EN8: Life on other planets?

For the last several years both astronomy and sci-fi buffs have been agog with excitement over the discovery of extra-solar planets . . . planets in orbit around other stars. The Kepler space telescope has discovered evidence of 2740 such planets since 2009, when it began operations. No one can build a telescope big enough to actually ‘see’ these planets. Their existence, orbital radii, and even rough estimates of their masses can be inferred from the effects they have on their suns. For example, the starlight dims just a tad when a sizable planet transits in front of its star (from Earth’s point of view). Also, the position of the star wobbles just a mite, and does so periodically, as the planet orbits.

The popular press squeals regularly with delight that, ‘We might not be alone!’, in sync with the professional alien hunters at NASA and in academia. “The Case for Alien Life,” by Sarah Fecht, (Popular Mechanics, July/Aug 2013) is the latest piece of propaganda by atheists / evolutionists who are sure that Earth, humans, and all life here are just accidents and, if we can just find one other such accident out there, then YIPPEE!!, we have proven that there is no purpose to our existence, there is no God, no morality, no accountability, no hope, and no point.

Most of the newly discovered planets are large – like super-sized Jupiters – and orbit close to their suns. The bigger they are and the tighter the orbit, the easier it is to detect them. Nevertheless, there is hope that there may be the occasional Earth-sized planet in an Earth-sized orbit (right temperature, allowing liquid water, reasonable atmosphere, etc.) As reported in Pop Mech, astronomers have extrapolated from very small bits of data to suggest that between 11 and 36 billion Earth-sized exoplanets might exist in our very own Milky Way galaxy!

In this blog I won’t critique their data or their extrapolations. I think it would be great if they are right! I won’t even point out that the data are entirely contrary to all of the historic evolutionary origin-of-solar system models that fill our kids’ textbooks and museums . . . you know how it goes . . . a large cloud of gas contracts until our sun and its planets congeal in nice orbits. There are lethal problems with those models without even looking at the exoplanet data. But now the existence of big, hot gaseous planets (super-Jupiters) orbiting close to their stars, and somehow existing for millions to billions of years . . . naturalistic origin models are in even more trouble now.

What I will critique are the usual unscientific and outlandish speculations offered in the name of science, but grounded strictly in atheistic religious faith. The Pop Mech author gushes, “Generations of scientists and science fiction fans (often, those are the same people) have thought we’d find life strewn throughout the stars – if not civilizations, at least bacterial mat, or tentacled beasts on ocean floors, or something. But for decades the evidence was thin. Now, in 2013, the data is on the side of the believers.” Wow!!!!! Must be compelling data!! (Note the term ‘believers’ — the faithful.)

Also, from physicist Michio Kaku: “Soon we’re going to have an existential shock. In the next 50 years, there’s a very good chance that we’ll make contact with an extraterrestrial life-form. In the familiar constellations that we learned as children, we will find twins of Earth, and that’s going to change our understanding of who we are in this universe. Even if we find a fossil, a DNA strand from another species, that would be absolutely staggering.”

This famous physicist, often in the public eye and featured regularly on TV, reveals an anti-scientific naivete that can be explained only by atheistic fervor. Two things in particular:

1. “ . . . change our understanding . . .” and “absolutely staggering” . . . Wait a second! Don’t you evolutionary zealots already know that evolution is a fact and that it must therefore occur throughout the universe? If you mean that Biblical creationists would be staggered to discover evolutionary-based life in nearby star systems, you’re probably right. But you’re saying that you and your ever hopeful buddies would be staggered. Maybe you’re not so confident after all? Maybe you know that evolution from molecules to microbes and from microbes to man is mathematically and chemically impossible. I think you gave yourself away there.

2. “ . . . a very good chance . . .” This means ‘a high probability.’ Based on what? Past experience in finding life on other planets? No. Zero life has been discovered on the other planets within our solar system. Extrapolate from zero and you get zero. Alternatively, ‘a high probability’ might, perchance, be estimated from solid theoretical grounds . . . oops, there is no theoretical or experimental basis WHATSOEVER that life arises from natural chemical processes. In fact, an awesome body of experimental and theoretical chemistry proves conclusively that it can’t happen! More on this later.

Clearly, more than just an abundance of planets is required to assure alien life. They need the right ‘building blocks.’ “The Spitzer Space Telescope revealed in 2005 that the galaxy is littered with nitrogen-containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – ring-shaped molecules that may become the building blocks of DNA, RNA, chlorophyll, and hemoglobin.” Brilliant. Small molecules are scattered about space in incredibly low concentrations . . . therefore, it must not be much of a leap to high concentrations of huge functionally designed molecules within living organisms, which are part of vast planetary ecosystems?!!? Come on! Don’t you notice your own fallacy?

“Simpler organic compounds have been detected on Mercury, Ganymede, and Enceladus. And analyses of meteorites that have struck Earth suggest that asteroids are zooming through the cosmos carrying water ice, nitrogen, sulfur, ready-made sugars and amino acids, and some of the components of genetic material. NASA geologist David Blake blurts, “The kind of chemistry that could have been used for life exists everywhere. There’s no reason that life wouldn’t have happened on other solar systems. The ingredients are everywhere we look.”

It’s painful to me to have to point out such obvious fallacies. Yes, the elements of the periodic table show up everywhere. Yes, simple molecules consisting of a few atoms, or rarely up to 10 or 20 atoms pop up occasionally. But life is many, many orders of complexity above the level of its building blocks. For a basic introduction to the impossibilities – I don’t use that word lightly – involved in getting from small molecules to a living system, see my Short Course in Creation / Evolution, particularly Part 1: Probabilities vs. Impossibilities, and my Educational Note #4: Shannon’s Theory of Information & its Relevance to DNA.

More briefly, consider the following assertions about ‘building blocks’ – analogies to the extrapolations above – and tell me if you would accept them, even from a world-renowned expert.

1. Whenever you find a bit of shiny aluminum or titanium on the ground , it’s easy to see how an advanced fighter aircraft, like the F-22 Raptor, can develop from natural chemical and physical processes. Including, of course, its sensors, avionics, engines, and flight controls. Intelligent Design? Bah!

2. Walk down the beach and look at all that sand. A lightning bolt could strike and fuse a little chip of silicon. Aha! So you can easily see why we find super-computers on the Earth! Fuse some silica, wait for geologic pressure to extrude a random bit of copper wire . . . just wait long enough and you can’t help but discover super-computers!

3. Look at this shiny piece of marble. Thus you can see that structures like the Taj Mahal arise from the creative power of NATURE!

4. It’s silly to hang this splotch of paint they call “The Mona Lisa” in this museum. They claim that a painter is responsible! All you need is just a few spoonfuls of paint and then just wait.

5. Here you go – a bottle of ink and a ream of paper. Now you know where the Encyclopedia Britannica came from and the so-called works of William Shakespeare. Baloney! Ink, paper, and time. There are no such things as authors!

You get the picture. I could go on. But even these analogies pale in comparison to the complexity gulf between simple amino acid molecules and life’s functional proteins, or between simple “ready-made sugars” and the DNA / RNA system.

They lie . . . and they lie knowingly. The author summarizes the phony excuse of the atheist / evolutionist / alien-life-out-there acolyte: “We can’t calculate the odds of life arising spontaneously, because we can only confirm that it has happened once. But life here on Earth PROVES that the probability is greater than zero. And in an infinite universe with billions of planets, there are billions of opportunities for evolution to commence.”

Life – incredibly brilliant functional complexity – maybe a Creator was involved? Never!!! Actually, biochemists can calculate the odds. Yes, they can and they know it! The odds are so overwhelmingly against life evolving from non-life that you never see the issue discussed in the popular press or, especially, in students’ textbooks. (The odds are even worse in going from microbes to invertebrates to fish to reptiles, etc. – EVERY STAGE is impossible.) And it’s generally hushed up in the technical literature . . . nevertheless, the numbers have been there since the 1960s. Once the structure of proteins and DNA were determined, mathematicians and biologists looked at the numbers . . . in horror. So they throw ‘billions and billions’ at us to make the impossible seem likely, and never actually show us a simple calculation – that you can do with arithmetic.

By the way, a ‘billion’ is not infinity. People work and live with ‘billions’ every day. There are 7 billion people on Earth. Your lungs process over 100 billion billion molecules every second. The unfunded U.S. federal debt is over 100 thousand billion dollars. Etc. The point is that anyone can do calculations on real problems that involve large numbers!

So what is the chance of even one useful protein molecule forming, if you could fill all the oceans of all the conceivable planets of our entire galaxy with the proper amino acids . . . no, rather, let every atom of every star and planet in the entire universe be replaced with an amino acid, and let them form bonds with each other in one vast imaginary universal ocean, bonding at a trillion times per second, attempting to create useful chains. You see, the universe contains only about 1080 atoms. (1 billion is only 109, the Earth has about 1051 atoms and our sun about 1057.) And there are less than 1018 seconds in the alleged evolutionary history of the universe. Even in this fanciful scenario, there aren’t enough billions. A single average protein molecule contains so much specific design information that not one useful candidate would ever appear . . . ever. (See the details in my Short Course article.)

And one lonely protein molecule isn’t enough. The ‘simplest’ one-celled microbe contains hundreds of different types of proteins, millions of each arranged in perfect 3-D relationships to do their jobs. Plus DNA and RNA, which involve chemistry more delicate and quite different from amino acid chemistry. And you’ve got to arrange them correctly, plus a bevy of other molecules and mega-molecular structures.

Oh yeah . . . one microbe isn’t enough. Evolutionists speak as if finding one microbe on Mars would solve the problem. YOU NEED AN ECOSYSTEM! The bacterium needs to eat, doesn’t it?!? How would people get along on Earth if people were the only living organisms?

Atheists resent challenges, don’t they? That’s why creationists get censored and even fired from public school systems and universities. The tyrants that dominate our educational systems, from Kindergarten through graduate school, will not allow debate. They know they cannot win a fair debate! Like I said, the numbers have been out there for decades.

The atheistic worldview claims that science is all, explains all, and is the only hope for mankind. Consider: What is science? It’s a methodology to measure and explain the dynamics of matter and forces in our environment. Observations, hypotheses, experiments, theories, tests, revised hypotheses . . . very good for systematizing our periodic table, measuring the force of gravity, spectroscopically detecting the gases in a stellar atmosphere, and so on.

Can science answer WHY? Why are we here? How did we get here? Where are we going? What’s the point?

How about important things . . . issues even more important that measuring the precise mass of the proton? Like . . . TRUTH . . . LOGIC . . . REASON . . . JUSTICE . . . BEAUTY . . . INTEGRITY . . . LOVE . . . JOY . . . MEANING . . . RIGHT VS. WRONG . . . MORALITY . . . CONSCIOUSNESS . . . WHAT IS AFTER DEATH????? That last one . . . if you are clueless, can you say anything about HOPE?

The evolutionist — ‘matter is everything’ — has no right to make logical arguments! LOGIC is non-material. He cannot use REASON to argue that he is RIGHT and we are WRONG. REASON isn’t found among particles and forces. And there is no RIGHT or WRONG in a non-spiritual cosmos.

By the way, science cannot even exist without a foundation of TRUTH and LOGIC and CONSCIOUSNESS. The scientific method is built atop TRUTH and LOGIC and CONSCIOUSNESS. You cannot buy a scientific instrument or conduct any experiment to discover, prove, or explain such qualities. Not to mention real, yet non-material entities like LOVE and MORALITY.

The important stuff is not found in protons, neutrons, and electrons. Our lives are based on non-physical, non-material . . . yet very REAL entities. Even SCIENCE itself is a non-material entity. It’s a CONCEPT – a construct of a person’s mind. As are DATA, REASON, EXPLANATION, EVIDENCE, THEORY, and PROOF!

You are more than molecules. Your CONSCIOUSNESS – your mind – is more than brain chemistry. There is a YOU! And there is a CREATOR who cares about you. You had better figure out what HE wants you to do about it!

I’m hoping there are billions of planets out there. I’m hoping that many of them are like Earth, even if they have no life on them yet. The Creator informed us, “The heaven, even the heavens are the Lord’s; but the earth hath He given to the children of men.” (Psalm 115:16) Having nearly wrecked this one planet, Earth, humanity’s dream is to conquer and spoil the rest of the universe, no matter how long it takes. Well, God has told us that the heavens belong to Him alone . . . for now.

The Bible gives us just tantalizing hints of what will happen in the ages to come. The main thing is that only His children will be citizens. It’s very ironic. Atheists dream of a Star Trek universe, exploring new worlds and, unfortunately, running into Klingons, Romulans, and lots of other selfish, antagonistic, human-like creatures that present never-ending problems. Read sci-fi and note how depressing is the never ending saga of greed, conflict, war, dirty politics, double-crosses, etc.

God’s universe will be very different. You can infer quite a bit, actually, from Scripture. I speculate that in the ages to come, God may just let us explore (peacefully and creatively) the rest of His creation. We may get to terraform many of those planets discovered so recently! Great fun! The Star Trek crowd won’t be there. There will be a Lake of Fire – a dark star, perhaps – that will keep them from making the trouble that we continually suffer at their hands on this Earth.

Is there already life on other planets? I doubt it . . . certainly not intelligent life, made spiritually in God’s image. The Incarnation, the Fall, the 2nd Coming of Christ . . . lots of reasons to discount a multitude of sentient races out there among the stars. How about non-intelligent ecosystems? I simply don’t know. If so, there is NO DOUBT that God would have designed, created, and sustained them. The evolutionist’s concept of alien life has no room for a Creator at all. That would certainly cramp his amoral lifestyle.

The good news is that anyone can change teams! You don’t know the Creator – Jesus Christ? If you join His team, maybe we can work together on a terraforming project. I can hardly wait. Even if the Star Trek universe represented reality, none of you guys will live long enough to visit . . . even Mars! Sad. No hope, no point . . . death, then non-existence – that’s your best hope! Given the spectacular, mind-bending prospect of eternal life and a cosmos to explore . . . how about doing a little research to see if it just might be TRUE?

– drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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