Water on Mars? Nuh-uh!

Yesterday’s announcement by NASA scientists, confirming the presence of liquid flowing water on the surface of present-day Mars, filled me with a kind of excitement that I haven’t had in a long time.

It was like the day I first learned about dinosaurs. Or, you know, how I felt every day before cruel reality bludgeoned into my head the fact that Spider-Man could not possibly exist.

It was what I imagine, in some small way, my parents and grandparents experienced when they saw the first grainy images of a human being walking on a different world.

That kind of pure, childlike wonder isn’t really befitting a member of my generation, so I quickly adjourned to the Internet for a healthy dose of cynicism.

Ahh... That's better.

Ahh… That’s better.

This is what you expect the Internet to do: Take a huge, hopeful, potentially generation-defining positive moment and beat it unmercifully with snarky comments and pee jokes until it retreats into its tiny box, easily consumable and memefiable for the ADD and Facebook-friendly world.

Alas, though I consumed all the vaguely humorous Tweets I could find, and even read both of The Onion’s always humorous articles about the announcement, it didn’t quite do the trick.

I found my optimism was still intact, and I could still daydream things like, “What does this mean? Could we really be on the verge of finding life on another planet? Can you imagine? How crazy would that be?!”

The problem was that these guys weren’t really mocking the discovery, they were just having a bit of harmless fun, perhaps motivated by a deep-seated subconscious fear of just, you know, being real people who think this awesome thing is awesome.

No, to really crush my soul and eradicate any doubt that humanity might still be capable of collectively dreaming of something simple and good, I had to turn to an organization led by a man who despises those things so much you would think they must have murdered his father before his very eyes.

No, it's not him.

No, it’s not him.

I’m talking, of course, about Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis. And they didn’t let me down. Their hurried response by Danny Faulkner, who holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from Indiana University, was posted mere hours after the initial announcement, and is exactly what you’d expect from people who absolutely can’t stand it when science makes anyone happy or excited for any reason.

Here’s his opening, which contains pretty much everything you need to know (I bolded the important part for you):

In the search for life elsewhere in the universe, liquid water is the Holy Grail. Liquid water is absolutely essential for life, so in the estimation of many scientists, the presence of liquid water on another planet at the very least opens the door to the possibility of life there. While water is a common substance in the universe, the earth is the only place that we know for certain where liquid water exists. That is, until Monday, September 28, 2015, when NASA officials announced in a press conference the discovery of evidence of liquid water on the surface of Mars. Or, maybe not.

Ah, yes, Dr. Faulkner is one of the great skeptics of the scientific community … you know, except when he is proposing “scientific,” um, “explanations” so chaotic, self-contradictory and nonsensical they make comic book writers look like William freaking Shakespeare.

Faulkner’s article pretty much continues like that, with a lot of science-y sounding jargon thrown in that you’re welcome to click over and read if you want to see how smart he is.

But if you value your brain cells, do this instead. Go to the nearest elementary school playground and wait for recess. Make sure you comb your hair, and bring lots of candy so the kids and teachers all know you’re not some weirdo.

Shown: The vehicle of a not-weirdo.

Shown: The vehicle of a not-weirdo.

So now you are outside the playground, you’ve given out all your free candy and you’ve convinced the nice police officer that you do, in fact, have pants on underneath your trench coat and are only outside an elementary school because that’s what an Internet writer told you to do.

Watch the kiddos until you find one wearing a Spider-Man T-shirt. Then, listen for the following exchange:

“Spider-Man is lame! Batman is way cooler!”

“Nuh-uh!”

Finally, call the first kid over to the fence and tell him that in the real world there is absolutely no way Spider-Man could possibly exist. He has to learn this someday, and it’s best that he hears it from you. Then come back to your computer monitor.

The exchange that you just witnessed represents the sum total of the reasoned analysis offered in what I will generously call Faulkner’s “work.” It is 940 words worth of knee-jerk contrarianism for contrarianism’s sake. It is a more well-written, much more long-winded, but no more sophisticated version of “I’m not stupid. You’re stupid!”

It has two reasons for existing. The first is because the worldview groups like AiG have invented and sold to their legions of followers is dependent on the underlying assumption that they know everything worth knowing about everything, because they understand the Bible better than anyone else and … that’s it.

Whenever a new scientific discovery gets headlines, AiG’s only possible responses are, “Yep, we already knew that,” or the scientists are wrong because secularism and/or Satan.

But either way, they must respond, as quickly as possible, so their generous fans and supporters can rest easy in the assurance that Pope Ham and his team have whipped dem nasty lab-coat-wearing sissies once again. This is why they can’t sit on their laurels, and do what, you know, real actual scientists do.

"'Reserve judgment'? So ... that's like when you wait a whole day before you respond, or what?"

“‘Reserve judgment’? So … that’s like when you wait a whole day before you respond, or what?”

They must take ironclad, immediate stands on everything from Homo naledi to the existence of intelligent life outside Earth.

It seems to me like an insanely arrogant, horribly unbiblical and ultimately self-defeating way to conduct, but what do I know? It’s made them millions, after all.

The second reason for Faulkner’s post is to subtly lay the groundwork for addressing what just might be NASA’s next big discovery regarding everyone’s favorite red planet. As Faulkner writes:

Even if remnants of liquid water exist on Mars today, that does not prove that life once existed or exists on Mars today. Furthermore, even if bacteria were found on Mars today or it were shown that bacteria existed on Mars in the past, that would not prove that evolution occurred there, any more than the existence of bacteria on the earth proves that evolution has occurred here. All such a discovery would prove is that bacteria either existed in the past or now exist on Mars.

So, if evidence of microbial life were ever found on Mars, we already know the discovery would be utterly meaningless. #ThanksAiG!

Now if we can just figure out how to keep Ken Ham from putting a phallus on those hypothetical life forms, we’ll be all set.

Tyler Francke is founder of God of Evolution and author of Reoriented. He can be reached at tyler@godofevolution.com.

  • Greg Carlet

    Was waiting for your response/reaction to the news yesterday, as well as if AiG posted anything about it. I wasn’t disappointed.
    P.S. Not gonna lie, I thought it interesting timing that The Martian is coming out this week too. šŸ˜‰

    • I would only be slightly surprised if it turned out Matt Damon is an alien life form, who planted the water on Mars to promote his movie.

      • Greg Carlet

        Hahahahaha! That would be hilarious! Is it bad that I wouldn’t be shocked by that revelation? šŸ˜‰

  • Alan Christensen

    About that last paragraph you quoted, everything it says is true–water doesn’t prove life and bacteria doesn’t prove evolution. It’s also completely beside the point. Any discovery of present or past life on another planet would be immensely exciting.
    Also, it seems to me that AiG’s habit of immediately putting out articles pooh-poohing all these discoveries is pretty unscientific. They should take more time, examine all the evidence, and then put out their opinion. Oh, wait, I forgot–AiG is not a scientific enterprise.

  • Seth

    The AiG folk and their ilk would be less disreputable if they actually published. Of course they don’t. There are hundreds of thousands of papers on evolution. Even by the Discovery Institute’s cooked numbers (most of the articles they reference are not peer reviewed) there are a few dozen creationist papers. Less biased sources state that there are either none, or a handful (I know personally of one).
    At any rate, these people don’t research, they don’t publish except in their house organs, they simply aren’t scientists by any reasonable definition of the term.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Remember: The Vast Conspiracy (headed by SATAN himself) would suppress them if they tried to publish outside of AIG house organs. “All who live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer Persecution….”
      This is exactly like every other Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory.

      • Alan Christensen

        Those articles are peer-reviewed, if by “peer” you mean “fellow YEC believers.”

        • ashleyhr

          Which of course mans very little indeed (other than they try not to embarrass themselves publicly).

  • Chris Mason

    “…how I felt every day before cruel reality bludgeoned into my head the fact that Spider-Man could not possibly exist.”

    I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who was upset about that. On another note, I think John Fugelsang’s tweet wins the internet for today.

    • Yeah, I agree with that. Stupid California. šŸ˜‰

  • AIG 100 years from now:

    News: This amazing landmark discovery of a cache of technology on Mars finally answers the age-old question “Are we alone in the universe.” There is still a lot to learn about this species: ‘who were they?’ ‘Why did they disappear?’ ‘Why is no trace of their civilisation left on the surface?”

    AIG: There is no proof that this “technology” was creates by an advanced alien species, or is even “technology” at all.

    • Chris Mason

      Is it the Protheans? I’m guessing it was the Protheans.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Or the Vogons (if they left poetry)…

      • SOMEONE GOT THE REFERENCE!

    • Many of the ionic bond dissolving pistols look just like another species of chimpanzee.

    • It is interesting how enthusiastically they embrace their rapidly growing irrelevance.

  • Charles Weston

    Your lead photo prompted Snickers on this end.

  • I missed this announcement because I got raptured by the blood moon.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      And discovered that in Heaven all they talk about is TRUMP.

  • ashleyhr

    There’s a running commentary on the very recent and less recent antics of Ken Ham here (new post added dated 29 Sept): http://forums.bcseweb.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=2967&start=1650

  • Jake Hughes

    “This new discovery could likely answer the question as to the existence of life on other worlds!”

    “Yeah?! W-Well… you’re a doody-head!!!”

  • I find it interesting that AIG seems to be opening the door to the possibility of finding bacteria on Mars. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they staked out a theological position that God clearly did not create life anywhere besides Earth.

    • I think they’re more just hedging their bets, but for them, even admitting the possibility is pretty significant, so yeah, it is definitely interesting.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      For over 80% of the history of Earth, the only form of life was bacteria. The Rare Earth Hypothesis figures that bacterial life is common in the universe but the jump to more complex life (multicellular or maybe even eukaryote) is rare.

      I am surprised the YECers haven’t glommed onto the Rare Earth Hypothesis’ Anthrocentric corollary as proof of YEC; it would also provide them with a halfway-decent fallback position if bacterial life was found off-world.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    What I’d like to know is how the water stays liquid long enough to cut those channels in the orbiter pic. Mars’ atmo is so thin that water can’t maintain a liquid state; like CO2, it sublimes directly from solid (ice) to gas (vapor).

  • Victor Polk

    S’cuse me again. I was wondering that you think Lisle is obviously right about aliens can never exist in the real world, or maybe correct him that God could have created aliens, despite not being mentioned in the bible, in either during the six-day creation to creationists’ point of view, or in evolution in theistic and non-theistic evolutionists’, and some Creationists’ point of view? https://answersingenesis.org/astronomy/alien-life/are-ets-ufos-real/

    • Hey Victor, I don’t agree with Lisle on too many scientific things, and this is no exception. I certainly believe it’s possible that alien life, and even intelligent life, could exist elsewhere in the universe. There is absolutely no biblical reason to think otherwise.

      • Victor Polk

        I obviously do agree with Lisle and others on many occasions.

        I got you.

    • Liz

      I think the idea was literally debunked in the link you gave. If they exist, either they’re unjustly cursed for man’s sin, and/or they’re unjustly not saved because Jesus only came to save mankind, or they sinned the exact same time as us, and Jesus died twice, once for us and once for them. All of those options sound crazier than the idea that they could exist. What HAS been proven by Joseph Jordon and CE4 Research, is that every person who claims to have experienced an alien abduction, and who called on the name of Jesus during an “abduction”, was able to stop the abduction and be delivered of it. And who does the Bible tell us Jesus’ name has the power to defeat? Hopefully you can draw your own conclusion, but Joseph has some great videos on Youtube if you’re skeptical. There are foreign entities out there, and they’re not who people think they are.

      • Matthew Funke

        All of those options sound crazier than the idea that they could exist.

        That’s because all of the conclusions you present posit the truth of young-Earth creationism as a premise (specifically, that death everywhere in the universe is a part of the curse and the result of man’s sin), and the dogma of young-Earth creationism is laughably incorrect on its face.

      • Matthew Funke

        I’ll leave this here, too, with a question: How would you refute this person who insists that airplanes are really demons?

  • Mahatma Randy

    My dad was a NASA engineer back when that meant something. Apollo? he was there. Skylab? Yeah, thqt was him. I saw all the lunar missions go up with my own eyes, and I was too little to realize how unusual that was. My town (Cocoa Beach) was on TV all the time, in fact, and in fiction (I dream of Jeanie) and buildings my dad worked in turned up as stock footage in at least one episode of Star Trek. We had pancake breakfasts on the cape, and I had no idea thqt the whole world wasn’t that wonderful and magical. Then, when I was a out six or seven, the world changed,and broke, and stopped being magical, and I found out that nobody gave a crap about space, and my dad ended up selling insurance for the rest of his life (which he was very good at). Cynicism is society’s way of justifying self-obsession and the refusal to try anything. That’s all it is. It’s not even as dignified and honorqble as fear, it’s just a black, lazy mood pretending to be wisdom. To hell with it.