Extra-Solar Planet Update: July 2021

We haven’t had one of these since May 2021. It’s time for an update because this stuff always infuriates creationists. We won’t repeat all the usual introductory information, but some repetition is inevitable.

The picture above this post illustrates the universe described in Genesis, written around 1,000 BC at the time of the Babylonian empire. Immovable in the center of the universe is the flat Earth, which was created as the abode of man. It’s supported by pillars. The Sun orbits the Earth, as does the Moon. Above them are the stars. They’re not suns, they’re lights embedded in a presumably solid firmament, which also revolves around the Earth. Above the firmament is heaven, the glorious realm of Yahweh. Below Earth is the lake of fire, described later in scripture. That’s the universe and we’re in the center — the focus of divine attention. No other worlds are mentioned in Genesis — or anywhere else in the bible. There’s no place for them.

Creationists believe that the universe described in Genesis is The Truth. However, virtually everything learned since then seems to contradict that primitive universe. Creationists don’t like any astronomical information that goes beyond the bible, but to avoid looking too crazy they’ve accepted some of it. Most of them are no longer flat-Earthers. Although many passages in the bible say that The Earth Is Flat!, and none say otherwise, most creationists now deny that the bible is a flat-Earth book. And since Galileo, creationists have reluctantly accepted that the Earth is merely one of several planets in our solar system — but that’s where they drew the line, until recently.

With a lot of grumbling, most creationists have accepted that there are other planetary systems out there — but no life! That’s important. Although some are now hedging their bets and saying, “Well, okay, maybe primitive life — but no intelligent life!”

We haven’t found any life out there yet, but the search has barely begun. Meanwhile, just the number of planets out there is enough to drive creationists crazy — and the number keeps growing!

Our information comes from NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration — see Exoplanet Exploration. For each statistic, we’ll give you the latest figure as well as the figure we reported back in May, almost three months ago, which will show you how things are progressing:

Confirmed planets: 4,438 (old figure: 4,383) 55 more!
Planets awaiting confirmation: 7,604 (old figure: 5,912) 1,692 more!
Planetary systems beyond our own: 3,290 (old figure: 3,254) 36 more!

Remember — our observations are only of nearby stars (relatively speaking). Considering the percentage of neighboring stars that have planets, it’s generally accepted that most of the stars in our galaxy have planetary systems — which means that the odds against a life bearing world out there are getting slimmer by the day.

And so we leave the creationists — writhing in pain and anger. Whether they’re Hambo-type creationists or Discoveroids, it makes no difference. They all insist that Earth is unique, and there’s no life — certainly no intelligent life — anywhere else. But every day the facts keep piling up against them. That’s why we like to bring you these updates, and it’s why the creationists don’t like us. They don’t like reality either, but that’s their problem, not ours.

Copyright © 2021. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

12 responses to “Extra-Solar Planet Update: July 2021

  1. Robert van Bakel

    October 31st, the James Webb will be launched to the 2nd Lagrange Point (1.5 million km away- Hubble is near earth orbit) and start its work to take infrared pictures of the universe’s beginning. Apparently up to 200,000 years after the birth and start looking for newly forming “Toddler Galaxies”.
    Its other mission to find planets, a job it will be considerably better at than Hubble. NASA are clear, Webb is not a ‘replacement’ for Hubble (Hubble has lot of life left in it), it is the ‘successor’ to Hubble.
    The ESA Herschel telescope will also be at this L2 point but with a smaller mirror designed specifically to find and study different objects (but also planets).
    Things are looking good for god and his supporters.:)

  2. longshadow

    “An exo-planet a day keeps the Creationists away!”

  3. When they do discover life, either the aliens will need to be sinless or the Christian creationists will need to invent 3,290 more Jesuses. Something tells me the aliens won’t be sinless. Muslims got it easy because Muhammad can be pretty much anyone’s or prophet.

  4. The first chapter of Genesis is generally thought to have been composed something like 600 BC.

  5. Dave Luckett

    TomS is correct, but there’s a fair amount of wiggle room. “Something like” 600 BCE is about right, on a best-guess basis, but it’s more likely to be later than earlier than that, going on the textual Hebrew. The only hint of an actual date for any of the books of the Pentateuch that we have is the “scroll of the Law” found in the Temple at the time of King Josiah, which can be dated to 622 BCE. It was “almost certainly” an early version of part of Deuteronomy. King Josiah was distressed at how far practice had fallen away, and instituted a religious revival. The rest of the Pentateuch, as it exists now, is thought to be the product of that revival, drawing on oral tradition.

    Ofc, to a fundie, the whole of the Books of Moses (for so Jesus referred to the Torah) were written by Moses to the dictation of God Himself, which would put their written origin at about 1200 BCE, and their provenance immemorial. The fact that neither of these claims, Mosaic authorship nor divine dictation, is made in the text, bothers fundies not at all, for some reason that completely escapes me. Probably because it’s not reason, at all.

    The same for their utter rejection of the idea of life, or intelligent life, on other worlds. The Bible treats stars and planets as lights in the sky, mostly fixed in relation to others, a few moving. There is no hint in scripture that the stars are suns in their own right, nor of the planets being other worlds. The Bible says absolutely nothing whatsoever about the possibility of life on other worlds. To simply dismiss that possibility out of hand, the fundies are operating on some principle other than scriptural authority. Scripture says nothing about it, and the ancient principle of exegesis holds: what is not denied by scripture is admissible.

    What principle are they invoking, then? I would suggest it is simply this: The Earth is special. We humans are special. In all the Universe nothing else exists that has our place, our importance. We are special, unique, the sole recipient of the Divine gift of free will. Yay, us!

    In other words, their dismissal of the possibility of life on other worlds is founded on pride, hubris, ignorance and arrogance.

  6. Maybe they’re still stuck on the “firmament” thing. You have your Earth and then your firmament above that and then the water above the firmament. You could open windows in the firmament and the water would pour down. The stars were basically Christmas lights stuck in the firmament. Not much room in all that for other planets. We’ve come a long way since then but maybe creationists are still stuck in a “Genesis mindset” anyway.

  7. @Dave Luckett
    But one old literalist chronology puts Moses at about 1500 BC, not 1200 BC.
    The 1000 BC (as the Curmudgeon says) corresponds to the J author from the Documentary Hypothesis dating from the time of Solomon. Genesis 1 is assigned to the P source. Nobody, as far as I know, dates Genesis 1 to 1000 BC.
    The old tradition of Moses being the author of Genesis etc. is just one of those things that the “literalist” pretends to find in the Bible.

  8. I want to make it clear that I was speaking of the Christian Sola Scriptura literalist tradition. The Jewish belief in Mosaic authorship has a different basis, of which I am ignorant.

  9. Eddie Janssen

    One of the things I wonder about is why the Bible doesn’t give us the names of the pharao’s who encountered Abraham, Joseph and Moses. Didn’t they know or did the just leave the names out as a safety valve so the biblical narrative could not be (fact) chequed?

  10. @Eddie Janssen
    Apparently, the word “pharaoh” was not used in Egypt in reference to the ruler until about 1200 BC, long after Abraham, and I thought that the Biblical use was as a proper name, not reflecting the Egyptian use as a title.

  11. Maybe it wasn’t important to the fable. Who was the queen of Sheba? Who was the good Samaritan? Who was the emperor with no clothes?

  12. Dave Luckett

    TomS: “Pharaoh” means “great house”, and it was one title of the King of Egypt going well back, but it didn’t become a common epithet for him until about 1000 BCE, nor his principal title until even later. “Lord of the Two Lands” was more common before that. It’s pretty obvious that the Pentateuch writers didn’t know which pharaoh they were writing about, when retailing the legends of Abraham, Joseph and Moses respectively, but they would have been aware that the Egyptians had king-lists going back thousands of years. It was easier not to specify. If you don’t say, nobody can contradict you.