As readers doubtless recall, Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb has insisted for years that ’Oumuamua is an extraterrestrial light sail He even wrote book about it, Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth.
Oumuamua and the Science of Design Detection I find Loeb’s argument to be probative. Yet, I don’t have the expertise to judge the merits of his case effectively. (I will leave that task to astronomers.)
As an old-earth creationist and a biochemist—who holds the view that life stems directly from the handiwork of a Creator—I find Loeb’s case to be instructive, serving as a template that can be used to make the case that living systems stem from the work of an Intelligent Agent.
Specifically, Loeb uses three criteria to argue that Oumuamua is the work of extraterrestrial intelligence (i.e., intelligent agency):
1. Absence of a compelling explanation for Oumuamua based on natural processes/mechanisms
2. Oumuamua’s artificial characteristics
3. An assessment of what it would take to build a spacecraft with Oumuamua’s capabilities
Loeb also speculates about the purpose of Oumuamua and suggests the possible motivation behind its launch. In the process, he draws upon our activities and motivations as human beings, using them as a gage for what alien civilizations might do.
In many respects, the criteria Loeb uses are identical to the criteria archeologists use to determine if a stone has been shaped by natural forces or by the deliberate action of a hominin (i.e., an intelligent agent). This similarity shouldn’t be surprising because Loeb’s work falls under the umbrella of astro-archaeology.
Loeb’s work affirms a point that I (and others) have repeatedly made. Science has the toolkit to detect the work of agency in nature. To put it another way, Loeb’s thesis demonstrates that detection of intelligent design in nature is legitimately part of the construct of science.Fazale Rana, “Does Astro-Archaeology Appeal to Intelligent Agency?” at Reasons to Believe
Of course. But when it’s space aliens, design detection is fashionable.
See also: Avi Loeb About Oumuamua: “Nature Does Not Produce Such Things.”