Saturday, August 2, 2008

Do intelligent design theorists have any predictions about finding life on other planets?

Reader Randy writes me to say,
Given the hooplah over ice being found on Mars, Titan and other places, I wonder if any of the ID guys have come out with predictions that we will not find ancient lifeforms trapped there? Expelled and other venues make much hay out of the odds for randomly chaining amino acids into enzymes and then proteins, and "The Privileged Planet" for the seemingly unique position Earth is in for having life. If those numbers are anything like accurate it would seem absolutely safe money to bet that the next planet over never managed hitting that jackpot. So is anyone using ID to make just that prediction?

One could easily postulate a designer who liked creating life on many planets and thus get around this if extinct life is found on one or both or many planets or moons, but then what is the point in making such a fuss about the odds, if the designer routinely flaunts them?
I offered to start a discussion on it at Uncommon Descent (and will), but replied on my own account:
Strictly speaking, I don't know that ID predicts that life cannot be found elsewhere than on Earth. For all we know, life actually got started on Mars and came to Earth.

ID would predict that random chaining of molecules will not produce life for the same reason that scattering Scrabble pieces will not produce a novel. In both cases, design is required to arrive at a specific target.

That said, a designer might very well produce life on different planets for the same reasons as a novelist might write different novels.

But we usually find that works by a given novelist in a specific genre have key similarities. William Faulkner's novels are easily distinguishable from those of Ernest Hemingway.

So an ID theorist would probably expect to see that life on other planets shares many characteristics with life on Earth - that is, there will be a similarity of themes and styles (assuming there is only one intelligence involved, but most theists will assume that of course).
See also:

So what if fossil bacteria are found on Mars? Polls show many Americans expect Star Trek!

Water? On the moon? And what else?

Water inferred on Mars
Note: The image of ice on Mars is from NASA.