Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Does finding another Earth get more or less likely by the week?

'Finding an Earth-like planet gets more likely by the week', asserts New Scientist (21 June 2008, p. 7). Why think that? Well: 'Three more alien worlds - ranging from 4 to 9 times Earth's mass - have been found in tight orbits around their host stars by Michael Mayor of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland and colleagues, as part of the HARPS survey.' The odd thing about this little paragraph (in the '60 Seconds' column) is that the latter statement, far from supporting the former, actually undermines it!

The fact that we have discovered yet more extra-solar planets, and have found that they (like all the others discovered thus far) are unlike Earth, actually supplies an even larger data set of non-Earth-like planets, a data set that therefore supports an even stronger inference to the (falsifiable) conclusion that Earth is a unique - or at least very rare - type of planet!

If an average measure of the parameters of the set of planets we had discovered were gradually converging upon the parameters exhibited by the Earth, then one would have some grounds for saying with New Scientist that
'Finding an Earth-like planet gets more likely by the week'. However, this doesn't appear to be the case. These latest discoveries, for example, are not just a little different from Earth (they are not even as 'alike' to the Earth as is Mars!), they are very un-Earth-like. The fact that we have discovered three more planets that are very unlike the Earth (they are both 4 to 9 times more massive that Earth, and orbit more closely to their stars than does the Earth) actually goes to support the conclusion that Earth is a very unusual type of planet, and thereby the statement that finding an Earth-like planet gets less likely by the week!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Peter S. Williams on Angelology

Collecting together my on-line writings in angelology:

Peter S. Williams vs. Steven Carr, ‘Do Angels such as Gabriel, Michael and Satan exist?'

Peter S. Williams, ‘Demons, Levitation and a priori Scepticism’

Peter S. Williams, ‘Angelology & Biblical Scepticism’

Peter S. Williams, ‘New Testament Criticism and Jesus the Exorcist’

And my book on angelology:

Peter S. Williams, The Case for Angels, (Paternoster, 2002)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Accurate Secular Summary of ID Theory in new A Level Textbook

A paragraph on Intelligent Design Theory from the new A-Level textbook 'AQA Religious Studies: Philosophy of Religion' (Nelson Thornes, 2008) by Anne Jordan, Neil Lockyer and Edwin Tate:

'Intelligent design is the claim that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Not all those who accept this theory would specify the nature of identity of the designer as God. Although they do not state that God is the designer, the designer is often implicitly hypothesized to have intervened in a way that only a god could intervene, and the principle advocates of the theory are Christian.' (p. 104)

At last, if one pays attention to the qualifying terms (e.g. 'often', 'principle'), an accurate representation of ID theory in a secular educational source! Let joy be unconfined.

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