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Evolution Versus Intelligent Design-Astronomy May Soon Settle the Matter Once and For All

An Essay by Ty Harris

 

( Please click on the above link to see a trailer of Ben Stein’s new Movie Documentary on Intelligent Design versus Darwinism… ” Expelled” )

 

In our world of worry and woe, of toil and trouble, we humans fill our minds up with a lot of things that seem very important at the time. Our comings and goings, our pursuits and labors, our intrigues and transactions. Details, trivia, facts, numbers and plans all form the horizons of a self-centered and manageable-sized view of the world, our life, and our place in all of it. And really, it’s probably just as well that humans posess the ability to keep their perspective on life small and local, because the larger the field of view becomes when we step back and look at our situation from a more distant and less personal vantage point, the scarier the scenario becomes. We strive and struggle. We love and laugh. We plot and strategize our little affairs which all seem so important and large. We give ourselves the illusion of such control, power, and accomplishment. Skyscrapers and cities. The internet and atomic bombs. But step back even just a little bit, and we see a tiny blue marble spinning through a limitless blackness, around a little star that also rests in an infinite void. That tiny star is just one in a galaxy of billions of other stars. That galaxy is itself just a tiny smudge of color in an unimaginably large nothingness that holds billions upon untold billions of other galaxies. The absolute truth is that we are not even merely miniscule.

This viewpoint, although accurate, is not exactly one which is calculated to inflate one’s ego or to reinforce one’s feelings of self-importance. In fact, the cold, hard truth of our actual place in the great scheme of things is too difficult for most of us to dwell on at length. And so we shorten our horizons, narrow our field of vision, and go about our business in a more manageable fashion, whistling past the cosmic graveyard as it were. But at some point in our lives, growing up, most of us have looked up into a clear night sky at least once,  gottten a sense of ourselves in a moment of clarity, and asked some of those Big Questions about Life. About whether we are alone, and how it is that Life even managed to come about in the first place. Questions about God, and about human origins. Sadly, the pace of life, and the attention we have to give to more mundane matters drives out such questions and ponderings as we get older, and busier. We forget ourselves, and those Big Questions, as we attend to all of the little things that need attending to. The years pass us by, and we run around pursuing this thing or that thing. But in the passage of time and the passage of loved-ones, in theunfolding of years, and in the realization that as we get older, our own time here isn’t as long as it used to be, we may again find a quiet mind, and time to think in quiet moments by the wayside, about our true place in the great scheme of things.

As we walk down the path of years, the falling of red and gold leaves in the crisp autumn of our older lives brings to mind the old questions we once asked to the night sky in the springtime of our youth- before our horizons became so small. Why are we here? Is it really just an accident? Are we really just random combinations of amino acids and protiens that happened to swirl together in eons gone by? What are love and laughter? Are they just biochemical impulses emminating from the randomly-formed carbon-based structures who strut about so importantly here on Carl Sagan’s “pale blue dot”? Is life mere chance, or is there intent, design, and purpose in us? Is there a Creator? Or did the Primordial Soup become a Protien, the Protien a Plant, the Plant a Lizard, the Lizard a Bird, The Bird a Mouse, and the Mouse a Man? Is life a product of natural, physical processes, or of Intelligent Design? Is there a God? Are we alone in the Universe? What is our true nature, and what is the role of Humanity in the great cosmic play? In short- what is the meaning of all this?

We have all asked these questions of ourselves- some more than others- in our quieter moments. And in a way, the answers we all gave to these types of questions which we asked in our youth, determined the courses of our lives, and the actions we take every day- whether we know it or not. Every house is built upon foundations, and the MEANING of our lives, and the actual SIGNIFIGANCE of the things we do, really does stem from how we answered the Big Questions once upon a time- even if the answer was ” I don’t know”. Metaphysical foundations inevitably underlie, and give meaning to our physical being. If our lives are founded upon mere random chance, then the MEANING of a particular life or of a particular set of actions is quite different from a life wherein an intentional purpose and design underlies being and action. It’s inescapable. The Big Questions of whether we evolved by random chance or if there is a God, underpin everything we are, and everything we do. Ultimately, the signifigance of life itself comes down to a question of intent. Because without it, there is literally, and by-definition, no purpose to our lives. The philisophical implications of a generation of people attempting to live lives which we have, by convention and by casual scientific consensus, now concluded have no purpose or meaning, are not small. And yet the Theory of Evolution- and it’s inescapable philisophical implications- have now totally supplanted the possibility of there even being a God-Creator in almost all serious academic and scientific circles. Men of great learning, college students, and school-children alike, accept Evolution now, as un-questioned fact. The idea of the spontaneous formation of Man from random chemical combinations occuring over time is now the ONLY explanation for our existence that is allowed to be taught or even postulated in public schools. No debate is tolerated. ” All dissent must be extinguished with buckets of bile.” Question the orthodoxy in any way, and you face instantaneous legal attack and professional recrimination. Christians, of course, have their academic enclaves here and there, in private schools who don’t accept public funding as the price of academic freedom. But by and large, Evolution is now the only acceptable explanation for Life in serious academia. And that conscerns me, because this theory seems to have some serious logical ( and indeed mathematical ) holes in it, and some unsatisfactory philisophical implications as well.

There are fundamental problems with evolution as as explanation for the origin of our species which are clear to anybody who is open-minded and brazen enough to ask the forbidden questions. The first is the most obvious, and is philisophical and logical more than it is scientific, for evolution is an idea which has imlpications far beyond biology. Without intent or design in the formation of life there is- literally- no purpose to life. If you accept the fundamental premise that human life is just a random, chance grouping of amino acids and protiens with no plan, design, or intent, then you accept that your life has no possible meaning or signifigance to it. A human-being, a clump of dirt- what is the difference? Laughter, learning, tears, love, freindship, aspiration, freedom and bondage, war and peace, home and hearth, family and neighbors, your first love, and your child’s first steps, birth, marriage and death… to accept that life is random and without intent is to set these all aside as meaningless aspects of a – literally- purposeless life. Electrochemical impulses in self-organized protiens. Kill somebody in cold blood, and all you have really done is rearrange some elemental particles. Morality of ANY kind has no credence or foundation to it if we accept the idea of a purposeless life. Any person who truly believes in a life without purpose or intent, and who has the intellectual honesty to extrapolate his or her own arguments out to their sad, lonely conclusions must feel very lost and alone in this world. This probably explains why it is that most people DON’T think about these types of things so much anymore. I mean, if you are a rational, well-adjusted person with an open mind, you have to accept scientific facts- which by all appearances now includes the Theory of Evolution, but at the same time, if you are truly HUMAN, ( and you arent a complete sociopath ), you instinctively KNOW that life does matter. It IS signifigant. It DOES have purpose. Intellectual theories are well and good, but deep-down, even most of the people who accept evolution as fact, do NOT think of their children as random groupings of amino-acids, or of their spouses as soul-less protien conglomerations. Nor do they go about their lives, their marriages, or their vocations as though they don’t matter in a universe governed soley by chance. To the contrary, even the most evolution-innured atheists seem to proceed about their lives as though their lives ( and certainly their opinions ) DO matter, despite the inherent contradiction in caring about things which- according to their beliefs- CAN’T matter.

The second big problem with Evolution, as I see it, ( at least with Evolution as an explanation for the origin of life ) is Math. Statistics in particular. the basic principle underlying any God-less or Intelligent Design-less explanation for Life as we know it, is that you start with elements- the basic constituent remnants of the Big-Bang, and SOMEHOW- through random chance interactions between these elements you wind up with Man. Mutation, natural selection, organic molecules and lightning bolts- HOWEVER you spin the tale, you have to start with basic elements, and wind up with DNA. And DNA really is the problem, because the more we learn about the awesome complexity of what a human fundamentally IS, the more of a stretch it becomes to get from basic elements to almost unimaginable complexity. We are talking about a CODED, self-replicating double-helix structure whose purpose is to store astoundingly complex, and extremely specific INFORMATION in memory, and to translate that complex, specific information into all of the biological organs and processes that make up a human-being, including the human brain. The data stored on the double-helix is SPECIFICALLY arranged, written, and ORDERED in such a way as to bring about life and everything we are. You see how hard it is to refer to billions of lines of carefully structured CODE without using words like written, arranged, ordered, and designed. And yet such phrases ARE misnomers if we accept that it all came about by chance, because all such terms imply a writer, a designer, or an arranger. ” Evolved” is really just a way of saying “happened”. It doesn’t explain HOW it happened. But to get back to the matter of statistics- there ARE people who have taken a stab at calculating the odds of human DNA spontaneously forming from elemental particles. One very smart fellow by the name of William Dembski ( Dual PHD in Mathematics and Philosophy- an interesting combination to say the least ) has written extensively on the subject, and has adressed the probabilistic limitations to evolutionary theory. I highly reccomend his book- Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology- to anybody interested in Evolution or in Intelligent Design. In his book, Dembski states; ” The universe will experience heat death before random typing at a keyboard produces a Shakespearean sonnet. The French mathematician Emile Borel proposed 10 to the 50th power as a universal probability bound below which, chance could definitely be precluded- that is any specified event as improbable as this could not be attributed to chance.” Dembski goes on… ” In the Design Inference, I justify a more stringent universal probability bound of 10 to the 150th power- based on the number of elementary particles in the observable universe, the duration of the observable universe until it’s heat death, and the Plank time.” British mathematician Roger Penrose attempted to calculate the odds against Life occuring by random chance in our universe. He came up with odds of 10 to the 10nth power to the 123rd power against. Penrose elaborates- ” Even if we were to write a 0 on each seperate proton, and on each seperate neutron in the entire universe- and we could throw in all the other particles for good measure- we would fall far short of writing down the figure needed.”

In other words,the statistical odds against Evolution are so bad that not only could it never happen, it would be impossible to even write down the number expressing the probablity against it happening, because there aren’t enough particles in the universe to write it with! THIS is the theory which no serious academic is allowed to question? Another way of looking at the matter from a statistical standpoint would be to use the old “monkeys typing at typewriters” analogy. How many monkeys does it take, and how long does it take, for random keystrokes to write the encyclopedia Britannica? It’s not even a rhetorical question, because it’s possible to give an exact answer using math. Now consider a million encyclopedia Britannica’s all precisely worded, ordered, and arranged, and you have human DNA. It’s a very good analogy, because DNA and encyclopedias both exist to store and impart complex, specific information. It isn’t random data. It is precisely ordered and arranged to yield a specific result when it translates. The complexity and specificity in human DNA appears to exceed the universal probability bounds calculated by Borel, Penrose and Dembski.

There are other problems with Evolution too. As I understand it, one of them is referred to as “irreducible complexity”. Natural selection can’t explain how something as complex as the human eye ( or many other complex biological systems ) came about as a result of a favorable mutation. There are just too many SEPERATE things that had to come together all at once for the structure to function at all. Seperately, the neccesary structures of the eye- the rods, the cones, the optic nerve etc. didnt have any inherent advantages in and of themselves, and wouldn’t have survived as  favorable mutations. The whole structure would have had to then just simultaneously leap itself into existence one fine day, apart from mutation or natural selection. This strains credulity at best. Irreducible complexity, universal probability bounds, and Dembski’s postulations regarding design being inferred in complex, specified information are real, scientific arguments that are not easily dismissed by open-minded thinkers. It really IS statistically unlikely that Evolution is a natural process that occured even ONCE in our universe to produce complex life. It is utterly beyond belief to think that Evolution is a natural process which functions WHEREVER the neccesary conditions for life exist in our universe, yet that is what many scientists would have us believe now.

So if not Evolution, then what? We ARE here, after all. We can hopefully agree on that. ( Although if you read too much Nietsche, you may wind up concluding that you are just a figment of your own imagination. But for purposes of argument, let’s just stipulate that we ARE here… ) We had to get here somehow, and there are only so many explanations. Douglas Adam’s notion that we were all sneezed out of the nose of the “Great Green Arkleseizure” is one, but I am willing to set it aside. Evolution is one. Intelligent Design is another. Ultimately, I believe, the question of whether or not Life arises by natural physical processes will have to be answered definitively, by looking elsewhere. You really can’t draw reliable scientific conclusions based on a data set of one. Thus far, we only have actual knowledge of the presence of life on ONE tiny planet in a VERY big universe, and we do NOT conclusively know how it got here. There are billions, if not trillions, of planets out there in the universe, and I think that the question of whether there is life on any of them- other than ours- is a question that has to be answered before we start making definitive and sweeping conclusions as to our own origins.

Varying estimates of Life’s prevalence in our galaxy have been made- The Drake Equation is the most famous-

N* X fs X fp X nc X fi X fc X fl = N

Where: N*= stars in the Milky Way galaxy

               fs = the fraction of sun-like stars

               fp = the fraction of stars with planets

              nc = the planets in a star’s habitable zone

               fi = the fraction of habitable planets where life does arise

               fc = the fraction of planets inhabited by intelligent beings

               fl = the pecentage of a lifetime of a planet that is marked by the

                      presence of a communicative civilization

Quite a few scientists have plugged their own estimates into the variables of the Drake Equation and concluded that the universe is literally teeming with life. If such life is detected, then it will be hard to argue that Evolution isn’t a legitimate- if unexplainable- natural physical law very little different than gravity. If complex extra-solar life is discovered to be prevalent in the universe, then creationists and Intelligent Design advocates will have a tough row to hoe. Conversely though, if the data comes back in the negative- as it has so far- then as Ricky Ricardo would have said- the evolutionists will have some serious ” ‘splain’in ” to do. Despite claims of total certainty from many in science and academia on the question of Evolution versus Intelligent Design, the question does seem to come down to data that we don’t even have yet.

If we do assume, as many scientists claim, that evolution is a natural physical process that occurs WHEREVER the physical conditions neccesary for life exist, then not only is life teeming in the universe, but COMPLEX life probably is out there as well. In other words, self-aware, thinking, reasoning beings such as ourselves who are capable of communication, exist out there, and presumably they will be detected and encountered at some point. New data and new discoveries have come to light in the past few years that would seem to add both negative and positive factors to the Drake Equation. We are finding incredible life-forms here on our own planet in the most unlikely and inhospitable of places – everything from arctic lichens that thrive in freezing temperatures, to new species known as thermophiles which live in boiling sub-sea volcanic vents.  The variety of life that exists in extreme environmental conditions here on earth, seems to lend credence to the idea that life may be more common in our universe than we think. On the other hand, scientists like Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee have put forth some very interesting ( and persuasive ) arguments pertaining to how many things have to go RIGHT on a planet, for Life to even have a fighting chance. Factors such as radiation levels, distance from the sun, which elements are present on a given planet, and in what proportion etc.. Their conclusion is that if life IS the result of a natural process, then complex life, at least, is extremely rare in the universe.

I think that Douglas Adams probably best sums up the crux of the argument for Evolution in The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy ( Life, the Universe, and Everything ). He basically reasons ( presumably in jest ), that in an infinite universe, anything that is POSSIBLE, however improbable or ridiculous, is actually INEVITABLE from a statistical standpoint. He illustrates this graphically in some of his hillarious vignettes which take place on distant worlds where screwdrivers and mattresses are the dominant evolved life-forms. Galactic commerce in Adams’ fictional universe consists of simply locating the planet where the statistically-improbable ( and therefore inevitable ) manufactured good you wish to sell has become the dominant life-form. You just go to that planet and harvest said product- be it screwdrivers, ballpoint pens, or mattresses. Mattresses, according to Adams, are the dominant, evolved life-form on ” Squornshelles Zeta”. ” They are large, friendly, pocket sprung creatures that live quiet, private lives in the marshes”… ” many of them get caught, slaughtered, dried-out, shipped-out, and slept on. None of them seems to mind this, and all of them are called Zem.” To quote one of the matresses, “we live quiet, retired lives in the swamp where we are content to flollop and vollue, and regard the wetness in a fairly floopy manner. Some of us are killed, but all of us are called Zem, so we never know which, and globbering is thus kept to a minimum.” If you believe in Evolution as an explanation for the existence of human life, then you need to realize that this is the kind of ground you are standing on, philisophically and statistically. I am not saying that you aren’t right. Maybe you are. Maybe there ARE talking mattresses out there named Zem. But if you do believe this, you have to admit at least, that your theory is- statistically and mathematically- the most UNLIKELY possibility of all the possibilities. At least be humble enough to admit that, and consequently, please try to be a little less scornful of others who have different ideas. 

So- what’s The Answer to the Big Question of Life, if not Evolution? How do we reconcile real scientific evidence for the PROCESS of evolution ( mutation and natural selection DO happen ), with the apparent statistical unlikelihood of it being an explanation for life’s ORIGINS? Is there a God? And more importantly, how do we settle the matter once and for all? Well, I don’t claim to have all the answers. But I do think that the question is at least still open- NOT closed as a matter of scientific fact as some would pretend.  I think that reasonable people can disagree, and I wish there was more open-mindedness, and less cocksure arrogance on the matter. I think that from the beginning of human history, the beginning of wisdom has been the courage and intellectual honesty to open one’s mind enough to say the words ” I don’t know”. Scientific, and indeed societal progress, depend on the ability to see what one sees- not what one wants to see, and upon the willingness of people to look at facts rationally, and accept the reasonable conclusions that those facts imply, and to do so even when those facts and conclusions conflict with preconceived notions, traditions, and orthodoxy. The mantle of intolerance- for reasonable debate, and for dissent, has been worn by both sides of the Great Debate over the Big Questions down through the long years. It wasn’t too long ago when scientific minds like Galileo faced burning at the stake for heresy, when they dared to question established belief systems and stated outrageous opinions like the idea that the earth was NOT the center of the Universe. Now, in that same spirit of arrogance, any teacher, in any school anywhere who dares to question Evolution as fact, or has the audacity to even present contrary, alternate theories like Intelligent Design in the classroom, will be attacked mercilessly by the forces of secular-progressivism. Anybody who speaks out is AT LEAST going to get sued ( ironically, sometimes , by the lawyers for the American CIVIL LIBERTIES Union ). Very likely, that teacher or professor will be fired if they refuse to be silenced. If you think I exaggerate, please follow the link in the notes below to an article entitled ” The Lynching of Bill Dembski”. It’s genuinely frightening, and really saddening, the lengths to which tenured, secular-progressive academics will go to silence dissent.

As for myself, based on the reading I have done on the subject, and based on what little of his ideas I am mentally capable of penetrating, I have concluded that William Dembski ( the chief proponent of Intelligent Design ) may actually be the most intelligent man currently walking the face of the planet earth. Whether he is right or not, he certainly has intellectual curiosity and courage far beyond that of his peers who dare not even allow his forbidden ideas to be spoken. It’s ironic and sad that academics who so often go around preaching “tolerance” and “diversity” will do anything to silence anybody who questions any of the central tenants of the new religion known as secular progressivism. I think it’s sad that we are still such a close-minded species. Our technology has improved since Galileo was alive, but our wisdom as a species has not grown along with our knowledge I am afraid. If we would drop our pre-conceived notions in MANY fields of human endeavor, and would be willing to just look at problems practically and with open eyes and open minds outside the confines of orthodoxy and ideology, I think that the world would be a much better place. There are many flawed ideas which endure with us today long after they should have found their way to Reagan’s “ash heap of history” , because of this tendency of the human species to not tolerate opposing viewpoints, and to try to explain everything within the confines of narrow ideologies. As John Milton once said-“Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter.” Personally, whenever somebody holds ANY position that they are unwilling to expose to the hazards of free and open debate, my immediate reaction is to suspect underlying weaknesses in their arguments. I feel that way about the Theory of Evolution as an explanation for the origin of Life.

For what it’s worth, my own personal theories on the Big Questions of “Life, the Universe, and Everything” are as follows- I personally reconcile evolutionary facts with statistical improbabilities by accepting evolution and natural selection as natural processes that IMPROVE a species. I don’t however, accept evolution as a process to explain the ORIGIN of species. Mathematically, and logically, it’s hard to argue that human DNA wrote itself by random chance. The human genetic code probably didn’t write itself, the human brain probably didn’t create itself, and it is fairly evident that intent and intelligent design ARE inherent in our existence in my opinion. Also, from a metaphysical standpoint, I cannot accept the neccesary underlying philisophical implications inherent in evolution, and in a life that does not matter. I have known what true love is, and neither it, nor the sadness of it’s loss are insignifigant. We are not random molecules. There is a meaning and a purpose to this life. I don’t claim to be able to explain it, or to be able to tell you what that purpose IS, but I am certain that Life matters. I have real pity for any man or woman who manages to go through this life so empty and cold that they believe that their life holds no special signifigance. I am comfortable standing on that ground philisophically, and I am prepared to suffer the slings and arrows of any atheist, secular-progressive, or evolutionist who would care to try and knock me off that perch.

MY confidence ends at that point, however, because claims of “intent” and “design” lead naturally to questions about the nature and purpose of the designer. There I have to stop and utter the humble words “I don’t know.” I do my best to try and understand the maker’s nature and itent, and my own purpose, but it really is beyond me. Sometimes it doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes it’s hard. Like “the Grinch”, sometimes I “puzzle, and puzzle until my puzzler gets sore”. But maybe in the end it doesn’t have to all make sense. Maybe a willingness to accept that certain things are beyond us puts us in our proper place. Why is it so neccesary for Mankind to assume that they are smart enough to understand and know everything? Can an ant understand us? Maybe it’s that way between us and God. Even with our tiny, limited minds, and our limited knowledge and wisdom, we are already tinkering with a genetic code that we don’t fully understand, and getting our first inklings of the possibilities of A.I. ( Artificial Intelligence, not Allen Iverson- as a lifelong NBA fan, I have concluded that understanding what goes on in HIS mind would be truly impossible). If a species as young and immature as we are, can do such things, what would a designer capable of creating the DNA molecule understand and be capable of? Really, to that kind of being, our understanding would be similar to that of an ant’s understanding of a human. And yet people act so sure of everything, as though nothing is beyond our comprehension or power. Personally, I think that a humble ” I don’t know” is the beginning of a productive willingness to learn and grow.

I am extremely excited by the times in which we live. Stodgy old men in their ivory towers, and impetuous youths with their impertinent questions have been hurling ideas, insults, and theories at each other for centuries abut the answers to the Big Questions- about the meaning and origins of Man’s existence. The problem with the Big Questions, though, is that there have never really been definitive, irrefutable Answers that both sides can point to, after the debating is done, and say “Well, that settles that.” But for the first time in history, scientific progress in the areas of space exploration and astronomy have brought us to the brink of actually finding out what our role in the Universe IS. We are very close to gaining the benefit of VERY definitive data on the matter of whether Life is the unique creation of intelligent design, or if it’s the common result of prevalent natural processes that go forward on a billion other worlds in a billion other galaxies. The data, when it comes in, will be clear, comprehensive, and definitive. And people who stand on both sides of the Big Question had better tone down the rhetoric, and get humble, because the Answer to the Big Question may well be that “You Were Wrong.” We all may have to modify our world-views when the final analysis comes in.

I am speaking about the imminent dawn of the grandest age of human exploration, and what will be it’s crowning achievement and glory- spaceborne optical-interferometer-based astronomy. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and if you haven’t seen the pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope yet, my friend, you are missing out, becasue they will leave you speechless. Even this first child’s step that our species has taken out into our universe with the little looking-glass of Hubble, has given us images that have changed everything. Our view of the universe and our place in it have already been altered irrevocably, and it’s just the merest hint of what is to come. These are the seminal images of the times in which we live. As recently as 75 years ago, young and upcoming scientists like Albert Einstein promulgated their early theories in the presumption that the Milky Way galaxy WAS the Universe, and that it contained all the matter and energy in it. Well, the Hubble Deep Field images have definitly put that one to rest, and they nearly boggle the mind. Pink, green, and blue pinwheels painted in the sky, which are in reality tens of billions upon tens of billions of galaxies far beyond our own- each of those galaxies containing billions of their own stars. Billions and billions of which, are orbited by planets of all shapes and sizes. Some, inevitably, are not very different than our own little speck of water and dirt. And yet this is just the first small glimpse. The Hubble has a tiny lense only a few meters wide. But by coordinating the movements of a CONSTELLATION of spaceborne observatories, and by combining their observations from different vantage-points, while focused on the same object, optical interferometry will make it possible to create a telescope which will possess a virtual-lense of THOUSANDS of meters- maybe even tens of thousands of meters. When THOSE pictures come back, they really will change everything for our species. Because we won’t need SETI, or the Allen Array, or Dr. Ellie Arroway listening for structure in the background noise of their radio telescopes. We will KNOW whether we are alone in the universe or not. We’ll look right down on worlds in other galaxies with the same resolution that the US Government currently uses to read the letters off a car’s license plate from their orbiting satellites. If there IS complex life in the universe, we will know about it LONG before we ever have the ability to cross the vast distances between them and us. Spaceborne optical interferometery is what will make it possible, and soon. It’s coming. It’s right around the corner. And I can’t wait for the Answers! If there ARE cities out there on other worlds, or other obviously-designed structures that are visible from space, we will see them. And if that day ever comes, when we gaze down at cities on distant worlds form space, an evolutionist somewhere, will turn to an Intelligent Design advocate and say “See, the complex specificity of those structures proves they were made by the intelligent designers of an alien civilization! Complex life is present elsewhere in the universe, so there is no God, and Evolution is proven!”. It would be justified, if on that day, the Intelligent Design advocate replies- “But by your own argument, the presence of specific complexity proves nothing. If probablility and chance can build a DNA molecule here on earth, then they can certainly build a city on a distant world. Therefore, the city could have built itself, and complex life is NOT neccesarily present on that world!” Perhaps God will look down on both of them and chuckle at the irony.If it does happen that way, then evolutionists will finally know how exasperated Intelligent Design advocates feel sometimes.

At any rate, someday, when historians look back on our times from the very, very distant future, only a few people, places, and events will stand out from the rest of our petty doings- A few men signing a Declaration in a tiny hall in Philidelphia that launched a tidal wave of human freedom around the world. A windy beach in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina perhaps. Scientists in the New Mexico desert unlocking the secrets of a power that our limited wisdom was unworthy of. One event that will certainly define us, will be be Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin taking “One small step for man, one giant leap for Mankind.” The first steps of our species to reach beyond our small world, into a new understanding of the universe and our place in it. The heady days of Apollo inspired the dreams and hopes of a whole generation, and it’s sad to see what has now become of the U.S. space-program. NASA’s “bold” plan for the last 40 years has been to spend trillions of dollars on the Space Shuttle and on the International Space Station so we can putter around in low earth orbit. Unmanned missions like Hubble, and a few robotic probes like Voyager have been the only real high-points of a sad and uninspired era in space exploration. The Space Station exists to give the Shuttle some place to go to, and the Shuttle exists to give us a way to get up to the Space Station. We actually debate whether it’s worth the risk, to use one of an endless series of pointless shuttle missions to repair Hubble. It’s no wonder that NASA no longer inspires kids to dream, and most adults think it’s just a big waste of money. But the good news is, that while the MANNED space program slouches towards mediocrity, the UNMANNED programs are slowly, yet persistently creeping forward. The most exciting of which, is the ORIGINS program, of which Hubble was only the first tiny step. Mark my words, when future historians look back on these times, the REAL big event that may top them all- even Apollo-is soon to come. The children of today can look forward to exciting events in the field of astronomy that may change everything. The answers we get from this new journey of exploration, depending on what we find, may be THE pivotal moment of human history. We may make “First Contact”, or we may come to the deeply sobering realization that we are truly ALONE. Either way, the question is worth asking, even if we don’t like te answers we get. Whatever the answers, the implications are as big as they come, and the results will certainly change our view of the universe, and of ourselves. 

Notes/ Links / Suggested Reading / Articles of Interest:

The Lynching of Bill Dembski, Fred Hereen ( The American Spectator ):

http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=532

The Writings of William A. Dembsi:

http://www.designinference.com

Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology, William Dembski:

http://www.amazon.com/Intelligent-Design-Between-Science-Theology/dp/083082314X

Salon, on secular-progressive intolerance- “every spark of dissent has to be extinguished with buckets of bile.”:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/paglia/2007/03/14/coulter/index.html?source=rss

Intelligent Design weblog, William Dembski:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/

MSNBC Documentary: Confessions of a Serial Killer- In this interview just prior to his death, Jeffery Dahmer stated that his belief in Evolution signifigantly contributed to his ability to commit mass murder without ” feeling accountable to anybody”. He further stated that ” there is no point in modifying behaviors to conform to acceptable ranges”… ” if we all just evolved from slime.” He also stated that the Theory of Evolution “cheapens life”. :

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036750/

Godless: The Church of Liberalism, Ann Coulter:

http://www.amazon.com/Godless-Church-Liberalism-Ann-Coulter/dp/1400054206

Hubble Images ( Downloadable free from NASA ):

http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/

NASA ORIGINS Mission Plans:

http://origins.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/missions.html#pi

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams:

http://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Hitchhikers-Guide-Galaxy/dp/o345453743

John Milton:

http://www.online-literature.com/milton/

Ralph Waldo Emerson on intellectual honesty ( Essays: Heroism, Spiritual Laws ):

http://www.rwe.org/comm/?option=com_content&task=view&id=131&Itemid=42

http://www.rwe.org/comm/?option=com_content&task=view&id=127&Itemid=42

Lost in Space: The Fall of NASA and the Dream of a New Space Age, Greg Klerkx:

http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Space-Fall-NASA-Dream/dp/0375421505

Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe, Peter Ward / Donald Greenlee

http://www.amazon.com/Rare-Earth-Complex-Uncommon-Universe/dp/0387952896

Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, Carl Sagan:

http://www.amazon.com/Pale-Blue-Dot-Vision-Future/dp/0345376595

Contact, Carl Sagan:

http://www.amazon.com/Contact-Carl-Sagan/dp/2266079999