A new study challenges decades of conventional wisdom on what caused the geologically sudden rise of multicellular life on earth. So what mechanism triggered the Avalon explosion and other similar infusions of new life? And is it a science stopper to use intelligence as a working hypothesis? On this ID The Future, we welcome back paleoentemologist Dr. Günter Bechly to answer these questions and more.
A 1959 paper argued that an increase in oxygen content was a pre-condition for the rise of the first complex macro-organisms. This became mainstream consensus for decades. But a new study shows that this geologic event, known as the Avalon explosion, was actually precipitated by a drop in oxygen levels. Dr. Bechly explains the new paper’s findings. He also relates a recent interaction with a paleontologist colleague who claims to have an explanation for another famous explosion of new biological life, the Cambrian explosion. But on closer inspection, and like other materialist explanations for these great events, it is not sufficient to explain the evidence.
So what mechanism can explain this common pattern of evidence in the fossil record? “The best explanations for these bursts of biological novelty are activities of an intelligent agent,” says Bechly. “Because we know from our experience of the universe that it’s only the activity of intelligent agents that can produce new specified information, because agents are goal-directed and have a plan in view, which they then enact.”
Is it a science stopper to propose mind as the source of these great infusions of biological information? Quite the opposite, says Bechly. Naturalism is the science stopper, he notes, because it excludes certain possible causes a priori without looking at the data. “But let the data speak! Let the data decide, not worldview.”
Read Dr. Bechly’s popular post: “Fossil Friday: Seventy Years of Textbook Wisdom on Origin of Multicellular Life Turns Out to Be Wrong“
Read Dr. Bechly’s chapter “Does the Fossil Record Demonstrate Darwinian Evolution?” in The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith.