The Universe vs. The Bible

The universe described in the bible made sense to the shepards and farmers of 3,000 years ago. It consisted of the Sun and the Moon above the flat Earth, with the stars set as lights in a solid firmament rotating around us, and above the firmament was the glorious realm of Yahweh.

That description was based on limited observations, and now it’s a wee bit outdated. Most of us understand that the Earth isn’t the only world in existence, it’s not the center of the universe, and the universe is — cough, cough — somewhat larger than the bible suggests.

Most creationists dimly realize that their divinely described universe doesn’t exist, and they persevere by double-talking about the inaccuracy of their ancient scrolls. But how long can they go on?

According to the latest tally available from NASA, perhaps not yet updated for the news we’re about to report, there are 2,787 planetary systems out there, with 3,735 confirmed extra-solar planets, of which 153 are terrestrial (i.e., rocky, not gaseous like Jupiter). They don’t give a figure for how many of those are in the habitable zone of their star, but so far it’s a dozen or two. And that tally doesn’t include 121 giant planets that may have habitable moons — see More for Creationists To Worry About.

And it keeps getting worse — for creationists. Today we found this at PhysOrg: Nearly 80 exoplanet candidates identified in record time. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Scientists at MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] and elsewhere have analyzed data from K2, the follow-up mission to NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, and have discovered a trove of possible exoplanets amid some 50,000 stars.

In a paper that appears online today in the Astronomical Journal, the scientists report the discovery of nearly 80 new planetary candidates, including a particular standout: a likely planet that orbits the star HD 73344, which would be the brightest planet host ever discovered by the K2 mission.

PhysOrg is getting their information from this MIT press release. They don’t provide a link but this is probably the paper they’re talking about: Planetary Candidates from K2 Campaign 16. Without a subscription, all you can see is the abstract. Okay, back to PhysOrg. They say:

The new analysis is also noteworthy for the speed with which it was performed. The researchers were able to use existing tools developed at MIT to rapidly search through graphs of light intensity called “lightcurves” from each of the 50,000 stars that K2 monitored in its two recent observing campaigns. They quickly identified the planetary candidates and released the information to the astronomy community just weeks after the K2 mission made the spacecraft’s raw data available. A typical analysis of this kind takes between several months and a year. … Such speed will also be a necessity when scientists start receiving data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, TESS, which is designed to monitor nearby stars in 30-day swaths and will ultimately cover nearly the entire sky.

Can you imagine the horror a creationist must feel when he becomes aware of these discoveries? The PhysOrg article is long, so we’ll give you just one more excerpt:

Since the team released its results, astronomers have validated four of the candidates as definite exoplanets. They have been observing other candidates that the study identified, including the possible planet orbiting HD 73344. Crossfield [Ian Crossfield, an assistant professor of physics at MIT who co-led the study with graduate student Liang Yu] says the brightness of this star, combined with the speed with which its planetary candidate was identified, can help astronomers quickly zero in on even more specific features of this system.

“We found one of the most exciting planets that K2 has found in its entire mission, and we did it more rapidly than any effort has done before,” Crossfield says. “This is showing the path forward for how the TESS mission is going to do the same thing in spades, all over the entire sky, for the next several years.”

We can’t imagine what it’s like to be a creationist and be bombarded by news like this all the time. But it’s a problem they inflict upon themselves, so we won’t worry about it.

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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13 responses to “The Universe vs. The Bible

  1. I haven’t heard much relevant from the lately released data from the Gaia mission of the European Space Agency. Mostly about the large scale structure of the Milky Way, but shouldn’t there be information about exoplanets?

  2. Too bad the world ended yesterday, ‘cos I had this really funny comment I wanted to make on this very subject. Now I’ll never get to make it…

    Wait a moment…
    (Stops. Looks around. Slowly dawns on him).


  3. The New Yorker magazine for May 30 had an article “Looking for Life on a Flat Earth”. There seems to be people who are beginning to take the flat Earth seriously. I guess that there is a widespread conspiracy that has some goal in promoting the Earth being a ball.

  4. SC:
    “Can you imagine the horror a creationist must feel when he becomes aware of these discoveries?”

    Nah. I don’t think creationists will be much fazed by the discovery of thousands more exoplanets. If they can overlook such facts as the speed of light and radiometric dating — facts that directly contradict their YEC beliefs — they will not be bothered by a few more rocks found in the universe.

    Even the discovery of incontrovertible proof of alien intelligent beings will not shake their beliefs. They are too deeply psychologically invested in their doctrine to change their views. After all, the Bible doesn’t explicitly say (as far as I know) that there aren’t any other inhabited worlds in the universe, it just doesn’t mention any. Maybe the G.O.D. didn’t want us to worry about them. Who knows?

  5. Thousands of other planets? Prove it. Prove they weren’t just a speck of dust on your telescope lens. Who cares anyway; God sent Jesus to this planet so that proves Earth isn’t your ordinary planet. When you can prove Jesus visited another planet’s inhabitants and died for their sins let me know.
    –devoted Creationist near you

  6. If creationists were as consistent tas that, then we would have a different “controversy”. But, by and large, they choose to pretent to accept some of science. For example, fossils. When I first heard about creatioism, I assumed that they would just reject fossils as tricks of the devil, or just plain mistakes. But the creationists don’t take that approach – rather, they accept that the fossils represent one-living things, different from those living today. They – and there are exceptions – acccept that the Earth is a planet of the Solar System, that the stars can be at many thousands of light-years away, and that the discoveries of exoplanets are genuine.

  7. Eric Lipps

    I’ve said it before: it simply doesn’t matter to the evolution/creation “debate” how many planets there are, how many are “terrestrial” solid planets, or whether or not any of them support life.

    Suppose Earth really is a “privileged planet,” alone in the universe in having the conditions for life and in actually bearing life. What does this have to do with whether or not evolution occurred here? Zip. All we could say, in such a case, is that whatever caused life to appear here and to take on the forms with which we’re familiar is unique–which isn’t the same as saying it was supernatural.

  8. “which isn’t the same as saying it was supernatural”
    As the apostate theologian and social anarchist Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis already wrote at the end of the 19th Century: to derive a divine world from our concrete one requires a salto mortale.

  9. And Kant, in the late 18th century, pointed out the difference between an architect hampered by material, and a creator to which everything is subject.

  10. Matt:
    “Thousands of other planets? Prove it.”

    Read the literature, Matt. It has been verifiably substantiated.

    “God sent Jesus to this planet…”

    Prove it. In the meantime, I’m happy to follow the teachings ascribed to Jesus, whether He existed or not. To me, it doesn’t matter who the author was; the Golden Rule and “love thy neighbor” make logical sense. I don’t need the threat of Hell nor the promise of heaven to understand their value.

  11. retiredsciguy Sorry you didn’t get my sarcasm. I’m definitely not a “devoted Creationist near you.”

  12. I don’t think this makes any more difference. A couple decades or more, maybe, when the first few confirmed exoplanets were discovered, but after several thousand, what else is new. It will take the confirmation of exolife to discombobulate the Creationists again

  13. @Matt: You had me fooled. Glad to see you didn’t really think “they were just dust specks on the telescope lens.” Of course, if there actually were dust specks on the lens, they’d be way too close to be in focus — you’d never see them.