|Evolution in the News - April 1998|
The cover of the May 4, 1998, issue of Newsweek says, "Scientists Discover New Solar Systems and rethink the Odds of Life Beyond Earth" Of course, if you read the article you will find that scientists haven't really discovered a new solar system. But people who just see the Newsweek cover and don't buy the magazine probably think that a new solar system has been discovered. According to Newsweek,
For the first time since man began looking to the heavens for hints of our past and future, sky watchers had spied a planetary construction zone, a disc of dust condensing into solid little spheres in exactly the process that apparently formed Earth and the other planets of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago. "We have caught this disc in the act!" said Jayawardhana after his team announced the discovery last week. "We've never done that before. It suggests the formation of planetary systems is pretty common."1
If you have a star that's not too old and not too young, not too big and not too small, not too hot and not too cold, then it is practically inevitable that planets form around such a Goldilocks star.2
But the disc is shaped more lake a bagel than a pancake. It's the invisible stuff-the hole-that got everyone excited. they believe that planets are forming, or may have already formed, in the dark, seemingly empty region. "The reason for the hole could be that the gravity of one or more inner planets has [pulled] out the leftover dust."3
The fact that there doesn't appear to be anything there is used as evidence that there are planets there. This reminds us of the evolutionists' argument that the lack of fossils showing the gradual evolution of species is evidence that evolution happened quickly.
Using the same argument one could claim that we have caught moons being formed in the act just because we've seen a ring around Saturn. The hole between the ring and Saturn could be there because moons are forming right now in the hole. In fact, there is no more reason to believe the ring around Saturn is turning into moons than there is to believe that Saturn's moons collided, causing a ring of dust and debris. The blur that appears to be dust around HR 4796A might just be dust that never was, and never will be, a planetary system.
We believe there are planets around other stars, but none have been discovered yet. We object to controversial speculation about the cause for oscillating Doppler shifts, or holes in dust clouds, being presented as proof of the existence of planets. We appreciate Newsweek's need to sell more magazines, but that doesn't justify presenting speculation as fact.
Sensational announcements of discoveries of planets encouraging people to "rethink the odds of life beyond Earth" are misleading. If people are told enough times that planets have been found, and that they probably have life on them, many people will believe scientists have found life on other planets, even though there is no valid scientific evidence to support it. Many people already believe that species evolved into other species for the same reason. Don't be fooled. Read the articles about such discoveries carefully.
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Newsweek, May 4, 1998,
"How Planets are Born" page 57
3 Ibid. page 58