Discoveroids and AIG on Extraterrestrial Life

Today we’ll discuss the views of two different creationist organizations on the topic of extraterrestrial life. First we’ll hear from the Discoveroids. They’re mostly old-Earth creationists (like William Jennings Bryan, whom they admire). Then we’ll go to Answers in Genesis (AIG), who promote bible-based young-Earth creationism. We’ll give you a few excerpts from each of their new posts, with some bold font added by us for emphasis.

We start with the Discoveroids — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page. Their post, which appeared a couple of days ago, is Why Organized Science Longs for Extraterrestrial Life. It’s by Tom Bethell. He’s not officially a Discoveroid, but they publish his essays, and Wikipedia says he advocates intelligent design and other fringe science. The last time we wrote about one of his essays was Discoveroids Disparage SETI Again.

After snickering that no life has yet been found on Mars, he says:

Life on Earth is the only life that we know. None has been found elsewhere. What lies beyond the Solar System? Probably we’ll never know, unless extraterrestrials send us that sequence of prime numbers that Carl Sagan hoped to see. So a good case can be made for the uniqueness of life. And that would also entail the uniqueness of intelligent, human life. Both are highly unpopular with some people.

We’ve just barely begun to observe the universe, but Bethell is already convinced that there’s nothing out there. How did he become so certain this early in the search? You know the reason — it’s because he always knew it. Then he tells us:

Let’s call the offended party Organized Science, in contrast to the oft-criticized Organized Religion. Organized Science longs to find extraterrestrial life. Why so? There are various answers, but the mundane one is indeed funding.

Greed — it’s all about greed! Creationists are blessedly immune to that vice. Let’s read on:

Expeditions to planets outside the solar system are not even remotely plausible, thank goodness. Otherwise committees on Capitol Hill might be tempted to plunge us even further into debt. (On the other hand, Science magazine would cheer on such a development. It treats the government funding of science as its #1 issue.)

Yes — thank goodness we can’t travel to other planetary systems! He doesn’t have much else to say that he didn’t say the last time we wrote about him. This is typical:

The thought that life on Earth might in fact be unique is unpopular, because that could mean that some source of intelligent design played a role. We can’t have that!

Now lets flip over to the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG). Their new post on this topic is Just Right for Life. They say:

A powerful motive drives the ongoing, costly search for life on other worlds. If life is unique to the earth, then that makes our planet special and implies a Creator. But this thought repels unregenerate minds. If life arose naturally as they believe, then we should expect to find life on many other planets throughout the universe.

Rather similar to the attitude of the Discoveroids, isn’t it? We’re not surprised. They’ve said similar things before — see Answers in Genesis & Life on Mars. The similarity is because, despite the Discoveroids’ endless denials and their scientific masquerade, they’re just another pack of creationists. AIG continues:

Hopes of finding life within our own solar system have been dashed so far, but that has not diminished the astronomical zeal. In 2009 NASA launched the Kepler telescope — costing over half a billion dollars — to monitor 145,000 stars for evidence of orbiting planets. The results are astounding: over 3,500 candidates were identified in Kepler’s small survey. … Our Milky Way galaxy alone may host as many as 100 billion planets.

Despite the hype, the survey is verifying what our solar system has already shown us — that there’s no place like home.

Again, AIG and the Discoveroids are saying the same things: “There’s nothing to see out there, folks. Earth is blessedly unique.” AIG continues, reciting the familiar list of “privileged planet” characteristics — but they don’t give any credit the book by Discoveroid Guillermo Gonzalez. Then, quite unexpectedly, AIG says a few interesting things:

The creation model suggests that the earth alone sustains life. We believe that life does not arise naturally but exists only where God chose to create it. Could God have made life elsewhere? Certainly He could, but that isn’t the question. The question is whether He chose to do so.

If God made life on other planets, it raises complex questions about the Fall and the Curse. Romans 8:22 tells us that the entire cosmos suffers from the effects of the Fall and the Curse, so would Adam’s sin spread death to other planets? Did God create sentient beings on other planets? If they have souls, are they in need of salvation?

Deep questions indeed! These are the things creationists think about. But they don’t need to think too much, because AIG provides the answer:

The Bible clearly makes man the center of His attention, so we can be sure that no extraterrestrial creatures are made in the image of God, as we are. They would not be the objects of God’s gracious salvation through the death of His uniquely begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! All the aliens are going to hell!

Okay, that’s enough. Our conclusion is that although the Discoveroids and AIG have essentially the same position about the uniqueness of life on Earth, AIG’s view of things is far more entertaining, because they don’t try to conceal their creationism.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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24 responses to “Discoveroids and AIG on Extraterrestrial Life

  1. Organized Science longs to find extraterrestrial life. Why so? There are various answers, but the mundane one is indeed funding.

    Actually laughed out loud at that one.

  2. What? The Discoveroids are complaining that “the Government” is spending too much on “Organized Science”? (would they feel better if it were “Disorganized Science”? Where would that get humanity? But I digress.)

    I don’t have the time to research it at the moment, but it would be an interesting comparison — the amount spent on organized religion in the world (excluding charitable work) vs. the global non-medical science research budget.

    I have a hunch about which is the larger amount. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind about which is of more value to humanity.

  3. retiredsciguy says:

    What? The Discoveroids are complaining that “the Government” is spending too much on “Organized Science”?

    Yeah. Here’s a pie chart showing current spending. Whatever’s spend on science is so small — compared to the other categories — that it doesn’t even show up.

    Creationists should welcome spending on searches for life elsewhere. After all, they “know” that it will prove their case. In truth, however, they’re terrified of what may be found out there.

  4. Danny Faulkner exhorts—

    “If life is unique to the earth, then that makes our planet special and implies a Creator.”

    Spatiotemporal specialness, however cosmically transient, “implies a Creator”!? Good joke. I get the stunning distance of the jump but I cannot claim to understand the punchline…

  5. The Curmudgeon notes: “In truth, however, they’re terrified of what may be found out there.”

    I agree, but I also think they are terrified of reality in any form or place.

  6. Our Curmudgeon and waldteufel concur that the Creationists are

    terrified of what may be found out there

    So am I–if there are religious fundamentalists amongst the races of aliens. Imagine: Missionaries from Mars, preaching the gospel of Jesus Slimemold and delivering copies of The Watchcanal to your front-door–which they vapourise with the ray weapons!

  7. Not to be too ad hom about old Tom but the fact is he’s an old, crackpot journalist without a scintilla of scientific training. Just another LFJ God-squaddie, or as we like to refer to them, Discoveroid.

    That article was so bad I thought Klinklehopper ghost-wrote it, er, holy ghost-wrote it.

    Yeah, my friend who 10 years in graduate school studying avian neurology did so because, you know, that’s where the big bucks are!

  8. “Could God have made life elsewhere? Certainly He could, but that isn’t the question. The question is whether He chose to do so. …

    If God made life on other planets, it raises complex questions about the Fall and the Curse.”

    But why isn’t it the question? Obviously AIG doesn’t give credit to their omni-potent deity, preferring an omni-impotent deity that is unable to create life forms elsewhere. And too, should sentient life forms be found elsewhere, perhaps they would not have “sinned” and therefore be on a much higher plane than us poor sinner earthlings and be in no need of concepts such as salvation, thus shaming AIG and the Discoveroid types. Alas we poor humans live on the only planet in the vastness of space that tolerates our presence, so far.

  9. @SC: I do believe the “Carol Ramke” commenter is a spambot.

  10. Gary says: “I do believe the “Carol Ramke” commenter is a spambot.”

    I think you’re right. The video was incomprehensible. I’ll dump it. No loss.

  11. “costing over half a billion dollars”
    Yeah, that money would have been spend soooo much better on Ol’ Hambo’s creacrapprojects in Kentucky ….

  12. Charles Deetz ;)

    What a comedy double shot, kind of like getting to watch Happy Days and then Laverne and Shirley.

    I can’t believe they’d even be so bold to just make a CWAG (creationist wild-ass-guess) that earth is unique. (They literally jump to that conclusion.) Back in the Happy Days timeframe, we didn’t even know that planets existed outside our solar system.

    And those discoveroids know about probability, its part of their schtick, so you’d think 100 billion planets would start to sound like maybe there is life somewhere else. Stupid, yet funny. Kind of like Lenny and Squiggy.

  13. Stephen Kennedy

    Bethell is a hack with no scientific credentials so it is little surprise he had nothing useful to offer on the topic of extra-terrestrial life.

    Faulkner on the other hand does have scientific training and should know that his characterizations of the exo-planets discovered to date are false and misleading. He harps on the fact that planets discovered to date tend to be more massive than the Earth and orbit close to their stars. If he were honest he would also have noted that the limits of our technology make it far more likely that we will detect high mass planets in close orbits about their stars with a low probability of detecting Earth sized planets in the habitable zone. As astronomical detection technology advances it is highly likely we will detect far more Earth like planets.

    While it is true that these planets are far too distant to visit with spacecraft, technology is being developed that will make it possible to detect from Earth or Earth orbit signatures of life such as oxygen and methane in the atmospheres of these exo-planets.

    Statements like “…. so would Adam’s sin spread death to other planets? Did God create sentient beings on other planets? If they have souls, are they in need of salvation? “illustrate how far Faulkner has strayed from the science of Astronomy into the pseudoscience of young Earth creationism and all the bizzare things that YECs obsess about.

  14. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    “Life on Earth is the only life that we know. None has been found elsewhere.”

    Translation: White swans are the only swans we know. No black swans have been found elsewhere.

    The rest is gratuitous window dressing built on that fallacy.

    … and believe it or not that link leads to Conservapedia’s article on it. Even they get it if you can believe that.

  15. How intelligent is the Discoveroids designer to make a universe as big as this one yet only create life on one tiny planet?

  16. You say that the DI crowd are mainly Old earth creationists. Maybe so in the US, but in the UK, the Chair of DI’s franchise, Centre for Intelligent Design, Norman Nevin, is a YEC, and the director, Alastair Noble, won’t say but regards it as an advantage of ID that it does not require deep time.

  17. intelligent design and other fringe science

    Indeed!?

    “Intelligent design” is not on the “fringe”. The Face on Mars and ESP are on the fringe. One might, in a generous mood, say that of astrology. But a social-political campaign with a policy of not having anything substantive to say?

  18. a great post Curmudgeon, but you missed my favorite part of the ET/YEC story, which is the extradimensional demons hypothesis that AIG and others have proposed. Maybe ET is real, really a demon in disguise! This is a growing thread in some of the creation astronomy circles, not just the usual ET denial witnessed here–although there is still plenty of that there with Lisle et al. The Hello from Earth project a few years ago held by Cosmos Magazine was a very interesting insight into some of this stuff too!

    If you’re interested in a little more details on this, I just gave a talk a few weeks ago on astrobiology and young earth creationism at the American Academy of Religion conference with some folks involved with NASA’s astrobiology program. You can see the talk slideshow (w/audio), and if you’re really bored, read the accompanying 60 page research paper it is based on all here… <a href="http://www.chriscrews.com/2013/12/01/young-earth-creationism-politics-astrobiology/&quot; Young Earth Creationism and the Politics of Astrobiology.

  19. Welcome aboard, chriscrews.

  20. @chriscrews I got an error message when I clicked on that, and a little bit of a search turned up this:

    https://www.academia.edu/5218769/What_if_Gliese_581d_had_Life_Young_Earth_Creationism_and_the_Politics_of_Astrobiology

    But that seems to be really slow in loading.

  21. Downloading the research paper from that page proved to be a bit of an adventure, too!

    The URL chriscrews was trying to link to is http://www.chriscrews.com/2013/12/01/young-earth-creationism-politics-astrobiology/

  22. Wow! Two groups, each with the same radical, paranoid authoritarian agenda that predisposes them to peddling science-denial, agree on a misrepresentation of science that says absolutely nothing about their alternate explanation (if they even have one). Next thing you know we’ll find out that dogs occasionally bite people!

    What would be news to ~99% of the people, is why there are several different groups in the first place, despite such a common agenda. Sure, there’s the endlessly cited “cdesign proponentsists” thing that shows how a 1987 Supreme Court decision made some groups try to sneakily work around it, while others bravely confronted it. But there were different groups with radically contradictory non-evolutionary “theories” well before that, when they all still had hope that it would be legal to teach those “theories” in public school science class. So why did they not all just “follow the evidence where it led” and achieve convergence on the one most promising alternate one? And why did they insist on “supporting” their “theories” on perceived “gaps” in evolution instead of on the strengths of its own testable evidence? Could it be that “in their hearts” anti-evolution activists long known for decades that mainstream science is right, but have been deathly afraid that the “masses” might find out?

  23. sorry, the html was missing a character in the link I posted, thanks for correcting that realthog (and yeah, Academia can be a pain sometimes ;). Thanks Curmudgeon, I decided it was time to join in the fray and not just keep reading from the margins–have really enjoyed the many posts.