Another attempt to explain the Cambrian explosion proposes a global flood that tapped the capacity of simple animals to evolve new body plans suddenly.
As described in the 9/25/13 entry, evolutionists have come up with several ad hoc mechanisms or question-begging arguments to tap dance around the Cambrian explosion (the sudden appearance of nearly all the animal phyla in a geological instant). Another creative explanation sounds almost Biblical. Writing for the New York Times (9/19/13), Carl Zimmer described a global catastrophe that, rather than killing off life, enabled it to evolve. Leaning on the ideas of Paul Smith (Oxford U) and David Harper (U of Durham), the ones who hypothesized a “combo plate” model for causes of the explosion, Zimmer invoked a global flood:
But those genes evolved in bilaterians tens of millions of years before the Cambrian explosion put them to the test, notes Dr. Smith. “They had the capacity,” he said, “but it hadn’t been expressed yet.”
It took a global flood to tap that capacity, Dr. Smith and Dr. Harper propose. They base their proposal on a study published last year by Shanan Peters of the University of Wisconsin and Robert Gaines of Pomona College. They offered evidence that the Cambrian Explosion was preceded by a rise in sea level that submerged vast swaths of land, eroding the drowned rocks.
Here’s how their paper in Science, “Causes of the Cambrian Explosion,” mentioned the big flood as one possible abiotic process for the explosion, on their combo plate of possible causes:
Major sea-level rise in the early, but not earliest, Cambrian led to the flooding of these interiors and triggered a range of Earth system responses, including the extensive erosion and mobilization of weathered rock and regolith and the rapid input of calcium, phosphate, and other ions into the oceans. Calcium concentrations in seawater increased almost threefold in the early Cambrian, and this input may have directly facilitated the origin of biomineralization. The input of phosphate provided simultaneous nutrient flux to shallow-water areas.
The paper by Peters and Gaines they referenced, from Nature in 2012, uses the Great Unconformity as evidence of a global flood (see 4/20/12), although they did not use the phrase “global flood.” Instead, they referred to “widespread continental denudation during the Neoproterozoic followed by extensive physical reworking of soil, regolith and basement rock during the first continental-scale marine transgression of the Phanerozoic.”
It’s not clear from the Nature paper whether the authors believe all the high mountains on Earth were covered by water. Suffice it to say, though, that they proposed that the denudation was continental in scope and had global consequences on the ocean and on life. Additionally, they pointed to the fact that the Great Unconformity itself is global: it “can be traced across Laurentia and globally, including Gondwana, Baltica, Avalonia and Siberia, making it the most widely recognized and distinctive stratigraphic surface in the rock record.”
What’s striking is that creationists also look at the Great Unconformity as evidence for a global flood. They also believe, like Smith and Harper, that the flood involved “extensive erosion and mobilization of weathered rock and regolith”. Two major differences would be the timing of the flood (as well as its mechanism) and the emplacement of the fossil record as a consequence.
It’s apparently acceptable for evolutionists to propose a global flood, but when creationists point to evidence and written records of a global flood, it is laughed at as myth. Here’s how Zimmer replaced myth with hard science. He claims the complex life emerged out of poison, but life survived with crystal power:
But these great floods also poisoned the ocean. The erosion of the coastlines released calcium, which can be toxic to cells. In order to survive, animals had to evolve ways to rid themselves of the poison. One solution may have been to pack the calcium into crystals, which eventually evolved into shells, bones, and other hard tissues.
Readers can decide if that story constitutes scientific progress.
See our entry and commentary from 4/20/12 for explanation of why the evolutionists’ proposal amounts to the Stuff Happens Law hidden in a kind of Gap Theory. That’s not the point at issue here; what’s striking is the ease with which they will propose global catastrophes to solve their puzzles, while denying flood geology to their opponents. Where are the critical thinkers looking at their fact-free proposal, with its myth of minerals turning into complex body plans, and not doubling over in mocking laughter? There are legends around the world of a global flood. There is the record in Genesis. There are fossil-bearing sedimentary layers that cross continents, mass kills covering hundreds of square miles. There are folds that extend continuously through thousands of feet of sedimentary layers, with no sign of fracturing. There are fault lines that extend upward through most of the geological ages, not truncated further down. There are strata contacts flat as a stack of pancakes for hundreds of miles, with no sign of erosion between them. There are seashells on the world’s highest mountains. There are the mid-oceanic ridges. These are just a few of the evidences that support a recent global flood.
The creationists’ evidences and explanations are dismissed by evolutionists as religiously motivated, as if it is not religiously motivated to try to preserve a naturalistic worldview with multiple improbabilities, ad hoc mechanisms, and unobservable gaps (e.g., in the Grand Canyon, they propose at least four contacts where 6, 10, 60, or 1000 million years are missing). Worst of all, they assign magical powers to natural selection (the Stuff Happens Law), assuming that new minerals and phosphates in the ocean will generate complex body plans, composed of new cell types, tissues, organs and systems (guts, eyes, nervous, etc.), simply because the simple building blocks are there. That’s why we proposed an experiment on 4/20/12 (end of commentary) to scientifically test the validity of their gap theory.
Read Stephen Meyer’s new best-selling book, Darwin’s Doubt. Watch the Illustra film Darwin’s Dilemma. The evolutionists’ problems with the Cambrian explosion are far worse than they imagine. Still, it’s kind of funny when they take “global flood” out of the creationists’ explanatory toolkit and use it to try to unscrew the Darwin nut.