Watery Exoplanet?

Astronomers are always scanning the skies for new discoveries, or new information about known heavenly bodies.  One recent discovery made by researchers working out of the University of Montreal made a very interesting claim.  The researcher claimed that they had detected liquid water and an atmosphere on a planet named  K2-18b.  What did they actually find and why does it matter? Let’s find out.

According to the article, exoplanet  K2-18b is about nine times the size of the earth. While it is much closer to the star that provides it light, the star is also smaller so  K2-18b is not burned up by the heat from the star.  The system containing  K2-18b is one hundred and eleven light-years away from earth.  Discovered back in 2015 by the Kepler telescope,  K2-18b rotates its star every 33 days, which has led researchers to conclude it is probably tidally locked to its star.  What this means is, unlike the earth, it does not ever expose both sides of the planet to its star. Instead, only one face of the planet ever sees the star. It’s average temperature is estimated to be between eight and twenty-six degrees Fahrenheit but given the planet is likely tidally locked, there are likely places on the planet where the temperature is both much higher and much lower.

This recent research was based on data from three separate telescopes.  The researchers used the transmission of light into  K2-18b’s atmosphere to determine that the atmosphere is mostly hydrogen and helium with a statistical probability of water of over 99%. This all sounds like great news, particularly if you are an astrobiologist, as that field is the only field in science that operates entirely without evidence.  The way it is presented in the media, this find is evidence for life on other planets.

However, the astronomers themselves beg to differ. Due to the thick, heavy atmosphere of  K2-18b, scientists believe that life could not survive on the surface of the planet.  The tidal locking does not help as it makes certain half the planet is in total darkness at all times, while the other half gets the limited heat from the star. The average temperature of below freezing is also a problem as most life would struggle to survive in these conditions.

However, this all assumes two things, both of which are crucial. The first assumption is that life could come from non-life somehow.  This is an implicit assumption of any secular evolutionary idea and these researchers, being evolutionists, assumed that this happened in the past and could have happened on this exoplanet, despite a complete lack of evidence that it ever happened on earth. However, this is consistent with the evolutionary worldview which predicts that life will be found on other planets since, after all, life evolved here so it should have elsewhere as well.

The other major assumption is that there will be liquid water on K2-18b. However, given the cold temperatures, it seems unlikely. Also, liquid water was not observed. Instead, it was a product of the climate models that these scientists used for this planet. Since we’ve never been there and are unlikely to go any time in the near future, these models are incredibly sketchy at best, and completely wrong at worst.  None of the theories of planet formation proposed by the secularists work, and all of them contradict one another. Therefore, claiming liquid water exists on this planet seems an incredible stretch given the available data.

By contrast, the Biblical creationist can marvel at exoplanet K2-18b as a wonder of God’s created sky.  We have no objection to the existence of exoplanets, or even finding liquid water on one such planet, though this one does not seem likely given the available evidence.  However, we do not expect life on those planets, much less intelligent life.  Were there to be so, these individuals could not be saved since the Bible says that Christ died for the sins of mankind and that He died once for all. That means that the one death was sufficient for all men who could be saved. Aliens, extraterrestrials or whatever would not be eligible for God’s gift of salvation.  This makes the existence of aliens very unlikely. That is not to say these exoplanets are useless. On the contrary, they serve as lasting reminders of the greatness of a God who made the heavenly bodies nearly as an afterthought in Genesis 1.



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