Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis has recently “written” a post (with the help of the oft-times half-cocked “AiG’s research team”) called “Study: Mars “More Uninhabitable Than Previously Thought.”
Apparently, a new study [“Perchlorates on Mars enhance the bacteriocidal effects of UV light.” Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 4662 (2017) doi:10.1038/s41598-017-04910-3] has concluded that Mars is currently more unsuitable for life than previously supposed due to the presence of bacteria-killing perchlorates. Specifically, they killed Bacillus subtilis, a basic life form, within minutes in Earthside tests conducted to mimic conditions on Mars by Jennifer Wadsworth and Charles Cockell. So, yes, bad news if you were hoping to we’d discovery microbial life on Mars now.
And it doesn’t even rule out the possibility entirely. It just means we might have to dig deeper. Literally. In the article AiG cites, Wadsworth says:
“If we want to find life on Mars, we have to take this into consideration and look at trying to find sub-surface life that wouldn’t be exposed to these conditions.”
Further tests would determine whether an other microbial life had a chance.
In any case, note that the study does NOT say that Mars was less suitable for life in the past or that it was never suitable. Rather, the study said, “our observations show that the surface of present-day Mars is highly deleterious to cells.”
Apparently, AiG’s research team failed to convey this distinction to Ken Ham; in his article, he crows with over-confidence:
Based on all the observational evidence, it almost seems as if Mars was never designed for life in the first place!
Even in its cursed state (Genesis 3), everything about earth is designed for life—liquid water (and lots of it!), the perfect atmosphere, a generous amount of sunlight (but not too much!), minerals, tides, ocean currents to circulate nutrients, and so much more. It’s clear that earth was specially designed for life, unlike the other bodies in our universe.
Actually, I’m not the first person to say that! In his Word, God has told us that earth was formed to be inhabited.
[The Lord] who formed the earth and made it
(he established it;
he did not create it empty,
he formed it to be inhabited!) (Isaiah 45:18)
*emphasis in original quote
Did you see where he made the logical leap? The Bible does say that God made the earth to be inhabited. It does not say, in Isaiah 45:18 or anywhere else, that God made the earth to be inhabited “unlike the other bodies in our universe.”
That is a false dichotomy, a contrast that Ken Ham and other well-intended teachers force impose upon the Bible’s meaning based on their pre-existing biases and beliefs. No such contrast exists in the Scriptures.
This isn’t Ken Ham’s first time propping up anti-alien rhetoric with a ligical fallacy. Yes, this is the same fellow who said aliens can’t exist because they’d go to hell.
Yes, he meant it. Yes, I’m through making excuses for his use of a fallacious appeal to bad consequences.
Where was his “research” team on that one? They could’ve saved all of Christendom months of unnecessary embarrassment in which the veracity of Biblical creationism was openly doubted WITH GOOD CAUSE.
“[B]y this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme” [2 Samuel 12:14; cp. Romans 2:24].
Because if alleged Bible authorities are invoking logical fallacies to make it seem like the Bible says things it doesn’t, and people pick up on the bad logic, people are going to start re-examining everything else you’re claiming, too. And not just Ken Ham, but Answers in Genesis and every other Biblical Creationist ministry out there. Or worse, they just write us off as unreliable.
If they can’t be bothered to be aware of potential logical fallacies, surely someone on the AiG “research” team can be bothered to actually research the Church’s historical exploration of the question of extraterrestrial life. Questions of exotheology were explored long before Darwin, many church theologians actually championed a plurality of inhabited worlds, and all of the theological “dangers” these men profess have been answered ad nauseam.
Specifically regarding Ken Ham’s misapplication of Isaiah 45:18, this site has addressed this commonly parroted argument before in a post aptly titled Why Isaiah 45:18 Says Nothing About Aliens.
We also addressed it in Guy Malone’s ‘Doctrine of Stated Intent’ and Other Bad Arguments Against Aliens. And we’ve tirelessly addressed it elsewhere.
The passage notes that Earth was made to be inhabited (which is true) but it is a gross overstatement to claim that it means that Earth alone was made to be inhabited. The verse never makes this claim of exclusivity and not even Ken Ham has the right to change the intended meaning of this revealed truth.
The question is why? Why are these same tired arguments, founded upon brazen logical fallacies, getting a free pass in otherwise Biblical creationist circles? This site has called out bad arguments from a lot of them. Ken Ham (who seems to borrow freely from the late Henry Morris, who believed that the search for ET was somehow blasphemous). Gary Bates (who tells us that intelligent aliens would falsify the Bible and and then basically told me to shut up in light of his glorious authority instead of answering my rebuttal of his bad logic). Guy Malone (who parrots a bad hermeneutic called the ‘Doctrine of Stated Intent’ that proposes that the Bible’s stated intent of things are their ONLY intent… wait. Didn’t we walk on that moon thing that was only revealed to give light, mark seasons and declare God’s glory? Go figure). Danny Faulkner (who made the logical leap that an absence of ET life is a “prediction” of the Creation model… based on an argument from silence). Jason Lisle (extra shame, since he actually wrote a book on logical fallacies and can’t seem to see his own). Bodie Hodge (who offered us more Isaiah 45:18 foolishness). Dan Lietha (who made a cartoon argument against “illogical” aliens that turned out to be riddled with bad logic). Those misguided missiles at CreationWiki (who claimed we would all chuck our Bibles if aliens were ever discovered. Oh, ye of little faith). And more…
All of these Christians, all of them Biblical Creationists to my knowledge, have continually sinned against the truth. They have stubbornly promoted anti-alien rhetoric founded upon logical fallacies as THE Biblical position on extraterrestrial life. Truth cannot be founded upon error.
It’s this simple: Pick up a history book and read, you lazy-minded champions of truth. Quit undermining the veracity of Biblical creationism with parroted anti-ET rhetoric based on logical fallacies. Or shut up entirely. With further investigation, these arguments should have gone the way of the Vapor Canopy Theory, and long ago!
We dare not be dogmatic about the possibility of extraterrestrial life when the Bible is silent on the issue… even if alien life is compatible with evolution (it is equally compatible with creationism and even Gary Bates was unable to demonstrate how the possibility of extraterrestrial life is exclusive to an evolutuonary worldview, despite the promise conveyed in the subtitle of his Amazon best-selling Alien Intrusion )… especially if your dogmatism must be based on logical fallacies to bolster this ill-advised attempt at writing material into the margins of the Bible.
One of the reasons that I assert that Christians ought to exercise strong caution when declaring whether aliens exist or not is because the Church is Biblically described as the pillar and ground of truth [1 Timothy 3:15]. We serve one Who is The Truth, the Way and the Life [John 14:6], by Whom came grace and truth John 1:17]. We know this. We are also oft-reminded that we are to speak the truth in love [Ephesians 4:15]. Or, in this case, to rebuke openly for the sake of those in their influence. The truth is that important.
Yet some Christians are trying to support certain truth claims with bad logic, even though they tell us to watch out for such fallacies in the arguments of evolutionists [I’m looking at you, Jason Lisle]. Preaching dogma based on bad logic where the Bible is silent undermines the truth of everything else we have preached and gives even believers just cause to second-guess our authority.
Truth is not built upon logical fallacies. We cannot be the ground and pillar of truth we’re supposed to be if we build our doctrines or proposed Biblical predictions on logical fallacies. It may be that extraterrestrials do not exist; we dare not support a dogmatic view that they do not on such fallacies.
In this day and age, we all seek the certainty of a pat answer. We all want something to hang our hats on. Maybe the truest reason the Bible is silent on the subject of aliens is not that they don’t exist but rather that they don’t concern us. Rather than making dogmatic statements about something the Bible doesn’t clearly address, perhaps these well-intentioned Christian leaders should leave the subject of aliens to science fiction authors like myself.
This post originally appeared on Exotheology.org, earlier on the day of August 6, 2017.