Hambo Rejects New Stars With Ingredients of Life

First, some real science news, then the creationist reaction. PhysOrg has this headline: ALMA finds ingredient of life around infant Sun-like stars. They say:

Two teams of astronomers have harnessed the power of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile to detect the prebiotic complex organic molecule methyl isocyanate in the multiple star system IRAS 16293-2422. One team was co-led by Rafael Martín-Doménech at the Centro de Astrobiología in Madrid, Spain, and Víctor M. Rivilla, at the Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri in Florence, Italy; and the other by Niels Ligterink at the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands and Audrey Coutens at University College London, United Kingdom.

“This star system seems to keep on giving! Following the discovery of sugars, we’ve now found methyl isocyanate. This family of organic molecules is involved in the synthesis of peptides and amino acids, which, in the form of proteins, are the biological basis for life as we know it,” explain Niels Ligterink and Audrey Coutens.

[…]

IRAS 16293-2422 is a multiple system of very young stars, around 400 light-years away in a large star-forming region called Rho Ophiuchi in the constellation of Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer). The new results from ALMA show that methyl isocyanate gas surrounds each of these young stars.

Earth and the other planets in our Solar System formed from the material left over after the formation of the Sun. Studying solar-type protostars can therefore open a window to the past for astronomers and allow them to observe conditions similar to those that led to the formation of our Solar System over 4.5 billion years ago.

Okay, that’s enough. As you can imagine, this is the sort of thing that horrifies creationists. According to Genesis, Earth was created for life, and there’s no mention in the bible of any other worlds, so there’s no possibility of life anywhere else. The very idea of finding life on other worlds is … well, it’s blasphemy!

A typical reaction comes from Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. His new post is titled “Ingredient of Life” Discovered in Distant Star System. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Well, it seems scientists have done it. They’ve discovered an ingredient needed for the evolution of life around distant stars! Now all they need is a planet just the right distance from just the right star with just the right environment (and of course all the rest of the ingredients for life, including an information and language system) — and then they’ll have life!

Of course, I write this tongue in cheek. Scientists are no closer to discovering a naturalistic mechanism for the origin of life (here on earth or elsewhere in the cosmos) than they were before this discovery. What these scientists found in a distant star system was the hazardous material methyl isocyanate.

It appears that Hambo isn’t impressed. He says:

[C]alling this find an “ingredient of life” (as their title does) is a big stretch. What they’ve really found is just a highly toxic chemical and then added evolutionary assumptions about the formation of stars, earth, and life to the find.

Yeah — pay no attention to those hell-bound scientists and their infernal evolutionary assumptions. Hambo continues to demolish the discovery:

Now, it’s claimed that the star system in which this chemical was found contains “young stars in their earliest stages of evolution.” But Dr. Danny Faulkner, AiG’s PhD astronomer who taught astronomy at a secular university for over 26 years, says,

[Hambo quotes his creationist astronomer:] The system in question, IRAS 16293-2422, consists of three stars, each probably having mass similar to the sun. The system is located in the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex. Most astronomers think that stars are born in such dense clouds of dust and gas, so they have interpreted stars embedded in the cloud as having recently formed. Note that this is an interpretation, not clear evidence that these are stars in their infancy. [Bold font in Hambo’s post.]

That settles it. This so-called discovery isn’t anything at all. Oh — our last excerpt from Hambo’s post is a real winner:

These stars don’t give us a window into the formation of stars or our own solar system. We would agree that they are young stars though because all the stars are young, created just 6,000 years ago on Day Four of Creation Week.

So there you are, dear reader. Once again, Hambo is there to clarify things for us. Those infernal secular scientists haven’t found anything, and Genesis is still The Truth.

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23 responses to “Hambo Rejects New Stars With Ingredients of Life

  1. Scientists are no closer to discovering a naturalistic mechanism for the origin of life (here on earth or elsewhere in the cosmos) than they were before this discovery.

    Actually, Ken, yes they are. With baby steps, but still.

  2. It’s not hard to detect the fear in his words.

  3. What an arrogant pr*ck he is to think he can pass judgment on this scientific research by using a book written by ignorant bronze age goat herders.

  4. Approaching this from the stance of ID/creationism, what the xenobiologists have to find is evidence that the laws of thermodynamics are not obeyed.

    BTW, I don’t know why they have to find evidence of language. Did the early microscopists need to find evidence of language to conclude that they were seeing living microbes? (Despite the fact that the Bible makes no mention of the creation of microbes.)

  5. @Kosh
    But much of what he says is not in the Bible. It is made-up stuff so as to avoid facing the obvious relationship of humans with the rest of the world of life- in particular with chimps and other apes.
    But the Bible is not a product of Bronze Age Ancient Near East. The Iron Age began in the ANE around 1200 BCE, while most of the Bible dates from several centuries later.

  6. Eric Lipps

    Well, it seems scientists have done it. They’ve discovered an ingredient needed for the evolution of life around distant stars! Now all they need is a planet just the right distance from just the right star with just the right environment (and of course all the rest of the ingredients for life, including an information and language system) — and then they’ll have life!

    The Hamster is at it again, pounding his drum regarding how everything has to be exactly as it is on Earth for life to exist.

    Even a creationist should know better. Surely if God created life on Earth to fit earthly conditions (or vice versa), he could do likewise for some nonhuman alien intelligence. But perhaps he thinks that when the Bible speaks of man as made “in the image of God,” that means God looks just like a (white?) human male, so nonhuman aliens just can’t exist. (And that ignores the bizarre life-forms discovered on this planet in environments which would kill most living things in seconds–so called extremophiles.)

    [Hambo quotes his creationist astronomer:] The system in question, IRAS 16293-2422, consists of three stars, each probably having mass similar to the sun. The system is located in the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex. Most astronomers think that stars are born in such dense clouds of dust and gas, so they have interpreted stars embedded in the cloud as having recently formed. Note that this is an interpretation, not clear evidence that these are stars in their infancy. [Bold font in Hambo’s post.] . . .
    These stars don’t give us a window into the formation of stars or our own solar system. We would agree that they are young stars though because all the stars are young, created just 6,000 years ago on Day Four of Creation Week.

    Agh. Not even all creationists would buy that. Aren’t the frauds, er, “researchers” at the Discovery Institute supposed to be predominantly old-earthers? Ham needs to get back to minding his tourist
    traps. Parroting scientists, even creationist scientists (an oxymoron if there ever was one), only to wave away every word they say that won’t pass through his Genesis filter just makes him look like the crackpot he is.

  7. Dave Luckett

    I suppose it would be pointless to remark that the spectrographic signature of various stars gives evidence of the presence of elements beyond helium, and nuclear theory a clear explanation of their formation from atomic fusion, so that it is possible to measure their proportions and from this form an estimate of how long the fusion process has been going on, ie, how old the star is, and that these estimates range from tens of millions of years to tens of billiions.

    No, thought not.

  8. ” ignorant bronze age goat herders”. No, sophisticated iron age urban poets and scribes, with up-to-date knowledge of the latest Babylonian theories.

    Just as we attack creationists for byassing scientific scholarship, we too could be criticised if we bypass historical and textual scholarship. And our attack on bibliolatory is strengthened, not weakened, by the results of such scholarship.

  9. When Hammy is against something then that is where you should go!
    Being wrong about so many things does show consistency!!

  10. @TomS

    Understood! But the funnies want to place Abraham at 1500 right? And besides, when I coined that phrase years ago on the (defunct) SecWeb forums, we all agreed that “Bronze Age” rolls off the tongue easier!

  11. The traditional date for Abraham is about 2000 BCE. Moses, who is the traditional author of Genesis, is said to date about 1500 BCE. But if we’re going with the traditional story, Moses was learned in Egyptian knowledge. In any case, whoever wrote Genesis was literate.
    The standard Documentary Hypothesis assigns Genesis 1 to the P author contemporary with Solomon, of about 900 BCE. More recent scholarship dates it several centuries later, and reflects, as Paul Bratermann
    points out, knowledge of the high culture of the Ancient Near East, Babylon. Elsewhere in the Old Testament we see a cosmopolitan knowledge of Egypt and Persia.
    IMHO, we need to encourage a higher level of discourse than that engaged in by the creationists. Yes, humor is OK, but not humor based on misrepresentations.

  12. “with up-to-date knowledge of the latest Babylonian theories.”
    Not that up-to-date, given the sloppiness of 1 Kings 7:23. Of course that’s only a problem for Ol’Hambo and Co, who immediately will start doing what they reproach others for: interpreting.

  13. Pi = 3 is good to within 5%, remember. And literalists say that the 10 cubits is “brim to brim”, ie internal, whereas the 30 cubits are “round”, i.e. external, so no problem. Silly stuff, I know, but I’m not sure that “The bible is silly because it says pi = 3” is that much more sensible either. There are good reasons to criticise bibliolatory, and others not so good.

    BTW, in one of the best April 1 hoaxes ever, my friend Mike Bsolough got a story going some years back that the Alabama legislature had adopted pi =3 by law

  14. “Pi = 3 is good to within 5%, remember.”
    The Babylonians whose knowledge was up to date at the time 1 Kings and Chronicles were written were more accurate, remember. Right now I’m too lazy to do the calculation, but 3,12 is good to within a lot less than 5%, so it seems to me. Might the conclusion be correct that those “iron age urban poets and scribes” did not have that up-to-date knowledge of the latest Babylonian theories or that, if they had, did not care and were sloppy?

    “The bible is silly because it says pi = 3”
    I cannot remember ever making this argument. I can remember though a few people strawmanning me by pretending I did. Are you one of them?

    “literalists say that the 10 cubits is “brim to brim”, ie internal, whereas the 30 cubits are “round”, i.e. external, so no problem.”
    What did I write again in my previous comment? Ah yes, Ol’Hambo and co immediately will start doing what they reproach others for: interpreting. Might it be the case that I was referring to this literalist non-rebuttal?

  15. And literalists say that the 10 cubits is “brim to brim”, ie internal, whereas the 30 cubits are “round”, i.e. external, so no problem.

    But this ‘correction’ goes in the wrong direction. 10 cubits internal would be more than 31 cubits around the exterior, by an amount depending on the wall thickness.

  16. Ouch! That’s right!

  17. Dave Luckett

    On the knowledge of the Bible writers being up-to-date, that depends on the date you assign to the text. Of course fundies insist that Moses wrote Genesis and the rest of the Pentateuch, despite there being no such assertion in scripture. But they know this. So all other ascriptions must be invalid.

    Alas, there is evidence to the contrary. The Exodus is supposed to have happened before 1250 BCE, which is a century or so before the start of the iron age in Palestine or Egypt, yet iron is mentioned eleven times in the Pentateuch. This would imply that even the stories from which the texts were redacted date from considerably after. In the Pentateuch, the King of Egypt is only ever referred to by the epithet “Pharaoh” as if that were his name or exclusively his only title, but that was not the case until about 800 BCE. Earlier, “Pharaoh”, which means “Great House”, was only one of his titles and he was more usually referred to as “Lord of the Two Lands”. That would imply that the texts date from later than 800 BCE.

    Then there’s the language. As with other languages, even a transcribed Hebrew text carries markers for the time it was written. More texts have come to light over recent decades, and most scholars now date the latest language in the Pentateuch to about the fifth century BCE or even later, while agreeing that there are earlier passages – the Song of the Sea, for example, at Exodus 15. They also discern several voices in the text – and that’s reasonable, for the style and vocabulary varies – but attempts to ascribe every phrase in it to a specific one of these are, in my opinion, overwrought.

    None of these considerations can shift a fundamentalist, of course. Such notions are based on mere evidence, whereas their certainty derives from revelation. Uh-huh. Yeah, right.

  18. One thing about the fundamentalist. He can’t seem to be consistent. Take the case of Moses having written the Pentatateuch, and no evidence can be considered to the contrary. Yet the final few verses of Deuteronomy describe he events after the death of Moses. Remembering that Moses can be informed by God about the future, it is easy to say that Moses could have written those verses as well as anything else. Yet, for some reason, the standard fundamentalist lets the mere human reason override the knowledge that Moses wrote it all. The standard fundamentalist tells us that Joshua finished up Deuteronomy.

    I don’t know how fundamentalist politics works. If a teacher of Old Testament in a Bible college were to say that Moses also wrote those verses about his death, would he be in danger of immediate dismissal? If he were to mention that it seems to be contrary to the doctrine that revelation overrides reason, but that he is following the policy of the Church in this regard?

  19. Numbers 12:3, “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.” (From one of several episoeds in which questioning Moses’ autocracy is presented as wicked, sometimes leading to dire punishment).

    In my own upbringing (mainstream Orthodox Jewish), I was told that this was indeed true humility, able to obectively describe itself as such. As I understand it, some things have changed for the better. Mainstream observant Jews now tend towards regarding the Pentateuch as a human document written over time, and rejecting the murderous Exodus/Joshuamythology. The ultra-Orthodox, alas, have come to embrace YEC creationism and out-compete each other in other absurdities.

  20. My own feeling is that a word like “humble” is very dependent on culture. It is hard for me to imagine what the corresponding Hebrew term might mean in the culture of the Ancient Near East. So, even today, I have no problem with that being attributed to Moses (even if one takes that as imaginative writing).

    My memory tells me rather that I was confused, as a child, by the opening of Deuteronomy, which seemed to have been written by someone who had crossed the Jordan (which would rule out Moses), what I would call today a violation of continuity. But the Documentary Hypothesis was particularly welcome for me for making sense out of the story of Joseph and his brothers.
    I realized that I was reading it as others had, as needing an explanation, and that it was the product of more than one writer would explain the violations of continuity.

    When I first heard the Joshua explanation for the end of Deuteronomy, I was disappointed that people would be so desperate as to take it seriously.

  21. “When I first heard the Joshua explanation for the end of Deuteronomy, I was disappointed that people would be so desperate as to take it seriously.” I’m not sure you should have been. As I understand it, Deuternomy as a whole through Joshua to Kings is now regarded as a single narrative, albeit one much redacted (Gary Rendsburg’s articles are good on this), and developed over considerable time.

    The Talmudic rabbis discussed, unconvincingly, the authorship of all these books, concerning which the OT itself is silent

  22. @mnbo, @Paul Braterman, @Bwbach

    26 And it was an hand breadth thick, and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies: it contained two thousand baths.

  23. ” all the rest of the ingredients for life, including an information and language system”

    I’m listening to scatter, adept, and remember – a science book for non sciency people.

    It seems life, even humanoids, occurred before languages and “information”.