This is post about the Discovery Institute and SETI (the search for extraterrestrial intelligence ). It’s been difficult to write, because it involves so many Discoveroid twists and back-flips.
To familiarize you with a few of the all-over-the-place positions that they’ve taken just within the last six months, see, Casey: There’s No Alien Life Out There, and then Discoveroids: SETI and Intelligent Design (the SETI search for intelligent signals is just like the Discoveroids’ search for intelligent design), and most recently Discovery Institute Opines on Alien Intelligence (Earth is unique, so probably there’s nobody else out there).
Now they’re at it again. Their latest effort is SETI Whisperers Betray Their Dependence on Intelligent Design. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
A concern shared by many people today is over whether or not it’s wise to send messages into deep space. If aliens receive our missives, how do we know they’re friendly and won’t take an unhealthy interest in our planet? Any number of science fiction films describe the catastrophic results of an unfriendly visit by extraterrestrials. Maybe they will come to serve man — in a soufflé. Lately, these and other anxieties have been the subject of lively chatter on sites like BBC News, Live Science, and Universe Today .
Here’s a link to one of those articles so you can see what the Discoveroids are talking about. It’s from BBC two weeks ago: Scientists in US are urged to seek contact with aliens. Okay, back to the Discoveroids:
Insiders call sending messages, as opposed to receiving them, “Active SETI.” All kinds of questions come to mind. Who should speak for Earth? Who should be the representative for earthlings when aliens land and say, “Take me to your leader”? Would it be better to remain silent? Or is the barn door already open? Are they, even now, meditating on the implications of old episodes of I Love Lucy?
The debate does have that flavor. Let’s read on:
Undoubtedly, SETI insiders appreciate the publicity over this controversy, since keeping funds flowing for SETI projects has been a challenge after fifty years without a word from the other end of the line.
The Discoveroids can appreciate that. They too need to keep the funds flowing, despite their total failure to accomplish anything. So in some twisted way, they see SETI as a bunch of kindred souls. They say:
It’s not that anybody knows there are listeners out there. “This is the only really important scientific field without any subject matter,” astrophysicist David Brin says at Live Science. “It’s an area in which opinion rules, and everybody has a very fierce opinion.”
The Discoveroids are enjoying the fact that another endeavor besides theirs exists without data. But the analogy breaks down, because there is some data supporting SETI. We know that life exists — at least here — and we know that there are likely to be millions, perhaps billions of planets in the galaxy. Also, SETI has a comprehensible methodology, and its results, if there are any, will be verifiable. So SETI isn’t at all like the evidence-free “science” of the Discoveroids and their fanatical insistence on the existence of a transcendent intelligent designer. The Discoveroids’ article continues:
Advocates of intelligent design may chuckle. Communication with alien intelligence, after all, presupposes ID. We’ve discussed this in regard to signal reception: listening and eavesdropping on ET [link to a Discoveroid article]. The whole premise of SETI is that human minds can distinguish between intelligent and natural signals, even without knowing anything about the identity of the senders.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Detecting an obviously artificial signal is the same thing as noticing that a microbe has a flagellum. Here’s more:
This dependence on ID works both ways. In sending messages outward, SETI scientists (or politicians) assume that the aliens have minds not unlike ours, and are (like humans) capable of distinguishing informational signals from natural processes. So the scientists who work on SETI are intelligent design advocates in spite of themselves.
[*Curmudgeon pauses to recover from a particularly painful episode of head-desk*] Okay, then they mention the often-expressed statement that, when alien life is discovered, certain religious sects will have a lot of re-thinking to do. Indeed. And the Discoveroids will be foremost among them, considering their faith in the uniqueness of life on earth, based on their claim that the designer — blessed be he! — created this place as a Privileged Planet.
Now watch what they do with that re-thinking problem. It’s the climax of their essay:
This discussion is going to go on for a while. Let’s give a friendly counter-jab, then, right back at them, and ask, “Is your naturalism ready to meet ID?”
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The Discoveroids are asking: If SETI actually identifies an alien signal from out there, are you prepared to abandon the natural world and accept the Oogity Boogity of intelligent design?
They’re trying to have it both ways. If we find no aliens, they win, because we’re the unique creation of the designer. But if we do find aliens, it’s because we used their intelligent design “science” in the search.
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