February 2, 2011 | David F. Coppedge

Planets a-Plenty, but Are They Lively?

The Kepler spacecraft has found over 1,235 planets so far (Space.com), 54 in their star’s habitable zone, and some Earth-size or smaller.  Science media are having a field day reporting the discoveries, portraying them with artist imaginations, licking their chops at the possibility of life in outer space.  What does this mean?
    Space.com is racking up the most headlines: tabulating the leading earthlike candidates, posting videos with expert prognosticators, posting a gallery of the strangest, keeping the tally current.  So far, the number of habitable planets with life is: 1.  (That’s us, folks.)  “The number of Earth-size and Earthlike habitable planets confirmed to exist with intelligent life.  We call this planet Earth.”  That’s assuming we can agree on a definition of intelligent life.
    Scientists were surprised to find a six-pack of planets around a star named Kepler 11, reported Space.com.  The smallest in the system is 2.3 times the size of Earth; others are the size of Uranus or Neptune.  The planets’ orbits do not fit planetary evolution theories unless the planets migrated: “the close proximity of the inner planets is an indication that they probably did not form where they are now,” one scientist commented.  No sense looking for life on these planets; none are habitable by any measure.  You can take a tour of the system on Space.com anyway.
    Another Space.com article described the 54 “potentially habitable” planets Kepler has found (see also the BBC News article by Jason Palmer).  One of the leading contenders for Earthlike Planet, named Kepler 10-b (see Space.com gallery), was announced last month: the “first rocky planet ever discovered outside our solar system” according to David Tyler writing for ARN.  Trouble is, its rocks are hot – 1500°C – because the planet is closer to its parent star than Mercury to our sun.
    What are the implications of Kepler’s unquestionably exciting finds?  Before the latest Kepler tally was announced, one of the leading planet hunters gave his thoughts in an interview on Space.com (see also MSNBC News).  Geoff Marcy had participated in finding more planets than anyone else.  The first questions concerned technology and statistics, but then he admitted a scientific embarrassment: hot Jupiters.  No one predicted gas giants close to the star.  All the scientists expected extrasolar planetary systems to resemble ours, with the rocky planets close in and the gas giants farther out.  It was silly reasoning, based on a sample size of one, he agreed: “It would be like trying to characterize human psychology by going to one distant Indonesian island and interviewing one person, and thinking that that gave you the full range of human psychology.”  We also don’t know how long planets last, he said, or how common Earth-like planets are.
    The existence of life is the big question.  According to the UK Mail Online, Dr. Howard Smith (Harvard) has lost hope of finding intelligent life.  Of the first 500 planets found, none are habitable; they are downright hostile.  “The new information we are getting suggests we could effectively be alone in the universe,” he said.  Geoff Marcy is mildly pessimistic, too: “We might be rare,” he remarked.  “Where are the SETI signals?” he asked.  “There is a non-detection that’s like the elephant in the room.”  Forty years of searching has turned up empty.  “So there’s an indication – not definitive – that maybe the Earth is more precious than we had thought.”  He was not considering intelligent design as an option.  He said, after considering how comparatively young our solar system is in an ancient universe, “maybe habitable planets that sustain Darwinian evolution for a billion years –maybe they’re rareMaybe.”  Asked if he has a “gut feel” about cosmic loneliness, he said,

I do.  If I had to bet – and this is now beyond science – I would say that intelligent, technological critters are rare in the Milky Way galaxy.  The evidence mounts.  We Homo sapiens didn’t arise until some quirk of environment on the East African savannah – so quirky that the hominid paleontologists still can’t tell us why the australopithecines somehow evolved big brains and had dexterity that could play piano concertos, and things that make no real honest sense in terms of Darwinian evolution.
    Why the high chaparral on the East African savannah would’ve led to a Tchaikovsky piano concerto, never mind the ability to build rocket shipsthere’s no evolutionary driver that the australopithecines suffered from that leads to rocket ships.  And so that – and the fact that we had to wait four billion years without humans.  Four billion years?

SPACE.com: Yes, it took four billion years to get there.
Marcy: Since the Cambrian explosion, we had hundreds of millions of years of multi-cellular, advanced life in which, guess what happened with brain size?  Nothing.

He was speaking of the giant dinosaurs ruling the earth with chicken-size brains.  He could not point to anything making sense in Darwinism, but he dismissed purposeful direction out of hand:

We humans came across braininess because of something weird that happened on the East African savannah.  And we can’t imagine whether that’s a common or rare thing.
SPACE.com: People assume evolution is directed, and it’s always leading toward higher complexity and greater intelligence, but it’s not.
Marcy: It’s not.  Dinosaurs show this in spades.

From there, the interviewer and Marcy pepped themselves up with dreams of a souped-up SETI project.  He implied it would be easy to separate an intelligently-designed signal from a natural one: “We know what to look for,” he said.  “That would be the rat-a-tat-tat of a radio signal.  We don’t know exactly what the code would be, but we’d be looking for pulses in the radio, in the infrared maybe, in the X-ray or UV.  We’d have to think broadly.  But this is a great quest for humanity.”
    David Tyler drew different conclusions from the same evidence for the uniqueness of our planet.  In the ARN article, he said, “Based on evidence, some argue that the Earth is a Privileged Planet.  The basic approach of that book is being vindicated as research discovers just how extraordinary the Earth is.”

Are you sometimes undecided whether to laugh or weep for the SETI cultists?  Both responses can make you shed tears.  Marcy and his interviewer both admitted they are clueless, surprised, ignorant, and resigned to “Stuff Happens” as their scientific explanation for everything.  Swallowing the whole Darwin baggage of billions of years of evolution, he could only say that “something weird that happened on the East African savannah” – a hominid got a brain, and presto: a Tchaikovsky piano concerto.
    Now, while Dr. Marcy and the Kepler scientists deserve honors for collecting data with intelligently designed instruments, they’re not likely to rank very high as philosophers or theologians.  If the best philosophy they can invent is “stuff happens,” they have flunked out.  And if they cannot be convinced they are hopelessly lost via the evidence of the Privileged Planet, the SETI silence, the origin of life, the Cambrian explosion, and a Tchaikovsky piano concerto, is there any hope for today’s secular scientists being rescued from self-deception?
    Remember, these are the same people who refuse to let criticisms of Darwinism be heard in the schools or research labs.  Emperor Charlie is not only naked himself, he is surrounded by naked soldiers arresting the clothed little boy for indecent exposure.  Added to that, when you hear of communist and Muslim radicals calling for the complete overthrow of Western civilization, and the brutal murder of Supreme Court justices (video) and the news media totally ignoring their hate speech while calling out peace-loving conservative Christians for alleged violent rhetoric, it is hard not to conclude that most of the world has gone completely crazy.
    Don’t be surprised; it has gone crazy many times before.  Escape the craziness with power, love, and a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7).  Then rescue a neighbor.

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