Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Creationist take on TRAPPIST-1

As we are all probably aware of by now, a new solar system has been recently discovered, TRAPPIST-1, which appears to be much like our own solar system and bears the possibility of possessing life. In my endeavors for finding a bogus science news site, I came across a strongly opinionated article on the Institute for Creation Research website.  This article claims that there is no possible way for life to be found on TRAPPIST-1.  While there is not yet proof that there is in fact life on TRAPPIST-1, it is valid for the author of this article, Frank Sherwin, to make his claims. However, several parts of the article are very clearly from the creationist point of view which invalidates this as a scientifically backed article.

In the the debate about whether or not life can be found in this new solar system, Sherwin states, "but this wholly unwarranted extrapolation lies far beyond the known facts.” He then goes on to explain how just because a planet is in the right position to house water, it does not mean there definitely is water present.  And if there is water, it does not guarantee life is there as well (I should mention that this part of the article is very poorly written, probably high school level writing skills). He makes the claim that living cells are not brought about by the random and spontaneous formation of molecules. Sherwin believes the only way for life to be generated is by “purpose, plan, and special creation.” We are aware spontaneous generation is not a valid hypothesis, but who’s to say something like a Big Bang didn’t occur in this solar system to start the evolution of life just like here on Earth?

The next claim he makes is that there have been numerous accounts of planets orbiting stars other than our sun which could have accommodated life but failed to because of the many requirements that must be met.  These requirements include: moons to stabilize the planet on a particular axis and cause tides to mix water in the correct way, the correct radius length and rotational speed about their sun, and a magnetic field for protection from the sun.

Sherwin points out the uncertainty and safeties scientists are using to back their claims in case they are wrong.  Things like the use of language certified scientists use in their articles like “believed”, “hope,” and “possible.” He also mentions that scientists have stated that if life is not present, it is possible it could evolve within the next few billions years.

All in all, Sherwin provides very little scientific evidence to back his own assertions.  He more often slams the claims made by actual NASA scientists. He ends this article with a very bold statement about how unimportant and ordinary this scientific discovery is and how Creationists still have other worldly places to discover which God has created for them.  Sherwin very openly states that God is the creator of all life, so really it is not possible to back this either scientifically nor in any other valid way other than through faith and religion.


Posted by Taylor Irwin (Group B, week 5)


  1. It is surprising how much he knows about science and the possibility of life on other planets, but then can still say this discovery is because of "special creation". For example, he knows that the spontaneous formation of molecules is not a likely hypothesis for life, but posing God as an answer instead is just not scientifically accurate.

    Posted by Sierra Tyrol

    1. I agree, it seems somewhat contradicting that he knows so much about the possibility of life on other planets and yet insists they are the creation of God. His claims about the possibility on other planets is valid, however, he is insisting that there is absolutely no chance for life on TRAPPIST-1 when he really doesn't know all the facts. It is entirely possible that one or several of the TRAPPIST-1 planets do have the conditions to harbor life but we just don't know yet.

      Posted by Taylor Irwin

  2. In my opinion I believe that the author is being completely bias to his own opinion. Does even have any evidence for his claims? I wonder if he did any research or even have a background in astronomy ! This discovery is so recent in the science world so by him posting inaccurate information is completely unprofessional. I think we should stick with listening to NASA scientists when it comes to this topic!

    Posted by Angela Driscoll (group A)

    1. Sherwin really is disregarding all other possibilities other than his own opinion which is not what a good scientist should do. He seems to have some basic knowledge on the subject but it is certainly not sufficient to be writing such an article on it. I'm sure articles like these infuriate NASA scientists who have worked so hard to make this discovery because this article may lead a reader to possibly disregard this finding and the idea of life in a foreign solar system. I would hope that the people reading this article will take note of his poor writing skills and invalid claims about creationism.

      Posted by Taylor Irwin

  3. I wonder what made the author pick those particular reasons to be the reasons why there can't be life on certain planets (radius length, etc). The other red flag when reading this was that the author said that God created other planets for us, which totally goes against the evolutionary perspective of how life started. I do think that we have a lot more exploring to do in outer space, but I think it's safe to say that God wasn't the reason for this! Thanks for the post!

    Posted by: Kate Masterson (Group C)

  4. I agree with your response above to Sierra. I feel like everything Sherwin was saying was contradicting itself. He started talking about reasons as to how life could possibly be created, and it's stuff that sounds pretty legitimate in general to me if you know your basic science. He does seem to have some background info of the topic, and does question life existing on those planets. But he cannot 100% conclude that it is not possible, because well, yeah. He doesn't know for a fact either. And then he brought religion in, which I feel like is usually never valid for scientific topics...those are just more of an individuals beliefs that you can't toss at everyone else around you if they don't share religious grounds. Science has proven many things, so I wouldn't compare it to religion.

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