Creationist Wisdom #782: Miracle or Accident?

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Wisconsin State Journal of Madison, Wisconsin, the state capital. It’s titled Life may only flourish here, and the newspaper has no comments feature.

Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. His first name is Wayne. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

Recently, NASA scientists have found more planets in our galaxy that have conditions that are necessary for life to exist on them. The media coverage says that ups the chances for life on them.

Yes, and it’s driving creationists crazy — as we shall soon see. Wayne says:

Not necessarily. That optimism for life on other planets is based on the assumption that life started by accident. It is based on the belief that, given the right conditions and enough time, life will somehow start. That in turn is based on the belief that life started by accident here on Earth.

Creationists don’t like natural laws. They prefer to think that everything is a miracle. To them, nothing happens naturally — or as they prefer to say, “by accident” or “random chance.” Wayne tells us:

That belief is not science because it has not been demonstrated. Many scientists and others believe that it did, but that is not a statement of science. It is a statement of their faith.

As is typical of creationists, who are irony impaired, they denigrate science by referring to it as “faith.” Wayne continues:

We have not seen and verified any natural process that starts with non-life and results in life. There are many theories and considerable wishful thinking, but that’s all.

It’s true that life hasn’t literally been created in the lab — not yet. But the precursors of life have been — see Miller–Urey experiment, and they’ve also been found in space — see Astronomers discover complex organic matter in the universe. Let’s read on:

Christians, of course, recognize that God created life, but secular folks need to admit that they really don’t know how life started.

Creationists are the only folks who know how life started. You, dear reader, have nothing but your faith. Wayne says:

Hence none of us really know what we might find on other planets.

As is common with creationists these days, Wayne doesn’t declare with certainty that there’s no life out there — but he’s certain that if it exists, it’s not “by accident.” And now we come to the end:

It is a good thing to study other planets, but don’t make an unverified assumption and call it science. We may well be alone, except for God.

In other words, Wayne has no idea what’s out there. But whatever it is, it’s a miracle — like everything else.

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

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14 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #782: Miracle or Accident?

  1. Ah Wayne, if your sky fairy is our only companion, then we truly are alone.

  2. Christine Janis

    “We have not seen and verified any natural process that starts with non-life and results in life. ”

    What about the dust of the earth?

  3. But that was a supernatural process!

  4. Christians, of course, recognize that God created life, but secular folks need to admit that they really don’t know how life started.

    “Christians”—by whom “Wayne” surely means fundamentalists—think they know, but that’s not the same as actually knowing. As the proverb goes, “He who knows not and knows not he knows not: he is a fool—shun him.”

    By contrast, “secular folks” will admit they “don’t really know how life started”—but they’re fairly sure it didn’t emerge by simple decree, whether 6,000 years ago or—as old-earth creationists grudgingly allow—millions or even billions of years ago. And because they aren’t stuck on a single chapter of a single book written during the Bronze Age, they have a chance of finding an answer. To paraphrase Will Rogers’ jab at Herbert Hoover: it’s not what creationists don’t know that’s the problem, it’s what they know for sure that’s just not so.

  5. To say something happens by an unknown process by following unknown rules, or by no rules at all,, for unknown aims, that sounds to me very much like one doesn’t know how it happens. It reminds me of the phrase, “An Act of God”.

    BTW, it is generally recognized that the beginnings of the book of Genesis
    and much of the Bible date from the Iron Age of the Ancient Near East, The transition from Bronze Age to Iron Age somewhere around 1200 BCE.

    BTW, one can make the case that Genesis 1 says that the way that God created life on Earth by living things growing in the water and the ground. The Old Testament does not say anything about creation “from nothing”.

    BTW, it seems that the quote attributed to Will Rogers is actually due to Josh Billings, some 50 years earlier. (It is usually credited to Mark Twain.)

  6. We have not seen and verified any natural process that starts with non-life and results in life.

    Fixed it: We have not seen and verified any supernatural process. Period.

  7. We have not seen and verified any natural process that starts with non-life and results in life.

    See the response by Herbert Spencer, “The Development Hypothesis” (1852 – sic, before “Origin of Species”) in Wikisource.org.

  8. Dave Luckett

    “optimism for life on other planets is based on the assumption that life started by accident.”

    No, idiot, the optimism is founded on the assumption that given similar conditions, the same reagents will undergo the same chemical reactions.

  9. Michael Fugate

    And this is essentially Aquinas’ teleological argument – God exists and has certain properties, therefore order in the universe follows. It is the order in the universe that allows life. This doesn’t change when we find more solar systems and creationists are only trying to constrain God to their tiny little minds.

  10. After these religious nutjobs have visited and thoroughly explored them , then they can start claiming a miracle!!!

  11. If I were a Christian here’s how I’d spin it:
    God created other planets and life. He could’ve sent His Son (himself?) to another planet to save another life form but instead He chose Earth and us. So we’re even more special/blessed than we thought! Halleluiah!

  12. Michael Fugate

    If God can care about 7 billion people on earth – even down to knowing how many hairs on each head, then why would extra planets be a problem?

  13. “secular folks need to admit that they really don’t know how life started.”

    Well, Wayne, is technically correct. But as SC notes, we’ve got some pretty good ideas supported by evidence. Numerous experiments which simulate early earth conditions all give rise to building blocks of life: amino acids for proteins, sugars for carbohydrates, lipids for membranes, and nitrogenous bases for nucleic acids. So whether this happened in some primordial soup in a tidal pool or (more likely) a deep-sea thermal vent, there are natural processes that explain the origin of biological molecules and their polymerization. Had these experiments failed, Wayne, you’d have a stronger point. It’s how science works, Wayne.

  14. @Scientist:
    1) By “secular folks”, is meant “people who don’t agree with me”.
    2) Everybody needs to admit that they really don’t now how life started.
    3) If one finds it worthwhile to learn how life started, the scientific approach is the only one which has a prospect of making progress. (Maybe it will not. But an approach that all we will ever know is contained in an unvarying body of truth is guaranteed never to tell us. If it is a fatal flaw for science not to tell us, then that may be a redeemable fault; while the denial of science is stuck with the fault.)