The Privileged Planet

I recently watched a one-hour DVD entitled, “The Privileged Planet,” which is based upon the book of the same title. While some of the musical scores seemed a bit outdated, such as the over-dramatic, synthesized Introduction, I found it to be a very interesting and compelling answer to the Atheists’ “scientific” claim that there is nothing special about the Earth, or the existence of life on Earth, and therefore there is no purpose or design to being human. We are just adrift in an indifferent universe.

“The Privileged Planet” will definitely give you some reasons to believe otherwise. There are 12 chapters to the DVD, and you can watch all 12 of them on YouTube. I’m not going to attempt to summarize the material here, but I do encourage you to watch it for yourself (especially if you’re at all being swayed by the philosophical-disguised-as-scientific claims mentioned above).

Chapters 7 begins to explore this thesis–
“The same narrow circumstances that allow us to exist also provide us with the best overall setting for making scientific discoveries.”

The basic idea is that not only is the Earth so fine-tuned in its distance from the Sun, its chemical makeup, its gravity, its tilt on its axis, its size, its atmosphere, its place in our galaxy, etc., but it is also uniquely positioned to provide the best opportunity for intelligent beings to observe and make significant scientific discoveries about the universe. In other words, what makes the Earth so off-the-just-by-chance-charts unique for life to exist also happens to make the Earth so off-the-just-by-chance-charts unique for human beings to explore their universe.

One example that particularly interested me was the uniqueness of the Earth’s Moon. In particular, there is the phenomenon of the perfect total solar eclipse (when the Moon passes perfectly in front of the Sun to perfectly block its blinding light while still allowing us to observe its rays around its circumference). To have a solar eclipse, you have to have the Sun and the Moon and the Earth line up perfectly. But to have a total solar eclipse, you have to have the Moon not only line up perfectly with the Sun in relation to the Earth, but the distance and size of the Moon in relation to the Earth has to be in perfect correlation to the distance and size of the Sun. And it just so happens that the Sun is 400 times bigger than the Moon AND it also just so happens to be 400 times further away from the Earth than the Moon! Thus causing the Moon to be a disk that perfectly covers the Sun during a total eclipse. Weird, isn’t it?

Thus, it just so happens to allow us to observe a part of the Sun that’s critical to our understanding of the universe. It allows us to measure the constituents of the upper layer of the Sun’s atmosphere (and the Sun is our closest star, so we’re able to understand the stars in the universe by studying our Sun). Only a perfect total solar eclipse allows us to do that. The body of the Moon shields the Sun’s blinding lights, while still allowing us to study the circumference of its atmosphere.

Many of our most important scientific discoveries in the last century and a half are solely due to the fact that we get to observe these total solar eclipses. Our Moon is the perfect size and distance from the Earth, and our Sun is the perfect size and distance from the Earth, so that the Moon perfectly covers the Sun’s light while perfectly allowing the Sun’s chromospheres to be studied. Any degree of bigger or smaller or farther or closer would make these discoveries impossible!

I think that’s interesting. And you can watch this and many other interesting facts along these lines on YouTube here.

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