More work for the religious this week

Tough week for the fanatically religious who believe such things as this world being uniquely created just for us by their god in order for us to exist and live (and of course spend that time praising him and procreating as much as possible to create a multitude of worshippers). I suppose they feel a need to be special, and believing this is the only place in the universe we could live and that their god made it just for us is just so, well, special. It’s a common enough sentiment, and what I believe prompts denying equal rights and claiming special privileges (especially now as we enter December). Well get ready to feel less special and unique, true believers.


A new study in Nature has just revealed that the total number of stars in the Universe is likely three times bigger. Yale University astronomer Pieter van Dokkum says there are “possibly trillions of Earths orbiting these stars,” dramatically increasing the possibility of finding alien civilizations. Now finding civilizations sounds cool, but finding life like ours in any way beyond this rock we’re currently on would be quite astounding, and would certainly hurt that notion of our Earth being uniquely created just for us. Of course the true believer will likely adapt somehow, perhaps merely denying that life exists anywhere but here or by wondering at the immensity of their god’s creation, now known to be three times larger. Maybe these worlds were created for us as well to subdue and populate with more people to worship their god just like Earth was.


The second bit of news, which NASA should be announcing this afternoon, is the discovery of a bacteria in a lake in CA that can substitute arsenic for phosphorous. Have you ever encountered the believer who claims that the language of dna means it must have been created and therefore their god exists? Well now we have something that doesn’t completely subscribe to that language. So now what? I’m sure they’ll think of something, but that argument will need to be revised. The other thing is a discovery like this radically increases the possibilities of finding life beyond Earth since now our definition of life has expanded. If it’s possible to make substitutions to what we thought were essentials for life, then non-Earthlike planets need to be considered as well as possible homes for life. Couple that with finding out that there are so many more stars out there than we thought, that’s an incredible amount of possible homes for life.

If you ever heard the fallacious argument that the odds against everything being so perfect here that we could exist, then this week shows those odds just got reduced, and if we’re simply talking about any life, then it appears it could be possible almost anywhere out there. Gosh, how does one retool their arguments to maintain their belief of being special? Well in my experience, the religious always manage to figure out how as religions and religious belief evolves, even for those who deny evolution. Hell, if the Pope can say condoms may be ok now, anything is possible, right?

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5 Responses to “More work for the religious this week”

  1. Excellent post Philly. I think that the Gnostics are kind of special, in a way, in that they see something special in symbolism (I'm not 100% sure what all their symbols mean, however they seem to be very receptive to any kind of new scientific and mathematical ideas and such, albeit they sort of have a "god is the universe, the mind, and the logical abstractions that exist independent of the two" point of view). What I think that amounts to is that society on the whole is becoming more secular.

    However, everybody wants to be special, and in fact everybody is special, unique in their own ways, talents, accomplishments, genetics, experiences, etc. On the other hand, there are characteristics that make people, and various species similar too. It is evolution that drives in both directions depending on the way that leads to the most effective survival.

  2. No, most people are quite ordinary and sub-par. I also think their lives are so mundane and lacking purpose that they need to latch on to a fantasy to provide it for them. It doesn't have to be religion, but religion satisfies it easily.

  3. I doubt that religious believers will radically retool their responses to these findings.

    Liberal and Moderate believers are often open to the possibility of life on other planets, various forms of life, etc. Their stances on the unique, special status of humankind are often fuzzy and not at all uniform. They'll integrate this information into their worldviews with little difficulty and file it under Interesting Information Pointing to the Majesty and Mystery of God.

    Mid-stream Conservative believers will acknowledge the information, then ignore it. They won't integrate it into their thinking, and they will just file it under Insignificant Information Pointing to the Majesty and Mystery of God.

    Extreme Conservatives will either ignore the data completely or resist it. The resistors will file it under Atheist Propaganda Leading Foul Sinners Further Away from God.

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