His discounting of the Cambrian explosion
Darwin was aware of what is called the "Cambrian explosion"—fossils of a bewildering variety of complex life-forms appearing suddenly, without predecessors, in the same low level of the fossil record. This obviously did not fit his evolutionary model of simple-to-complex life.
Instead of a few related organisms appearing early in the fossil record as he hoped, there was an explosion of life—where the various main body types (called phyla) of living creatures seem to arise around the same time—in fact, 32 of the 33 phyla that we see today. Comparing this development to the progress of man’s inventions, it would be as if a toaster, a washing machine, a refrigerator, an air conditioner and a car all of a sudden came on the scene with no mechanical devices preceding them.
Regarding the Cambrian explosion, Time magazine notes: "Creatures with teeth and tentacles and claws and jaws materialized with the suddenness of apparitions. In a burst of creativity like nothing before or since, nature appears to have sketched out the blueprints for virtually the whole of the animal kingdom. This explosion of biological diversity is described by scientists as biology’s Big Bang" (Madeline Nash, "When Life Exploded," Dec. 4, 1995, p. 68).
This "Big Bang" of completely different creatures deep in the fossil record posed an enormous problem that Darwin had to admit undermined his theory.
He wrote: "To the question why we do not find rich fossiliferous deposits belonging to these assumed earliest periods prior to the Cambrian system, I can give no satisfactory answer… The difficulty of assigning any good reason for the absence of vast piles of strata rich in fossils beneath the Cambrian is very great . . . The case at present must remain inexplicable; and may be truly urged as a valid argument against the views here entertained" (The Origin of Species, pp. 309-310).
Furthermore, this dilemma for evolutionists still exists today, as biologist Stephen Meyer has explained: "’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,’ Meyer said. ‘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’ . . .
"’So when you encounter the Cambrian explosion, with its huge and sudden appearance of radically new body plans, you realize 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’" (quoted by Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator, 2004, pp. 238-239).
Consequently, after 150 years of searching for an explanation for the Cambrian fossil record, there is still no evolutionary mechanism that can satisfactorily explain the sudden appearance of so many completely different life-forms.
What was found was not a single organism or a few gradually evolving into many, but instead there was a sudden emergence of a great zoo of life—a bewildering variety of complex life forms—all emerging fully developed near the bottom of the fossil record.