Although Scripture’s primary purpose goes far beyond describing the physical details of creation, what it does say about the natural world should match observable reality. If the biblical authors accurately recorded information about the natural world found in no other ancient text, and if modern scientific discoveries consistently show all that information to be correct, then we have powerful reasons to trust what the Bible says about spiritual reality. As an example of its accuracy in depicting the observable realm, consider what it tells us about life’s history.
When light, rain, and land became available on early Earth, new life-forms began to take hold. Introduced and removed in a just-right sequence (Psalm 104:27–30), these new lifeforms paved the way for advanced life. They also contributed to the transformation of Earth’s atmosphere from permanently overcast to transparently clear, at least some of the time.
Once the Sun, Moon, and stars became visible to Earth’s life, these lights could serve to regulate biological clocks, informing complex creatures when to feed, migrate, and reproduce. At this point, then, large numbers of sea creatures (Genesis 1:20) could—and did—suddenly burst upon the scene by God’s creative power.
This portion of the biblical creation story bears a remarkable resemblance to an event called the Cambrian explosion. Some 543 million years ago, the number of Earth’s animal phyla (a phylum designates life-forms sharing the same basic body plan) increased dramatically. Somewhere between 50 and 80 percent of all animal phyla ever to exist appeared in what astronomers and geologists would describe as “an instant” of time. The discovery of Cambrian fossils may be considered one of the greatest breakthroughs in the history of paleontology.