on genetic variation alone cannot produce the new forms that arise in history of life.
He then goes on to analyse other materialistic explanation that have been given to explain the Cambrian explosion, and demonstrates how all such mechanism fail to account for the origin of the specified information.
It is important to note that although neo-Darwinian mechanism does explain many appearances of design, such as the adaptation of organisms to specialized environments, it does not adequately account for the origin of all appearances of design, especially if one considers animal body plans, and the information necessary to construct them.
Dr. Meyer argues that although materialistic mechanism fail to explain the origin of specified information, Intelligence on the other hand, accounts for the origin of this information. He says
we have repeated experience of rational and conscious agents–in particular ourselves–generating or causing increases in complex specified information, both in the form of sequence-specific lines of code and in the form of hierarchically arranged systems of parts.
Thus, using the scientific approach of inference to the best explanation, we can conclude that Intelligence played a role in the origin of information, in the Cambrian explosion.
Thus Cambrian explosion still remains a big problem for the materialists; however it provides strong evidence for Intelligence playing a role in the origin of information, in the Cambrian explosion.