Intelligent Design ‘Theory’ Strikes Again

First some news, then a challenge. The news is from PhysOrg: Could fast radio bursts be powering alien probes? Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence has looked for many different signs of alien life, from radio broadcasts to laser flashes, without success. However, newly published research suggests that mysterious phenomena called fast radio bursts could be evidence of advanced alien technology. Specifically, these bursts might be leakage from planet-sized transmitters powering interstellar probes in distant galaxies.

“Fast radio bursts are exceedingly bright given their short duration and origin at great distances, and we haven’t identified a possible natural source with any confidence,” said theorist Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “An artificial origin is worth contemplating and checking.”

As the name implies, fast radio bursts are millisecond-long flashes of radio emission. First discovered in 2007, fewer than two dozen have been detected by gigantic radio telescopes like the Parkes Observatory in Australia or the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. They are inferred to originate from distant galaxies, billions of light-years away.

Fine, so what’s the possible artificial origin? We’re told:

Loeb and his co-author Manasvi Lingam (Harvard University) examined the feasibility of creating a radio transmitter strong enough for it to be detectable across such immense distances. They found that, if the transmitter were solar powered, the sunlight falling on an area of a planet twice the size of the Earth would be enough to generate the needed energy. Such a vast construction project is well beyond our technology, but within the realm of possibility according to the laws of physics.

Lingam and Loeb also considered whether such a transmitter would be viable from an engineering perspective, or whether the tremendous energies involved would melt any underlying structure. Again, they found that a water-cooled device twice the size of Earth could withstand the heat.

That’s an ark-load of engineering! What would be done with that much energy? Lingam and Loeb wondered that too:

They then asked, why build such an instrument in the first place? They argue that the most plausible use of such power is driving interstellar light sails. The amount of power involved would be sufficient to push a payload of a million tons, or about 20 times the largest cruise ships on Earth. “That’s big enough to carry living passengers across interstellar or even intergalactic distances,” added Lingam.

All that just to push a ship equipped with light sails? Surely, a civilization that could generate that kind of energy could come up with a better propulsion system for its ships. One last excerpt:

Loeb admits that this work is speculative. When asked whether he really believes that any fast radio bursts are due to aliens, he replied, “Science isn’t a matter of belief, it’s a matter of evidence. Deciding what’s likely ahead of time limits the possibilities. It’s worth putting ideas out there and letting the data be the judge.”

Okay, now we promised you a challenge. Here it is: If you were a Discoveroid, desperately scanning scientific literature for something an imbecile would regard as evidence against the theory of evolution, how would you use that article?

Give up? Okay, then check out this thing at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog: Light Sails: In Fast Radio Bursts, Harvard Scientists Seek Evidence of Intelligent Design. Trust us, it’s not worth reading. We’ll give you only one excerpt, from the end:

Their [light sail] hypothesis is speculative, but thoughtful and serious. It also rests on a good deal less evidence than the argument for design in our familiar world of terrestrial biology.

So there you are, dear reader. It must be fun to be a Discoveroid.

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9 responses to “Intelligent Design ‘Theory’ Strikes Again

  1. Ross Cameron

    Damn. Next my presence here on Earth will be detected
    00001110100111010110000101

  2. “it’s good to observe their use of a design-filter mode of reasoning”
    Just like I thought. The IDiots have set out a win-win strategy once again. As soon as intelligent extraterrestrial life is discovered they proclaim victory for their design filter. The more unlikely such life become the more they’ll hammer on the privileged planet.

  3. The ID advocates are trying to convince us that there is an agent which is responsible for the laws of nature being fine-tuned for the agent’s goals; and also to convince us that the laws of nature are contrary to the goals, so there must be an agent which can ignore those laws. The same agent.
    It should not be surprising that the advocates are reluctant to explain what they are talking about.

  4. The creationists will argue, as they have in the past, that such speculative articles prove Darwinists are desperate for there to be intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, since the absence of it proves the universe was created by Jehovah with us, and only us, in mind. (Actually, I’m not sure there’s intelligent life in places like the Discovery Institute.)

    Actually, even if we knew for sure that we were alone, that would prove nothing about the reality of evolution on Earth. And we’ll never know that for sure; the universe is a big place.

  5. In our common experience, only humans design radio transmitters. The signal is in a radio wavelength. Therefore, it must be intelligently designed.

    There. I applied the DI’s design filter. Aliens are everywhere.

  6. Mark Germano

    @TomS, ID theorists should investigate the possibility of multiple designers, maybe?

  7. @Mark Germano
    Indeed.
    There are several examples which should suggest multiple designers, if one were to take the argument from design seriously. Unfortunately, I’ve lost the reference, but there was a philosopher of India from somewhere about the 12th century who brought this up.
    Just about any example of an obvious design in the world of life – let us accept that we can detect design in the construction of the eye of a predator, that we can infer that that eye was designed to make a better predator – then we can equally well infer that the eye of a potential prey species was designed to protect from predators.
    So, too, is design of wings is necessitated for flight because of the design of gravity, and the design of air. There are countervailing designs everywhere we look.

  8. Ceteris Paribus

    Um – Actually I did go look at the the Discoveroids’ argument, ending with:

    Their [light sail] hypothesis is speculative, but thoughtful and serious. It also rests on a good deal less evidence than the argument for design in our familiar world of terrestrial biology.

    But first we might ask to get the Discotute’s take on an earlier scientific puzzlement down their alley:

    Homer: Hey, I’ve got a question for you. Could Jesus microwave a burrito so hot that he himself could not eat it?.
    Ned: Well sure of course, he could, but then again… wow as melon scratchers go, that’s a honey doodle.
    Homer: Now you know what I’ve been going through.