The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discoveryby Guillermo González, Jay W. Richards Published 1 2 2004
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Earth. The Final Frontier
Contrary to popular belief, Earth is not an insignificant blip on the universe’s radar. Our world proves anything but average in Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay W. Richards’ The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery.
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? In The Privileged Planet, you’ll learn about the world’s:
water and its miraculous makeup
protection by the planetary giants
And how our planet came into existence in the first place.
"The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery" Reviews
كتاب رائع وفريد من نوعه..
الفصول الأولى منه كانت مملة بعض الشيء نظرًا لكثرة المعلومات التي تحتاج قراءة متأنية وذهنًا صافيًا؛ كما أن الترجمة العربية بها بعض الأخطاء ولم تكن جيدة عمومًا.
“In addition, these findings cast a different light on the general narrative of discovery from Copernicus to the present. The existence of other planets, stars, galaxies, and the like is unambiguous (though limited) support for the Copernican Principle only if these are not at all relevant to our own existence. But as we’ve seen, there’s no reason to assume this. With respect to habitability, our existence depends on such local variables as a large stabilizing moon, plate tectonics, intricate biological and non-biological feedback, greenhouse effects, a carefully placed circular orbit around the right kind of star, early volatile elements-providing asteroids and comets, and outlying giant planets to protect us from frequent ongoing bombardment by comets. It depends on a Solar System placed carefully in the Galactic Habitable Zone in a large spiral galaxy formed at the right time. It presupposes the earlier explosions of supernovae to provide us with the iron that courses though our veins and the carbon that is the foundation of life. It also depends on a present rarity of such nearby supernovae. Finally, it depends on an exquisitely fine-tuned set of physical laws, parameters, and initial conditions.” ~ Summary of The Privileged Planet Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay W. Richards (Gonzalez; Richards, 271-272)
Many Christians would disagree with the Old Earth persecutive of this book, but this is a great resource on the unique habitability of Earth. A great resource on combating the Copernican Principle.
Materialism, the belief that reality consists, at bottom, of matter and energy in mindless motion, is the background philosophy of our day, at least among our cultural elites, those who, in the words of Marx, “hold the commanding heights of culture.”
Carl Sagan opened every episode of his “Cosmos” series with Materialism’s version of the Gloria Patri: “The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.” And it did not have us in mind, but is cold, pitiless, and indifferent toward our existence. As human beings we are a cosmic accident. There is nothing special about our planet, our solar system, our sun, or anything about our place in the vast stillness of the universe. Sagan calls the idea that we have some privileged position in the universe a “delusion,” and advises us to get used to the fact that “our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.”
This is what we have been told. But is it true? What’s the evidence? Carl Sagan was an astronomer. So is there evidence from astronomy that speaks, one way or the other, to the question of purpose in the cosmos? Can we tell whether or not we were intended? Is there anything special about the earth that might make us rethink the prevailing thought on these questions?
This is the subject of the book “The Privileged Planet.” And part of the answer to the question of purpose and significance that is offered has to do with whether complex life is common or rare in the universe. But this is only part of the answer. Sometimes people act as if that in itself would be enough to give the answer.
And so some people have the idea that if life is found elsewhere in the cosmos, that this somehow disproves the existence of God. The flip side of this is the thought that if we can show that life is very rare or even virtually unique to earth, that this somehow proves the existence of a Creator. Neither of these are good arguments, and they are not the arguments that the authors are making here.
In the not-too-distant past it was commonly assumed that life could thrive just about anywhere in our solar system, our galaxy, or in the universe at large. We now know that this is not the case. At the very least, life of even the simplest kind is going to require two things – carbon, for information-bearing molecules, and liquid water, as a medium for chemical reactions. Even this basic requirement greatly restricts the possibilities. Right off the bat we know that the vast majority of the universe is not going to be a likely location for life, because the vast majority of the universe is either too hot or too cold for liquid water.
Now, this kind of pessimism may seem to be contradicted by the cautious optimism we get from popular articles that suggest that we might find life as close as Jupiter’s moon Europa. What is usually not mentioned is that there is a big difference between the requirements for simple microbial life and those for complex, intelligent life like ourselves.
The authors, Jay Richards and Guillermo Gonzalez, agree with the conclusions of the book “Rare Earth,” that while relatively simple microbial life may thrive on planets throughout the universe, planets capable of sustaining complex life are exceedingly uncommon.
What they discuss is that in addition to the constraints imposed by the requirements for liquid water and carbon, complex life such as ourselves has a whole list of further requirements, things you need to make complex life possible. Some of these are a terrestrial (rocky) planet, as opposed to a gas giant. This terrestrial planet has to have plate tectonics, and it has to have a certain kind of geological activity that produces a magnetic shield so that it keeps its atmosphere.
The planet has to be the right size, and it has to have a large stabilizing moon. It has to have the right kind of star and be the right distance from it. It has to have the right kind of planetary neighbours like Jupiter and Saturn that protect it from bombardment by comets. It has to be in the right location in the galaxy, and be in the right kind of galaxy. And the list goes on.
The first part of the authors’ argument is that complex, intelligent life is going to be rare, very rare in the universe. But they are not arguing that on that basis alone one can conclude that it is the product of design, because it is not known exactly how unlikely it is that these conditions can be met all at once. The universe is a very large place, with possibly 100 billion galaxies out there, containing maybe 1 X 10 exp. 22 stars. So that’s like a big cosmic lottery, a lot of chances to get things right maybe once, even if it doesn’t happen a lot.
But that doesn’t really matter because that’s not the whole argument that they are advancing, it’s just the first part.
The second part of their argument involves this question: is there something else we could learn about this evidence, other than merely its rarity, that would suggest purpose rather than a mere cosmic lottery? What if this rare convergence of factors that we see here on earth didn’t come about as simply the result of a mere fluke or luck? What if it’s the result of some underlying purpose or design? Is there any way we could tell?
The answer to this question is the thesis of the book, and it is this: the same narrow circumstances that allow us to exist, that is, that make earth habitable, also provide us with the best overall setting for making scientific discoveries. In other words, the very rare set of conditions that allow observers like us to exist also provide the best overall set of circumstances for observing.
So, for example, we need a large moon for complex life to be possible on earth. But this large moon also makes possible total solar eclipses, which, due to the unique circumstances they create, have been the single most important source of information regarding our sun and distant stars. Total solar eclipses, the product of a large moon which we need to survive, have been essential for the opening up of the field of stellar astrophysics.
Or another example: the atmosphere that life needs to exist on the surface of a planet – an oxygen and nitrogen-rich atmosphere – also happens to be transparent to that part of the electromagnetic spectrum that’s the most informative about the universe around us. In other words, that life on the planet with a life-giving atmosphere – that life is able to see into the distant universe.
Now you might think, big deal. Well, if you were transported to any of the other planets in our solar system that have thick atmospheres, first of all, you’d be dead. And second, you wouldn’t even see the other planets. So this isn’t just something you’d assume would happen on every planet. The atmosphere that life needs allows that life to see the distant universe.
A third example is that the safest and probably the only place in our galaxy for complex life – between spiral arms, which is where we find ourselves – is also the best place for observing the universe beyond our own galaxy. More examples are given in the book, but you get the idea.
The correlation between habitability and discoverability is just the sort of pattern that ought to suggest to people “conspiracy” rather than “mere coincidence.” There’s something about the universe that can’t be simply explained by the impersonal forces of nature and atoms colliding with atoms. And so you have to reach for something beyond the universe to try to account for it.
We’ve often been told that the universe did not have us in mind, that it was not designed for beings like us. We are simply life that happened to come about on a tiny little planet surrounding a tiny insignificant star in a very large universe that was not intended.
But evidence that has emerged in the last 30 years suggests something completely different. It suggests that the universe was intended, that the universe exists for a purpose, and that this purpose isn’t simply for beings like ourselves to exist, but for us to extend ourselves beyond our small home, to view the universe at large, to discover the universe, and in fact, perhaps, to consider whether the universe points beyond itself.
To be honest, I don't think I understood half of what Dr. Gonzalez wrote. I borrowed the book for two reasons. The first was to find information that I could use in world-building as a writer. The second was to educate myself about evidence that our universe is not a muddle of random chance and coincidence. I ended up buying a copy of the book, and once it arrives, I'll have to reread it with two or three highlighters. One for world-building information, one for ID information, and one for miscellaneous information if I find any. For the world building part, the first half of the book is useful.
The author read the book Rare Earth and then set out to make the claim that all the specifications needed for intelligent life to form are even more uncommon than that books hypothesis. The author then for some reason makes the illogical jump to the watchmaker argument in which we were intelligently designed, specifically by the Christian god lmfao.