Evolution Icon Evolution
Intelligent Design Icon Intelligent Design

Bechly: In the Fossil Record, “Abrupt Appearances Are the Rule”

David Klinghoffer | @d_klinghoffer

fossil record

On a new episode of ID the Future, Sarah Chaffee talks with notable German paleontologist Günter Bechly about a fact that, frankly, doesn’t get anywhere near the attention it should. From listening to advocates of the theory of intelligent design, you might think that the Cambrian explosion some 530 million years is a singularity, a freak of nature: the sudden appearance of phyla, major categories of life, followed by biodiversification, namely the so-called great Ordovician biodiversification event.

Of course this is the exact opposite pattern from what Darwinian theory leads one to expect. And that’s familiar to us by now. Yet Dr. Bechly points out that the problem posed by the Cambrian event is not singular but in fact has been repeated numerous times in the long history of life — sudden explosions, abrupt appearances, followed by diversification. Each should multiply the distress of Darwin’s defenders, if they are honest with themselves about it.

In a chapter co-authored with philosopher of science Stephen Meyer in the recent book Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique, Bechly details 19 such “explosions.” As he observes, in the fossil record, “Abrupt appearances are the rule.” Each such event poses the same challenge to Darwinian thinking that the Cambrian explosion does. Dr. Bechly and Miss Chaffee explore the implications of this for the assumption of universal common descent, a question that cuts uncomfortably close to the heart of evolutionary orthodoxy. Download the podcast or listen to it here.

Photo: Fossils from the Upper Ordovician, by Wilson44691 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons.