Gary Bates, CEO of Creation Ministries International and the author of the best-selling book Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection, has responded to my previous post, Gary Bates Thinks ET Could Potentially Falsify The Bible. Predictably , he has taken objection to it and to an earlier post refuting his anti-alien arguments called Why ET Probably Doesn’t Need To Be Saved Anyway. Disappointingly, he has offered nothing of substance to answer my counter-arguments to his anti-alien dogma.
My response to his comments appear in bold. It is my hope that by posting this, a real and actual dialogue will be sparked on this subject. I’m not necessarily pro-alien, but I’m open on the possibility precisely because being dogmatic on any subject upon which the Scriptures are silent is ill-advised and potentially damaging to the credibility of the faith.
>>Tony, your article that supposedly deals with my article ‘Did God create life on other planets?’ does nothing of the sort.
I could say much the same about your comment, but we’ll get to that.
>>You claim I lack the imagination to ponder aliens.
I’m not denying it.
>>Imagination? What happened to a presuppositional approach to apologetics?
It’s not a dichotomy. Don’t pretend like it is.
>>As such, you are the one invoking ideas that are not found in Scripture. So, by allowing the possibility for ET life you are actually arguing from silence.
To make an argument from silence is “to express a conclusion that is based on the absence of statements in historical documents, rather than on presence.” It’s basically saying that the Bible is silent on ETs, therefore they don’t exist. Of course, the Bible is silent on microbes, too. If we had only the Bible to go on, we might suppose that all sickness was the result of demons. Thanks to the scientific method that God made possible by giving us an orderly, largely natural world, we know that micro-organisms exist and that they causes disease; however, we also serve a God who casts out both demons and all manner of sickness, so I suppose its academic.
My point is that the silence of the Bible does not necessarily indicate absence. You and I both full well know that the Bible is not an Encyclopedia Galactica; nor does it claim to provide exhaustive knowledge upon every subject, though it us true and accurate in all that it does relate. Given the actual definition of an argument from silence, I can safely say that I’m not arguing from silence, either as you’ve erroneously accused your opponents of doing (you’re actually suggesting that your opponents are using an argument from ignorance, not silence) or even an argument from ignorance (I’m not making an argument that aliens exist and we merely have insufficient evidence for them at present. I’m arguing that the Bible is silent on the issue of aliens, so due to insufficient evidence we can’t/shouldn’t be dogmatic about it one way or the other); I’m arguing against YOUR argument from silence.
>>Yes, you certainly do have an imagination!
You’re being facetious, but thank you anyway. The shoe fits.
>>I do not believe aliens can falsify the Bible because simply the Bible does not allow for them, which is the basis of the arguments in my article.
That’s dissemblance. If the Bible doesn’t allow for aliens, as you claim, then, if your claim about the Bible is true, the confirmed existence of extraterrestrials would falsify the Bible. You believe this won’t happen because you believe the Bible doesnt allow for them. The implicit corollary of your position is that such a circumstance would indeed falsify the Bible, again if your claim about the Bible is true.
I contend that these claims you make about aliens and the Bible are not true. I’ve addressed your arguments (and the fallacies they were based on) in my article.
>>I suspect what really underlines your view is why would God create a universe so big if it is just for us? But if you carefully reread the article the ‘size’ issue was also dealt with. Many people do this by trying to fit God into a box of their own understanding and by anthropomorphising Him. He does not exist in space and time so size is an irrelevant concept to God. It doesn’t take Him any longer to build a small or larger universe because time is a created entity that applies to us. E.g. it takes us time to travel anywhere but it takes God no time.
I do love a good straw man as much as the next guy, but, um, no. No. That’s not what I think at all, so let’s just un-thatch that argument right now.
It’s not that the universe is too big; it’s that you imagine God too small.
Let me explain.
I’ve been an artist all my life, so when I read that God is the Creator… Did you ever stop to realize that God created things in anticipation of our future capacities? Before we created the microscope, He created microscopic organisms so varied and strange that we could spend lifetimes categorizing them. Before we created the ability to see it, He set in place the Crab Nebula and the Eagle Nebula’s Pillars of Creation. I think aliens are possible because God is a Creator, and one who demonstrably likes to surprise in the details. I wouldn’t find it at all surprising to find that Earth wasn’t the only canvas He decided to paint on.
It’s not the size of the universe that makes me consider the possibility of alien life; it’s the revealed nature of the Creator.
But good luck with that well-worn straw man…
And thank you for the reading material, but I’d already covered those links [removed] when researching my book.
>>Moreover, unlike your individual considered opinion, the opinions espoused in these articles on creation.com are derived from a ‘multitude of counsellors’ including theologians and scientists with the aim of defending Genesis.
That wouldn’t make me wrong. Young Earth Creationism itself is premised upon the idea that the Bible is true and the consensus can be wrong. And of course history is full of instances where consensus science was wrong and one guy stood up to it. That’s the self-correcting aspect of science. I happen to think that consensus creation science has been recycling the same bad arguments against the possibility of extraterrestrial life for the past several years. These bad arguments have become entrenched as dogmas and I think it’s high time we reassessed them.
The fact that you haven’t addressed even one of my arguments is more disturbing to me than the fact that you just tossed an ad populum at me with the assumption that I haven’t consulted anyone else on this issue. You know what they say about assumptions…
>>Although that is the name of your site [Defending Genesis], you are ultimately reading into Genesis what is not there–no different to those who want to add millions of years and evolution to those early chapters.
Nice ad hominem. The way you belittle me [i.e., “Unlike you and your personal opinion, I…” Yes, that’s a little condescending] and then associate me with the enemy… You probably should’ve consulted some of those guys you mentioned before making that comment here. When my opponents don’t engage the argument and instead resort to ad hominem, credentialism or expertism, I generally sense a glass chin.
I’m not reading into anything. You are. You’re inferring the absence of aliens according to “Biblical principles” that happen to be based on logical fallacies. And, no, you do not get a free pass for being the CEO of a major creationist organization. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that teachers have greater accountability.
If I’m wrong, demonstrate it with a better argument. The fact that you haven’t addressed a single point in my article and have come here with a poorly-thatched straw man and a bunch of hand-waving suggests that you can’t. But feel free to prove me wrong sometime.
>>Lastly, I am disappointed with your misleading title–obviously designed to attract readers and gain traction to your site by trying to create controversy around a ministry leader. It reads as if I believe ETs exist and that I do not have a high view of Scripture, when it is the opposite.
It’s not click bait. If I wanted to do that I would’ve given it something catchier like “Gray Bates Thinks Aliens Could Potentially Falsify the Bible BUT HE’S WRONG.” I won’t lie. I considered it.
Even so, I’m pretty sure that no one’s going to get the idea that you don’t have a high view of Scripture from that title, because a high view of Scripture and a belief in the possibility of alien life are not mutually exclusive concepts. The Bible is silent on the subject which gives us the [gasp] freedom to speculate about such things. No one should be spouting dogmas on subjects where the Scriptures are silent.
Bottom line: I’m calling you out. You wrote the number one anti-alien creationist book on the market – a book wherein you rehash these same ill-advised arguments you utilize in your online articles. It was a good thing for creationism when CMI and AiG called out bad arguments in 2010 [viz., Arguments Creationists Should NOT Use]. I’m just continuing the tradition. Does the fact that your arguments are based on logical fallacies not bother you?
>>Rather disappointing to be honest
I empathize. I rather expected more from any response I might receive from someone like you. I mean, who would’ve thought that the CEO of Creation Ministries International would respond by hand waving and a straw man rather than by engaging my argument. Oh, and that belittling thing. You did that, too. Very disappointing.
>>So many are worried about making stands on issues where they think we may be proved wrong in the future–trying to protect the Bible from being falsified. I took my stand on Scripture exactly because I know it cannot be falsified not because I think it can, like your misleading title implies. I request you change it to be more accurate rather than headline grabbing and inaccurate.
If I changed the title, THAT would be misleading because you DO think the Bible would be falsified if aliens actually existed. In your zeal to provide pat answers, you and those who parrot your bad arguments have set up a false dichotomy between the Bible’s veracity and the mere possibility of the existence of alien life. Never mind that the Bible is silent on the issue; you’ve gone the way of theologians who once upon a time found Scriptural “support” for geocentrism and if aliens ever do show up, you risk creating the same sort of stumbling blocks to the faith the Galileo affair has provided for Christendom. Taking a dogmatic position on subjects upon which the Scriptures are silent is foolhardy, unnecessary and potentially damaging to the credibility of the faith.
That’s on you.
Just know that if you continue to teach this false dichotomy between the Bible’s authority and the possibility of alien life that I will likewise continue to point out why it’s ill-advised and why the Scriptural “support” you’ve drummed up for your anti-alien position is in error.
>>Also please read the other articles I included for some more perspective on why Creation Ministries International came to this position.
I have read those articles. I engaged your arguments. Pity you couldn’t show me the courtesy of the same.
Tell you what, if you can be bothered to respond to my counter-arguments, I will send you a free autographed copy of Strangers and Aliens: A Christian Sci-fi Author Explores the Argument for Extraterrestrial Life. Deal?
6 Comments Add yours
I often find these exchanges sad, really. I disagree with Mr. Bates and the body of believers who think the possibility of intelligent life beyond Earth is impossible. I also do not believe, as you do, that the Bible is silent on the issue. That said, I agree, if it is silent then the discovery of intelligent life might be a surprise but, certainly not an indictment of Scripture.
I do not see this particular football going anywhere but popped under the cleats of contest, rather than uplifted by dialogue but, I also commend you for sticking to the principle of dealing with actual facts and expressed points, and trying to stay away from the ad hominem route. The big fish in the pond find it all too easy to look down at the little ones, at the risk of arrogance or the appearance of it.
As far as wisdom in a multitude of counselors; what if the counselors are wrong? What if the counselors, despite their sincerity, do not see what they could or should, or would given different glasses or circumstances?
The 99 will be exposed some day. I look forward to meeting them.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
Food for thought. Thank you, sir