Spritzophrenia

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Posts Tagged ‘Gliese 581 g’

Bad Science! Go Sit in the Corner

Posted by spritzophrenia on October 15, 2010

One of the problems with reporting early results from science is that sometimes… they’re wrong! Just a few days ago I reported on the discovery of a possibly Earth-like planet.

Now New Scientist reports it might not exist. Thanks to Atheist Climber for alerting me to this.

Last month, a team of astronomers announced the discovery of the first alien world that could host life on its surface. Now a second team can find no evidence of the planet, casting doubt on its existence.

The planet, dubbed Gliese 581 g, was found to orbit a dim, red dwarf star every 37 days …

But it might be too early to claim a definitive detection. A second team of astronomers have looked for signals of Gliese 581 g in their own data and failed to find it.

Planet Earth

That’s science for ya folks. No doubt over the next few years we’ll discover what is really going on out there. Probably those mean aliens are using their superior technologiez to hide themselves from us.

Either way, it’s probably inevitable a similar discovery will be made one day. And it doesn’t change my original question:

If we found alien life, would that be a problem for world religions? I know one group of weirdos who’ll be pleased— the Alien Sex Cult I reported on.

Respond

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Speaking of aliens, check out the new romantics in this: Duran Duran | Planet Earth

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Posted in agnostic, cosmology, Science, Sociology | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

God And Alien Life

Posted by spritzophrenia on October 13, 2010

A new, possibly Earth-like planet has recently been discovered. This seems to have slipped by the major news media. I can remember in the early 90s (?) when the first extra-solar planets were discovered. Now, we seem to have discovered tens if not hundreds. This is awesome!

Gliese 581 g, the planet discovered, is 20 light years from Earth with basic and essential conditions needed to support extraterrestrial life.

Earth-like exoplanets have been predicted for years by scientists in what is called the “habitable zone” around a star, but the identification and measurement of one has been called the beginning of a new era in the search for life beyond our galaxy.

Perhaps I should stress the words possibly Earth-like. Wikipedia notes Gliese 581 g has over 3 times our gravity, which I presume is still within the bounds of possibly allowing life. No giraffes, ‘though— I’m guessing any life there would be short and flat. Squashed elephants, anyone?

[Edit: See my update here.]

On Agnostic Forums this news was claimed by some to be a nail in the coffin for the “Fine Tuning argument” for the existence of God. I’ve been trying to get clear in my head exactly what a fine tuning argument claims. I think it’s something like this?

1. The existence of the universe is extremely unlikely
2. The best explanation for highly unlikely things is that a mind was responsible.
3. Therefore a mind was responsible for the universe.

The first premise is supported by most experts, for example Hawking and Mlodinow in their recent The Grand Design, where they spend almost a chapter on this question. It’s the second premise that I am mulling over. Is it always the case that we credit highly unlikely happenings to a mind? It seems intuitively right.

Eta Carinae Nebula

Eta Carinae Nebula

There is also an argument against fine tuning, which goes something like, “The universe is very unlikely, but we know it happened because we are here, therefore unlikely things do happen sometimes”. This latter kind of argument doesn’t satisfy me, it seems to be almost question-begging.

There were various comments on Agnostic Forums, a couple of which I’ll repeat here:

I would be very skeptical of any ‘scientific’ claims about ecosystems on extrasolar planets. So far we are nowhere near being able to determine an extrasolar planet’s ecosystem. Simply detecting those planets is a relatively new science. The only observational evidence we have that extrasolar planets even exist is the effect they have on the stars they orbit.

And,

If we are not alone in the universe, man made religions need to find a way to reconcile that fact with their core doctrines.

What do you think? If we found alien life, would that be a problem for world religions?

Respond

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The Firm | Star Trekkin’

Posted in agnostic, cosmology, god, Science | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments »