We’ve all seen this tired old movie before, folks. It’s kind of like watching a “new” hyped up, fresh faced, slick, computer enhanced show on TV that tries to hide the fact it is using the same old moth-eaten, battered up script used innumerable times before. Creationists use the Cambrian explosion and lack of intermediate fossils to blast away at evolutionary theory. Evolutionists provide assistance to them by insisting that evolution only occurs in incremental steps, one little mutation or gene duplication at a time. They claim that given enough time, genetic drift, and natural selection, all things are possible. However, the time frames for the appearance of new complex species and the glaring lack of intermediate fossils leading up to them strongly suggest otherwise (score one for the creationists).
So who’s “right” here?
Well, the creationists are not going to change their position any time soon, that’s for sure. So maybe the evolutionists need to take a long hard look at what they are trying to sell here and defer to the idea that the creationists may actually have a point. How in the world did complex life evolve as rapidly as it did? How can single cells or even colonies of cells, exploit simple incremental mutations to form complex tissues, organs, systems, and animals that display a vast array of complex behaviors? The short answer is that this is highly improbable, if not altogether impossible.
So does this spell the end of evolutionary theory? It could, if evolutionists refuse to evolve themselves. Evolution is not simply about serial incremental changes over vast expanses of geologic time. Dramatic evolutionary change can occur whenever two cells from different species fuse together and generate a genetically stable, viable organism capable of producing fertile offspring. This happens in plants and it can lead to a new species incapable of breeding with either of the original species that generated it. This is an example of speciation via punctuated equilibrium.
Main keywords in this blog are mutualism, symbiosis, endosymbiosis, and hierarchical endosymbiosis. Hierarchical endosymbiosis states that evolution can also be a geometric event occurring within a very brief period of time, an instant of time in geologic terms.
The driving force behind the Cambrian explosion was not simple genetic mutations over large periods of time. Such changes had already been going on for eons with no real substantive results that show up in the fossil record. The real driving force was cooperation (mutualism) between non-related cells. Such cooperation could result in horizontal gene transfer on a massive scale, allowing formerly non-related cells with complementary attributes to essentially co-exist within a single cell (zygote). These different attributes would be turned on in multicellular organisms as the need arises, i.e. during cellular differentiation.
For example, assume the existence of two non-related cells: one cell is highly motile but is incapable of predation (molecular feeder) the other larger cell is capable of phagocytosis but is slow moving. The highly motile cells may attach to the surface of the larger cell, providing it with greater motility while absorbing nutrients from the larger cell through cell membrane adhesion sites. Over time, some of these ectosymbionts may become phagocytosed without being destroyed. This occurs frequently with pathogenic microorganisms that invade cells. Such cells may have initiated the formation of a permanent internal structure, the cytopharnyx as seen in protozoa like ciliates. The longer these endosymbionts remain within the larger cell unharmed, the greater the likelihood of a horizontal gene transfer. Over time, redundant genes (housekeeping genes) not unique to either of the original genomes are deleted out or inactivated by mutations. In anthropomorphic terms, think of business mergers and downsizing.
The glaring fact that mitochondria and chloroplasts have not been absorbed by the nucleus belies the nature of their endosymbiotic relationships: They cannot perform their primary tasks of respiration and photosynthesis without the presence of extranuclear membranes. Nonetheless, some horizontal gene transfer has occurred, indicating some nuclear regulation over their interactions within the cell.
To get an idea of what I am talking about, please scroll way down to the bottom of this post and begin there.