The Discoveroids — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page — have posted several times lately to denigrate the possibility that there may be life on some of the numerous extra-solar planets that have been found to orbit in the habitable zone of their stars.
We’ve discussed the recent findings of astronomers from time to time, for example: Maybe Billions of Habitable Planets. Creationists (and that includes the Discoveroids) absolutely hate these discoveries — see Discoveroids’ Reaction to Extra-Solar Planets. Why are they so hostile? As we’ve explained before:
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. … [This] isn’t terribly different from the Inquisition’s reaction to Galileo’s solar system.
Despite their scientific pretensions and their ceaseless insistence that they’re not creationists, the Discoveroids have embraced the dogma that the Earth is utterly unique in all the cosmos. That’s the message of the classic creationist book, The Privileged Planet, co-authored by Guillermo Gonzalez, a Discoveroid “fellow.”
We began by saying that the Discoveroids have been furiously posting about their dismissal of the whole concept of life on other planets, and because we’ve covered this ground before we’ve been ignoring them. But they just did it again, so we may as well take another poke at them.
Their latest is Don’t Let Mars Fool You. Those Exoplanets Teem with Life! It’s by Denyse O’Leary, a recent addition to the Discoveroids’ menagerie. She’s a co-author of something titled The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul (Amazon listing). As far as we can tell, she’s some kind of journalist. Here are some excerpts from what Denyse has to say, with bold font added by us and her links omitted:
Among the countless Earths that, we are told, sail the galaxies (an estimate released last week offers 8.8 billion “just-right planets”), one or two may indeed be researchable, even reachable. And what if we find no life there?
Ah. Recall that the Copernican Principle is not evidence. It is an assertion: Earth cannot be a rare planet because that would make us special, which is philosophically unacceptable today. So invoking the Principle, many of these planets must be inhabited.
The Copernican Principle? What’s she talking about? Nicolaus Copernicus merely theorized that the Earth is not in a central, specially favored position in the universe. This was later confirmed by Galileo, who demonstrated that the Earth is but one planet among several that orbit the sun. That was sufficient to get Galileo convicted of heresy — see Galileo affair — but it has nothing to do with the rarity of the Earth, or the existence of extra-solar planets and the possibility that some of them may harbor life.
It would appear that Denyse has set up her own version of the Copernican Principle as a strawman, which she will now demolish. Let’s watch her achieve that great intellectual accomplishment:
One may as well argue that there must be several species of reasoning animals like humans on Earth because there are just so many species. But there aren’t several, just one. Undeterred by such cavils, enthusiasts of the Principle press on.
Biff! Bam! Boom! Ka-pow! The straw is flying! Then she spends a few paragraphs discussing the failure thus far to find signs of life on Mars. She’s right about that, of course. After beating up on the non-existent Martians, she concludes her brilliant essay with this:
But it doesn’t really matter. The Copernican Principle features assertions, not assessments. If nearby Mars proves stubborn, the exoplanets beckon. No one has so far shown that they do not teem with life, perhaps intelligent life. We need only come up with a convincing explanation of why we do not hear from them more often.
So there you are, dear reader. Why do you persist with your foolish quest for habitable planets and the possibility of life on some of them? It’s because you’re a fool! You’ve been misled by faith in the Copernican Principle. But Copernicus was an idiot, and Galileo was rightly convicted of heresy. The intelligent designer — blessed be he! — created the Earth to be unique in all the universe. Abandon hope, all ye who seek life elsewhere!
Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.