Two planets with life are more miraculous than one

The Sensuous Curmudgeon, who presently cannot post to his weblog, comments:

This Discoveroid article is amazing. Could Atheism Survive the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life?. I wish I could make a new post about it. They say that if life is found elsewhere, that too is a miracle, so then you gotta believe in the intelligent designer. They say:

“The probability of life spontaneously self-assembling anywhere in this universe is mind-staggeringly unlikely; essentially zero. If you are so unquestioningly naïve as to believe we just got incredibly lucky, then bless your soul.”

Actually, “they” who posted at Evolution News and Views is someone we all love dearly, and see occasionally in the Zone — that master of arguments from improbability, Kirk Durston.

120 thoughts on “Two planets with life are more miraculous than one

  1. FierceRoller,

    Just started to reply to phoodoo’s comment, only to realise that FierceRoller had got in first with the same point I wanted to make – and then some.
    Is there there any quick way of indicating one’s approval of a post here, as one can do on FB by “liking”?

  2. So life is so astronomically unlikely to arise on its own that it must have been orchestrated by an Intelligent Designer, but if life weren’t unlikely to arise on its own then that must be because of an Intelligent Designer.

    Heads they’re right, tails we’re wrong.

  3. RoyLT: I know of no Materialists who believe that life only exists on Earth.

    Right, because a lot of materialists base their beliefs on faith, not evidence.

    I agree with you.

  4. Some estimates of the number of species on earth are that there are 10 million species. A classical creationist thinks that each one of them is a miraculous event that could not have happened otherwise.

    Who needs to look at another planet? Aren’t 10 million miracles enough?

  5. phoodoo: What explanation confirms materialism, many planets with life, a few planets with life, or only one planet with life? Please chose one.

    RoyLT: I know of no Materialists who believe that life only exists on Earth. That is a statement of exceptionalism which is only found in the Creationist camp.

    phoodoo: Right, because a lot of materialists base their beliefs on faith, not evidence.

    I agree with you.

    Not sure what you are agreeing with. While I cannot speak for all Materialists, the ones that I know and have read all feel that it is highly likely that life exists elsewhere in the Universe. If you can suggest a way to collect evidence for life or its absence from the 2950 confirmed exoplanets identified so far, I’m all ears.

  6. RoyLT,

    I agree with you that a great many (most according to you) believe there is life on other planets, without even a shred of evidence.

  7. phoodoo: How have materialists not done the same thing?

    I’m not an expert on the psychology of materiealists, so I can’t tell you how it is they generally manage to avoid making the same fallacious inferences that religious people do.

    All I can say is, by observation it just doesn’t seem to be the case that “materialists” go around saying stuff like “there is X amount of life in the universe, therefore materialism is true”.

    I really only see this kind of ad-hoc reasoning from people who believe that things were wished into existence by a divine mind that can somehow exist in the absense of a physical brain, outside of time and space.

    What explanation confirms materialism, many planets with life, a few planets with life, or only one planet with life? Please chose one.

    None of the above. I don’t believe materialism makes any pronouncements on the frequency of life in the universe. Materialism is the proposition that the fundamental nature of reality is materialistic. It’s made of the things studied by physics. Fields, particles, spatial dimensions. Materialism doesn’t say anything about whether those material entities should make living organisms or not, merely that whatever exists, it is made of those fundamental material entitites.

  8. TristanM: So life is so astronomically unlikely to arise on its own that it must have been orchestrated by an Intelligent Designer, but if life weren’t unlikely to arise on its own then that must be because of an Intelligent Designer.

    Heads they’re right, tails we’re wrong.

    That’s not what Durston is saying. But it is what Marks, Dembski, and Ewert are saying.

  9. Rumraket: What explanation confirms materialism, many planets with life, a few planets with life, or only one planet with life? Please chose one.

    None of the above. I don’t believe materialism makes any pronouncements on the frequency of life in the universe. Materialism is the proposition that the fundamental nature of reality is materialistic. It’s made of the things studied by physics. Fields, particles, spatial dimensions. Materialism doesn’t say anything about whether those material entities should make living organisms or not, merely that whatever exists, it is made of those fundamental material entitites.

    It strikes me that Phoodoo’s question relies on an assumed equivalence between the way materialism/materialists operate and theism/theists operate. But I don’t see any equivalence between the two philosophical perspectives.

    For one thing, I don’t know of any materialist who cares whether materialism is actually true or not. It’s simply an accepted assumption given what science indicates and given that there’s no overt contradiction to it.

    But Phoodoo’s question would not be valid even if the above wasn’t true. Because the number of planets with life has zero to do with materialism at all. The fact is, materialism is true if matter is the fundamental substance of reality. So if life is simply a specific arrangement of matter, it makes no difference if there’s a lot of it or very little of it for materialism’s validity.

  10. Sally Hawksworth: Is there there any quick way of indicating one’s approval of a post here, as one can do on FB by “liking”?

    There is a “likes” module available via the Jetpack plugin. If there’s a demand, it could be added. We have a dedicated page “Moderation Issues” (there’s a button on the menu bar) for discussing such options.

  11. Robin: It strikes me that Phoodoo’s question relies on an assumed equivalence between the way materialism/materialists operate and theism/theists operate.

    Me too.

    But I don’t see any equivalence between the two philosophical perspectives.

    Worldviews, puh-lease!

  12. Robin: It strikes me that Phoodoo’s question relies on an assumed equivalence between the way materialism/materialists operate and theism/theists operate.

    For Phoodoo, eveyrthing comes down to an arbitrary belief. Even simple raw observations rest on the BELIEF that we are “actually” observing something “real”. And since beliefs are all arbitrary, they must be distinguished according to some authority. So Phoodoo has confected (or been trained into) what he regards as an absolutely authority, thus ratifying HIS beliefs but not the beliefs of those who don’t share his faith.

    The only progress humanity made for maybe a couple million years, was made by people who were able to construct useful cause and effect models — as simple as “if I do this, that happens, and I like it when that happens.” Genuine advancement didn’t really happen until this was formalized into the scientific method, after which progress skyrocketed.

    But an entire history of “no progress using religion, explosive progress using science” is immaterial to Phoodoo. For him, it will always be right belief (his) against wrong belief (science).

  13. phoodoo: I agree with you that a great many (most according to you) believe there is life on other planets, without even a shred of evidence.

    Who needs evidence when they have faith? And why do they have faith? For philosophical reasons, not scientific ones. The religion of the Atheist/Materialist.

  14. ………and Tom English’ snark is the coup-de-grace that killed ID.

    Bwuhahahahah!

    Gotta luv these purveyors of NGR (no-gods-required).

    They’re like to guys way back when who sweared devils sprang into existence all of their own in pond water. All you had to do is put some of that pond water is a cup and voila! those pesky devils just started cropping up.

    Kudlow is no doubt proud of the Tom Englishes of this world.

    …”Gods? What Gods, We don’t need no stinkin’ Gods. We ARE Gods, dammit!”

    Tom English: Statistical independence is the boon of ID.

  15. Mung: Yes, it counts as evidence of the existence of other planets.

    That it does. Consider that we have been able to examine only a single suitable planet, and we find life there. From a sample of one, extrapolation is dicey. So in this absence of direct evidence, we need to speculate. The number of planets suitable for life as we know it is surely very high. So IF life can arise through ordinary chemical processes, the probability that it has done so elsewhere is also very high.

    We do know that life (as we know it) is certainly possible on such planets. Earth can be considered a proof-of-concept. Contrast with the fact that we do NOT know if there are any gods, even here. Everything considered, most people would be more surprised by no other life anywhere, than by some life somewhere. There’s no proof involved, and no belief involved. If we know heads CAN come up, and we know the number of flips is enormous, another heads somewhere, sooner or later, sounds promising.

  16. Mung: Yes, it counts as evidence of the existence of other planets.

    Based on assumption that if life requires certain parameters the more planets with those parameters, the more opportunities for life to exist elsewhere regardless of its origin.

    It is hard to imagine an intelligent designer would would only design life once leaving the rest of the Universe barren. Michelangelo designing only one sculpture

  17. This is soooooo bogus! How many times do we have to go thru this shit ass muddled thinking?

    Science was brought to humanity by…..wait for it………..religious scientists. Because they understood the self-evident design inherent in life.

    Atheists are just punk-ass party crashers that talk loud, commandeering the stage, declaring science is now their party and always has been.

    Posers!

    But if we are gonna take it back, we’re gonna have to fight for it, bigly! Like Bannon said about the US, libs are not gonna give up without a fight. Neither are atheists gonna give up their commandeered stage without a fight.

    Game on! Bigly!.

    Flint: But an entire history of “no progress using religion, explosive progress using science” is immaterial to Phoodoo.

  18. This thread brings up something about math/probability . i know they try to bring math stuff to biological evolution.
    yet i see this as not making a case for evolution but only a presumption of evolution and THEN THE MATH.
    For example. Some say there is/can be life on other planets and DO THE MATH to show why this can be so from a evolutionary stance. Others say there is no life on other planets frrom a MATH view dealing with evolution.
    So whether there is or is not life on otherr planets both math/probability professors would get paid for their conclusions and the error would be irrelevant to their math.
    I see a lot of this in biology evolution stuff where they try to organize trees etc.

  19. Rumraket: I’m not an expert on the psychology of materiealists

    Right, just an expert on the psychology of non-materialists, by your own estimation.

  20. Steve:

    Science was brought to humanity by…..wait for it………..religious scientists.

    They were also smart enough to leave their religious beliefs out of their work and relied 100% on the material evidence they could interact with and and investigate.

  21. Steve:
    This is soooooo bogus!How many times do we have to go thru this shit ass muddled thinking?

    If only we had a guide

    Science was brought to humanity by…..wait for it………..religious scientists.Because they understood the self-evident design inherent in life.

    The Scientific method is agnostic.

    Atheists are just punk-ass party crashers that talk loud, commandeering the stage, declaring science is now their party and always has been.]

    Maybe that is a logical progression, greater knowledge ,less dependence on the fundamentalism for explanations. You sounds envious of punk-ass atheists.Sad.

    But if we are gonna take it back, we’re gonna have to fight for it,

    Fight to spend long hours in the lab for barely a decent wage? I thought you guys just wanted to make a lot of money trashing out the enviroment, controlling other people’s lives. Trying to fill the void at the center of your being. Who knew you wanted to join the exciting and adventurous life of the professional scientists.

    !Like Bannon said about the US, libs are not gonna give up without a fight

    Funny how people react when someone tries to away their rights. Remember tomorrow’s libs will be you if you deviate from the Party.

    .Neither are atheists gonna give up their commandeered stage without a fight.

    Who is next ,Purifier?

    Game on!Bigly!.

  22. phoodoo: Right, just an expert on the psychology of non-materialists, by your own estimation.

    Not that hard, materialism is bad, atheists are mean, and scientists are liars. At least the locals with the exception of Byers.

  23. newton: Not that hard, materialism is bad, atheists are mean, and scientists are liars.

    Plus they are terrified of going on the record. phoodoo won’t say if he agrees or disagrees with Behe, for example, regarding the ongoing weaponization of biology against humanity.

  24. newton: It is hard to imagine an intelligent designer would would only design life once leaving the rest of the Universe barren. Michelangelo designing only one sculpture

    As a casual reader of the Christian Bible and an often intrigued observer of the religious mind, I disagree with you on this particular point. The entire Exceptionalist philosophy of Creation is based upon human life being the pinnacle of God’s creative work. The completely barren nature of the rest of the universe serves simply as a contrast to make the singularity more stark and impressive. I put it in a similar vein to how Yahweh ‘hardened Pharaoh’s heart’ while having Moses do parlor tricks. Pharaoh wasn’t supposed to be impressed. The entire drawn-out process was to wow the Hebrew’s. Of course the successive plagues and the entire exchange seems silly and petty when he follows it up by parting a sea;-) It was a display of his power rather than of his logical consistency or efficiency of design.

    While I’m certain that Creationists would adapt their narrative if indisputable proof of life elsewhere were discovered, I think it currently hinges on Earth being the only planet so gifted in the universe. ID of course leaves this door quite open, along with many other doors and windows…

    If Michelangelo’s first sculpture was perfect, chisel-drop and walk off-stage;-)

  25. newton: I thought you guys just wanted to make a lot of money trashing out the enviroment, controlling other people’s lives.

    The latter is mainly for fun, though the prison-industrial complex continues to grow.

  26. Tom English: The latter is mainly for fun, though the prison-industrial complex continues to grow.

    I guess everyone needs a hobby to take one’s mind of their day job of trashing out the planet.

  27. RoyLT: While I’m certain that Creationists would adapt their narrative if indisputable proof of life elsewhere were discovered, I think it currently hinges on Earth being the only planet so gifted in the universe.

    They’ve got no problem with bacteria moving from Earth to Mars. The scariest of questions that stands a chance of being answered in the coming century is: Did Life on Earth Come From Mars?

  28. I would say that if we find humans – biologically identical Homo sapiens – on other worlds, I’d be forced to start believing in a Designer. Barring that, there’s no reason to go there.

  29. Tom English: They’ve got no problem with bacteria moving from Earth to Mars. The scariest of questions that stands a chance of being answered in the coming century is: Did Life on Earth Come From Mars?

    I doubt that any narrative regarding life (or precursors) being exchanged between Mars and Earth will have much affect on the storyline. Some pre-baking process on Mars to set the stage for life to “blossom on Earth”, as the article says, can just be rolled up as part of the mysterious ways of an all-powerful Creator. Any evidence of life in another solar system completely independent of ours is the only scenario that I could see really posing a fundamental challenge our place in the universe being so special and unique.

  30. Tom English: The scariest of questions that stands a chance of being answered in the coming century is: Did Life on Earth Come From Mars?

    In fact, I’d be willing to bet that the ‘phosphate problem’ and the significance of the lack of Boron will be the next ‘proofs’ to get marched out in another Spitzer-esque list of fine-tuning arguments.

  31. Robin:
    I would say that if we find humans – biologically identical Homo sapiens – on other worlds, I’d be forced to start believing in a Designer. Barring that, there’s no reason to go there.

    Ha!
    I had exactly the same thought.
    OTOH, if we find life, but no H. sapiens, then it’s something of a blow for the Abrahamic religions…

  32. DNA_Jock: Ha!
    I had exactly the same thought.
    OTOH, if we find life, but no H. sapiens, then it’s something of a blow for the Abrahamic religions…

    Even more so if we find beetle-like critters on other worlds…

  33. Robin: Even more so if we find beetle-like critters on other worlds…

    The time scale of evolution is such that it would be astonishing to find anything other than bacteria on an exoplanet.

  34. Robin: Even more so if we find beetle-like critters on other worlds…

    petrushka: The time scale of evolution is such that it would be astonishing to find anything other than bacteria on an exoplanet.

    But God is inordinately fond of stars and beetles.

  35. Robin:
    I would say that if we find humans – biologically identical Homo sapiens – on other worlds, I’d be forced to start believing in a Designer. Barring that, there’s no reason to go there.

    AHA. You don’t need to go to another planet. Convergent evolutionism teaches that creatures in unrelated family groups can evolve top look exactly alike.
    marsupials being the great living case. So there were marsupial wolves, moles, lions that looked exactly like our wolves, moles, lions. They invoke convergent evolution.
    so why not a marsupial ape leading to a marsupial humanoid??
    Likewise there were other familys, creodonts , litopterns etc, with perfect likeness to other creatures yet said to be independently evolved under niche influence.
    So evolutionists sHOULD be expecting humanoid like creatures if they expect to find life on other planets.
    no reason not to. The great claim of convergent evolutionism demands this.

  36. Joe Felsenstein:
    Some estimates of the number of species on earth are that there are 10 million species.A classical creationist thinks that each one of them is a miraculous event that could not have happened otherwise.

    Who needs to look at another planet?Aren’t 10 million miracles enough?

    whats a species? who is defining them?
    anyways there are no classical creationists anymore. i question they ever thought every “species’ was created by God. They see humans in our diversity from Adam and they know there was one snake kind to justify a total curse on the snake and so make it a single created KIND.
    Probably few thought species was fixed. Rather a bigger “kind” was fixed.
    Miracle? Gods creation is not a miracle as defined accurately.

  37. Tom English: We’re mostly joking in this thread because the notion that life on two planets is more improbable than life on one planet is totally a joke.

    🙂

    It’s the other way around. Life on one planet is more improbable than life on two planets. Just ask Neil.

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