The Privileged Planet

PrivilegedPlanetSuggested by John Lennox • Contrary to popular belief, Earth is not an insignificant blip on the universe’s radar. Our world proves anything but average. But what exactly does Earth bring to the table? How does it prove its worth among numerous planets and constellations in the vastness of the Milky Way?
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9 Responses to The Privileged Planet

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Here’s another book recommendation that I’ve mined from John Lennox’s “God’s Undertaker.” There doesn’t seem to be a Kindle version of this yet though.

  2. David Ray says:

    I actually have this DVD already, so Mr. Lennox didn’t cost me any money this time. I knew it was worth purchasing when so many ignorant atheists were slamming it. (It does nothing to promote “God”, whatsoever.)

    Also, it has some interesting bonus material in the end.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I may rent the DVD tonight and report back.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      David, I rented this video last night from Amazon. Generally speaking, I liked it. But I think it made a whole lot of assumptions. It’s difficult to know what is remarkable and unique when we have only ourselves and the earth to compare. But certainly the Copernican Dogma that “man and earth is not important” is certainly counteracted by this video. It establishes the reverse as the default premise.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Actually, I’m not sure that has anything to do with Copernicus. His system placed the Sun at the center of the solar system rather than the Earth (though it didn’t work any better than the Ptolemaic geocentric system until Kepler worked out that the orbits were elliptical rather than circular), but it did accept the notion that our solar system seemed to be at the center of the universe.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Watch the video. It explains it. Whether it was Copernicus’ own opinion or not, there soon became an opinion that came out of the Copernican system that survived to today. It’s the opinion you hear that says that we humans are nothing special, the earth is nothing special, etc., etc. It represents the new Religion of Leftism whereby man gains absolution by lowering himself (lowering Western Civilization, of course) and raising the barbarians — any barbarians — over his hard-won civilization.

          And we see the result of that: Islam is ascendent in Europe because of stupid white liberal attitudes among the intelligentsia of Europe. That attitude said that white Christian Europeans needed to be taught a lesson. And anyone who automatically gets the warm-fuzzies about foreign cultures (while despising their own) is a programmed useful idiot for these Marxists.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    One thing I will say is that surely the book goes into far more detail than the video. Perhaps some of my following thoughts are addressed in the book.

    Language is very important regarding these subjects. It can enlighten or subtly obscure. And obscurity can simply be an honest mistake such as representing a minor unjustified leap in reasoning or logic.

    In the video of “The Privileged Planet,” it mentions a book, Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe. Offhand, the name “Rare Earth” seems like a better descriptor of this video than “The Privileged Planet.

    I think the video did indeed make a solid case that the Earth is uncommon. But is it “privileged”? That’s more of a teleological observation. But we can at the very least say that it is rare.

    But I found the general argument regarding “privilege” veered into the kind of pseudo-science typical of SETI. SETI (the search for extraterrestrial intelligence) advocates typically mention the Drake Equation. The Drake Equation was postulated by Frank Drake. The long and the short of it is that if you plug in enough numbers based on seemingly common-sense numbers, life should be absolutely teeming in our galaxy and in the universe (although SETI has found no evidence of that intelligent life).

    But the cascade of assumptions in the Drake Equation are so open to other values and interpretations that the equation itself, although interesting as a sort of bar-talk topic of conversation, is near worthless in regards to science. It’s a formula of wishful thinking. And so it seemed to me were the odds stated in “The Privileged Planet” for why the Earth was so unique.

    Granted, many of the factors listed (such as being in the rare zone where water remains liquid) seem reasonable enough. But does a planet really have to have a moon like ours? I found that argument less convincing. But, in truth, they didn’t provide much of an argument in the video so I assume they go into greater detail on this in the book.

    But we need to get back to basics in order to understand what “privileged” means. If life simply evolves without the guiding hand of a designer, then Earth could indeed be the kind of rare planet that is needed for complex life such as ourselves. But if life can be designed, that would seem to open up the options for where complex creatures could be built. After all, if we looked at our own planet, we might offhand say that the only place that it seems reasonable to build a house for people to live in is somewhere in a temperate region where it’s not too hot or not too cold. But we humans are intelligent designers (architects) and can live quite comfortably even in desert or arctic conditions.

    Again, although I would agree the the Earth at the very least seems to be rare, I thought this program was making a whole lot of Drake-Equation-like assumptions. And the entire matter makes a difference as to whether life evolves undirected or is designed. If the latter, who are we to say what is possible? Just look at how life on our own planet can exist in the sub-zero arctic in desert-like (in regards to the lack of water) conditions. We see this with the lichens that can live just below the semi-transparent surface of rocks in Antarctica. And although the video did note that simple life might be quite ubiquitous in the universe and that more advanced life such as ourselves required more “privileged” conditions, I think without a larger sample than just Earth, it’s difficult to say definitively what is required for complex life. If, say, we were living now on a large habitable moon that orbited a vast, gaseous, Jupiter-like planet, we might reasonable expect intelligent video makers and book writers to assume that complex life required a large moon orbiting a giant gas planet.

    And given the truly gargantuan size of not just our galaxy, but of the universe, “rare” could be a relative thing. We just don’t know. We have such a small sample. We’ve barely been able to glimpse a few Jupiter-like planets around other stars.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      One thing to remember is that rare can be a relative term in a galaxy of billions of star systems. If one in a million has intelligent life, that would still be many thousands — rare in one way, common in another. (But probably very rare within reasonable reach of Earth, anyway.)

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        One thing to remember is that rare can be a relative term in a galaxy of billions of star systems.

        My thought as well, although I would grant that even if it turned out that there were ten thousand earth-like planets in our galaxy, it’s likely that there are several trillion that are not, thus “rare” would still be a logical term.

        And if teleology is involved, then it’s impossible to say if earth is “rare” any more than, say, the Mona Lisa is “rare.” If the earth was hand-crafted, it just is what it is. If, on the other hand, life somehow self-generated using whatever existing planets evolved via natural processes, then “rare” in regards to earth seems to make more sense.

        Of course, it’s also possible that the earth evolved via natural processes and then some “designer” populated it with hand-crafted life forms after he had surveyed the landscape to see which planets were suitable.

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