Life on Earth 2.0—Really?
Discovery of Kepler-452b
Published: 13 August 2015 (GMT+10)
The news media is currently full of the news of the discovery of Kepler-452b, the planet that is supposed to be Earth’s twin.1,2 It was discovered using the satellite-borne telescope, Kepler, where the exoplanet was found to be at a distance of about 1400 light-years. It has a mass about five times that of Earth and diameter about 60% larger, hence a gravity nearly double that of Earth. It has a year3 about 20 days longer than Earth. That makes it the most similar planet to Earth yet and it is located in the habitable zone around its parent star, which is a G-class star, the same class as our sun.
You see pictures (e.g. Figure 1 here) of a planet with oceans and land masses and some even with green vegetation drawn in. But none of these are actual images of the planet. It is too far away for such a thing, even with man’s best telescopes.
Why all the hype? Well, it is the hope of life being found elsewhere. The way it goes is: find an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone, called the Goldilocks zone—not too hot, not too cold, but just right—the distance from the parent star where water is in its liquid form—detect the presence of water in its atmosphere and that gives you a good chance of finding life.4
“Not only is this planet squarely in the Goldilocks zone—where life could exist because it is neither too hot nor too cold to support liquid water—its star looks like an older cousin of our Sun, the US space agency said.”
Probability of life by chance
But there is more to it than that. The claim is that if you find such a planet it is as good as finding life elsewhere in the Universe, which proves the Bible wrong in which God said He created life on Earth. Why is that?
It follows directly from the worldview implicitly being used to interpret the data. The unstated assumption is that life arose spontaneously on Earth over 3.8 billion years ago and all organisms evolved from pond scum to complex life, since the planet allegedly cooled and water formed on its surface. So that is all you need for life to arise. No Creator, just water and some relatively simple organic chemicals. It is easy!
Ha! Not so fast! The probability of life arising by chance from a pile of chemicals has been calculated by various people as an impossibility even given all the atoms in the known universe representing experiments over the alleged 13.8 billion years since the supposed big bang. Even if you shuffled all those atoms, or even started with them in the form of the required biomolecules and randomly shuffled them you would not get life.5 Many researchers have admitted the problem.5 Life could only arise through a super-intelligence creating it, it would not ‘evolve’ anywhere.
Bad logic not bad news for God
Now in regards to the Earth 2.0 discovery, one article in the Huffington Post headlined with “Earth 2.0: Bad news for God” states,6
With this discovery, we come ever closer to the idea that life is common in the universe. Perhaps you are not convinced. That is OK; let me speculate what would happen should we ever find evidence of life beyond earth even if you think such discovery unlikely. I would like here to preempt what will certainly be a re-write of history on the part of the world’s major religions. I predict with great confidence that all will come out and say such a discovery is completely consistent with religious teachings. My goal here is to declare this as nonsense before it happens. I am not alone in this conclusion that religion will contort to accommodate a new reality of alien life.
Let us be clear that the Bible is unambiguous about creation: the earth is the center of the universe, only humans were made in the image of god, and all life was created in six days. All life in all the heavens. In six days. So when we discover that life exists or existed elsewhere in our solar system or on a planet orbiting another star in the Milky Way, or in a planetary system in another galaxy, we will see a huge effort to square that circle with amazing twists of logic and contorted justifications. But do not buy the inevitable historical edits: life on another planet is completely incompatible with religious tradition. Any other conclusion is nothing but ex-post facto rationalization to preserve the myth.
Of course the author’s logic is unsound. Most other religions, apart from the Judeo-Christian beliefs, already embrace long ages of billions of years for the history of the universe and most now accept evolution in all its forms. Hindus actually claim their holy scriptures predate any others and they claim they describe eons of time and evolution from the ooze. The author is quite correct that the Bible is clear that God created life on this planet in 6 days and that was about 6000 years ago. God also created mankind in His own image. Man did not evolve from some primordial ooze over billions of years.
But he is wrong in saying that the Bible says God did not create life elsewhere. But the whole context of the biblical message is that Adam sinned and passed that original sin onto his offspring, so that God had to send His son, as the kinsman Redeemer, to redeem the sons and daughters of Adam. So the idea of sentient alien life elsewhere, not subject to the redeeming power of God, because they are not the offspring of Adam, makes no biblical sense.
So the discovery of life in some form—jellyfish in an ocean on Kepler-452b or elsewhere—would not prove the Bible wrong.
Nothing in that mentions alien worlds, which of course the ancients knew nothing about. Man was told to rule over the fish on the earth, not on other planets. But god would have known of these alien worlds, so it is curious he did not instruct the authors to include the language.6
This is also bad logic. The Bible does not mention transistors and silicon chip technology, without which I would have to write this missive by hand or with an old mechanical typewriter, but that fact does not prove the Bible wrong. And on the subject of alien worlds, meaning other planets outside our own solar system, it would be also incorrect to judge that when God said “He made the stars also” that that statement does not include all stars and their associated planetary systems. The biblical creation account is very brief but there is nothing specifically written there that excludes the existence of extra-solar planets, exoplanets. They are not prohibited.
The fact that God told man only to rule over “the fish of the sea” is more a statement to those living then to take care of the environment in which they lived. It, by itself, does not rule out fish in the seas of Kepler-452b. It just means God did not tell us to have dominion over them. Why would He? Kepler-452b is 1400 light-years away. How on Earth could man “rule over” such a place?
There is also a problem with Genesis 1:3: And God said, “Let there be light” and there was light. Well, the earth is only 4.5 billion years old, yet the universe, and all the light generating stars in ancient galaxies, are more than 13 billion years old. So when god said, “Let there be light” there already had been light shining bright for at least 10 billion years. He was flipping a switch that had been turned on eons before by the thermonuclear reactions in billions of stars that predate earth. That light bathed other suns and other planets long before the earth was a loose accumulation of rocks orbiting our sun. Since this is the story of all creation, these tidbits seem an important omission that will undermine the entire story when we find life elsewhere. We were late to the game of “let there be light.”6
Assumes evolution to be true
Of course, here the author a priori assumes that he knows what absolute truth is. He assumes the big bang evolution story is the correct account of creation. But he does not tell you all the unknowns that have had to be added to that story for it to even begin to look like working.7 These are ‘unknowns’ that defy modern physics—entities from the dark sector—dark matter, dark energy, dark fluid, dark radiation, dark flows, and even now dark photons—none of which has any basis in experimental science.8 These entities are as believable as fairies in the bottom of the garden. But the author trusts in man instead of the Creator, Who was there at the Creation and told us what, when, and how He created, meaning by His fiat creation, at His commandment and through His Son, the Word of God.
The author implicitly has made the assumption that the light had to travel 13.8 billion light-years from the big bang horizon, at constant speed, c, for 13.8 billion years, to make his claim, which would be a light-travel-time problem for creationists, with a 6000-year-old universe. Besides apparently knowing nothing of solutions on offer to that,9 he ignores or fails to tell us of the very light-travel-time problem—the horizon problem—that the big bang model has itself. And it is only ‘solved’ by adding another ‘unknown’ a fudge factor—cosmic inflation—which boggles the mind10 to be believed. It takes more ‘faith’ to believe such a story, than it does to believe in the biblical account of Genesis creation.
We are also told in unambiguous terms that all life was created in six days. Genesis 2:1 says, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.” So here we learn that all life, in all the heavens, was complete, and all found on earth and on earth alone. The complete totality of that creation in all the heavens, all of which was here on earth, is made clear in the preceding sections of Genesis 1:1–31 with “every herb bearing seed” and “every beast” and “every fowl of the air.” There is no modifier like “every fowl of the air, that is, on earth but excluding life on the planet Zenxalaxu.”6
There is no statement in the Bible that says God only created life on Earth. I don’t deny that it is a logical conclusion of the text because life elsewhere was and is irrelevant to the context of the history God gives us. It is all about the control and authority God granted mankind over the created order. But if God did create jellyfish on Zenxalaxu then He did so during the 6-day creation period, though He does not state anything about it. He says in Exodus 20:11 “For in six days the LORD [יְהֹוָה Yehovah; the self-existent One and Creator] made heaven and earth [created the Universe; heaven (equal to the cosmos) plus earth] … and all that [is] in them, … .” This means God has always been and whatever is He created, and that means for the whole universe. The context does not exclude some jellyfish-like animal on the planet Zenxalaxu, because that would fit within “all that [is] in them,” not meaning in the earth but in heaven, the cosmos in this case.
We know all of this took place in six days because Genesis 2:2 says, “And on the seventh day, god ended his work which he had made.” Now some say that these are not real days, but allegorical “god days” which could be millions of years each. But no, when god said let there be light and created life in six days, he tied these events to seasons on earth, which are governed by real days. So the Bible tells us that all life, in all the heavens, was all put on earth in six days, that is six earth days.6
The author has stated the case very clearly and accurately. He should have also mentioned that in Exodus 20:9 God told the children of Israel to order their work week by the same scheme that God created; work six days and rest on the seventh day, the Sabbath. So if those ‘days’ were anything other than ordinary 24-hour earth-rotation days, it would have made nonsense of the seven-day week commanded by God, which by the way we all still use, and it has nothing to do with any astronomical period. But what this author writes next does not follow. It is flawed logic again.
Let us be perfectly clear that this leaves no room for alien life in this creation story. The discovery of alien life would therefore undermine the entire saga.6
It is illogical to say just because God created in six 24-hour periods of time, that He could not have created some form of life on extra-solar planets, either when He said “He made the stars” (Day 4) or when He said “Let the waters bring forth … ” (Day 5). It just was not relevant to the Creation account, which is focused on humankind on Earth. The whole Genesis 1 creation is about Earth, and mankind on Earth. It does not categorically exclude alien life per se.
No sentient life
Now I have argued that Holy Scripture does not exclude the possibility of some alien life on other worlds. It is silent on the matter, as it is on many things, including my laptop. But I would wager that no sentient life exists in the Universe, outside Earth, because it does not follow from the ‘big picture’ of the Bible, which includes the ‘great white throne judgment’ when all humans, not animals, will come before God to give account of their lives. The account begins with the literal creation of mankind, in the image of God (animals were not in God’s image) and ends with the judgment of mankind, not the animals. Jesus is the kinsman-Redeemer.11 The ‘big picture’ makes no sense if Jesus was not the literal offspring of Adam. Christ, the son of God, was born on Earth to redeem his kinsmen, the lost descendants of Adam.12
… this was planned from Eternity, as the names of the Redeemed were already written in His Book of Life from the foundation of the World.12
So how could you fit into Scripture the existence of Zenxalaxians, who lived in our sin-cursed Universe (the whole Universe was cursed; Romans 8), but could not be redeemed because they are not in the lineage of Adam? You can’t. So if we believe in Christ as Saviour at all then He is linked intrinsically to His Creation. The existence of any sentient soul-filled Zenxalaxians does not fit. But plants, vegetables, and jellyfish on Kepler-452b, or any other exoplanet, have no bearing on the matter.
The discovery of Kepler-452b is more about hype than about anything of substance that might change the worldview of millions of believers in the one true God. The notion behind it is goo-to-you evolution. If life evolved on Earth once, then it could have evolved on other planets also; at least one more anyway. In this case, it is claimed the solar system for this planet is a billion years older than ours. Thus it follows that the putative life on Kepler-452b could be advanced a billion years ‘ahead’ of life on Earth. But exobiology, as it is called, is more the stuff of Hollywood than real science.13
Any claim that no life can exist on any world outside Earth cannot be justified from the scriptures. What can be justified is that there is no sentient soul-filled life anywhere else. That does not fit with the big picture of Christ, as kinsman of mankind and offspring of Adam, redeeming those He has chosen from the foundation of the world.
References and notes
- Wall, M., NASA Finds Closest Earth Twin Yet in Haul of 500 Alien Planets, space.com, 23 July 2015. Return to text.
- Kepler-452b: Earth’s Bigger, Older Cousin—Briefing Materials, nasa.org; Full paper: Jenkins, J., et al., Discovery and Validation of Kepler-452b: A 1.6 R⨁ Super Earth Exoplanet in the Habitable Zone of a G2 Star, Astron. J. 150(2):56, August 2015 | doi:10.1088/0004-6256/150/2/56. Return to text.
- Period of orbit around its parent star. Return to text.
- NASA discovers Earth’s bigger, older cousin, Kepler 452b, news.com.au, 24 July 2015. Return to text.
- Batten, D., Probability calculations for the origin of Life (in Origin of Life), 26 November 2013; creation.com/origin-of-life#probability. Return to text.
- Schweitzer, J., Earth 2.0: Bad news for God, huffingtonpost.com, 23 July 2015. Return to text.
- Hartnett, J.G., Theory of everything by dark matter, biblescienceforum.com, 6 April 2015. Return to text.
- Hartnett, J.G., ‘Dark photons’: another cosmic fudge factor, 2015; creation.com/dark-photons. Return to text.
- Hartnett, J.G., Solutions to the biblical creationist starlight-travel-time problem, biblescienceforum.com, 22 November 2014. Return to text.
- That the Universe expanded in volume by 1078 times. Cosmic inflation allegedly started 10−36 seconds after the Big Bang and then stopped between 10−33 and 10−32 seconds later. How and why it started and smoothly stopped are unknowns. Return to text.
- Cosner, L., The genealogies of Jesus, 25 December 2012; creation.com/jesus-genealogies. Return to text.
- Sarfati, J.D., The Incarnation: Why did God become Man?, 23 December 2010; creation.com/God-man. Return to text.
- Europa Report (2013) is a Hollywood film where a team of scientists/astronauts land on the fourth moon of Jupiter, Europa, and discover some type of marine cephalopod life under the frozen ocean. Return to text.