Secularists Use Intelligent Design Reasoning
Data from a star are hard to reconcile with natural causes. Are super-intelligent aliens at work?
Despite their antipathy to the intelligent design movement, secular materialists are perfectly happy to infer design when it suits their purposes. They can even use the design filter to infer the presence of intelligent minds they know absolutely nothing about, simply from the effects on radiation.
A recent case involves Tabby’s Star, KIC 8462852 in the Kepler Space Telescope catalog. Space.com says that a possible “alien megastructure” might exist around this star. Astronomers can’t rule it out. The signal just got “weirder” the article says; it defies natural explanations. Kepler looks for light dips in stellar spectra coming from planets transiting in front of a star.
But Tabby’s Star’s transit signal, otherwise known as a “light-curve”, stopped astronomers in their tracks. Something passed in front of it, dimming its starlight a whopping 20 percent and other jumbled transit signals revealed that something wasn’t quite right with this particular star. Then, in an interview with The Atlantic, Penn State University astronomer Jason Wright speculated that the signal could be indicative of an “alien megastructure” that’s in the process of being built.
The structure would have to be a “Dyson Sphere,” named after Princeton thinker Freeman Dyson who speculated that an intelligent civilization might maneuver all remaining planetary material into a giant sphere to capture the remaining energy from a dying star.
The anomalous signature was curious enough to send astronomers scrambling for natural explanations before inferring an intelligent cause. This is the basic method of William Dembski’s Design Filter, a method for inferring intelligence by elimination of chance and natural law. Some astronomers have favored a natural cause: a swarm of comets, instead of aliens. There are problems with that theory, though; it would have to be impossibly far from the star to work.
Shannon Hall at New Scientist says that a triple signal (three kinds of dimming) from Tabby’s Star “baffles astronomers” and cannot yet rule out aliens.
What about that advanced alien megastructure? “Once you’re invoking arbitrary advanced aliens doing something with technology far beyond ours, then there isn’t very much that can’t be explained,” says Simon. “But we don’t really want to resort to that until we exhaust all of the possible natural explanations we can think of.”
Even Wright, the astronomer who postulated the alien megastructure in the first place, admits that it’s a last resort.
That’s similar to the complaint secularists give about theists, that invoking a super-intelligence like God ends scientific explanation. But in this case, it’s the secularists who came up with that possibility. What’s instructive about this case is that secular astronomers, on their own, were drawn to intelligence as a cause for a phenomenon, with the understanding it could be distinguished from natural causes or chance. That, in a nutshell, is intelligent design theory.
Intelligent Design advocates are often more hesitant to rush to a design conclusion than these astronomers are. ID does not teach that everything is designed. In most scientific work, natural law and chance do just fine to explain what happens. But secularists shoot their feet out from under them by ruling intelligent causes out of court from the get-go. This ideological bias leads to absurdities like Darwin just-so stories that we showcase frequently here at CEH (e.g., 8/13/16, 8/06/16). It’s time to bring intelligence back into the explanatory toolkit of science. After all, some fields in science already do this routinely: archaeology, forensics, informatics, operations research, and optimization, among others.
Recommended Resource: Douglas Axe explains in his new book Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition that Life Is Designed that we all have a natural design intuition when looking at the world and all its complexity, and that’s a good thing. It’s a form of scientific reasoning he calls “common science.” He shows how Darwinians are trained out of their design intuition but end up forcing observations into an increasingly implausible story, just to maintain a materialistic worldview. Watch Axe introduce the thesis in a video on Evolution News & Views (90 minutes if you have the time).