A creationist tries his luck with the SD

I am honored, really, to have this opportunity. This morning a fellow calling himself Thom decided to try his hand at making an argument for Creationism / Intelligent design on the Logical Fallacies page of this blog (isn’t that ironic?). I read through his diatribe and decided that it would be remiss of me not to respond, after all this fellow doesn’t seem to have copied and pasted from any other sources (I verified this by searching for particular phrases in his comment on Google).

Well Thom, I hope you are paying attention because here follows your education. You say;

“The fact that no life has ever been discovered anywhere other than Earth does not disprove that life on our planet exists only because life adapted to our environment, but it has to raise the question. If it doesn’t science is dishonest with itself.”

Let me stop you right there Thom because the first premise of your argument, the very bedrock on which you build your diatribe, is false. We are investing huge amounts of money and many thousands on man hours in the search for any kind of life, from the simplest molecules converting chemicals within their bodies to fuel their metabolisms right up to great hulking civilizations, in our solar system and beyond. SETI, the Mars Rovers, the Cassini Huygens probe, the ground based telescopes doing spectroscopic analysis of exoplanet atmospheres, and the proposed PLATO Satellite are just some of the examples of this exciting field. I do not think that a biologist, an astronomer or any other reasonable scientist worth his salt would claim with any confidence that the Earth is the only place in the galaxy that can support life. Nor would they be so foolish as to claim that life could ONLY evolve here.

I don’t understand what you’re saying here;

“If it were any farther away, the moon would not have enough pull on the oceans and life in the oceans (as we know it) would die off.”

I think you need to provide evidence for the claim that the moon’s gravitational pull caused life to form on Earth. You might find that hard to do.

You say;

“Evolution argues that life adapted to this environment, evolving to support itself in the temperature we live in, etc. If this were true, why wouldn’t such a theory suggest that there should also be life on other planets, especially those near to us?”

The theory of evolution by natural selection is a theory, a beautiful, simple, successful theory about how life evolved on Earth. It has nothing to do with exobiology and by confusing the two subjects you reveal the depths of your ignorance. Common sense, on the other hand, as well as the Drake Equation, by no means rule out the possibility of life evolving elsewhere in the cosmos. In fact it would be foolish and shortsighted to believe that life does NOT exist in other biospheres. The FACT that we haven’t found it yet does not mean that we won’t at some point in the future.

“The FACT that the Earth is where it is and there is life on it, and the FACT that the moon is in the exact location it needs to be to keep the oceans clean on the Earth, and the FACT that the 23 1/2 degree tilt of the earth in relationship to the revolution of the Earth around the sun creates the perfection of the seasons and climates for the northern and southern hemispheres on the Earth SHOULD suffice a scientific theory that there is an intelligence to why Earth supports life and nothing else does.”

The moon keeps the oceans clean? What do you mean by that?

None of there facts supports your hypothesis that life on earth was created by a supreme intelligence. You can’t string together a pearl necklace of things you think make the Earth special and then declare that “God did it”, because, like a pearl, your argument is oyster shit.

“That the Earth supports life while no other celestial body does is scientific theory ever as much as evolution and gravity are”

No, the fact that the Earth supports life is a Fact, not a theory.

“To believe that it all just happened this way by accident is not only scientifically ridiculous but any scientist with a working brain would have to lie to himself to ignore the facts that our system is the only one that has the ability to support life”

The problem with your statement above is that it is wrong. You misrepresent the scientific position, the theory of evolution by natural selection, you do this in an effort to make the theory seem weak and easily falsifiable which it is not. Why do you do this? To argue your personal conviction that life was created by an intelligent being. Don’t lie to me, you insult me when you think that I might buy your claim that

“I’m NOT trying to prove a religion based on disproving evolution”

Your argument is as graceful as a stately horse with three legs missing. Come back and try again when you can tell the difference between a fact, a hypothesis and a theory. And try to get a better understanding of the theory of evolution. Carl Zimmer’s book Evolution would be a great place to start.


9 responses to “A creationist tries his luck with the SD

  1. Thanks for the comments Skeptic BlackSheep – I feel I must invoke the inimitable Isaac Newton: “If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

    I think the other hurdle in people’s minds to overcome, when it comes to seeing evidence of life elsewhere – besides going to distant planets / moons and finding ancient signs (tracks of bacteria, for e.g.) in the rock, is that we naturally battle to deal with not only Geologic time but Universal time (here I mean the time frame of the Universe and it’s accompanying processes – my own corruption of the timescale based on our planet’s rotation) – life may be in the process of evolving on some distant planet, and only emerge in 4 million years, or 20 million years, these are small fractions of the timescales of the processes of the Universe

    Just because we are here now, and we have this tendency to privilege our time here as special and exemplary, does not mean life is not out there working hard to emerge into something intelligent at a far distant time, something communicative and explorative, something like us…

    I meant what I said – I wish that there is life elsewhere – I want to know, to understand it, to see it and learn about it, to let my mind engorge itself on the spin off implications of it’s discovery and the inevitable comparisons to our own developmental trajectories and idiosyncrasies as a species.

    But, I will wait for the evidence – it is so much more gratifying than believing prematurely that it is there.

    Seth Shostak is searching not only for himself, but for me, and all of us who want to know.

  2. “If you truly are trying to understand, then rather read more and comment less.”

    That sentence alone is worth a standing ovation,Fluxosaurus.

    I’m not sure what Thom classifies as “life”, does he think that life on other planets will look anything like the life found on Earth? I think it’s shortsighted to think that there is no life on any other planet out there.

    Bacteria qualifies as a life form and here on Earth it has been found in the strangest of places. Extremophiles have been found living underwater around thermal vents, where the pressures are enormous and the temps. are around 650 F. Bacteria have been found living inside rock, 1km underground – that was discovered in a mine here in SA. They have been found in the coldest of places, the hottest and driest of places, and flourishing around pools of hot, acidic water. To think that life could not possibly flourish on other places in our universe is hugely arrogant.

    As fluxosaurus so eloquently points out, if a designer was responsible for everything, he/she/it has done a lousy job. Why would said designer, who would unimaginable omnipotence, create life on only a single planet, in a universe filled with billions of others? Was that some sort of a joke on us? If it is, I don’t get it.

    Which brings me to another quote I read…

    ‘Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt – attributed to Abraham Lincoln

  3. Pingback: The first convoluted creationist meal! « Fluxosaurus's Blog·

  4. The most dishonest thing you can do Thom is to jump from speculation and wishing that we are not alone in the Universe, to stating these things as facts that “any scientist with a working brain would have to lie to himself to ignore.”

    I for one, also ardently wish that we had clear and irrefutable evidence of the process by which life began, and evidence that there was intelligent, (hopefully friendly) alien life on another planet. The problem is that the world is more complicated than that and science offers facts backed by available evidence, nothing more – it is the best method for determining what is and what is not real.

    A couple of things are convoluted in your argument.

    For one you seem to make the case that because there is life here and no current evidence of life elsewhere, that that somehow implies that life here is special and must therefore be evidence of an intelligent designer.

    A basic principle of the scientific method is that we are not special, the laws that exist here are pervasive and no one place is privileged over another. It would be nice for the Earth to be the chosen place, humans the chosen animal, and to have a grand a benevolent designer looking over us, but the evidence is squarely against that scenario – the fact that we are finding planets and planetary systems like our own suggests that the arrangement of our solar system which just happens to have been right for life to evolve here, is not special. I am not saying that we have found evidence of life elsewhere, but as SD says, this is not an argument for a designer, just a fact that we don’t have evidence yet, nor do we need that evidence to prove that we are not special/designed – if we are alone, and find no evidence of life over the next million years of searching, why would that mean that we are designed? IF the designer appears tomorrow and demonstrates adequately for all to see that they are the designer of the universe, hey I’ll eat my hat – I have a feeling my hat is safe!

    There are more problems with the designer argument than life on other planets – if there is a designer, where is he/she/it, why does it not communicate with us – the evidence suggests a universe operating according to laws and principles (things like gravity and evolution) not the great hand of an intecedary designer.

    Another problem with this theory is the fact that if there is a designer, it has done a pretty shit job – things are not designed to be perfect but are rather bottom up constructions resulting from the process of evolution trying different things out, and natural selection determining which prototypes get more pervasive in the genes represented in a population and which prototypes get extinguished. Something does not have to be perfect, just good enough for the job, or half the job, or sometimes good for one job and later translated into being good for another job (an example here is Dinosaur feathers which likely evolved as a means of keeping warm but were later found to be useful for flying).
    We also have superfluous structures like men’s nipples – why would a designer give men nipples? *PAUSE, think about it*

    When you think about it, and also learn a bit about embryos, and the fact that we all start out as females with hormonal changes determining our sex in the womb, then you may have to admit that that is evidence in favour of evolution rather than a grand designer.

    Experiment is another powerful arm of science – we can control the temperature of a crocodiles nest, to produce baby crocs of different sexes – this would seem an adequate explanation of their birth processes – just as evolution by natural selection is more than adequate to explain the diversity of life on earth. In the same way we can artificially select for certain flowers to be produced, or different breeds of dog – does that mean we are designers? Have we overtaken your god?

    Science is not dishonest with itself, and cannot be – it looks at what is, develops theory and model to explain and describe what is, and demystifies supernatural explanations like designers. The dishonesty is likely to be found in someone twisting your understanding and covering up facts freely available to any person so that they can mould you into a loyal servant of religion and the follower of one book, one truth – one-minded blindness to the reality around you. This will only rob you of an appreciation of the natural wonders of the world – it is so much more gratifying to know the process and complicated interrelationship behind the nature you see around you, rather than saying it is all because a designer made it that way – why would you short circuit your mind’s potential like that.

    You claim “*not be trying* to prove a religion based on disproving evolution, but personally hold the “theory” of evolution to the same standards as SD might a religion”
    This is precisely the problem – if you believe there is a designer, and your worldview is based on faith, then don’t come and try to use misrepresented and fragmentary “facts’ masquerading as science against science itself. Your understanding of the moon and clean oceans seems flawed and confused. If you truly are trying to understand, then rather read more and comment less.

    The setup of the moon may seem perfect (and therefore designed) but all it means is that the conditions here in our present epoch are (and have over the last 3.7 billion years been) conducive to life evolving and reproducing – the fact that you are here, and I am here is only evidence that life found a suitable environment in which to emerge not that we had to be created. I suggest you check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life

    I highly recommend you also read Evolution, What the fossils say and why it matters by Donald R. Prothero – it will only improve your understanding of the world, and is not necessarily incompatible with any religious leanings you may have.

    It may just be the best book you ever read and just may save your intellectual life.

    You say the theory fails in MANY ways – please provide the ways in which you feel it has failed.

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