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At Mind Matters News: Astronomer: We can’t just assume countless Earths out there

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Marcelo Gleiser points out that the fashionable Principle of Mediocrity is based on faulty logical reasoning:

He concedes that the Principle can be quite sound under controlled circumstances: If most balls in a box are red, you are more likely to randomly draw a red one. Where stars are otherwise alike, the Principle can be useful for making probability decisions in astronomy.

But the probability of life on other planets presents us with a very different situation: The Principle assumes, in the absence of any evidence, that Earth is typical in terms of its properties and life forms, not simply its position. And that is what he sees as an unwarranted assumption:

News, “Astronomer: We can’t just assume countless Earths out there” at Mind Matters News (November 14, 2021)

A quick look at our solar system neighbors should dispel this notion. Mars is a frozen desert; if it had life in its early years, it didn’t offer enough stability to support it for very long. The same applies to Venus, now a hellish furnace. Farther away, there are many “Earth-like” exoplanets, but only in the sense that they have a similar mass and orbit a star at a distance that is within the habitable zone, where water, if present on the surface, is liquid. These preconditions for life are a far cry from life itself.

Marcelo Gleiser, “The mediocrity of the mediocrity principle (for life in the universe)” at Big Think (October 6, 2021)

Realistically, he notes, life must exist on a planet for a long time before the ways it changes a planet’s atmosphere could be detected from many light years away. Intelligent life may take longer and be far more tenuous. Put another way, on our own planet, water bears can survive many catastrophes that humans cannot. But they don’t think or seek to communicate with anyone and likely never will.

More.


Takehome: Marcelo Gleiser notes that the starting point of the Mediocrity Principle assumes countless Earths. That’s not a conclusion from evidence. It’s bad logic.


You may also wish to read: Physicist: Copernican Principle doesn’t make Earth insignificant. That, Marcelo Gleiser says, is a philosophical attitude, unrelated to the science. Theoretical physicist Gleiser notes that we’ve only begun to point huge telescopes at exoplanets. There are too many unknowns to be sure of our status.

2 Replies to “At Mind Matters News: Astronomer: We can’t just assume countless Earths out there

  1. 1
    jerry says:

    Most of us know about privileged planet. Here is another characteristic of earth’s location that is fortuitous. Jupiter cleans up the asteroids and keeps them in place.

    Here is how Jupiter protects Earth from asteroids and saves us from destruction

    https://techstartups.com/2021/11/07/jupiter-protects-earth-asteroids/

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    The problem of trivializing life to the point of meaninglessness goes much deeper than just the fallacious principle of mediocrity.

    The belief that everything is meaningless, (i.e. the universe, all life in the universe, and human life in particular), is based upon none other than the foundational and primary presupposition of ‘randomness’ within the Atheist’s naturalistic worldview.

    Instead of a rational Mind, i.e. God, as the primary cause for the universe, all life in the universe, and human life in particular, the Atheistic Naturalist instead holds that completely blind, undirected, randomness is the primary cause for the universe, all life in the universe, and human life in particular.

    Yet for something to occur in a truly random fashion means that it happened for no rhyme or reason whatsoever. And therefore, by definition, there can be no meaning for why anything happens in the Atheist’s worldview.

    In short, meaninglessness is built into the very foundation of the Atheist’s naturalistic worldview as the primary presupposition of completely blind, undirected, randomness.

    As Stephen Talbott noted, “It (Randomness) is the central miracle in a gospel of meaninglessness,,,”

    Evolution and the Illusion of Randomness – Talbott – Fall 2011
    Excerpt: The situation calls to mind a widely circulated cartoon by Sidney Harris, which shows two scientists in front of a blackboard on which a body of theory has been traced out with the usual tangle of symbols, arrows, equations, and so on. But there’s a gap in the reasoning at one point, filled by the words, “Then a miracle occurs.” And the one scientist is saying to the other, “I think you should be more explicit here in step two.”
    In the case of evolution, I picture Dennett and Dawkins filling the blackboard with their vivid descriptions of living, highly regulated, coordinated, integrated, and intensely meaningful biological processes, and then inserting a small, mysterious gap in the middle, along with the words, “Here something random occurs.”
    This “something random” looks every bit as wishful as the appeal to a miracle. It is the central miracle in a gospel of meaninglessness, a “Randomness of the gaps,” demanding an extraordinarily blind faith. At the very least, we have a right to ask, “Can you be a little more explicit here?”
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....randomness

    And Talbott’s observation that, “This “something random” looks every bit as wishful as the appeal to a miracle”. is spot on.

    As Wolfgang Pauli himself noted, “they (Darwinists) use the word ‘chance’, not any longer combined with estimations of a mathematically defined probability, in its application to very rare single events more or less synonymous with the old word ‘miracle.’”

    Pauli’s ideas on mind and matter in the context of contemporary science – Harald Atmanspacher
    Excerpt: “In discussions with biologists I met large difficulties when they apply the concept of ‘natural selection’ in a rather wide field, without being able to estimate the probability of the occurrence in a empirically given time of just those events, which have been important for the biological evolution. Treating the empirical time scale of the evolution theoretically as infinity they have then an easy game, apparently to avoid the concept of purposesiveness. While they pretend to stay in this way completely ‘scientific’ and ‘rational,’ they become actually very irrational, particularly because they use the word ‘chance’, not any longer combined with estimations of a mathematically defined probability, in its application to very rare single events more or less synonymous with the old word ‘miracle.’”
    Wolfgang Pauli (pp. 27-28)
    https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/234f/4989e039089fed5ac47c7d1a19b656c602e2.pdf

    Yet this appeal by Atheistic Naturalists to ‘random miracles’ as a explanatory principle in science makes scientific rationality itself impossible.

    As Bruce Gordon explains, “the materialist is forced to believe in random miracles as an explanatory principle. (Yet) In a Theistic universe, nothing happens without a reason. Miracles are therefore intelligently directed deviations from divinely maintained regularities, and are thus expressions of rational purpose. (Therefore) Scientific materialism is epistemically self defeating: it makes scientific rationality impossible.

    The End Of Materialism?
    * In the multiverse, anything can happen for no reason at all.
    * In other words, the materialist is forced to believe in random miracles as an explanatory principle.
    * In a Theistic universe, nothing happens without a reason. Miracles are therefore intelligently directed deviations from divinely maintained regularities, and are thus expressions of rational purpose.
    * Scientific materialism is epistemically self defeating: it makes scientific rationality impossible.
    – Quoted from the the last power-point slide of the following video:
    – The Absurdity of Inflation, String Theory and The Multiverse – Dr. Bruce Gordon – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ff_sNyGNSko

    The late Richard Lewontin, (Harvard- professor of biology), once complained that “To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.”

    “Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.
    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated.
    Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.”
    – Richard Lewontin

    Thus it is more than a tad bit ironic that the atheist’s worldview itself, by appealing to ‘random miracles’ as an explanatory principle, is the worldview that is guilty of allowing the possibility “that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that (random) miracles may happen.”

    For example of this ‘rupturing’ of the regularities of nature’, in the Atheist’s worldview, (where ‘random miracles’ are allowed as a explanatory principle), “it is immeasurably more likely that our consciousness is associated with a brain that has spontaneously fluctuated into existence in the quantum vacuum than it is that we have parents and exist in an orderly universe with a 13.7 billion-year history. This is absurd. The multiverse hypothesis is therefore falsified because it renders false what we know to be true about ourselves. Clearly, embracing the multiverse idea entails a nihilistic irrationality that destroys the very possibility of science.”

    Bruce Gordon: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: What is worse, multiplying without limit the opportunities for any event to happen in the context of a multiverse – where it is alleged that anything can spontaneously jump into existence without cause – produces a situation in which no absurdity is beyond the pale.?For instance, we find multiverse cosmologists debating the “Boltzmann Brain” problem: In the most “reasonable” models for a multiverse, it is immeasurably more likely that our consciousness is associated with a brain that has spontaneously fluctuated into existence in the quantum vacuum than it is that we have parents and exist in an orderly universe with a 13.7 billion-year history. This is absurd. The multiverse hypothesis is therefore falsified because it renders false what we know to be true about ourselves. Clearly, embracing the multiverse idea entails a nihilistic irrationality that destroys the very possibility of science.?Universes do not “spontaneously create” on the basis of abstract mathematical descriptions, nor does the fantasy of a limitless multiverse trump the explanatory power of transcendent intelligent design. What Mr. Hawking’s contrary assertions show is that mathematical savants can sometimes be metaphysical simpletons. Caveat emptor.?http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

    Thus the Atheist’s primary postulate of completely blind, undirected, randomness, (which, I remind, the Atheist holds to be the primary cause of the universe, all life in the universe, and human life in particular), makes scientific rationality itself impossible.

    Oh well, so much for the Atheistic Naturalist’s claim that he is the one who is being ‘scientific’ and rational in forsaking God and in toeing the line of methodological naturalism.

    To repeat Pauli, “While they (Darwinian Atheists) pretend to stay in this way completely ‘scientific’ and ‘rational,’ they become actually very irrational, particularly because they use the word ‘chance’, not any longer combined with estimations of a mathematically defined probability, in its application to very rare single events more or less synonymous with the old word ‘miracle.’”

    Verse:

    2 Corinthians 10:5
    Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

    Supplemental notes:

    Basically, because of reductive materialism (and/or methodological naturalism), the atheistic materialist (who believes Darwinian evolution to be true) is forced to claim that he is merely a ‘neuronal illusion’ (Coyne, Dennett, etc..), who has the illusion of free will (Harris), who has unreliable, (i.e. illusory), beliefs about reality (Plantinga), who has illusory perceptions of reality (Hoffman), who, since he has no real time empirical evidence substantiating his grandiose claims, must make up illusory “just so stories” with the illusory, and impotent, ‘designer substitute’ of natural selection (Behe, Gould, Sternberg), so as to ‘explain away’ the appearance (i.e. the illusion) of design (Crick, Dawkins), and who also must make up illusory meanings and purposes for his life since the hopelessness of the nihilism inherent in his atheistic worldview is simply too much for him to bear (Weikart), and who must also hold morality to be subjective and illusory since he has rejected God (Craig, Kreeft). Who, since beauty cannot be grounded within his materialistic worldview, must also hold beauty itself to be illusory (Darwin).
    Bottom line, nothing is truly real in the atheist’s worldview, least of all, beauty, morality, meaning and purposes for life.,,,
    April 18, 2021 – Detailed Defense of each claim
    https://uncommondescent.com/philosophy/philosopher-mary-midgeley-1919-2018-on-scientism/#comment-728595

    August 2021 – the Copernican Principle and/or the Principle of Mediocrity has now been overturned by both General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, our two most powerful theories in science, (as well as being overturned by other powerful lines of scientific evidence):
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/privileged-address-an-excerpt-from-neil-thomass-taking-leave-of-darwin/#comment-736493

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