Just yesterday NASA released the news that they have discovered seven exo-planets around a small red dwarf star, several of these planets are in what is often referred to as the 'habitable zone', the distance from the sun where water can exist is a liquid state. The news is exciting, so exciting that little davey 'klingy' klinghoffer just had to weigh in. Many of the news articles about the discovery mention the possibility of life having evolved there. All of the ones I read speak in terms of possibilities, not probabilities, there is a difference.
It is exciting to think of the possibility of life having evolved on another planet, well it's exciting for most of us. For the Discovery Institute, not so much. Little davey says something I just have to take issue with in this post: 'Speculative Evolution Story of the Day: Seven Planets Found Where "Life May Have Evolved" ', He said:
"So we "simply do not know" whether any of these planets could or does host an alien biology. Life could have, may have, evolved. But there's always time to do so in the future, or anyway "arguably" so, "700 times longer than the Universe has existed so far." Could be. Might be. However, everything else we do know indicates that life can't and won't originate and evolve without intelligent design."
"However, everything else we do know indicates that life can't and won't originate and evolve without intelligent design."
No, We do not! No one knows this! No one has made the case for Intelligent Design (ID), no one has produced any evidence supporting the idea, let alone defined an actual scientific theory explaining it. So declaring it as something 'we do know' is basically the same thing as repeating something over and over again until people think it's true. Well, it's not true!
Yes, I made it as a declarative statement, so let me explain. Judge Jones left open the possibility that ID is true, but also said that no one has done any work to support it, so therefore ID was found to be not science, but religion and therefore cannot be taught in public school science class as science (Dover Trial Decision). Nothing has changed in the past 11 years. The DI has been marketing -- not performing science to support their ideas. They publish in their own publishing house or religious imprints of other houses, they publish their own journals and try and pass them off as peer-reviewed, they present to religious organizations over and over again, and they keep whining because they haven't been able to produce anything valid. Where is the science, where is the explanatory power of ID, where are the scientific advances made based on ID . . . they do not exist! That's what I mean when I say it's not true. Oh, someday it might be supported with actual facts, but for right now saying it as if it is fait accompli is garbage.
Passing off ID as a conclusion rather than a conjecture is a common tactic of theirs. Just today another DI talking head, Paul Nelson (infamous for the Paul Nelson Day), has a post complaining about the way some Young Earth Creationists portrayed his ideas in a new film. His post ("New Film Is Genesis History? Presents a False Dichotomy: I Dissent from My Role in It") contains the line:
"Biology required intelligent design, whatever the time scale of events in Earth or cosmic history happened to be."See, by what standard does Biology require ID? See what I mean? They are pretending their conjecture is an actual conclusion. No one, not Paul Nelson nor klingy, has made such a case. The inconvenient fact, for them anyway, is there is no science supporting it. But Paul presents it as if everyone should accept it just like klingy did..
One day we may very well discover life on another planet. It may or may not be intelligent, it might only be single cell organisms, or something more complex. In any event, folks like the DI will whine and cry about it up until the point where their whining and crying is recognized as whining and crying by their own proponents. At that point they will shift gears and claim their 'designer' had to have done it because, according to the DI after all, "we do know indicates that life can't and won't originate and evolve without intelligent design". Of course no one outside the DI and small cadre of ID proponents, nearly all Evangelical Christians, agree with that statement.
Think they won't change gears? Well look at the whole 'micro vs macro' argument. Creationists of all stripes, and I most certainly see the DI as just another bunch of Creationists, argued against evolution for decades. As the evidence mounted to the point where they started looking pretty stupid to their own constituents, they changed their argument and created the whole 'micro-evolution' is OK, but 'macro-evolution' is impossible. Of course to biologists, there is no difference between the two, it's all just evolution.
In another example just how 'Creationism' morphed into 'Creation Science' and then tossed on an ill-fitting lab coat and miraculously (sarcasm included) became 'Intelligent Design'. Talk about shifting gears, and yet they all seem to be heading in reverse, aren't they?
So there you have it. NASA says something and immediately the DI tries to put an ID spin on it. I'm sure other Creationists will try something similar. The bottom line here is whether or not we discover life on another planet, Creationists and ID proponents still haven't established a case for ID other than wishful thinking and conjecture. Before they can present it as a conclusion, they have a great deal of actual scientific work in front of them. My issue is they can't seem to look in that direction, they prefer to keep looking backwards, back to the state of biology back in 1859 or so.
As a side note, we are rapidly approaching the 13th anniversary of Paul Nelson Day. We have been waiting since April 7, 2004 for an explanation he promised for the very next day. I would say 'tick - tock', but we are well past a clock. I think the most appropriate sound effect is the tearing of a calendar sheet.