Discovery Institute: ID and Life on Mars

IT’S BECOMING increasingly painful to write about Casey Luskin’s articles which adorn the blog of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids). Perhaps it’s only our imagination, but it seems that the lad’s prose is growing increasingly tangled.

Nevertheless, we shall endeavor to skim through his latest offering: The Implications of the Hypothetical Discovery of Martian Life for Intelligent Design. Here are some excerpts:

I recently received an e-mail asking about the most recent Mars lander (Phoenix) and the implications for intelligent design (ID) if amino acids, proteins, or life were found on Mars. The person asked, “would this not mean that Neo darwinism is correct and that life occurs if you ”just add water’?

It’s a poorly-constructed question, and for all we know it was made up by Casey himself, but if it were sent by someone looking for answers, it’s about what we’d expect from a truly lost soul who would ask a Discoveroid for an opinion on anything. This is Casey’s response:

These are complex questions you ask, but a scientific “conclusion” is only as good as the starting assumptions that underlie the scientific reasoning involved in making that conclusion.

Casey probably doesn’t realize how much of his own intellectual chaos is revealed with that threshold statement. That is, if a creationist approaches a scientific issue with the starting assumption that the Genesis creation account is literally true in every minute detail, then of course this will affect his thinking. Regardless of evidence, he’ll end up where he began, with his pre-conceived notions dictating his conclusion.

Continuing with Casey’s answer:

First, you have to understand that most OOL [origin of life] researchers and astrobiologists assume that if life exists somewhere, then it must have evolved. … Of course the his [sic] entire chain of reasoning depends on the assumption that wherever life exists, it evolved.

That’s in contrast to the Discoveroid assumption that if life exists, it must have been the mysterious work of the Designer. No bias there. And just in case Casey’s prose is slippery enough to confuse you, bear in mind that evolution is a hard-won conclusion, the result of generations of research. It’s not a wild guess that is arbitrarily assumed as a premise. This is a vital distinction between the methodology of scientists and that of all non-scientific modes of thought.

Moving along:

Reasoning under similar assumptions, the entire basis for excitement about life on Mars is the assumption that if it does exist there, then it arose through blind natural processes, thus proving that life can arise naturally. Do you see some logical jumps there, perhaps even some circular reasoning?

We certainly see where Casey is going with this. In his “scientific” thinking, if life were found on Mars, it would be due to the Designer. After all, that’s his starting assumption — the Designer did everything. But if there’s no life on Mars, that’s because the Designer — blessed be He — singled out earth to be the unique focus of His handiwork. Heads or tails — either way the evidence goes — Casey claims he has the winning argument. You see, it’s all a matter of having the right starting assumptions.

You might think that’s the low point of Casey’s article, but it goes steeply downhill from there. He even dredges up the old “astronomically improbable” odds against the appearance of life.

If you want to wallow through the whole thing, go right ahead. As for your Curmudgeon, our position is this — just because Casey feels he’s capable of rationally discussing this topic, there’s no reason for us to suffer any further.

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