February 28, 2009 | David F. Coppedge

Star Children for Darwin

Why should we be looking for alien intelligence around other stars when it is right behind your eyeballs?  You may not have known that you are a star child, but that’s what a leading astronomer called you.  As a good star child, you need to pay tribute to Charles Darwin.
    In New Scientist, Lawrence Krauss called on children of spaceship Earth to “Celebrate evolution as only star children can.”  In this, he tied together the International Year of Astronomy 2009, the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first use of the telescope on the night sky, with Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday.  He recounted the epochal discoveries in astronomy and biology that he feels neatly combine in modern evolutionary theory, the theory of everything:

Darwin’s theory of evolution, and the science of genetics which followed, demonstrate that humans and the rest of life on Earth share not just a common heritage, but virtually everything else.  At a molecular level, the distinction between humans and bacteria seems almost superficial.  All forms of life on Earth share a common genetic method of replication and energy storage.  Yet it is truly remarkable that from so simple a set of molecular building blocks such diversity can arise.

Krauss did not seem to consider the theistic alternative at all that explains the same evidence: the same God who created stars also created mankind from the dust of the ground.  Both worldviews produce the same observations.  Stars and humans are made of atoms and molecules.  Actually, he did quote Darwin’s ending sentence in The Origin about “originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one,” but he had just described cosmic evolution leading seamlessly into biological and human evolution.  Somehow global politics emerged in his conclusion:

Accordingly, the two discoveries we herald this year carry an important message for our future: the intimate connections between humanity and the entire cosmos, as illustrated by both evolution and astronomy, suggest that the only sensible perspective of humanity is a global one.  The need for a global perspective is of vital importance now, as we are the first generation in history that must seriously confront global limits to our future on Earth, from energy to climate change.

Christians might call this a non-sequitur or a half-truth.  They do not deny our connectedness, but explain it in terms of all creation (stars and humans) being the handiwork of a single Creator.  And instead of seeing a global perspective as the only sensible option for humanity, they might take the very same observations and point out the duty of each individual to its Maker.

The same mythology gets repeated over and over in the media.  Carl Sagan was talking this starstuff lingo back in the 1980s.  It’s all glittering generalities and logical fallacies.
    Darwinism and the U.N. are not the only perspectives that explain the observations.  Krauss begs the question.  What does the connectedness imply?  If there are at least two competing explanations for that connectedness (i.e., that stars and humans are both made of atoms), he cannot simply assume that his worldview is the only sensible perspective.  In what other contest does a contender declare himself the winner before competing in the race?
    Don’t follow his bluff like robots toward socialism and global politics.  Thinking is done by individuals.  If you follow the global crowd after the Darwin bandwagon, and it falls into a sinkhole, you will not be able to shift responsibility to them; you took the steps.  Think for yourself.
    You might even think a profound thought: that thought cannot emerge from stars, or else it wouldn’t be thought at all.  It would be a hodgepodge of contingency and determinism.  The essence of thought is to purposely order one’s conceptual resources, independently of the material substrate that conveys them, toward principles that obey the laws of logic.  Our theories and explanations of stars employ logic, but stars don’t.  Do stars take philosophy and hold debates?  Of course not.  Then what kind of twisted logic can believe that logic is an emergent phenomenon of matter in motion?  If that were so, how could any human brain have any confidence that its reasonings were true?  It leads to that “horrid thought” that plagued Darwin: “whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy.  Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” he said.  If a monkey doesn’t have a mind or convictions, you can be sure that stars don’t.  Stop thinking horrid thoughts.  Think wise thoughts.  Daniel the statesman wrote, (“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever” Daniel 12:3).

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Categories: Astronomy, Dumb Ideas, SETI

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