The creationists are absolutely crazed by the continuing barrage of blows being dealt to them by science. First it was Galileo and the solar system, which displaced Earth from the center of the universe. Then it was James Hutton and the age of the Earth, followed a few generations later by Darwin’s theory of evolution. At first these discoveries were few and far between. Most sects have been able to adjust to these challenges, albeit with difficulty. Some are still in furious denial about geology and evolution.
But the blows keep coming and the pace is quickening. Recently we’ve been fascinated by news about:
• the continuing discovery that the galaxy seems to be teeming with billions of stars that have their own planetary systems, and that billions of those extra-solar planets are orbiting within their star’s habitable zone — see, e.g., Earth-sized planets in habitable zones are more common than previously thought; and
• the discovery that Mars once had conditions that were favorable for life — e.g., NASA Rover Finds Conditions Once Suited for Ancient Life on Mars.
It’s not difficult to figure out why the creationists are so frenzied. Their primitive minds and religious systems compel them to think small — about themselves and their deities. Their thoughts, their gods, their universe, and the meaning of their lives — all of these are small. Very small.
Their god made a simple universe, with an unmovable Earth in the center as its principal object, the focus of divine attention, and humanity was designed as the ultimate goal of creation. The universe is all about us. It always was and always will be. That’s all there is to know. Don’t bother your pretty little head about any of that science stuff — it’s an evil, diabolical plot to lead you astray.
Even the most dim-witted Neanderthal would resist if he were compelled by the clan chief to be forever begging forgiveness for deeds he never committed, and commanded to live in a perpetually precarious state of conditional forgiveness. Surely, even a pre-human brute would flee into the wilderness rather than live in that kind of tyranny. But creationists like those conditions.
This is not an atheist blog, but such a system of deities and dogmas would be an embarrassment even to a blowfish. Nevertheless, that’s what confronts your humble Curmudgeon on a daily basis as we report on the writings and activities of creationists. Consider the latest from the creation scientists at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page. ICR is in a panic about the news we discussed yesterday about the findings of the Martian rover, so they put one of their best minds to work on it.
The result is this tragically stupid piece: Washing Machines on Mars, by Jason Lisle. He has the prestigious job of being ICR’s Director of Research. The last time we wrote about one of his articles was Jason Lisle: Mathematics is Creationist. Jason says, with bold font supplied by us for emphasis:
Several news outlets yesterday heralded early reports from NASA that the Curiosity rover on Mars has found evidence that the red planet could have supported primitive life. But imagine reading the following in the news instead:
[Jason's imaginary news story:] The Mars rover Curiosity once again pushes forward the frontiers of science. The rover has the ability to drill holes in Martian rocks, and to chemically analyze the resulting powder. Such an analysis has recently revealed that Martian rocks contain the following chemicals: sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and carbon. The significance? These are all elements found in washing machines and laundry detergent. Yes, it seems that conditions on ancient Mars were just right for the existence of operational washing machines!
A supremely clever analogy! Then Jason undertakes to demolish his pathetically-constructed straw-man:
Aside from the concluding sentence, the above paragraph is entirely true. Curiosity did find these elements on Mars (they are fairly common elements in the universe). And indeed, such elements are used whenever someone does a load of laundry. But few scientists would draw the conclusion that washing machines once populated the surface of Mars.
That’s a safe assumption. Let’s read on, as Jason explains why his imaginary conclusion is unacceptable:
The reason is simple. It is fallacious to assume the existence of a complex structure on the basis of the mere existence of its raw material. In addition, there is no organizing principle on Mars or informational instructions by which such basic elements could be naturally organized into something as complicated as a washing machine.
Uh huh. We agree, so far. Jason continues:
Living organisms also are comprised of many of these same elements. Like a washing machine, the elements are organized in an intricate and organized way according to the information in a blueprint. There is no known mechanism by which such a structure can come about without a blueprint and creative information.
Aaaargh!! Jason says that if nature can’t construct a washing machine, then logically — cough, cough — it can’t produce living organisms either. Clever, huh? Here’s his conclusion:
So why do we see news articles concluding that Mars possibly had life on the basis that it has some of the same elements? If we wouldn’t conclude that there were probably washing machines on Mars, then why would we infer the existence of something far more complex and intricate?
So there you are, dear reader. Now you know why there was never any life on Mars.
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