Thursday, July 12, 2007


Extra-Solar Planet with Water Found: Intelligent Design Theory Makes Another Verified Scientific Predicition

Listening to BBC Radio 4 this morning I hear the announcement that scientists had found an extra-solar planet with water. I immediately thought two things.

The first was that this announcement would be followed by the simplistic suggestion that this discovery make the odds of finding extra-terrestiral life better than before (water being a necessary but not sufficient pre-condition of life).

The second was a prediction grounded in a 'rare earth' subset of intelligent design theory, to wit, that this water (a necessary condition of life) would have been discovered on a planet lacking some other necessary condition of life - i.e. that the planet with this water would be in some way an unsuitable abode for life, at least for complex and/or intelligent life.

So what happened to my predictions? I was pleasantly surprised to find that my first prediction was falsified. I was not surprised to find my second prediction verified - and verified so spectacularly as to explain why my first prediction was fasified. Consider the following news report from Science Daily (I've italicised the verification of my ID prediction):

'PARIS, July 11 (UPI) -- The European Space Agency announced Wednesday the first conclusive evidence of the presence of water vapor in the atmosphere of an extra-solar planet.
The discovery was made by analyzing the transit of the gas giant HD 189733b across its star in the infrared. Giovanna Tinetti, an ESA fellow at the Paris Institute of Astrophysics, and colleagues used data from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Spitzer Space Telescope to target planet HD 189733b, discovered in 2005, 63 light-years distant in the constellation Vulpecula. Analyzing the planet's atmosphere as it transited in front of its star, the astronomers, among other things, determined it absorbed less infrared radiation at 3.6 micrometers than at other wavelengths. "Water is the only molecule that can explain that behavior," said Tinetti. The scientists cautioned the presence of water vapor doesn't necessarily make a planet a good candidate for life. HD 189733b is located 2.7 million miles from its star. In comparison, Earth is 93 million miles from the sun. Also, HD 189733b's atmospheric temperature is about 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. The findings are reported in the journal Nature.' (

As ID led me to predict, HD 189733b is far from being another Earth: it is a gas giant, orbiting much closer to its sun, with a higher atmospheric temp - and some water vapour. Chalk up yet another verified scientific prediction for the Rare Earth sub-set of Intelligent Design Theory!

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