Discovery Institute: Extraterrestrial Life Is OK

We’ve already posted a couple of times about a Newly Discovered Habitable Extra-Solar Planet, most recently here: Newfound Extra-Solar Planet: No Chance for Life. That second post was about the Institute for Creation Research’s claim that “the chances of life on planet Gliese 581g have to be zero.”

Now, to our delight, we have another creationist reaction, this one from the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

At the Discoveroid blog we read Darwinian Assumptions Leave “No Doubt” About Extraterrestrial Life. It’s by Casey Luskin, everyone’s favorite creationist. Casey says, with bold font added by us:

FoxNews recently published two articles (see here and here) about extrasolar planets and extraterrestrial life. Although skepticism is supposed to be a hallmark of science, one evolutionary scientist quoted, Steven Vogt, boasts that he has “no doubt” that there is life on this newly discovered extrasolar planet:

We know. We mentioned Vogt’s opinion in our earlier post. This is Casey’s quote of what Vogt said:

“Personally, given the ubiquity and propensity of life to flourish wherever it can, I would say, my own personal feeling is that the chances of life on this planet are 100 percent,” said Steven Vogt, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, during a press briefing today. “I have almost no doubt about it.”

Okay, that’s Vogt’s personal view. So what? Let’s read on to see what Casey makes of it:

Let me make sure I understand this right. Dr. Vogt has “no doubt” that life evolves and exists elsewhere because he knows that it evolves and exists elsewhere. That’s Darwinian logic for you.

Oh dear, Casey seems so … judgmental! The lad should learn to be more tolerant of others’ opinions. Doesn’t he believe in — well, you know — academic freedom, that blessed condition the Discoveroids are always fussing about? He wouldn’t want to be thought guilty of — gasp! — viewpoint discrimination, would he?

Casey continues:

The theory of intelligent design certainly has no problem with the possibility of extraterrestrial life, but let’s at least make sure that we’re treating this issue scientifically.

By all means, Casey — let’s treat it scientifically. [Irony meters can be heard shattering everywhere.] Here’s more:

Vogt’s logic seems to confirm what Michael Behe wrote in The Edge of Evolution:

Ah, Michael Behe. His colleagues at Lehigh are so impressed by his brilliance that they have publicly disassociated themselves from him by issuing this statement: Department Position on Evolution and “Intelligent Design”. Now we’ll see how a real scientist thinks. Here’s Casey’s quote from Behe, with which he ends his blog article:

[B]y default, most biologists work within a Darwinian framework and simply assume what cannot be demonstrated. Unfortunately this can lead to the understandable but nonetheless corrosive intellectual habit of forgetting the difference between what is assumed and what demonstrated.

If there were any intact irony meters after Casey’s earlier remark, Behe’s words have destroyed them all, beyond repair.

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10 responses to “Discovery Institute: Extraterrestrial Life Is OK

  1. It’s so cute when they refer to intelligent design as a theory.

  2. Ah, Behe, you scamp, you ragamuffin, you crackpot. You can sit on your park bench and mutter to the pigeons that the theory of evolution has not been demonstrated until the cows come home, but you’re still a crackpot, the warning sign on your office door is still there and the pigeons only care about you if you have some popcorn.

    Clearly, the physics we have discovered on Earth works throughout the known universe, to the best of our knowledge. Physics enables us to navigate tiny objects to within 30 inches of a target millions of miles away.

    Clearly, the geology we have discovered on Earth works throughout the universe we have explored. The geology of Mars, for example, is understood in reference to similar geology on Earth.

    Clearly, the chemistry we have discovered on Earth works throughout the universe we have explored. Chemicals behave the same way on Titan or Mars or Venus or the Sun as they do here.

    Therefore, it is not unreasonable to extrapolate that the self-sustaining biochemical reactions that comprise life on Earth have occurred elsewhere in the universe. Not life like us, but life never the less.

    I find that concept very exciting, like discovering that somebody has dumped a bottle of vodka in the punchbowl! Unlike what Luskin writes which is like discovering that somebody (the DI) has taken a dump in the punchbowl.

  3. I think my fave Behe story is that he has isolated his eldest son in the basement room of the house and refuses to allow him any access to his siblings…because his eldest son has “come out” as an outspoken atheist and believer in evolution, and is actively blogging about his atheist/evolutionist beliefs and his parents reprehensible behaviour towards him.

    See if THAT isnt VD I dont know what is.

    Maybe that Uni where Behe works should lock him in a broom cupboard.

  4. We must be tolerant of Behe. He’s doing the best he can.

  5. The inimitable Behe: “[B]y default, most biologists work within a Darwinian framework and simply assume what cannot be demonstrated.”

    In particular the word “demonstrated” exploded every irony meter in the galaxy. Behe built his whole career pretending that he is the one who finally “demonstrated” what Darwin proposed in his famous “eye” quote (the one that every “kind” of evolution denier routinely quote mines).

    By now it should be clear to all followers of the DI’s antics that each Fellow has a slightly different schtick, but if you combine them all, it’s like they are shouting: “Yeah, we know you ‘Darwinists’ are right, but we can fool the ‘masses’ and you can’t stop us.” Behe’s particular role is to occasionally sound so self-mutilating (Dover, anyone?) that even critics wind up feeling sorry for him.

  6. Does anyone but you read the DI articles?

  7. OgreMkV asks: “Does anyone but you read the DI articles?”

    They have an active legislation and litigation agenda, plus their public relations efforts. It’s worth watching them.

  8. Well, that’s true… I was trying to be silly.

  9. Doc, you’re in rare form today!

    To pile on…

    Let me make sure I understand this right.

    Casey then proceeds to misstate Vogt’s position. He claims that Vogt has “almost no doubt” that life evolves and exists elsewhere “because he knows that it evolves and exists elsewhere”. That would be assuming something not demonstrated, as Casey says. Yet, in his own blog entry, he actually quotes Vogt’s words which are that he based his personal opinion of the odds of life elsewhere on the “ubiquity and propensity of life to flourish wherever it can” which is not an assumption, but instead is exactly what has been observed, dare I say demonstrated, to be the case on earth.

    Casey does not even attempt to conceal that he is twisting Vogt’s words to meet his agenda. This could be a problem with his employer. It’s quite probable that his demonstrated ability to obfuscate and misdirect is part of his annual performance review, and based on this entry, it looks like he’ll need some coaching to improve his skills.

  10. Gabriel Hanna

    Thinking that life exists on other planets because the laws of chemistry and evolution are universally valid, is no different from thinking that a distant planet orbits a star and has water on it because the laws of physics are universally valid.

    We have no way to know that the laws of physics aren’t totally different elsewhere in the universe; all that we know of the outside universe is understood by the laws of physics we developed here.

    It’s no more circular in one case than in another.