Discoveroids: We’re Still Alone in the Universe

Everybody knows about the recent astronomical discovery which PhysOrg wrote about here: Temperate earth-sized worlds found in extraordinarily rich planetary system (Update).

The discovery has had a depressing effect on creationists, who still cling to the Genesis model of the universe, in which Earth is the only habitable world, and there is no life — certainly no intelligent life — anywhere else.

The Discovery Institute has been especially negative in their reactions — see Discoveroids: A Means Not-A. They insist that the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — made Earth as The Privileged Planet to be a home for us (whom he also created), and there’s nothing else of any importance out there, anywhere.

It’s not surprising that their outlook is consistent with that of the more traditional creationists, who cling to the concept of the universe described in the bible — a cozy arrangement, with the Earth created as the only world in existence, in the center of what seemed to be a rather limited universe, consisting of the Sun and the Moon, with the stars as lights set in a presumably solid firmament rotating around us, just below the glorious realm of Yahweh.

The more planets we discover orbiting other stars, the more depressed they get, but they’re temporarily comforted by the the fact that we can’t yet examine the atmospheres of those worlds, so we don’t yet know if there’s any life out there. They hope there isn’t, because if there is, then something’s wrong with their Earth-centered cosmos, and — gasp! — maybe those secular Darwinists are right.

The Discoveroids imagine that they’ve just received some good news, and it’s reported at their creationist blog by Klinghoffer. His headline is Remember Those Exciting “Earth-Like” Planets of the TRAPPIST-1 System? The Honeymoon Is Over . Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Do you recall the hubbub only one month ago about TRAPPIST-1, a dim red dwarf star some 40 light years from Earth? This star has seven planet [sic], three of which, roughly Earth-sized, were announced as being potentially habitable. This led to excited speculation about alien evolution: [list of headlines].

Those were depressing times for creationists. But maybe the crisis is over. Klinghoffer says:

Well, not so fast. Much of the breathlessness about the system stemmed from a thoroughly imaginative artist’s rendering courtesy of NASA. … Today, the TRAPPIST-1 bubble looks to have popped, with 3D computer climate modeling showing major problems with the system.

Whoopie — except for Earth, the universe is a lifeless desert! Klinghoffer is thrilled! He tells us:

According to Eric T. Wolf of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, the inner three planets would be barren, the outer three frozen. And the middle, planet e? In NASA’s rendering, it looks the most Earth-like. However, in a system like this centering on a dim red dwarf, planet e would need to have been stocked, to start, with seven times the volume of Earth’s oceans.

He refers to this article which discusses Wolf’s work: Trappist-1: Hopes for life dwindle. It says:

At least three of the planets looked like they were within the star’s “habitable zone” – the region in which water will remain liquid. On that level, at least, the trio seemed like very good candidates for hosting life.

Now, however, 3D climate modelling is dampening expectations, suggesting that at most only one of Trappist-1’s satellites could support life. The modelling has been completed by Eric Wolf from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder. In doing so, he made the assumption that the seven planets are – or had once been – ocean-covered, with atmospheres comprising nitrogen, carbon-dioxide and water vapour. Orbital and geophysical properties were derived or deduced from collected data. When Wolf ran the numbers, the results were rather depressing.

This is what Klinghoffer quotes from that article:

However, even one habitable planet may turn out to be a forlorn hope. Ultracool dwarf stars, Wolf says, may take as long as one billion years to settle into a stable system, during which orbiting planets are exposed to intense solar radiation, producing extreme greenhouse conditions. If this was the case with Trappist-1, then for the middle planet to retain abundant water today it would have to originally held seven times the ocean volume of Earth.

He was careful not to quote the very next paragraph, which says:

Wolf, however, is not the only scientist investigating the possibility of life in the Trappist-1 system. Also lodged on arxiv during March was a paper by Harvard astrophysicists Manasvi Lingam and Abraham Loeb, in which they explore the idea that life may have arisen on a single planet orbiting the star, then spread to “multiple” others by a process known as panspermia.

[…]

Lingham and Loeb contend that because the seven planets in Trappist-1 are very close together – the distance between adjacent ones being far less than the distance between Earth and Mars – then microbial panspermia is likely to be robust.

After his quote-mining — or model-mining — Klinghoffer continues:

Materialists must have alien life, to assure themselves that Earth’s biology is nothing special, easily replicable by unguided evolutionary processes many other places in the cosmos. It seems unlikely the planets around TRAPPIST-1 support life, which means they cannot support evolutionary speculation, either.

[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] Darwin is doomed again! Klinghoffer smugly ends his little essay with this:

Now it’s time to sit back and wait for the next half-baked “Earth-like” exoplanet to be wheeled out onstage by the popular science media. Don’t worry, it won’t be long.

So there you are. The cozy creationist universe seems secure — for the moment. But they’re worried. Very worried. As they should be.

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

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18 responses to “Discoveroids: We’re Still Alone in the Universe

  1. I have gone to the old “Evolution News and Views”website of the Discovery Institute, and found a major make over. It is now called “Evolution News and Science Today” with 2 subsections “Science” and “Culture.”

    The “about” section says this:

    Evolution News & Science Today (EN) provides original reporting and analysis about evolution, neuroscience, bioethics, intelligent design and other science-related issues, including breaking news about scientific research. It also covers the impact of science on culture and conflicts over free speech and academic freedom in science. Finally, it fact-checks and critiques media coverage of scientific issues.

    Boy, they are really hiding their “mission” of pushing the case for ID. The DI main ID webpage still talks about ID (it’s link to the Evolution News page is still called “Evolution News and Views” however.

    Such lengths to hide their agenda are most suggestive don’t you think? I acn imagine the sort of “fact checking” they will do.

  2. Why the emphasis on neuroscience? I don’t recall any special problems about that.

  3. Mark Germano

    I’m interested to see how the research done by Eric Wolf of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics compares to that done by the Discovery Institute’s analogous group.

  4. Michael Fugate

    Why neuroscience? consciousness is immaterial and didn’t evolve. It makes humans exceptional; we have something nothing else does – except the designer of course.

  5. So the middle planet would have had to have “seven times the ocean volume of Earth”. You mean like in the alleged great flood of Noah? Maybe they’ve got an ark too!!

  6. Just a reminder. According to creationist science, Earth also is not accommodating to life (entropy, conservation of complex specified information, less than 10,000 years).

  7. Is it chiefly–or perhaps, exclusively–the Abrahamic religions that would have a theological issue if lifeforms were discovered on another planet?

    I’m not sure that, say, Hinduism, would have a problem with such a discovery–but I’m no expert.

    The point is, why should the Discoveroids, who endlessly insist that their Intelligent Designer should not at all be construed as the Abrahamic Yahweh, have an issue here? Surely, with their great facility in shucking and jiving, they could easily declare that the Intelligent Designer worked His/Her/Its/Their Oogity Boogity multiple times throughout the cosmos, no problemo.

    Unless, that is, the Intelligent Designer really is just a fig leaf disguise for Yahweh–except, that would mean the Discoveroids were lying, and surely those good folks would never do that!

  8. Way off topic, but very cute: UK schoolboy corrects Nasa data error

    Science is cool! Too bad the Discoveroids just don’t get it.

  9. Now it’s time to sit back and wait for the next half-baked “Earth-like” exoplanet to be wheeled out onstage by the popular science media. Don’t worry, it won’t be long.

    That’s right, Kling. It won’t be long. These announcements are going to be more and more frequent. Your luck won’t last forever.

  10. Ross Cameron

    When humans are in the grip of a delusion, apologetics have no bounds. If a space visitor arrived tomorrow, they would be set back for a while, then come out with ‘God has been busy elsewhere’.

  11. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    Klinghooter has been frequently dropping all pretense lately that the DI is anything more than an apologetics outfit pitching the same ol’ “creation science” it was pitching in the beginning. Consider this paragraph …

    Materialists must have alien life, to assure themselves that Earth’s biology is nothing special, easily replicable by unguided evolutionary processes many other places in the cosmos. It seems unlikely the planets around TRAPPIST-1 support life, which means they cannot support evolutionary speculation, either.

    I honestly had to go back and make sure I hadn’t scrolled too far and was now reading a different article written by Ken Ham and his “research team”. I also like how he blatantly takes an “unlikely” and converts that directly into an asserted “cannot” in a single sentence. Sloppy, even for Klinghooter the Fallacious.

    Anyway, as long as they can keep saying “nothing to see here folks”, when all we’ve done so far as a species is peek behind a couple of trees in the unimaginably huge forest for signs of life, the fundamentalists can stay content and Klingy stays on the apologetics gravy train.

  12. Klinghoffer tells us:

    Materialists must have alien life, to assure themselves that Earth’s biology is nothing special, easily replicable by unguided evolutionary processes many other places in the cosmos. It seems unlikely the planets around TRAPPIST-1 support life, which means they cannot support evolutionary speculation, either.

    But as I’ve said many times before, “materialists” (or “Darwinists,” or “evolutionists,” or “whatever”) don’t need alien life to support their ideas.

    Suppose there isn’t any. Suppose Earth really is a “privileged planet” in that way. That proves absolutely nothing about whether life evolved by purely natural, undirected means or was “designed” and/or magically (pardon me, “supernaturally”) created. It would only mean that conditions for the emergence and development of life are much more stringent than most scientists who know what they’re talking about (sorry, DI’ers, that doesn’t mean you) believe.

  13. There are several different ways to approach this.
    One obvious, definitive way is to point out that evolutionary biology is sufficiently well supported by confining it to life on Earth, the only life we know about.
    “The convergence, neither sought nor induced, of results of work done independently one from the other, constitutes in itself a significant argument in favor of this theory.” (Pope John Paul II)
    There is no need to respond to red herrings, about domains where we don’t have enough information. The mere existence of planets outside the Solar System was confirmed only 25 years ago.
    Yet the anti-evolutionists continue to demonstrate their own failure to produce an alternative and to contradict themselves.
    One example being their argument that the Earth is a privileged planet for the existence of life on the one hand, and on the other hand that the universal laws of nature are fine tuned for life (in particular, human life: the Anthropic Principle). And then a third contrary, that the appearance of life on Earth violates laws of nature (both the universal laws and the privileged status of Earth) and must therefore be Intelligently Designed by agency acting outside the laws of nature (without any suggestion of what that action might be).
    Yes, they propose a self-contradictory non-explanation for a irrelevant non-problem.

  14. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    Praise be to Curm, closer of open tags and possessor of Olivia’s undying and loyal affections.

  15. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik says: “Praise be to Curm, closer of open tags and possessor of Olivia’s undying and loyal affections.”

    Amusingly, there is one among us (known as “Neanderthal fingers”) who holds the world record for open tags, and who claims to be Olivia’s choice.

  16. Better to have Neanderthal Fingers than Presidential Hands…

  17. Michael Fugate

    Is that why he is afraid to shake hands with women – they will know and secretly snicker?

  18. Hey, Cardinal Megs, since you mentioned “Presidential Hands”, have you read this yet? The unfiltered, (mostly) unedited transcript of Time magazine’s interview with our president himself. Scary stuff — he sounds just a bit like Capt. Queeg talking about the strawberries.

    http://time.com/4710456/donald-trump-time-interview-truth-falsehood/