We respect the march of science here. While spiritual beliefs are deeply held, personal choices, facts are far less flexible and scientists are, by definition, the gatekeepers of what constitutes scientific fact. The scientific method has taken us from dying young, starving, cold and miserable in the wilderness to landing men on the Moon, wiping out entire diseases and developing the Internet. While our scientific understanding is imperfect, judicious and responsible application of the scientific method progresses society further than policies based in ancient theology.
New discoveries are being made all the time, many in direct violation of traditional Armstrongist teachings, along with fundamentalist Christianity in general.
Most recently, sensationalist headlines lit up social media this week when living microbes were discovered in space. Of course, this is old news. We already know extremophiles like tardigrades can survive in the vacuum of space, but this highlighted the phenomenon as being far from an isolated one.
A type of ocean surface-dwelling plankton was supposedly found on the outside of the ISS. While the lifeform is certainly terrestrial in origin, it’s still unclear how it got there. It should be noted NASA has not confirmed the findings of the Russian Cosmonauts, but with Russia/U.S. relations being what they are right now, communication is likely suffering overall.
This reported discovered fuels speculation that life could have traveled to Earth from space — an idea called Panspermia. Regardless of wider implications space-dwelling microbes might have on scientific understanding, its immediate impact on COG members is as follows:
1. If God created everything “as is” in seven days — as the COG has traditionally maintained — and nothing is supposed to live beyond Earth until after the Millennium, why did God create microbes that can survive such harsh, extraplanetary elements? If the Earth is to be burned up and life renewed on other worlds by “the elect” COG members who have achieved godhood, what’s the point of space microbes?
2. If God created life to be super durable like that, so that various lifeforms can take lots of punishment and keep ticking, then why not institute a process by which such adaptions are applied to populations of organisms to insure life’s survival in the face of harsh, ever-changing environments? You know, like evolution via natural selection? It would make more sense, in light of space microbes existing, to create a creation that keeps on creating instead of one stagnant creative dump of a set number of species (or “kinds” as fundies prefer).
3. Again, God specifically created those microbes to survive in space, the point is elusive, especially if Earth was made to be a perfect place for mankind to live from the outset. Such awful conditions shouldn’t exist on a planet specifically tailored to be ideal for life, this super-duper special world harboring God’s only children.
Of course, all of those questions are from the COG’s perspective and each assumes intelligent design (a huge assumption, from a scientific point of view). And as usual, the COG paints itself into these logical corners by clinging to an extremely outdated understanding of science and a literalist interpretation of scripture. Garner Ted Armstrong’s absurd booklets bashing evolutionary are even funnier today than they were back then as understanding of biology and its origins expands by leaps and bounds.
The truth is, these little discoveries are just tiny splinters of the problems established science holds for creationist fundies. We are going to conquer our solar system. We are going to find life beyond Earth, whether on an alien planet or just floating out in the void. At that point, religious fundamentalists across the world have even more explaining to do to their adherents – and frankly the rest of us as they try to pollute the public’s understanding of science.