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Review of Colson's Review of Rare Earth

Regarding Chuckʼs recent broadcast/review of the book, Rare Earth

Hereʼs some jottings that he ought to take note of in future.

Sincerely, Edward T. Babinski

the conventional wisdom that the universe is teeming with intelligent life.

Who ever said the universe was “teeming” with life? Thatʼs akin to confusing “Star Trek and Star Wars” images of the universe with modern day astronomy.

They simply donʼt think the evidence supports the view that the universe is full of planets suitable for life.

Who ever said the universe was “full” of planets suitable for life? Some, planets maybe, including planets like ours, which is just one planet out of a couple hundred billion galaxies each containing over a billion stars. Probably the majority of life on other planets (should it evolve there and should we visit them) will turn out to be small and simple. After all, single celled life forms dominated our planet for over a billion years, which is longer than all the time that multicellular life forms have dominated our planet.

Many recently discovered gas giants, like Jupiter, surprised astronomers by exhibiting wildly eccentric, or highly elliptical orbits.

The gas giants that astronomers have recently discovered circling nearby stars are, I believe, LARGER than Jupiter. And they HAVE to BE in order for us to DETECT them with our relatively crude telescopes which still canʼt pick up visual images of planets as small as our earth. But the fact that rings of matter have been seen orbiting nearby stars has lead astronomers to conclude that planetary systems around stars other than the earth are not as improbable as previously thought.

Finally, Brownlee and Ward argue that Jupiterʼs immense size protects the Earth. With its great mass, 318 times greater than the Earthʼs, Jupiter scatters comets and other bodies that might otherwise catastrophically collide with our planet.

There have been FIVE, count them, FIVE major extinctions in the past on our planet. And evidence of disastrous asteroid impacts can be found throughout the geologic column. So, I think that even the great OZ of a planet called, “Jupiter” isnʼt so great at scattering comets and other bodies that catastrophically collide with our planet. Not to mention that astronomers have recognized over a hundred large asteroids whose orbits round the sun intersect with our planetʼs own orbit round the sun. So itʼs not exactly a “garden of Eden” here on our little world.

The Solar Systemʼs position in the galaxy, the Moonʼs vital contribution to the Earthʼs rotation, the role of plate tectonics
Review of Rare Earth

Plate tectonics!? A young-earth creationistʼs WORST nightmare. According to Bob Schadewald, who has attended numerous creationist conferences over the past two decades, one of the best arguments against young-earth creationism is that “we have irrefutable proof via plate tectonics that radiometric dating can provide reliable dates. Investigations of global plate tectonics resulted in a computer model of plate motions, where the direction component of the motion vector could be generated using using ordinary geologic methods, but the magnitude component ultimately (via magnetic striping) is based on radiometric dating. In recent years, numerous (hundreds, I think) measurements of relative plate motions have been made using special equipment and the Global Positioning System. The measurements match the predictions of the model beautifully. If radiometric dating doesnʼt work, then how does this happen? Why are the measurements so close to the predictions and so repeatable? FWIW, I gave copies of a paper on this to several creationists last year at International Creationist Conference 98, some of them long-time friends.

Not *one* of them has made any attempt to respond. In my experience, when creationists hide from an argument and wonʼt even attempt to respond, it means that they have retreated to their last resort: Deep denial. That is why I still advocate hammering them with this one.” (Bob Schadewald) Bob is talking about the way the sea floor spreads from the center of the Atlantic with the most recent dates coming from where the spreading begins, and the oldest dates moving outward from where the spreading began, the dates match the expectations based on the measured movements of the plates via the Global Positioning System and land based measurements, which are conclusively known and proven and which cumulate each year, so there is no doubt that such movement is taking place and at what rate. Such data is “death” to young-earth creationism. Another similar death knell for creationism is the carbon-dated layers of a varved lake bed in Japan that go back 30,000 years, each deeper layer being older than the previous one, by a year. Or the carbon-dated tree ring series, of which there presently are three that go back to 10,000 years, each individual tree ring from inner to outer, being carbon-dated one year older. The matches in all such cases attest to an age for the cosmos that exceeds the young-earth creationistʼs ages for the earth.

one line of evidence after another lead Rare Earthʼs authors to conclude that our planetary home is quite possibly unique.

With so much of the cosmos unexplored, I doubt that anyone is ready to announce with truly scientific satisfaction that a planet such as ours with intelligent life on it is necessarily “unique.” We just donʼt know. But people like Colson apparently “do” because “the Bible tells them so.”

The evidence, like that reported in their book, makes the case for intelligent design just as the great scientist Isaac Newton understood it hundreds of years ago.

What bombast. Nobody has “made” the case for intelligent design (see book review below). And certainly the authors of even the book that Colson is praising have made no such statement, but merely pointed out the relatively lucky circumstances in which we have found ourselves on this planet.

Furthermore, speaking of Newton and praising his “insight,” what about all of Newtonʼs thousands of pages of biblical research that led him to reject the TRINITY, and convinced him the world was only a couple thousand years old, (though Newton admitted that the world was older than Ussher said, because some of the “days“ of creation were believed by Newton to be a couple thousand years long). Or what about Newtonʼs brilliant biblical research that led him to predict the world would end before our century?

Whatʼs exciting is that intelligent design is now returning to science: scientists need only the openness to embrace it.

Intelligent design is not “returning to science.” Saying that “God did it” may induce awe in believers, but a scientist still wants to know HOW, and will investigate HOW the cosmos was formed via a series of steps that scientists can formulate and understand. Even if it never happened quite that way, a scientist would STILL want to know HOW the Designer came up with certain ideas and HOW He implemented them, step by step. Itʼs that step by step knowledge that science is interested in, not just stopping with “it popped into existence.” Thatʼs where the theologianʼs job ENDS and the scientistʼs questions BEGIN. HOW do you “pop” something into existence, by what means and steps did the Designer change mud into man, and form creatures from the earth? And why were things done THAT way rather than any OTHER?

And why couldnʼt or why didnʼt the Designer make birds with light bones and curved light skulls and large keel bones and a host of other adaptations for flight, right from the start? Why start with obviously lizard shaped creatures with heavy bones, long dragging boney tails, teeth, triangular thick reptilian skulls, small keel bones, unfused wrist bones (which make maneuverability in the air less easy), that lack other features, like the small guiding feather the avula of modern birds? Why did the Designer in other words, work his way UP to modern birds (including the humming bird which is the only one that can fly backwards, a recently designed variety) instead of being able to create them perfect the first time? The same goes for many other creatures in the fossil record whose changes did not come “instantaneously” but in steps.

Iʼd love to see Colson review recent book, Destiny or Chance :

Our Solar System and Its Place in the Cosmos by Stuart Ross Taylor Written by a leading planetary scientist, this book tells the remarkable story of how our solar system came into existence, in other words, itʼs past history, step by step. It provides a fast-paced, non-technical and expert tour of our new understanding of the Earth, its planetary neighbors and other planetary systems. En route we discover that chance events have shaped the course of the history of our solar system. Dramatic collisions, for example, caused the tilts and spins of the planets, the extinction of the dinosaurs and the rise of man. For all those interested in understanding our solar system and its place in the cosmos, this is a lucid and compelling read.

Best, Edward T. Babinski

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