This isn’t about evolution, specifically, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s the kind of news that drives creationists crazy. PhysOrg reports: Kepler marks 1,000th exoplanet discovery, uncovers more small worlds in habitable zones.
You know what “Kepler” in that headline means. According to Wikipedia, “Kepler is a space observatory launched by NASA to discover Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. The spacecraft, named after the Renaissance astronomer Johannes Kepler, was launched on March 7, 2009.”
This is what PhysOrg says, with some bold font added by us for emphasis:
How many stars like our sun host planets like our Earth? NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope continuously monitored more than 150,000 stars beyond our solar system, and to date has offered scientists an assortment of more than 4,000 candidate planets for further study — the 1,000th of which was recently verified.
That’s a bit fuzzy, but those aren’t all Earth-like planets. Nevertheless, there are now 1,000 extra-solar planets that have been verified, out of potentially more than 4,000 that have been spotted. It wasn’t long ago that creationists were certain that our solar system was the only one in existence, and the Earth, having been uniquely created for us, was all alone in the universe. For example, look at this oldie-goldie from the 1970s from the Institute for Creation Research: The Stars of Heaven. It was written by Henry Morris himself, who said:
[T]he earth is unique in the solar system and, for all we know, the solar system is unique in the universe. So far as we can observe, there are not even any planets anywhere else, let alone a planet equipped to sustain biological life.
Those were the days! But they’re gone now. Those infernal scientists keep doing research! Here’s more from PhysOrg:
Three of the newly-validated planets are located in their distant suns’ habitable zone, the range of distances from the host star where liquid water might exist on the surface of an orbiting planet. Of the three, two are likely made of rock, like Earth.
That’s the real news — three more Earth-like planets have been found. Can you imagine what it’s like to be a creationist who is reading about this news? They still insist that Earth is a uniquely Privileged Planet. Let’s read on:
“Each result from the planet-hunting Kepler mission’s treasure trove of data takes us another step closer to answering the question of whether we are alone in the Universe,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “The Kepler team and its science community continue to produce impressive results with the data from this venerable explorer.”
PhysOrg also reports:
“With each new discovery of these small, possibly rocky worlds, our confidence strengthens in the determination of the true frequency of planets like Earth,” said co-author Doug Caldwell, SETI Institute Kepler scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California. “The day is on the horizon when we’ll know how common temperate, rocky planets like Earth are.”
And with each new discovery, the creationists sink even further into the abyss of denial. Here’s one more excerpt:
Work is underway to translate these recent discoveries into estimates of how often rocky planets appear in the habitable zones of stars like our sun, a key step toward NASA’s goal of understanding our place in the universe.
To creationists, this is an outrage! They already understand our place in the universe, and it hasn’t changed since the days of the Babylonian Empire. It’s fun to think how miserable they must feel.
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