Climate Change, Aliens and Starting Points

In a post called, “Climate Change Killed the Aliens!“, Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis makes the following comments:

“It seems extraterrestrial aliens make the news quite frequently (despite the fact that they don’t exist!). Every few weeks there’s a new study about why we supposedly haven’t found them, when we will find them, or why they’re no longer around. And a new study, based on the former inhabitants of Easter Island off the coast of Chile, claims the aliens we’re spending billions searching for won’t be found because climate change already killed them.”

The first thing I have to point out is that the question of the existence of extraterrestrial life is still open. We don’t know whether they exist at all and our technology currently limits our search to intelligent civilizations sending out signals we can detect into space at a distance we can detect them at.

So it is unscientific for Ken Ham to say that aliens don’t exist. As the face of a major creation science ministry, he should have said that he doesn’t believe they exist or that there is insufficient evidence for their existence.

The study he refers to is “The Anthropocene Generalized: Evolution of Exo-Civilizations and their Planetary Feedback” by astrophysicist Adam Frank, et al., in the journal Astrobiology. Frank, et al., used Easter Island as a model for extraterrestrial civilizations:

“Easter Island presents a particularly useful example for our own purposes since it is often taken as a lesson for global sustainability. Many studies indicate that Easter Island’s inhabitants depleted their resources, leading to starvation and termination of the island’s civilization.”

Working from previous equations that modeled the fall of Easter Island’s population alongside the depletion of its resources, the team found four possible end points for a hypothetical alien civilization similarly constrained by limited natural resources.

The first scenario resulted in a “die-off” of about 7 out of 10 people globally. The next found sustainability, but only after civilization realizes how its resource usage is affecting nature and then moves to fix it. The last two scenarios were extinction events, including a scenario in which humanity acted to stop climate change but waited too long.

All very interesting. I am compelled to note that the scale of these four charts differs, though this is not immediately evident. The grids for scenario A and D match, as do B and C, but they do not match each other. It appears that the horizontal scale remains consistent, but two vertical grids in A and D are equal to one in B and C.

The conclusion is unaffected with a normalized scale, but the differences between scenarios C and D do look more dramatic with the differential scale.

Before Ken Ham ends his article with a product endorsement, he says:

“And the article contends that if we don’t change our ways, we will die out due to climate change, too. Climate change continues to be a popular item in the news with many doomsday scenarios being proposed. But your starting point determines your interpretation of this issue (and the question of aliens for that matter!).”

I know that a lot of Biblical creationists oppose climate change because they reject the evolutionary implications of the fossil record.

Writing for New Yorker magazine, David Wallace-Wells sums up the evolutionary assessment of the fossil record:

“The Earth has experienced five mass extinctions before the one we are living through now, each so complete a slate-wiping of the evolutionary record it functioned as a resetting of the planetary clock, and many climate scientists will tell you they are the best analog for the ecological future we are diving headlong into. Unless you are a teenager, you probably read in your high-school textbooks that these extinctions were the result of asteroids. In fact, all but the one that killed the dinosaurs were caused by climate change produced by greenhouse gas.”

By young earth standards, the fossil record is a testimony to but one major extinction event: The Biblical Flood. Likewise, the age of the Earth is drastically different.

Writing in 2014, Ken Ham summarizes the prevailing view among creationists:

“Starting from the Bible, we know that there was a global Flood a few thousand years ago that completely changed Earth’s surface and climate, and that the earth is still settling down from this catastrophe. So we should expect there to be some variations in climate change, but this is not alarming and is not the direct result of modern human activity.”

The Bible says that there was a worldwide flood and a 6000-year-old Earth has the strongest exegetical support. The Bible nowhere says climate change is the result of that Flood rather than being a man-made, recent trend.

An evolutionary starting point undeniably leads to an alarmist conclusion concerning climate change, but does this mean the creationist can disregard the issue of global warming? Or are we tossing out the baby with the Darwinist bathwater? With all due respect to Ken Ham, it depends not only upon your starting point but also upon your eschatology. The fourth plague of Revelation 16:8 could be a reference to runaway global warming. The second and third plagues of the preceding verses could likewise refer to effects of the acidification of our oceans, lakes and streams associated with climate change.

I think we sometimes make the mistake of supposing that such catastrophe could never occur with God in charge; however, Jesus himself warned that if the last days were not shortened, no one would be saved [Matthew 24:22].

So there is room in the Bible for the possibility of climate change. And as this site has demonstrated ad nauseam, there is likewise room in the Bible for the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

Unless, of course, your starting point is built upon logical fallacies and prooftexting.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Tony Breeden says:

    Reblogged this on Defending Genesis and commented:

    Several big creationist organizations claim that our starting points determine what we think about such things as aliens and climate change. This article on cteationist reactions to a study that cites climate change as an answer to the Fermi Paradox shows why there’s still room for disagreement on these issues.


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