Evidence for Alien Life—Ooops, Never Mind!

by Spike Psarris

Have you seen all the recent announcements about life being discovered on other planets? Media commentators seem to think that we're up to our eyeballs in aliens. Of course, a closer look reveals that these announcements are rubbish. This issue comes up over and over in the creation/evolution debate, so let's look at what's going on.

A couple of months ago, NASA made a big deal about a new discovery: "an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life." The announcement helpfully explained that "astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe." Reporters had to wait several days before the full information was released. The media went into a frenzy. What had NASA found? When the big day finally arrived, NASA proudly announced the big discovery. Researchers had found some unusual bacteria.

So where were the unusual bacteria found? On Mars? On a moon of Jupiter? Maybe on a moon of Saturn? None of the above. The bacteria were found in a lake in California. So how was this evidence for astrobiology? Supposedly, the bacteria had DNA biochemistry based on arsenic instead of phosphorus. This showed that bacteria could survive in places that were previously thought too hostile for life. According to NASA, this is 'evidence that will impact the search' for aliens.

The media backlash was immediate. Many commentators were stunned at how ridiculous this claim was, and how NASA had created such a fuss over some germs in California. Then the story got even better. The research itself turned out to be horribly flawed.

The bacteria didn't necessarily have arsenic in their DNA. Turns out the researchers had failed to take some basic precautions in the laboratory when working with them. So the measurements were invalid. The scientific community blasted NASA for its incompetence. Among the kinder remarks were that "this paper should not have been published." More direct attacks used words like "flim-flam." [1]

The sad part is that the NASA researchers still insisted that their study was valid, even after all the fatal flaws were pointed out. Like so many other evolutionists, these researchers are desperate to find life elsewhere. So desperate, in fact, that they're blinded to the fatal flaws in their research.

Which is why we see examples of this again and again, as in [the] next topic.

Evidence For Alien Life, For Real This Time! Oops...Never Mind Again

NASA researcher Richard Hoover recently published a paper claiming that he had found fossils of alien bacteria in some meteorites. Again, the claim caused a stir. Again, the claim fell apart upon closer examination. NASA's top astrobiologist disavowed the claim within days.

As a microbiologist at the University of British Columbia said, "These guys make some stupid announcement completely ignoring all the rules of biology and then get all the publicity." This is a key insight. It doesn't matter how bad the science is. The media
will eagerly proclaim anything that hints of life elsewhere. And when the claim is inevitably debunked, somehow the debunking never gets as much publicity as the original claim did.

Wait! We Finally Found Evidence for Alien...Oh, Forget It

In December [2010], the Associated Press ran a story [2] with this headline: "Evidence of aliens is mounting daily" (Hmm: not annually, or monthly, or even weekly. *Daily*.) As you can probably guess by now, again the "evidence of aliens" was complete nonsense. It consisted of three discoveries:

1. The bacteria in California with arsenic in their biochemistry
2. The discovery of a potentially habitable planet around a far-away star
3. And the discovery that there are a lot more stars than we previously thought.

But all three discoveries fail to support the idea of alien life. In fact, the first discovery had already been debunked by the time this article was published. The author even admitted this. (Then why was it included?)

The second discovery didn't support alien life either. Even if this new planet were in the habitable zone around its star (which isn't certain), the star in question is a red dwarf. Red dwarfs are dim, with low energy output. To be warm enough to be habitable, planets have to orbit them closely. But red dwarfs are unstable and flare frequently. Large flares will fry the closely-orbiting planets. Thus, the so-called "habitable zone" isn't so habitable after all. And the second discovery doesn't support the idea of life elsewhere.

As for the third discovery, some astronomers believe that there might be many more stars than we previously thought. Up to three times as many, in fact. Thus, there might be lots more planets than we thought. Thus, there might be lots more places where life could exist. Thus, this is evidence of alien life. (Don't you love the 'logic' here?)

There's a big problem, though. The new stars, if they actually exist, would be red dwarfs. (That's why they were previously unknown -- because red dwarfs are dim and hard to spot.) And as we just saw, red dwarf systems are not places you want to live in.

We see then that the claimed 'daily' new evidence for aliens is complete rubbish. Question: why are the media so eager to run absurd stories like this?

Why are even NASA scientists publishing wild tales about California germs being 'evidence' for life elsewhere? It's because of evolutionary thinking. As I said earlier, most evolutionists are desperate to find life outside of the Earth (whether or not they admit it). After all, if you believe that there was no Creator who made us, then obviously we must have evolved from earlier forms of life. And life must have formed by natural processes. And if it formed here, then it must have formed somewhere else too. So, if we find it elsewhere, that would 'prove' that it formed here. And this would prove that evolution is true and creation is false.

New question: How many logical fallacies can you find in that chain of reasoning?

Messenger Space Probe Arrives At Mercury

On March 17, the Messenger spacecraft entered orbit around Mercury. This begins the first-ever orbital study of the planet. Creationists are eagerly awaiting the results of the Messenger mission. Among other things, this probe will map out Mercury's magnetic field in much more detail than we had before.

In my Solar System DVD, I explained that if Mercury were really billions of years old, it shouldn't have a magnetic field. Nevertheless, it does. This makes Mercury look young, and contradicts the secular model of origins. Evolutionists have proposed a variety of excuses for Mercury's magnetic field. We won't discuss them here, because the excuses create more problems than they solve.

But there's one thing that even the excuses can't handle, and that's a rapid decay of the magnetic field. If Mercury really had a stable magnetic field for billions of years, it shouldn't be decaying rapidly today. Nevertheless, that's exactly what it appears to be doing.

This fits perfectly with a young Creation model. In fact, it was predicted by creationary physicist Dr. Russell Humphreys a number of years ago. Preliminary data from Messenger indicate that Dr. Humphrey's prediction might even have been too conservative. The decay rate might be even higher than he predicted.[3] (This would make the problems for the evolutionary model even worse, if that's possible.)

However, the data are still preliminary. That's why we're eagerly awaiting the definitive measurements that Messenger will be doing. Evolutionists often scoff that creation science makes no testable predictions. Planetary magnetism is a great example of why they're wrong. (Nor is Mercury the only planet where creation-based predictions have been right, and evolution-based predictions have been wrong.)

The Messenger mission promises to be very fruitful for a creationary understanding of the Solar System.

1. http://www.slate.com/id/2276919/pagenum/all/
2. http://www.thereporter.com/wirenews/ci_16814670
3. http://creation.com/mercurys-magnetic-field-is-young
Spike Psarris was previously an engineer in the United States’ military space program. He entered that program as an atheist and an evolutionist. He left it as a creationist and a Christian. Spike is the author of the Our Created Solar System DVD and maintains the CreationAstronomy.com website. Spike can be seen and heard presenting his powerful messages about Creation Astronomy at conventions around the country.