Does anyone else get tired of seeing sequel after sequel after sequel?  Well, prepare yourself for another sequel in the series called “This Planet Could Host Life.”

In three previous posts: First Planet to Support Life or Is It?; Extrasolar planet ‘100% likely’ to have life?; and Life on other planets, we reported the claims that an exoplanet named Gliese 581g was 100% likely to have life.

Today we add the sequel of exoplanet Gliese 581d to the series.

But before moving to this new sequel, allow me add a small trivial note about Gliese 581g.  Unlike the headline news about the 100% likelihood of supporting life, in the latest sequel in the series, there is one small line that provides an update on 581g.  That line reads:

However, the existence of that planet has since been called into question.

This is what I love about astronomy. They constantly produce such reliable science such as claiming that they are 100% sure this planet can or does support life only to have the very existence of the planet questioned later on. Whenever you read an article on a new astronomical find, go through and underline all of the “if” words in the report.  Back in 1997, I did that very thing on an article about the search for life in the solar system.  Here is what I found in the article:

The notion that organic compounds might have come together and formed a biological brew on other planets and other moons is hardly new…but it may offer…but even if…may tell us…this theory is expected… could exist…but probably not…could trigger…some researchers speculate…have simulated conditions…could be caused by…appear to have been…as if…don’t constitute proof…merely on the basis…might keep…it’s almost inescapable… sometime…if one believes…now maybe it doesn’t… maybe Europa…but it’s still an interesting story…has yet to find…if life doesn’t require…then Europa is potentially…might have revealed… sometime in the past…would have…might have… could have… indicate…could have…scientists speculate… should keep…if it exists there…surface could have…life could have…suggest…speculate that if…they may have been… he envisions…organisms could have…might exist…we may not…possibility of…the possibility of… if aquifers…a chance blow… could discharge… would then be…may help…appear to have been…if you’re in the right place…will probably… not all scientists agree… suggests…researchers may find… suppose… may not be…could land…sometimes in only… was probably far greater…or if…

This, ladies and gentlemen, is touted as good science.  Definitely something you could rely on, isn’t it?  Yet when a creationists reports good hard scientific findings such as inconsistencies in radiometric dating methods and decay rates, they are ridiculed and blown off for being Bible thumping extremists who haven’t a clue what real science is.  Welcome to the wonderful world of the unbiased quest for knowledge.

Back to the new sequel.  A news report released today is now touting another candidate for a habitable planet outside our solar system.  Gliese 581 is a red dwarf star located a mere 20 light years away.  Astronomers have been studying this star and the evidence of orbiting planets for a number of years.

In the latest report, they claim to have found 2 planets, dubbed Gliese 581c and 581d that occur in the ‘Goldilocks Zone.’  The Goldilocks Zone, otherwise knows as the Habitable Zone, is considered to be the area surrounding a star where conditions for life as we know it could exist.

Gliese 581c is considered to be at the inner edge of the habitable zone and 581d was near the outer edge of the zone.  Even though 581c was within the habitable zone, the researchers determined that it would be too hot to have liquid water, making it inhabitable within the habitable zone.  Make sense?

So their attention has turned to Gliese 581d, orbiting near the outer range if the habitable zone.  Being twice the size of earth with a mass six times greater than earth’s, at first scientists believed that 581d was too cold to have liquid water, again making it uninhabitable within the habitable zone.

However French researchers have come to the rescue of Gliese 581d and once again there rises hope of being able to support life.  They ran computer simulation of 581d’s atmosphere and contend that it probably has a high concentration of carbon dioxide.  An atmosphere rich in carbon dioxide generally produces a warmer atmosphere, thus making it suitable for liquid water and even clouds and rain.

Once again, 581d bobs to the surface as a leading candidate for life, only to be yanked back under the surface as scientists claim:

Gliese 581d’s denser air and dim red light from its host star would make for a murky environment that would be toxic to humans.

Yet despite this statement, Dr. Robin Wordsworth, from the Insitute Pierre Simon Laplace in Paris, said:

This discovery is important because it’s the first time climate modellers have proved that the planet is potentially habitable, and all observers agree that the exoplanet exists.

Mind you that this new hope is based upon computer simulations.  The simulations can only yield results based upon the data and parameters fed to them by the scientists and programmers.  Where did they get the data that led to the model of a carbon dioxide rich atmosphere?  Was that based upon fact or hopeful speculation on the part of the researchers?  How many model samples did they run and were there any that yielded negative results indicating no possibility for life?

I refer to this trend of claiming an exoplanet could have life to no it doesn’t to this other one does, but it may not as the “Daisy Method for the Detection of Exoplanetary Life.”  As you pick the petals from the daisy, you say, “Yes it has life, no it doesn’t, yes it has life, no it doesn’t,” and so on.

Unfortunately, there are far too many accounts of scientist getting results that are contrary to their expectations and they keep trying and altering information until they get their desired results and those end up being the results they report.  I recall reading an article a number of years ago where nearly 300 rock samples were sent to a lab for radiometric dating. Of the 300 samples, less than ten had dates that fell into the range researchers were looking for, so those were the only samples they reported on, while ignoring the other 290 samples that fell outside their acceptable range, and yet no one seemed to question their work or report.

This is why one needs to carefully read these types of articles and filter them through a discerning mind.  Look for the ‘iffy’ words or conclusions based upon computer modeling.  Ask yourself if there is a possibility they aren’t reporting everything, but only the things that fit their preconceived ideas.

More importantly, filter them through God’s Word.  Ask yourself if the Bible would support their conclusions and if not, why not, and if so, how does it support it?  If you are unsure what the Bible says, search our website for answers and if you still don’t find them write to us and we will do our best to answer them.

If you do this on a regular basis, you will soon find yourself to be better equipped to answer some of the questions and objections you get concerning God’s Word and your Christian faith.  There are many examples where Christians were able to give answers to these tough questions resulting in the questioner’s salvation.  My favorite example is a 92 year old man named Ed who was brought to the Lord because his 8 and 10 year great grandchildren had answers.  (For more on Ed, see: Thousand Years is a Day, God’s Plan and Primitive Man. Scroll down to the heading How Old Are These Bones and read about Ed.)

References

Cowen, Ron, Searching for Life in the Solar System, Science News, Vol. 152, Nov. 1, 1997, pp. 284-5.

Exoplanet Near Gliese 581 Star ‘Could Host Life’, BBC News, May 17, 2011.

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