Atheists of course have committed themselves to promissory materialism (we don’t have an answer today but I have faith that there will be a material answer at some point in the future) and its extravagant and unfulfillable claims that the origin of both the universe and life itself had a natural cause. “The Cambrian explosion, in which a dazzling array of new life forms suddenly appears fully formed in the fossil record, without any of the ancestors required by Darwinism - is powerful evidence of a Designer.
The reason: this phenomenon would have required the sudden infusion of massive amounts of new genetic and other biological information that only could have come from an intelligent source. The fossils of the Cambrian Explosion absolutely cannot be explained by Darwinian theory or even by the concept called “punctuated equilibrium,” which was specifically formulated in an effort to explain away the embarrassing fossil record. When you look at the issue from the perspective of biological information, the best explanation is that an intelligence was responsible for this otherwise inexplicable phenomenon. According to Darwinism, new biological forms are created from mutations in DNA with natural selection preserving and building on the favourable ones.
But if DNA is only part of the story, then you can mutate it indefinitely and you’ll never build a fundamentally new body architecture. So when you encounter the Cambrian explosion, with its huge and sudden appearance of radically new body plans, you realise you need lots of new biological information. Some of it would be encoded for in DNA - although how that occurs is still an insurmountable problem for Darwinists. But on top of that, where does the new information come from that’s not attributable to DNA? How does the hierarchical arrangement of cells, tissues, organs, and body plans develop? Darwinists don’t have an answer. It’s not even on their radar.
Paleontologists now think that during a five-million-year (or shorter) window of time, at least thirty-five of the world’s forty phyla, the highest category in the animal kingdom, sprang forth with unique body plans. In fact, some experts believe that all living phyla may have originated by the end of the explosion. Before then, life on Earth was pretty simple - one-celled bacteria, blue-green algae, and later some sponges and primitive worms or mollusks. Then without any ancestors in the fossil record, we have a stunning variety of complex creatures appear in the blink of an eye. For example the trilobite - with an articulated body, complicated nervous system, and compound eyes - suddenly shows up fully formed at the beginning of the explosion. And this is followed by stasis, which means that basic body plans remained distinct until now.
The big issue is where did the information come from to build all these new proteins, cells, and body plans? For instance, Cambrian animals would have needed complex proteins. Where did the genetic information come from to build those four hundred amino acids required for lysyl oxidase, for example, a very complicated molecule? This would require highly complex, specified genetic information of the sort that neither random chance, nor natural selection, nor self-organization can produce.
Geneticist John F. McDonald has called this “a great Darwinian paradox.” the kind of mutations that macroevolution needs - namely, large-scale, beneficial ones - don’t occur, while the kind it does need - large-scale mutations with harmful effects or small-scale mutations with limited impact - do occur but terribly infrequently (According to Dennett - Once in 500 Trillion copyings). Keep in mind that these mutations would have had to occur by random chance, since natural selection can’t preserve anything until it confers a positive benefit on the organism. The problem is that the odds of creating a novel functional protein without the help of natural selection would be vanishingly small. There’s really only one explanation that accounts for all the evidence. In any other field of endeavour, it would be obvious, but many scientists shy away from it in biology. The answer is an intelligent designer.
Once a Creator is allowed as an explanatory option, even one of the Cambrian explosion’s most vexing features - its so-called “top down” pattern of appearance - is efficiently explained by intelligent design. Darwinism predicts a “bottom up” pattern in which small differences in form between evolving organisms appear prior to large differences in form and body plan organisation. Instead, fossils from the Cambrian explosion show a a radically different “top down” pattern major differences in form and body plans appear first with no simpler transitions before them. Later some minor variations arise within the framework of these separate and disparate body plans. This has completely stumped Darwinists. Others have tried to explain it away by proposing big leaps of evolutionary change - the “punctuated equilibrium” idea - but even this can’t account for the “top down” phenomenon. In fact, punctuated equilibrium predicts a “bottom up” pattern; it just asserts that the increments of evolutionary change would be larger. Yet if you postulate intelligent design, the “top down” pattern makes sense, because it’s the same pattern we see in the history of human technological design.
Once you allow intelligent design as an option you can quickly see how it accounts for the key features of the Cambrian phenomenon. No other entity explains the sudden appearance of such complex new creatures. No other entity produces top down patterns. No other entity can create the complex and functionally specific information needed for new living forms. No other explanation suffices.
Evolutionists are still trying to apply Darwin’s nineteenth-century thinking to a twenty-first century reality, and it’s not working. Explanations from the era of the steamboat are no longer adequate to explain the biological world of the information age. Darwinists are under some sort of epistemological obligation to continue trying. We should not be looking for only the best naturalistic explanation but the best explanation, period. And intelligent design is the explanation that’s most in conformity with how the world works. The information revolution taking place in biology is sounding the death knell for Darwinism and chemical evolutionary theories. The attempt to explain the origin of life solely from chemical constituents is effectively dead. Naturalism cannot answer the fundamental problem of how to get from matter and energy to biological function without the infusion of information from an intelligence.
Stephen C. Myer, in conversation with Lee Strobel - “The Case for Creation”