For materialists, the origin of life and the evolution of complex, even intelligent creatures needs to be a sure thing, or close to it, given a suitable planetary environment.
All is celebration until it sinks in that with every discovery of a seemingly near-Earth-like planet, evolutionism comes a step closer to a put-up-or-shut-up moment. Unguided evolution must be baked into the cake, not only on Earth but anywhere like Earth. It must be something blind forces accomplish readily. If it could ever be known that only one planet in the cosmos was graced with biology, that would pose an insurmountable difficulty for Darwinists.
Life could be common, or life could be rare; we really don’t know. What we do know is that most or (probably) all life on Earth descended from a common ancestor, and we have no reason to suppose that it originated from anything other than natural processes. Finding an independent origin of life would be great, not because it would have any bearing on the validity of evolutionary theory but because it would tell us a great deal about how much of the history of life on Earth was inevitable and how much contingent. But Klinghoffer thinks rare life is “an insurmountable difficulty for Darwinists” and thus evidence of intelligent design. Except when he doesn’t:
…if so far all the data point toward life not spontaneously assembling, powered by the mere warming rays of our sun or another star, then if it were to turn out that the galaxy really does brim with life, wouldn’t that at least be highly suggestive of some intelligence, some designer, having seeded it there?
Of course if life exists on our planet alone, that’s also a problem for materialists. Sometimes it puzzles me that they keep pushing the notion of a widely inhabited cosmos. Whether the idea is true or not, it seems to be, for them, a lose-lose proposition while being for us a win-win.
These win-wins seem to happen a lot for intelligent design! As I said previously:
…if multicellularity is really complicated, that’s evidence for intelligent design. But if multicellularity is really simple, that’s evidence for intelligent design.
If the human and chimp genomes are very different, that’s evidence for intelligent design. But if the human and chimp genomes are very similar, that’s evidence for intelligent design.
Now we can add another example: If life is common, that’s evidence for intelligent design. But if life is rare, that’s evidence for intelligent design. Everything is evidence of your theory when you haven’t internalized the concept of falsifiability. It’s heads I win, tails you lose all over again (and maybe evidence that I should vary my writing style more).