AIG Says: Life on Other Worlds? No Way!

This news appeared ten days ago at the website of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory: NASA Planet Hunter Finds Earth-Size Habitable-Zone World. Briefly, they said:

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered its first Earth-size planet in its star’s habitable zone, the range of distances where conditions may be just right to allow the presence of liquid water on the surface. Scientists confirmed the find, called TOI 700 d, using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and have modeled the planet’s potential environments to help inform future observations.

It’s not literally the first such planet discovered, but it was the first one found by TESS. JPL makes that clear:

TOI 700 d is one of only a few Earth-size planets discovered in a star’s habitable zone so far. Others include several planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system and other worlds discovered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope.

Hey — the planet already has a Wikipedia write-up: TOI 700 d.

News like this is always upsetting to creationists. A good example is the reaction of the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG), the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. They just posted TOI 700d: The Latest Earth-Like Exoplanet?

It was written by Dr. Danny R. Faulkner. Here’s AIG’s biographical information about him. They say he taught physics and astronomy until he joined AIG. His undergraduate degree is from Bob Jones University. Here are some excerpts from Danny’s post, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Here we go again. [Huh?] A recent news story [link omitted] reported the discovery of the latest earth-like planet orbiting another star. This time, it’s TOI 700d, discovered by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). … What makes TOI 700d special? Measurements suggest that TOI 700d is 1.19 ± 0.11 times the earth’s size. Therefore, in terms of size, this exoplanet is earth-like.

[…]

The most important consideration is how far from its star TOI 700d orbits. The habitable zone is the region around a star in which an orbiting planet, having the right size and composition, could have the proper temperature range to support liquid water on its surface and hence possibly harbor life.

We know all that — see Circumstellar habitable zone. We also know that creationists are horrified at the existence of any extra-solar planets, because the bible doesn’t even hint at such things, and they’re in full-blown denial about the possibility of life out there. That’s the mindset which governs all posts like this one at AIG.

After a few paragraphs discussing the many things that aren’t yet known about TOI 700d, Danny says:

Is TIO 700d an earth-like planet? While the possibility is tantalizing for most scientists, there is far too much uncertainty to say for sure whether this exoplanet is earth-like or not. Of course, the agenda [agenda?] is to establish that earth-like planets are common in hopes of arguing that life elsewhere in the universe is common.

Beware, dear reader — those savage, sinful scientists have an agenda! After that warning, Danny tells us:

However, even if there are earth-like exoplanets, there is no guarantee that any of them harbor life. While liquid water and proper temperature are necessary conditions for life, they hardly are sufficient conditions for life. There is much, much more to the existence of life than just liquid water.

Are you wondering what else is required? Danny explains:

We know from Scripture that God specially made life on earth; therefore, life did not arise here naturally, nor did life arise anywhere else naturally. Hence, we have little reason to expect life elsewhere.

Don’t forget that, dear reader. Life doesn’t arise naturally — only supernaturally! Danny wraps it all up by citing a scientific principle:

It turns out that a science law backs this up the law of biogenesis, where life arises only from life, never from non-living things.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The “law” of biogenesis. We discussed that old clunker in Common Creationist Claims Confuted.

And so we leave Danny and the other creation scientists who work for ol’ Hambo. They tremble every day at what science is discovering, and they never fail to amuse us.

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27 responses to “AIG Says: Life on Other Worlds? No Way!

  1. [SC:] “Beware, dear reader — those savage, sinful scientists have an agenda! ”

    Yes sure, why? Astrophysicists try to understand the universe, and to discover extrasolar planets is part of this agenda.

    It is not like if they use secret super-rockets and other 5th-millenia technologies to go to distant stellar systems and build planets there, before coming back to Earth and feigning to discover them. Would be toooo much coool 🙂

  2. @DesnevD: you beat me. Of course those scientists have an agenda: eternal fame for the first one to discover extraterrestrial life!
    I also wanted to write that Dannyboy takes a considerable risk by making a testable prediction. But I just had read the comments underneath the previous blogpost. TomS’ accurate

    “But if one does not have a need to be consistent, just plain lying works. If it turns out not to be helpful, one can always say something else.”
    applies to Dannyboy here as well.

  3. If a god or supernatural designers are involved, then it doesn’t make any difference whether there is an environment fit for life. It doesn’t make any sense, for example, to consider whether Earth is a privileged planet. Or whether the parameters of the natural laws are fined tuned. Indeed, if there is a law of conservaton of complex specified information making life supremely improbable, then the existence of life is nothing more than a proof of God, or at least of some suernatural designer, right?
    That makes all of their palaver pointless.

  4. Michael Fugate

    If life were to be found, AiG would claim the Bible said it would be there all along purging all posts such as the one linked above. I have no doubt they will be able to manipulate some Bible verses into positive claims of alien life.

  5. JOB 38:7 KJV “When the morning stars sang together, …”
    That tells us that there is intelligent life in the heavens.
    The ancients believed that motion was a sign of life.

  6. chris schilling

    Every lifeless exoplanet discovered should be another nail in the coffin for the argument creationists make about a universe apparently fine-tuned for life.

    In his latest post, Danny plumps for supernatural causation of Earth’s life. Elsewhere, creationists such as Jason Lisle, as well as the Discoveroids, opt for — or add on — the fine-tuning scenario.

    As TomS points, out, one or the other might be sufficient to “explain” how we got here, but we don’t need both; and invoking the fine-tuning argument — among other things — should raise the question of why the universe is not therefore more populous, rather than less.

  7. @ Desnes Diev: In addition to Frank B, you beat me to it. The only “agenda” the scientists that I’ve known in my career is to find stuff out about the universe. If some of that information indicates that there are lots of exoplanets, that is interesting. If some proportion of them turn out to be solid, and earth-like, that’s interesting. And if some of those turn out to have a lot of O2 in their atmosphere, possibly indicating photosynthesis, would be interesting. None of which has anything to do with whether gods exist. Frankly, it isn’t the existence of exoplanets that make me think the probability that there are any gods is indistinguishable from zero; it’s the lack of evidence.

  8. “TOI 700d: The Latest Earth-Like Exoplanet?” AIG outs its hypocrisy with its own headline. ANYONE with the slightest degree of natural curiosity is going to wonder about earth like exoplanets. Only the superbly wacko don’t pick up on the opportunities something like this actually suggests. The more AIG publishes the worse they make themselves look.

  9. @och will
    Once I thought that saying something stupid would make your position look worse.
    Current events have proved me wrong.

  10. As others have noted, AiG has nailed its colours to the mast here. A discovery of extraterrestrial life will devastate them. I think that, pace Michael Fugate, any subsequent disavowal they make will be bootless. On the internet, everybody can hear you lie. They’ll be gone for all money.

    But that, of course, will not apply to other creationists or creationist outfits. As chris schilling points out, they still have the fine-tuning argument. Any extraterrestrial life will simply reinforce that.

    So, if the pace of discovery goes on, we can hope for the destruction of AiG, when life turns up on another world. But the hydra has many heads, and grows new ones. Forgive me that I find it necessary to refer to myth to account for creationism. Fact, evidence – it just doesn’t meet the need.

  11. @ChrisS: “Every lifeless exoplanet discovered should be another nail in the coffin for the argument creationists make about a universe apparently fine-tuned for life.”
    Why? Just make the meaning of “fine” as broad as you like and voila. Finetuning is just another fancy word for design and meaningless for the same reasons – ask TomS. DaveL got it right:

    “A discovery of extraterrestrial life will devastate them.”
    It’s only that I’m less optimistic (or pessimistic, if you enjoy creacrap for its comical aspect). See MichaelF above. Honesty, intellectual integrity, coherence and consistency don’t matter, so they’ll adapt their theology and apologetics, make a 180° turn and claim that they’ve always got it right. See the creacrap position on racism.

  12. Psalm 19: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
    Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.
    They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.
    And so, you see,not only is there life on planets around other stars, but civilisations communicating with each other. And if life was started supernaturally here, it could have been started supernaturally there. There is no way of defeating creationist logic

  13. chris schilling

    @FrankB
    Permit me, but I take “fine-tuning” to mean that conditions should therefore allow life to emerge elsewhere than just Earth. Creationists take it to mean, presumably, just us, here on this little world.

    But TomS raised the reasonable objection: if the god or designer can avail itself of supernatural means to produce life, what difference does it make whether conditions — i.e. natural laws — are fit for life? The point, surely, is that to resort to the supernatural — the miraculous or divine — is to render any fine-tuning ultimately redundant. But I don’t want to chase my own tail, going ’round in circles with the supernatural vs natural paradox.

    There’s also the issue of profligacy. All these exoplanets are slowly piling up (and those so far discovered are but a drop in the cosmic ocean). Either they contain life, or harbour the potential; or they’re otherwise lifeless. What, then, are they for, from the creationist perspective? Merely to bedazzle the believer with “creation” for its own sake? The one thing we should ask of good design is that it be efficient, and not wasteful.

    Nature, and the universe, would seem to infer otherwise.

  14. Paul Braterman, I’m clueless as to why your comment was delayed.

  15. On the subject of extraterrestrial life ruining Christianity, it’s worth noting that C.S. Lewis, who was admittedly an old earth creationist and not YEC, wrote a sci fi series with a bunch of aliens in it.

  16. No problem. Actually, I’m quite fond of that psalm. As long as people don’t say the heavens are talking gibberish

  17. Is this ‘fine-tuning’ at work? How the dinosaur-killing asteroid primed Earth for modern life

    I mean, it makes sense, if you’re an Intelligent Designer but your newly-made planet just isn’t producing the life forms you intended, that all you need do is hurl a stonking great meteor at it, right?

  18. @chris schilling
    You point out for god or the supernatural does not need fine tuning for there to be life. But that is true also for design. God doesn’t need anything, and that includes design. Design is resorted to by a finite, limited actor. In order to achieve our goals, we have to take account of possibilities, to plan, to design.

  19. Michael Fugate

    Exoplanets = God’s failed experiments. Just read the Bible, the story claims God keeps failing over and over – sin is still present for one.

  20. Eddie Janssen

    One wonders where heaven is situated. Or hell, :).

  21. @ChrisS: “Permit me, but I take …..”
    I permit you, but since when do creacrappers care how you and I take things?

    “But TomS raised the reasonable objection …..”
    Yes, that’s why I referred to him.

    “What, then, are they for, from the creationist perspective?”
    Pick your choice: YHWH’s ways are mysterious and/or the heavens declare His glory.

    @Mega wonders: “Is this ‘fine-tuning’ at work?”
    Depends on how the answer “supports” the predetermined conclusion of the apologist.

    @TomS: “But that is true also for design.”
    Of course, as I wrote above fine-tuning and design mean largely the same.

  22. Laurette McGovern

    It’s impossible because it’s impossible. But if life were to be found on another planet, they would say the bible predicted it all along.

    IOW, heads I win, tails you lose

  23. There is the possibility for a complex chemistry which is very different from life as we understand it. It presents the problem whether we should call it “life”. Perhaps it exists on Earth, deep underground.
    There is already the difficulty for the
    Bible. Microscopic life which is neither animal nor plant is not mentioned in the Bible. There is no room for microbes being created in the six days of Genesis 1, the two domains other than eukaryotes.
    We don’t have to speculate about how the Bible can account for extraterrestrial life. How does it now account for fungi?

  24. @TomS, fungi are eukaryotes. And they are implicitly mention in the Bible, with reference to the leavening of bread. So try bacteria, or archaea, or viruses.

    I once wasted a lot of time trying to define life. I emerged from the experience as an anti-Platonist, totally opposed to Socrates’ appeal to definitions. Definitions can tell us how we have decided to use words, and what assumptions we have made when deciding to use words in those particular ways, but nothing, absolutely nothing, in the way of facts about what those words attempt to describe.

    We can define life-as-we-know-it by pointing at it. There will be small questions about whether viruses are alive when outside the cells in which they are active, and more generally about other cases of suspended animation, but we can settle those by fiat. If we find the kind of thing you are considering here, “Is it alive?” is the very last question we should ask, after we have asked ourselves in what ways it resembles, and in what way to differs from, life-as-we-know-it. Nothing is to be learnt just by putting things in boxes, and reading the label on the box

  25. @Paul Braterman
    I deliberately mentioned fungi. I think that most fungi were not recognized as living things before the 19th century. Processes like fermentation were classified with processes that we calll chemical, like oxidation or solution, or physical. The only possibility for recognizing fungi as living would be mushrooms – are they mentioned in the Bible?
    Anyway, the Bible only recognizes the two kingdoms: plants and animals.

  26. Michael Fugate

    Well said Paul.
    We need to describe the world as it is not as we want it to be.

  27. I side with MichaelF: “Well said Paul.”
    And he said ao

    “Definitions can tell us ….. nothing, absolutely nothing, in the way of facts about what those words attempt to describe.”
    This is why I find “atheism is a religion too” so utterly stupid.