Klinghoffer Is Thrilled About Kepler-438b

You know about the Kepler mission to discover potentially habitable extra-solar planets. We wrote about in Kepler Mission: Searching for Earth-like Planets.

Creationists don’t like it. Over at the Discovery Institute, they have their faith-based doubts that any planet other than Earth could support intelligent life. Their scripture is a book co-written by Discoveroid Guillermo Gonzalez: The Privileged Planet. But science is oblivious to the preferences of creationists. At the start of this year, PhysOrg reported Eight new planets found in ‘Goldilocks’ zone, in which they said:

Astronomers announced today that they have found eight new planets in the “Goldilocks” zone of their stars, orbiting at a distance where liquid water can exist on the planet’s surface. This doubles the number of small planets (less than twice the diameter of Earth) believed to be in the habitable zone of their parent stars.


The two most Earth-like planets of the group are Kepler-438b and Kepler-442b. Both orbit red dwarf stars that are smaller and cooler than our Sun. Kepler-438b circles its star every 35 days, while Kepler-442b completes one orbit every 112 days. With a diameter just 12 percent bigger than Earth, Kepler-438b has a 70-percent chance of being rocky, according to the team’s calculations.

That was good news for those of us who grew up reading science fiction and watching Star Trek, although it’s blasphemy for creationists. But we just got some bad news about Kepler-438b. PhysOrg posted this a couple of days ago: Radiation blasts leave most Earth-like planet uninhabitable. It says:

The most Earth-like planet could have been made uninhabitable by vast quantities of radiation, new research led by the University of Warwick research has found. The atmosphere of the planet, Kepler-438b, is thought to have been stripped away as a result of radiation emitted from a superflaring Red Dwarf star, Kepler-438.

Well, okay. There’s one less habitable planet to dream about. Not a problem, really. More are being found all the time, and it’s not as if we were about to launch a ship to go there. For creationists, however, the recent news is cause for rejoicing. Look what was just pasted at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog: Fare Thee Well, Kepler 438b.

It was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

That was fast. Excitement about the “most Earth-like planet ever,” the potentially habitable and therefore hypothetically inhabited Kepler 438b, launched in January with an announcement at the American Astronomical Society meeting here in Seattle. Researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics bore the good news.

Klinghoffer quotes from an article written back in January, when it was thought that Kepler-438b looked promising. Then he gets to the latest news:

That’s over, it seems, just ten months later. As we learn now, it seems more probable that this “most Earth-like planet [is] uninhabitable due to radiation.”

What’s Klinghoffer’s reaction to the latest news? He says:

I note this with no malice toward the likely sterile and desolate exoplanet.

Isn’t that sweet? He continues:

A habitable or, even more so, an inhabited planet elsewhere in the cosmos would be very exciting news. We neither need it nor fear it. If life were seeded across the stars, though that certainly seems not to be the case, it would be neither here nor there for those who recognize the evidence for design in biology and cosmology.

Did you follow that? If life were common out there, it’s no problem for intelligent design. But if life exists only on Earth, that too is okay with intelligent design. Their “theory” is so wonderful that it doesn’t make any testable predictions. It can accommodate any evidence that may come along. Here’s more:

Presumably, life driven by biological information on another planet would call for an inference to design just as it does on Earth. Tell me how the logic would differ because of a transfer of venues across some number of light years?

Hambo would be devastated if we found an inhabited extra-solar planet, but the Discoveroids are more clever. Because their litigation strategy requires that they avoid relying on Genesis, they can be more flexible. It doesn’t matter to them what may exist out there. Their magical designer — blessed be he! — is responsible for anything that may ever be found. What a great theory!

Klinghoffer concludes by telling us how pathetic the theory of evolution is, when compared to intelligent design:

Materialists, on the other hand, need extraterrestrial life. They need it very badly. Life cannot be uncommon. It must spring up easily. Just add sunshine! For them, the demise of this most hopeful of exoplanets is sorry news.

So there you are. Those who would like to live in a galaxy with numerous habitable worlds are a bit disappointed about Kepler-438b, but we’ll get over it. Klinghoffer’s reaction, however, is totally bizarre. He thinks we’re crushed. Meanwhile the creationists are celebrating at Discoveroid headquarters.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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9 responses to “Klinghoffer Is Thrilled About Kepler-438b

  1. robnorman2015

    I’m sure they’ll take exobiology in their stride. What they really won’t like is an alien civilization that has deduced its origins as we have.

  2. “Their “theory” is so wonderful that ….”
    Which is emphasized by

    “that certainly seems not to be the case”
    Of course I’m not a native English speaker, but in Dutch something doesn’t “seem” when it’s “certain” or isn’t “certain” when it “seems”.

  3. In light of Kepler-438 being in the red dwarf stage of it’s life, the radiation issue would be expected. But this doesn’t indicate that the system could not have had a phase that may be similar in some ways to what we are experiencing in our own solar system. We are seeing a snapshot of what our system may one day be like.

  4. Ceteris Paribus

    Klinghoffer condescendingly offers: “I note this [failure of science] with no malice toward the likely sterile and desolate exoplanet.”

    Since the entire intellectual output of the Discoveroids is sterile and desolate, Klinghoffer’s knows of what he speaks.

  5. From what I understand, red dwarfs in general are prone to flares, and are rather inhospitable places to be. Also, their “goldilocks zones” are pretty tight.

    The main news for Kling is that there are planets wherever we look, even around small red dwarf stars. The catalog of earth-sized planets in habitable zones is only going to grow with time, and as our technology improves, the list will grow ever faster. Klinghoffer days of snarkiness are numbered. I suspect he knows this, thus position that ID is impervious to the discovery of life-friendly worlds in the future.

    Is this a new DI position? It seems to me that they have consistently taken the position that everything is fine tuned for life on earth and that it will not be found elsewhere.

    I would turn it around and say that for “materialists”, discovery of life elsewhere would certainly be supportive, but lack of such discovery would simply be lack of the discovery. Maybe our instruments are not adequate, or we haven’t searched in the right places, or whatever. Materialism, as Klinghoffer portrays it, certainly doesn’t require the discovery of life elsewhere.

    However, ID is built on the belief of a supernatural creator as portrayed in the bible. No matter what Klinghoffer says, ID advocates everywhere would struggle to reconcile the discovery of exo-planetary life to their beliefs. ID was never more than a legal smoke screen anyway, and I can easily envision it being abandoned wholesale. No wonder Kling is worried.

  6. michaelfugate

    It’s another pseudo-prediction from the ID crowd like so-called “junk” DNA being functional or phyla emerging before orders, families or genera.

  7. Klinklepimple says,
    “Theres no need for this space research. There’s nothing out there !
    Move along.”

  8. Klinghoffer:

    Materialists, on the other hand, need extraterrestrial life. They need it very badly. Life cannot be uncommon. It must spring up easily. Just add sunshine! For them, the demise of this most hopeful of exoplanets is sorry news.


    It wasn’t all that long ago that planetary systems were thought (by “materialist” astronomers) to be extremely rare, the products of near-collisions between two stars. It’s only more recently that a different idea, the so-called nebular hypothesis, has become dominant.

    As for life, while scientists would like it to be common, they don’t need it to be so. The finding that one seemingly promising planet may be disappointing, but it’s hardly devastating. And as Klinghoffer admits, creationists can adapt–evolve, dare one say?–to any finding of alien life by blithering on (well, he doesn’t put it that way) about how it, too, was surely “designed” and in the meantime insist that Earth is the only life-bearing planet because the Bible doesn’t mention any others.

  9. Makes you wonder if Kepler 438b, or Uranus for that matter, was designed not to have life.