For years, the Discoveroids — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page — have been insisting that life on Earth is unique. For a recent example, see Discoveroids Disparage SETI Again,which links to several earlier posts on the same subject.
Today they are abandoning that dogma and swerving in the opposite direction. Their new post is If ETs Were Found, That Might Well Constitute Evidence for Intelligent Design. It’s by David Klinghoffer. He’s the Discoveroids’ journalistic slasher and poo flinger. He also fancies himself an expert on extra-terrestrial life.
Let’s watch as Klinghoffer executes a shameless about-face on what has heretofore been standard Discoveroid doctrine. He starts out talking about something by astrobiologist Paul Davies that appeared in the New York Times, which you can read here: Are We Alone in the Universe?, and then he gets to the meat of his post. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
When Davies was a young man, he says, the prevailing assumption was that we are indeed a freak phenomenon, unique in the stars. Now fashion has swung the other way. For no substantive reason, despite the silence from space, the science media abound with assurances that the universe teems with life.
What’s changed is not the evidence — for life elsewhere, there’s still zero — but just scientific mood: [then a quote from Davies].
Actually, a lot of evidence has been piling up — for example, see Maybe Billions of Habitable Planets — and it would seem that the Discoveroids are aware of it. Now they’re hedging their bets:
It’s not impossible that more information about the atmosphere on one or more of those non-Earth earths could tip us off with diagnostic signs of life. What if it did?
Shocking! Suddenly the existence of life elsewhere is “not impossible.” Then Klinghoffer asks: What’s the big deal? How does he manage this shift in policy? Let’s watch:
While herd opinion currently says that life’s getting itself started is easy, Davies recognizes that the most Earth-like planet we know — Earth — gives evidence so far of only one genesis of life, only one operating system. That can be explained as the result either of common descent or common design. If getting life started on a hospitable planet were indeed a snap, you’d think we would see “alien” life forms, operating systems at variance from our own, right here on Earth.
We dealt with that issue a year ago, in The Origin of Life — Miraculous or Mundane? We’ll quote what we said there, because that’s still our answer to the issue Klinghoffer raises:
[J]ust because we haven’t seen organic molecules self-assemble into something that could be described as life doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. The circumstances may be so unusual as to be a once-in-a-billion-years event; but with all the organic material drifting around in the oceans, it could be something that routinely happens from time to time — perhaps it happens quite often. However, given all the competing life that already exists, anything new that shows up probably doesn’t have much of a future, so we’re unlikely to ever become aware of it. Whether or not totally new life sometimes develops in the murky depths, we don’t search all the millions of cubic miles of ocean for such things, so they’re never seen. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen naturally, or that it hasn’t happened.
Klinghoffer sees it differently:
Yet while analyzing the life on our own planet is readily accessible, no such alien microbe has been found. That in turn confirms both common sense and other findings about how devilishly difficult it must be for life to kick-start on its own.
He quotes Davies again, and then focuses on the part that he likes:
So the evidence “under our very noses” suggests that left to its own devices, in the absence of design, dead matter does not spontaneously give forth life. Don’t misunderstand — I do not mean to read more into what Davies means to imply than is warranted. He, after all, includes in his article the required faith statement: “Although the pathway from microbes to complex thinking beings like humans may still be a very difficult one, at least we know the mechanism whereby it happens — Darwinian evolution.”
Then, for apparently no reason, he does the flip-flop our title promised you:
He’s not an advocate of intelligent design. But if so far all the data point toward life not spontaneously assembling, powered by the mere warming rays of our sun or another star, then if it were to turn out that the galaxy really does brim with life, wouldn’t that at least be highly suggestive of some intelligence, some designer, having seeded it there?
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! For years, the Discoveroids have been relying on their “theory” of intelligent design, and on the amazing insights of one of their senior “fellows,” Guillermo Gonzalez, a co-author of the classic creationist book, The Privileged Planet. Now, suddenly, alien life may not be impossible; in fact, it would be evidence of intelligent design. This is shameless!
But it wasn’t shameless enough. Look at Klinghoffer’s last paragraph:
Of course if life exists on our planet alone, that’s also a problem for materialists. Sometimes it puzzles me that they keep pushing the notion of a widely inhabited cosmos. Whether the idea is true or not, it seems to be, for them, a lose-lose proposition while being for us a win-win.
It’s a miracle! It makes no difference to the Discoveroids what evidence turns up — it’s all proof of intelligent design. Some of you may have noticed that Klinghoffer is invoking the First Law of our Ten Laws of Creationism, which states:
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