Is a Rare Earth a Powerful Test of the Creation/Evolution Models of Origins?

Dr. Danny Faulkner has received criticism on this site for proposing that an absence of extraterrestrial life is a powerful test of the creation model of origins against the evolution model. He expresses this belief most clearly in an article entitled, “Can Life Exist on Other Planets?” published in the October 2009 issue of the Institute for Creation Research’s Acts & Facts magazine (Vol. 38. No. 10).

“The evolutionary worldview is that all of physical existence, both living and non-living, arose through purely natural processes. With this broad definition of evolution, abiogenesis–the spontaneous appearance of life from non-living matter–is a necessity. If life did arise on earth by itself, it would be inconceivable that this is the only planet upon which there is life. Otherwise, the earth would be a remarkably special place, and that could easily lead to theistic ideas. Consequently, most evolutionists believe that life must exist elsewhere in the universe.

“A Powerful Test

“The creation worldview is very different, because, as usual, we start with very different assumptions. We believe that life exists on earth because God created life here, but He first had to fashion the earth to be a suitable habitation for life. The evolutionist must believe that life is inevitable wherever conditions are suitable for life, but creationists understand that even if conditions on another planet could sustain life, life there is not possible–unless God created life there or permitted life somehow to travel to that planet from earth.

“While we cannot prove biblically that God did not create life elsewhere, the strong implication of Scripture is that He did not. These very different predictions of the special creation and evolution models mean that the search for life elsewhere amounts to a powerful test between the two theories of origin.”

He then makes a series of observations which illustrate the point of his conclusion:

“For a long time, evolutionists thought that life on earth first evolved in warm, very hospitable pools and then colonized more difficult environments. Now many evolutionists think that life began at the margins, in very hostile locations, and then migrated the other direction to better locations.

“Much of the motivation for this complete reversal in thinking stems from the need to find life elsewhere. As creationists, we ought to welcome the search for extraterrestrial life. We are confident that the experiments will continue to produce null results that verify our theory of origin while disproving the evolutionary theory of origin.”

I’m forced to shake my head at the latter statement because this is essentially the same argument that we rightfully criticize when atheists make it. Absence of evidence is not necessarily the evidence of absence. It’s a really big universe and it’s really too soon to make this sort of assertion without sounding horribly overconfident.

Especially since Dr. Faulkner himself admits that he’s only basing his conjecture on what he feels is a strong implication of Scripture. He can’t make a certain prediction because the scriptures are silent on the subject of extraterrestrial life.

Unfortunately, Faulkner’s assertion that a lack of ET life is a prediction of the creation model is shared by others. For example, in an August 19, 2009 article entitled “The Incredible Hulk Theory of Life in Space,” Brian Thomas of the Institute for Creation Research concludes:

“There is not a shred of scientific evidence that astrobiological clocks exist anywhere in the universe, except in comic book-like hypotheses. For that matter, the only habitable planet yet discovered is earth, just as the biblical creation model predicts.

A footnote indicates that he is citing a 2008 article by Dr. Jerry Bergman, but Bergman never indicates in “The Earth: Unique in All the Universe” that life is unique to planet Earth nor that the biblical model predicts such a circumstance. In fact, both in the updated February 2008 version and the original June 1985 version, Bergman qualifies his beliefs to our solar system:

“..our Earth is the only planet circling our sun on which life as we know it could (and does) exist…

Although in our solar system only the Earth was made to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18), even on the Earth only a thin slice is ideally suited for most life-forms including those we are most familiar with, such as mammals, birds, and reptiles.” (Emphasis mine)

How did Thomas make the logical leap? Simply put: he made the mistake of viewing the question of extraterrestrial life as a part of the creation/evolution dichotomy, rather than as a separate issue from the origins argument.

Answers in Genesis follows suit. The introductory paragraph on theAlien Life hub of their website claims:

In a biblical worldview, we don’t expect alien life to exist. The Bible tells us Earth was formed to be inhabited and the other celestial bodies were created for signs, seasons, days, and years. It was to Earth that Jesus came to save us, not to another planet to save another race of beings.

In his Amazon bestseller Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection, Gary Bates (CEO of Creation Ministries International wrote:

Of course, you can be a Christian and believe aliens do exist on other planets, but it would imply that you have not taken the Bible’s history of origins seriously” [p. 261].

So there again, we see the attempt to paint the question of extraterrestrial life as an intrinsic part of thr creation/evolution dichotomy.

Proponents of the anti-alien argument also demonstrate a marked ignorance of the history of exotheological discourse. To wit, their writings do not evidence that they are familiar with Christian exotheological positions contrary to theirs even though there is a history of such positions since at least the Middle Ages.

For example, the 1950 edition of Thomas Dick’s Christian Philosopher contains an appendix on extraterrestrial life, entitled “On a Plurality of Worlds,” in which he provides the following argument:

“That the scriptures are silent on this head, has been assumed by some as a presumptive argument that this doctrine is without a solid foundation. I have already endeavored to show that this assumption is unfounded; A plurality of Worlds is more than once asserted in scripture, and intelligences are represented as ascribing “glory, honour, wisdom, and power” to the king of heaven, ” because he hath created all things,” and because they perceived his works to be “great and marvellous.” But if all the great globes in the firmament were only so many frightful deserts, destitute of inhabitants, such a universe could never inspire superior intelligences with admiration of the wisdom of the Creator. For wisdom consists in proportioning means to ends; but, in the case supposed, there would be no proportion between the means and the end. The means are indeed great and astonishing but no end up here’s to justify such a display of creating energy. The psalmist, when he contemplated the heavens, was so affected with the idea of the immense population of the universe, that he seems to have been almost afraid lest he should be overlooked amidst the immensity of beings that are under the superintendence of God. “When I consider thy Heavens – what is man that thou art mindful of him!” There would be no propriety nor infant emphasis in his exclamation, if the Heavenly orbs were devoid of inhabitants; for if no intelligent beings exist besides man, and a colony of angels, it would not appear wonderful that the Creator should exercise a particular care over the one half of his intelligent Offspring. But, if we can see the universe as composed of 10000 times ten thousand worlds, people with myriads of an intellectual beings of various orders, the sentiment of admiration implied in the passage is extremely natural and emphatic, and conveys to us and impressive idea of the intelligence, the beneficence, and the condescension of the Founder and Governor of all worlds.”

Recently, this website also made note of famous creation scientists who have affirmed the possibility of exteaterrestrial life.

These examples go to prove that despite the claims of modern creationist organizations, an absence of extraterrestrial life is most assuredly not a certain prediction of the creation model versus the evolution model.

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