Discoveroids’ Reaction to Extra-Solar Planets

We posted recently about Fifty More Extra-Solar Planets Discovered, and in that post we said: “We can’t wait for the creationists’ reactions.”

It didn’t take long. There’s an interesting response 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).

The Discoveroids’ post is Among Darwin Advocates, Premature Celebration over Abundance of Habitable Planets. You can pretty much judge their attitude about extra-solar plants from their title.

They begin by criticizing a recent article at Panda’s Thumb. We’ll skip that. They also try to ignore the implications of a growing abundance of extra-solar planets by nit-picking about whether one of the newly-discovered bunch is really habitable. Focusing on minutia is an old technique of theirs — it’s an attempt to distract attention from the big picture.

It’s obvious why they do this — they’re creationists and they hate the idea that there are probably of millions of worlds out there, some of which may harbor life. The very thought is blasphemous to them, as it detracts from the glory of what the magic designer — blessed be he! — hath wrought here on earth.

After skipping over the Discoveroids’ food fight with Panda’s Thumb, it starts to get funny. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Undeterred, Ian Musgrave [who wrote the Panda’s Thumb article] exults: “Based on the Kepler data of 2010, we can say that around 50% of Sun-like stars have planets, and there may be at least one million Earth-like planets in habitable zones in the Milky-Way alone. And that is probably an underestimate.”

The Discoveroids’ reaction to that isn’t terribly different from the Inquisition’s reaction to Galileo’s solar system. They don’t like it. Not one bit. They continue:

We suspected Musgrave was celebrating prematurely, so we consulted Guillermo Gonzalez, a world-class expert on planet-habitability.

Expelled! star Guillermo Gonzalez? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s the Discoveroid “senior fellow” who failed to get tenure at Iowa State University and who now teaches at some bible college. He’s a co-author of the classic creationist book, The Privileged Planet, a “fine tuning” argument applied to Earth. You know how that goes — everything on our little world is so perfectly arranged that it just couldn’t have happened naturally; there had to be some guiding intelligence who set the dials so it would all work out exactly as we see it.

Gonzalez is every creationist’s “world-class expert” on extra-solar planets. A year ago we wrote Newfound Extra-Solar Planet: No Chance for Life about an article from the Institute for Creation Research that cited Gonzalez as their expert. Let’s read what the Discoveroids learned from him:

[Discoveroid article quotes Gonzolez:] While the number of discovered exoplanets has risen dramatically since 1995, so has theoretical research on planet formation, evolution and habitability. What astronomers have found has surprised them. … Our Solar System looks ever more like the exception, and it is exceptional in ways that are life friendly.

While these exoplanets are being discovered, astronomers are discovering additional constraints on the habitability of planetary systems.

[…]

What’s more, not only are more requirements for habitability being discovered, but they are often found to be interdependent, forming a complex “web.” This means that if a planetary system is found not to satisfy one of the habitability requirements, it may not be possible to compensate for this deficit by adjusting a different parameter in the system.

So there you are — the view from Bizarro World. The creationists don’t care how many extra-solar planets are out there. Nor do they care that as yet we know very little about the newly-found planetary systems. We don’t yet have the instruments to examine their atmospheres for chemical indicators of life. The creationists and their “world-class expert” are certain they don’t have any life because our earth is unique. Verily, it must be so. The magic Designer wouldn’t do it any other way.

See also: Klinghoffer Opines on SETI.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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7 responses to “Discoveroids’ Reaction to Extra-Solar Planets

  1. Curmudgeon: “blessed be he!”

    Maybe this is part of the Discoveroids’ devious plan to “divide and conquer”, but I’m starting to worry about you. Could you be a closet creationist, just waiting for the right moment to pull a Theodoric of York “naaaaah!”? For starters, this is the 2nd time I have seen that subtle hint that you might know the designer’s identity. 😉

  2. Frank J says: “this is the 2nd time I have seen that subtle hint that you might know the designer’s identity.”

    I first used “blessed be he!” after mentioning the Designer back in July of 2008, here, and that reverent utterance has appeared in 25 posts since then.

  3. These alleged ” additional constraints on the habitability of planetary systems” probably result a very small number of actual restraints, many (or most) of which are satisfied by the observed existence of these systems. For example, the so-called “Goldilocks zone” automatically places physical restrictions on the masses of planets that inhabit that zone.

    I detest Gonzalez and others like him, who like to imply that there are literally hundreds of completely independent variables, which must be satisfied for life to exist on a given planet. I see no effort on their part to demonstrate how many of these variables are actually completely independent of one another, and which are dependent on others.

  4. If the Intelligent Designer(s) are not constrained by the laws of thermodynamics or of probability, then why are they constrained by the laws of habitability? How does ID account for there not being life everywhere we look?

  5. TomS asks: “How does ID account for there not being life everywhere we look?”

    Account for? They don’t need no stinkin’ accounting — they know! Deep down, they’re still geocentrists. There’s no purpose for life anywhere else. We are the sole concern of the magic Designer. The whole ball-o-wax is about us — our sins and our salvation.

  6. Life was certainly simpler for the creationists when no exoplanets were known. They could brush off the idea of life elsewhere as science fiction.

    Now that we know planets are common in the galaxy, the DI and other creationists are scrambling to conjure up reasons why habitable planets are still rare or impossible. They must know they are fighting a losing battle. Within a few years we will almost certainly have cataloged numerous rocky planets in habitable zones and will be taking their spectra. It is only a matter of time before we find one with oxygen in it’s atmosphere.

    It would be smart for the DI to remain neutral on this issue – after all, it contradicts their claim that ID is only about the signs of design and not the designer. Expressing a fundamentalist christian view that life was only created on earth, to serve humans, opens the kimono to expose the true religious purpose of the ID scam.

  7. Curmudgeon: “The whole ball-o-wax is about us — our sins and our salvation.”

    Hence the slow but steady “evolution” of the movement from (1) futile attempts to independently support the mutually contradictory literal interpretations of Genesis, to (2) spinning every finding by real scientists as anither “gap,” to (3) full-blown Klinghofferism. With (3) the only unequivocally admitted objection to evolution is the belief that accepting it leads to all sorts of evil.