Discovery Institute — Stranger and Stranger

Something very odd is going on at the Discoveroids’ website. They seem to be changing its appearance, and at least for now, none of our old links to their blog entries are working. It must be the work of the intelligent designer — blessed be he!

Anyway, through a routine news search (not a search of their website), we found a reaction to what we posted yesterday: Early Life on Earth, and Maybe Mars. Their new post, which has no author’s by-line, is Life in the Fast Lane — Microfossils, 3.77 Billion Years Old, Pose Challenge to Materialist Presuppositions . Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

A paper in Nature reports the discovery of fossil microbes possibly older, even much older, than any found previously. The lead author is biogeochemist Matthew Dodd, a PhD student at University College London. If the paper is right, these Canadian fossils could be 3.77 billion years old, or even as old as — hold onto your hat, in case you’re wearing one — 4.28 billion years.

Yes, we already know the news. Skipping their description of what was found, they say:

According to Dodd et al., these new finds would be the oldest known microfossils, if that is in fact what they are. Very interesting. If so, that just keeps pushing unquestionable evidence of life’s existence on Earth further and further back, which leaves less and less time for the origin of life to have occurred by unguided chemical evolution after Earth became habitable.

Less and less time? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The latest estimate for the age of the Earth is about 4.54 billion years. The paper in Nature estimates that the newly-discovered fossils are “at least 3,770 million and possibly 4,280 million years old.” That would mean a period of between 260 million years to 770 million years (roughly a quarter billion to three quarters of a billion years) elapsed before the appearance of the organisms whose fossils were discovered. Let’s read on:

If they are in fact 4.28 billion years old, then that would mean there was life very, very early in Earth’s history — as Cyril Ponnamperuma said, it’s like “instant life.”

Instant life? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Anyway, Cyril Ponnamperuma died in 1994, so whatever may have been the context of that quote the Discoveroids have mined, we can’t regard it as relevant to today’s news. Then the Discoveroids tell us:

It seems there are three observations to make: 1) The more we know, the more it seems that life arose rapidly on the early Earth, even more quickly that we previously realized. 2) How even the simplest life could arise, given materialist presuppositions, remains a profound mystery. This is the subject of Stephen Meyer’s book Signature in the Cell. 3) If life arises so easily, as Coyne’s friend Dr. Dodd suggests, then it’s strange we’ve seen no signs of it, at least not in an intelligent form, across the cosmos.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! It’s a big galaxy, and we’ve just begun to look. We have no idea, so far, whether life is out there — but we’re fairly confident that most stars have planetary systems. For the moment, the Discoveroids can crow that Earth is unique, and they’re making the most of it. A decade or two from now, things may be different.

This is their last paragraph:

Taken together, these call into question materialist presuppositions, in the light of which 1, 2, and 3 present a tangle of contradictions. On the other hand, as a source of purposeful agency able to bring life into existence 1) quickly, 2) despite obstacles in the path of purely material processes, 3) uniquely, as it appears for now, on one planet, intelligent design fits the bill.

Isn’t intelligent design “theory” wonderful? It’s delightfully compatible with anything and everything we may ever discover. Verily, it is the harlot of theories, and the Discoveroids are its promoters.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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15 responses to “Discovery Institute — Stranger and Stranger

  1. If life has no time to develop from the ooze, so must be created, then how did an advanced super duper creator have time to be developed from the ooze??? There would absolutely not be enough time!!!

  2. 1) quickly, 2) despite obstacles in the path of purely material processes, 3) uniquely, as it appears for now,
    If it is “intelligently designed”, and ID explains these things, then, please tell us, how and why (rather than any other alternative) does design result in things happen:
    1) quickly – that is, taking hundreds of millions of years, rather than hundreds of thousands of years, rather than hundreds of years, or hundreds of hours, or billions of years …?
    2) with obstacles in the path, rather than designing a Privileged Planet, rather than Fine Tuning the parameters of nature …?
    3) uniquely (as it appears for now), rather than abundantly (as it appears for now), rather than (as some seem to see things) nowhere …?

    BTW, it has taken this long for our researchers to find these signs of life right under our own noses, here on Earth. Why should it be so surprising that it is taking a bit longer to find similar signs on Mars?

  3. I didn’t know there was some “magic” time number that these discoveries could bump up against. At most, maybe the Earth is older? Maybe these fossils aren’t as old?

    But neither scenario changes the process under which that life was created. And neither scenario requires [POOF!] a designer to be inserted into the life-creation process. Maybe the process itself was simply “fast acting” in the beginning of complex life on Earth, then has slowed over time?

    These “Discoveroid” people are just aching to make up some silly little bedtime story about how life started. Why is it that some members of our species has to “insert” some irrational “thing” that “creates”? Sheesh.

  4. Charles Deetz ;)

    DI skipping obvious details a ten year old would ask about:
    The earth was different then, so it wasn’t designed for intelligent life at the beginning?
    Earth and Mars were similar back then, so was Mars designed for life too?
    Tubes? The designer started with tubes??
    Why does the DI expect scientists to detect tube-like bacteria on far-away planets?

    I’m sure there are more.

  5. The earth was different then, so it wasn’t designed for intelligent life at the beginning?

    The DI folks aren’t arguing for a specific position as much as they are trying to argue against evolution.

    That the positions they have to take to argue against evolution are 1) scientifically wrong, 2) internally inconsistent, and 3) contradict their beliefs (e.g., young earth) is all irrelevant.

    If they had solid evidence for creationism or any of the rest they wouldn’t need the subterfuges of creation “science” and intelligent design.

  6. Michael Fugate

    Here is a news article about the fifth annual conference on the chemical evolution of life held in 1980 at the University of Maryland. Cyril Ponnamperuma was the host and is quoted on his “instant life” idea – which doesn’t help the DI at all. It is much like their attempts to claim that any use of teleological language as a shortcut in scientific papers really means that God is behind it all.

  7. @Coyote
    Yes, they are only arguing against, not for.
    If they were arguing for, they might tell us how their position solves the problems that they pose. How ID specifies (1) how long it takes life to be formed (2) how it overcomes the obstacles (and how it accounts for there being obstacles) (3) how abundant or rare life is expected tp be (or seems to be).
    When I come across a “new” argument against evolution, I immediately wonder how the anti-evolution position deals with the difficulty posed.

  8. Pete Moulton

    Coyote points out, “The DI folks aren’t arguing for a specific position as much as they are trying to argue against evolution.”

    This is exactly right, and is the whole reason why there is no ‘theory’ of ID. The IDiots’ rationale seems to be, “Evolution’s wrong; therefore, magic ID.”

  9. Michael Fugate

    If the earth is “fined-tuned” for life, then why couldn’t or wouldn’t life arise quickly even without intelligent intervention?

  10. The question in my mind is, given an all-powerful “designer,” why start life with such simple forms, and evolve them in incremental steps over billions of years? What sort of designer is the DI advocating?

    If one believes a designer exists, Ham’s version makes much more sense. Poof, and it’s done.

  11. Mark Germano

    I’ll tell you what I’m looking forward to: the Discovery Institute’s staff micro-paleobiologist* publishing the paper that compares the results of this study with the findings from the DI’s expedition that found 4 billion-year-old fossils.

    *or their staff paleomicrobiologist, I’m not picky.

  12. @Michael Fugate
    I don’t understand why they can’t even remember what argument they are using.
    My guess is that they have the attention span of a TV audience.

  13. Of course you understand, TomS. It’s just another case of MNb’s Law: a creationist is lying until proven otherwise.

  14. They don’t have to be lying; they just have to be imbeciles preaching to idiots.

  15. Of course, they also may realize what their audience wants to hear. Is it a lie if you are just giving them what they want? I’m sure many a con man has justified his behavior thus.