Klinghoffer’s Latest Thoughts on Aliens

The discovery Institute, like other creationist outfits, has gone through a series of beliefs about life in the universe. Creationists used to claim that our sun was unique in having a planetary system. Old Henry Morris, founder of the Institute for Creation Research, wrote in The Stars of Heaven:

[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.

They’ve had to back away from claims like that, but several of them still insist that although extra-solar planets are abundant, life is unique to our world — despite their claim that the universe was miraculously created to be congenial to life.

Now that literally thousands of extra-solar planets have been discovered, several in their star’s Goldilocks zone, creationists dimly sense the likelihood that some kind of life will be found out there. Many of them have been reluctantly shifting to another position — that we are the only intelligent life in the universe.

That’s probably the last concession they can make, otherwise we’re just another evolved species on one of many worlds where the right conditions exist. Understandably, they all claim that SETI research is a waste of time and money, and they desperately hope it can be shut down before some other intelligent species is discovered out there.

Like other creationist outfits, the Discovery Institute continues to insist that Earth was uniquely created and is the one and only Privileged Planet in the universe — see Klinghoffer Insists Earth Is Unique. Nevertheless, they’ve been gradually revising their claims — “just in case.” We’ve documented some of those shifts – see Klinghoffer Flip-Flops on Alien Life.

With that as background, here’s the latest at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog: “I Think We’re Alone Now”. 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:

Last night my wife and I saw 10 Cloverfield Lane, a very tense, effective, and scary thriller. To say more about its precise genre would be a spoiler. I mention it because there’s one of many great moments in the film when John Goodman as a bunker-dwelling survivalist plays a 1967 hit on the jukebox in his cellar, “I Think We’re Alone Now,” by Tommy James and the Shondells.

Why are we being told about that incident in Klinghoffer’s domestic life? Because he then — oh so cleverly! — ties it in to what comes next:

That could be, as well, the theme of new research indicating, as John Stonestreet points out in a new BreakPoint commentary, that “Increasingly, it looks as if we are alone in the universe.”

Wikipedia says that BreakPoint “is a Christian worldview ministry founded in 1991 as a daily radio commentary by Chuck Colson. It continues to air each weekday, with commentary hosted by John Stonestreet or Eric Metaxas.” That’s where Klinghoffer goes for his information about the universe. What did he learn from that esteemed source? He tells us:

[T]he old estimates vastly inflated the number of potential alien civilizations. .. It turns out that Drake’s equation failed to take into account factors that we now know to be essential to life. For example, scientists once believed that planets orbiting a certain distance from their host stars in the so-called “Goldilocks zone” were prime real estate for creatures like us. But not anymore. It turns out that the size and chemical composition of the host stars matters just as much as planetary orbits.

[…]

Intelligent Design theorists have long pointed out how improbably unique our little blue planet is. And findings like this only deepen the problem for materialists. Because if thinking creatures emerged here and nowhere else, it makes us look less like accidents and more like — dare I say it — miracles.

What does Klinghoffer do with that irrefutable information? Let’s read on:

Being alone in the universe resonates very differently depending on how you answer certain other ultimate questions. For materialists it’s a source of fearful consternation, verging on refutation. Hence the need for recourse to fables of a multiverse.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The unlikely scenario that we’re alone doesn’t cause your Curmudgeon any “fearful consternation,” nor is it any reason to resort to fables. Rather, we see it as the cause for great optimism. We would be presented with an opportunity that comes only once in the lifetime of a galaxy. As we said before in Earth May Be a Cosmic Early Achiever:

This could be very good news. If we seize the opportunity, it means we can occupy all the habitable worlds in our galaxy with relatively little competition. We previously projected that we could do this in “only” a million years — see What Are We Learning from SETI?

Klinghoffer continues, and he once again slips in the subtle change in the Discoveroids’ dogma:

For others, open to evidence of purpose and design in the cosmos, our solitude is not required. Life could indeed be intelligently designed, yet still common across the stars.

See? They’re hedging. Nevertheless, Klinghoffer ends his post by reassuring his creationist readers:

But earth as a privileged planet and humankind as a privileged species fit together well with other lines of inference — pointing to the conclusion that the universe, far being the result of a grand mishap, was tailored for us.

What do we make of that contradictory mess? The obvious fact is that the Discoveroids — like all creationists — are desperately squirming around, trying to maintain their belief that we were uniquely created by the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — even though there may be loads of alien life out there. Somehow, despite their confident belief that we have been given a special place in the universe, they now say that it doesn’t really matter what we may find out there. Whatever we may discover, they’ll claim that they were right all along. But a “theory” that can survive the discovery of any evidence is no theory at all.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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21 responses to “Klinghoffer’s Latest Thoughts on Aliens

  1. Charles Deetz ;)

    So if life ‘only here’ justifies the claim that our planet is ‘tailored for us’, what other evidence backs that up? Why don’t trees grow into huts? Why do lions attack humans? Why do humans spread disease between each other so easily? Why is birth painful?

  2. Is there even “intelligent” life on earth has been asked for a long time. Given the way we act towards our fellow humans as well as how we so readily despoil the planet we live on, the question is far from resolved. However, in the case of Klinghoffer and his fellow creationists, the question has been decisively answered, there is no intelligence in the creationist camp.

  3. Eddie Janssen

    I love the expression “Intelligent Design theorists”.

  4. One has to feel sorry for someone like Klingy, who apparently needs to spend his professional life solely in a defensive mode. While those of us who live in the world of reality look forward to new discoveries, Tooters and other creationists lurch from discovery to discovery like an old boxer with his arms up, hoping the blows he is taking won’t knock him out. Instead of meeting new discoveries about our universe by evaluating the evidence for them and being delighted with the new knowledge that comes with that evidence, the creationists like Klingy recoil in horror, hoping that the new knowledge won’t destroy their ever shrinking world of fantasy.
    Kling and pals would lead more fulfilling lives if they could outgrow the childish notion that some invisible sky daddy created this universe just for them. Just sayin’.

  5. Of the many things wrong with Klingey’s kludgy commentary, the idea that an alleged intelligent designer (blessed by he/she/it) created the universe “…tailored for us” is obvious nonsense. Indeed, much of the tiny speck of the universe that we occupy is hostile to us (though perhaps not as hostile as we are to it, as DavidK points out above). I’d sack any tailor who made a suit tailored that badly!

  6. Doctor Stochastic

    Morris’ statement about our observations, not about planets.

  7. Wait a second, so the creator could have created multiple earths with multiple mankinds? “For others, open to evidence of purpose and design in the cosmos, our solitude is not required. Life could indeed be intelligently designed, yet still common across the stars.” There could be a planet where there was no “fall?” They still live in the garden?
    Maybe Jesus has not returned yet because he is not yet finished being killed by the Romans on all the other planets where life was created!

  8. Holding the Line in Florida

    @ Eddie Jansen “I love the expression “Intelligent Design theorists”. Just like the Hysterical Channel’s “Ancient Alien” Series. “Ancient Alien Theorists ask what if………..” No difference at all!

  9. michaelfugate

    Many theists like Klinghoffer believe that atheists and agnostics cling to their non-belief in the same way that he clings to belief. If there were good evidence for supernatural agents, I would have no problem changing my mind. As it is right now, I see no reason to change.

  10. Now, now…Kwinghoffer and the ID’ers simpwy want to feel they’re “special.” We wouldn’t want to make them cwy, would we?

  11. @michaelfugate: Don’t worry. The Klingers are like the bandits in Treasure of the Sierra Madre: “evidence? we ain’t got no evidence. we don’t need no steekin’ evidence!”

  12. If a deity had chosen to not inform it’s followers concerning other worlds it had populated, what business is it of the followers to question that decision?

    The degree of respect that creationists claim to have for their creator seems to be rather tentative at times.

  13. It has been estimated that there are about 10^9 stars in the average galaxy and there are a similar number of galaxies. That means that there is something like 10^18 stars. If only one thousandth of one percent have earth-like planets that means that there are 10^13 earths. You can assume that a minuscule percentage have earth-like planets and still come up with a staggering number of them. Klingy doesn’t have the vaguest idea how strongly the probabilities are against him.

  14. Cynic says: “Klingy doesn’t have the vaguest idea how strongly the probabilities are against him.”

    Perhaps not, but he’s betting that time is on his side. Although they may exist, we may not discover another intelligent species in this galaxy in his lifetime. As long as the funds keep flowing, Klinghoffer can have a long career as a professional creationist.

  15. michaelfugate

    Do you think if we find life on other planets, the creationists will either claim they expected it all along or earth is still the only planet on which their god created life?

  16. michaelfugate asks: “Do you think if we find life on other planets, the creationists will either claim they expected it all along or earth is still the only planet on which their god created life?”

    Hambo has already dealt with that. He says it doesn’t matter, because salvation is only for the descendants of Adam, so the aliens — if they exist — are all going to the Lake of Fire.

  17. michaelfugate

    But from Wikipedia “The noun ‘adam is also the masculine form of the word adamah which means “ground” or “earth”. So if life forms come from the earth, then they are ‘adam too?

  18. We look at a very small part of our galaxy and find planets. Lots of them. And our detection methods are still very primitive.

    Kling and his ilk are in a race against time. Our detection methods will improve, our ability to study the planets that we have discovered will improve, and our reach will expand. It is not a question of whether we will find signs of life in the atmospheres of alien worlds, it is rather when, and what percentage.

    I think most creationists understand this. They are beginning to hedge their bets, but when it happens it will still be shattering. There is a limit to how flexible a creationist can be and still adhere to a literal interpretation of the bible. Life elsewhere, of any sort, will be very difficult to explain for the diehard fundamentalist.

  19. @Ed
    I only have to remark that the “literalists” are already exceptionally “flexible”.
    Not only in their accommodations to modern discoveries – of which heliocentrism may stand as a model – but in their imaginative deviations from what the text says – the “unforced errors” such as the additions to the Flood story.

  20. michaelfugate asks: “Do you think if we find life on other planets, the creationists will either claim they expected it all along or earth is still the only planet on which their god created life?”

    Hambo has already dealt with that. He says it doesn’t matter, because salvation is only for the descendants of Adam, so the aliens — if they exist — are all going to the Lake of Fire.

    Actuallky, my understanding is that some creationists believe that if alien intelligences exist they won’t need salvation, because only Adam and Eve fell, not their counterparts (if any) on other worlds.

    Therefore, goes their argument, God won’t let us make contact with them, for such contact would expose them to sin and temptation.

    This is a version of the claim some fundamentalists made until 1969 that humans would never be permitted to set foot on he moon. We’re supposed to be quarantined because we’ve been tainted by Satan.

  21. Eric Lipps, C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra series explores this scenario – human contact with a race of aliens who don’t yet know sin. It’s more interesting for the ideas it explores than the quality of the writings, but I enjoyed it.