Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Around the Bend with Ken Ham

2 January 2013: Astronomers have determined that the Milky Way may contain as many as 400 billion exoplanets, with almost every star hosting at least one planet.
"We'll find a new earth within 20 years" | Around the World with Ken Ham

Signs that Ken Ham may be beginning to panic at the thought that science could soon find evidence of life on another planet emerged recently with this desperate attempt to harness his fundamentalist audience in a bid to stop NASA looking for it, dismissing it as a waste of money which is bound to fail. His panic can be gauged from the horrible muddle he gets into with his argument where he inadvertently 'proves' that there isn't non-human life on Earth either.

He also showed his traditional propensity for making things up, even about the Bible, and relying on his ignorant audience not checking.

I'm shocked at the countless hundreds of millions of dollars that have been spent over the years in the desperate and fruitless search for extraterrestrial life. Even Bill Nye "the Science Guy," in our recent debate, happily gloated about tax dollars being spent toward this effort. And now, secular scientists are at it again.

Of course, secularists are desperate to find life in outer space, as they believe that would provide evidence that life can evolve in different locations and given the supposed right conditions! The search for extraterrestrial life is really driven by man's rebellion against God in a desperate attempt to supposedly prove evolution!

Judging by Hamster's snide swipe at him, it seems too that he may still be smarting at his recent public humiliation at the hands of Bill Nye "the Science Guy" in a widely publicised TV debate, which even many conservative Christians thought Nye had won.

How does Hamster know the search for evidence of life on the ever-expanding number of exoplanets (i.e planets orbiting other suns) will be fruitless? The Bible says so, of course.

The only problem is, he claims the Bible says things it simply doesn't say, even if what the Bronze-Age authors who believed Earth was flat, has a single landmass and a dome over it (Genesis 1:6-10) thought had any relevance. For example:

And I do believe there can't be other intelligent beings in outer space because of the meaning of the gospel. You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam's sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam's sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can't have salvation.

Er... actually Ken, the Bible says almost exactly the opposite.

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them. And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

Genesis 3:16-23

No mention there that Adam's 'sin' affected the whole Universe or even the whole world. In fact, no awareness that there actually was a Universe. The only other species which seems to have been affected is the 'serpent' which gets a curse. There is only the merest hint even that this 'sin' is to be inherited by Adam's descendents even. It's certainly not spelled out with the certainty that Christian fundamentalists like to imagine.

But even if Ken's private version of his 'Holy Bible' were true, wouldn't this apply equally to non-human life on Earth as he says it does to hypothetical life on other planets? Mind you, even the Hamster's carefully cultured ignorance of biology would need to go into overdrive to help him pretend there isn't non-human life on Earth, even if the logic of his own argument says there shouldn't be any.

And who was talking about intelligent life anyway? Is Ham preparing an escape hatch here just in case his prophecy is as phoney as that of Ezekiel when he prophesied the destruction of Egypt (Ezekiel 30:10-11) which history shows never happened? Will we be treated to a future creationist fraud confidently telling his audience that only intelligent life is actually living so the living things on other planets don't count?

Ham hasn't thought this through, has he. He's even forgotten now why he had to pretend the Bible said Adam's 'sin' affected the whole Universe. Now he's explaining why it only affected humans. Here he goes again:

Only descendants of Adam can be saved. God’s Son remains the "Godman" as our Savior. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that we see the Father through the Son (and we see the Son through His Word). To suggest that aliens could respond to the gospel is just totally wrong.

An understanding of the gospel makes it clear that salvation through Christ is only for the Adamic race—human beings who are all descendants of Adam.

So, because Jesus isn't the saviour of anything non-human, Ken concludes that it can't exist. Er... Ken! Jesus isn't a "Godelephant" or a "Godbacterium" or even a "Godchimpanzee" either. Should we conclude then that elephants, bacteria and chimpanzees don't exist because Jesus can't save them?

In typical Hamster style, he can't help tell a lie about science and what science's aims are either. Remember, Ham's primary mission is to discredit the science he knows is undermining the very foundations of his wealth faith.

Of course, secularists are desperate to find life in outer space, as they believe that would provide evidence that life can evolve in different locations and given the supposed right conditions!

Many secularists want to discover alien life hoping that aliens can answer the deepest questions of life: "Where did we come from?" and "What is the purpose and meaning of life?"

Secularists = scientists, eh? And how would finding life on another planet answer those questions, anyway? Ken wants his audience to think those questions somehow obsess 'secularists' (scientists) because we don't have his glib platitude to save us the bother of asking.

The Creator has told us where we came from: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1; Nehemiah 9:6). And He told us what life's purpose is: "Fear God and keep His commandments" (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

In fact I know of no branch of biology which concerns itself with 'why' questions. There is no reason to suppose there is any purpose for the Universe, for planets or for life on them. These are the stuff of philosophy, charlatan clerics and creationist pseudo-scientists claiming to be able to answer a non question for an audience not too bothered about truth so long as they get a nice warm glow of smug self-importance by having their over-inflated egos groomed.

And we know that life arose on Earth by virtue of the simple observation that there are living things on Earth, just as we know that raindrops form in clouds because we can see them. The only thing we are not yet sure of in both cases is the precise details of how it happened and, quite frankly, if we ever find out it will make not one iota of difference to anything very much, so there is no real reason to devote significant time and resource to it. The discovery of a plausible mechanism for abiogenesis will make even less difference to biology than the discovery of the precise details of how raindrops form in a cloud will make to the science of hydrology.

Ken knows the answers of course, because he has it on the authority of ignorant, pre-wheel Bronze-Age people who believed the highest mountains were about forty-five feet high (Genesis 7:19-20), that the sun and moon were lamps hanging from a dome over the Earth (Genesis 1:16-17), that green plants were made before there was sunlight (Genesis 1:11-19) and Heaven was above the stars directly above the Middle-East and within reach of a manmade tower (Genesis 11:1-9). But then Ken Ham is in the business of selling easy answers to ignorant people who are less concerned with truth than with having simple certainties and an authority figure to give them a gloss of respectability.

At least we can see Ken Ham's real worry here - the thought that if life is found on another planet it will show that, in the right conditions, abiogenesis can occur, and if it can occur on another planet it could have occurred on Earth. And so much of creationism depends on their audience swallowing the lie that this is impossible, so creating an unfillable gap in which to sit their god. Ham's 'faith' looks a little shaky on this point.

But to show that life can arise in the right conditions we don't need to find intelligent life or even multicellular life, though that would be good. We don't even need to discover very complex life. All we need to discover is something capable of replicating and of using energy to maintain a degree of order so overcoming the tendency towards disorder, because at its most fundamental level, this is all that life is.

One thing we can be sure of though is that if a simple replicator has arisen on another planet, and has been replicating for a few billion years, as it has on Earth, it will have evolved and diversified and adapted as its home planet changed because this is the inevitable result of a selective environment inevitably selecting in favour of those minor variations in replicators best able to produce the most descendants.

Ken Ham knows this, hence his rather too transparently desperate attempt to stop us finding it out, even needing to invent 'evidence' from the Bible that simply isn't there.

And people still give him money.

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  1. Very interesting and unveiling! True believers like Ken Ham and his naïve and gullible believers/followers have enormous difficulties to use logic and understand scientifical reasoning.

    BTW: Extraterrestrial life is a topic in which many theologians have had their say. Here is a good overview of how they might reason:

    As usual I'll provide some quotes from the article:

    QUOTE #1: In a recent newspaper interview the Reverend José Gabriel Funes, head of the Vatican Observatory and scientific advisor Pope Benedict XVI asked, “How can we exclude that life has developed elsewhere? Just as there is a multiplicity of creatures on earth, there can be other beings, even intelligent, created by God.

    QUOTE #2: it would seem incoherent to Christian thinking to suppose that the Word [i.e. Jesus] (...) [was] sent to other planets and civilizations for their salvation and to spread the word of God.

    QUOTE #3: This proposition [that Jesus was sent to different planets] troubles some religious scholars because they feel that multiple incarnations of the Savior decrease the relevance and importance of Christ as the messenger of God to mankind. This also presents a moral dilemma to some theologians because it presents the idea that the Son of God has suffered not only once, but many times in order to save all races in the Universe.

    QUOTE #4: Both Polkinghorne and Davies debate this theory because they both question the idea that a benevolent God would offer salvation, but leave the extraterrestrials ignorant to their salvation. These two theories that we are either a non-unique race receiving one copy of God’s message or that we are exceptionally unique and received the only copy and are commanded to share it present very dichotomous views on the subject. This dichotomy leads to another question: What if the aliens aren’t in need of

    QUOTE #5: There are two prominent views of the theory that the aliens don’t need [to be] saved which both tie in with the doubt over the uniqueness and value of humanity. First is the seemingly arrogant but optimistic view that humanity was the only race worth saving, so Jesus Christ was sent to be the salvation of mankind. According to Davies viewpoint, “He did not come to save the whales or the dolphins or the gorillas or the chimpanzees, or even the Neanderthals, however noble or deserving these creatures may be (or were). Jesus Christ was the saviour of Homo sapiens, specifically: one planet and one species”

    (To be continued in the next post)

  2. Continuation of the post here above:

    QUOTE #6: The second viewpoint considered by theologians and scholars is that only humanity received a Savior in the form of Christ because only humanity was faced with the challenge of morality versus sin, and that somehow extraterrestrial beings found a different path to spirituality free of sin and consequently did not require salvation.

    QUOTE #7: Both of these viewpoints raise interesting points regarding humanity’s value and how special the human race is.
    Though both posit that Aliens do not need or receive salvation from God, they draw contrary views regarding the worth of humanity with the first view arguing that humans are special because of their value to the creator, while the second view argues that
    humanity is special because it is corrupt and required an attempt at a moral course correction.

    QUOTE #8: According to Davies’ views in The Eerie Silence, “Over the years [religion] has managed to come to terms with Copernican cosmology, Darwinian evolution, genome sequencing and other unsettling scientific developments… The discovery of advanced extraterrestrial beings would represent a far more explicit threat of the same nature, and prove that much harder to assimilate”

    QUOTE #9: Is humanity truly the pinnacle of Divine creation and the sole recipient of God’s message? Or, is humanity only one part of a much larger painting that can’t yet be understood?

    QUOTE #10: If God did create another race somewhere in the cosmos it stands to reason that they too would be aware of his presence, and if one day contact is made perhaps a dialogue between humans of many belief systems and the alien races could lead to a deeper understanding of the Divine, and the role of every race in His master plan.

  3. I think it's very unlikely that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe, though for reasons very different than the Hamster's. Of course he's incapable of grasping that the search for alien life (even very primitive life like bacteria) is driven by the desire for knowledge and the excitement of what we could learn from such a discovery, not by a need to "prove evolution", which at this point is about as necessary as proving that 2+2=4.

    In this area even Ayatollah Khomeini was more enlightened than Ham; he wrote briefly about the possibility of intelligent life on other planets and the prospects for converting such beings to Islam. He was, at least, hedging his bets.

    If it turns out we do discover intelligent life elsewhere, the Hams of the world will immediately come out with some new rationalization claiming the Bible predicted it all along.


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