|Epic Idiot - Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design|
|Home Table of Contents Creation and Evolution Humor Mission Statement Contact|
The Privileged Planet video (and its companion book) explores the Finely-Tuned idea that since the Earth is configured exactly as needed for life, then it must have had a creator. What makes it stand out from other Finely-Tuned theories, is that it also explores the idea that the Earth is uniquely configured and located to make cosmological observation and discovery possible. As if a creator wanted us to be able to explore the Universe around us.This is a very professional-looking and well-produced video.
See Rebuttal >>>
The video starts with images from the Voyager 1 probe, including one of Earth from 4 billion miles away. Then we are told that in 1543 that Copernicus ignited a revolution with his view that the Earth orbited the Sun and how this started the "Principle of Mediocrity." That the Earth is not special, but simply one of billions of planets.
The Privileged Planet lists many aspects of Earth that make it just right for life as we know it and therefore a special planet.
Privileged Planet also lists many aspects of Earth that make it just right for viewing and making discoveries about the Universe.
Privileged Planet follows a commonly-used theme that states since the Earth fits us so perfectly, it must have been created for us. The essay 13 Cards shows the fallacy of this idea.
Note: You should read 13 Cards in order to understand the rest of this review.
Privileged Planet assumes that "life as we know it" is the only form of life possible. If that were true, then its other assumptions would be true. However, this is not likely to be the case. Our own Earth shows life's tremendous diversity and ability to thrive in what we as humans would consider very hostile environments.
Is the Earth's temperature just right for life? While it is true that there is a range in which life can form. For example it can't be so cold that chemical reactions can't occur, or so hot that atoms can't stay together. But the range is much wider than that implied by Privileged Planet. Even here on Earth, life is found in the freezing temperatures of the polar ice caps and in extreme underwater temperatures of 235º F . If our planet were hotter (or colder), then Privileged Planet would still be making the same type of claim, just with a different temperature range. The Earth's temperature fits us so perfectly because that's the temperature we evolved into. The assertion that the temperature is just right is simply not true.
Is the Earth just the right distance from the sun for liquid water to Exist? Liquid water can be found on celestial objects of extreme distances from their sun. Case in point, liquid water has been found on Saturn's moon Enceladus. Photos by the Galileo spacecraft show evidence of an ocean of liquid water beneath the ice on Jupiter's moon Europa. NASA has also found evidence of liquid water on Jupiter's moon Callisto. Celestial objects can be heated by a variety of means, such as nuclear reactions in the core and tidal friction. An object's precise distance from its sun is not the only factor that determines whether or not it will have liquid water as implied by The Privileged Planet. The contention that a celestial object must be just the right distance from its sun so that liquid water can exist is simply false.
Are the seasons necessary for life? While the seasons certainly provide a nice change of pace to look forward to, there's no reason to assume that life couldn't exist without them. Again the Earth itself provides examples of this. Tropical areas have nearly constant year round temperatures and yet life thrives there. Are we really expected to believe that life would cease if the temperature was 80º F year round?
Is oxygen needed for life? Life on this planet seems able to adapt to a variety of atmospheres, contrary to the contention of the Privileged Planet. Under the ocean is a greatly different atmosphere than on dry land. Plants use carbon dioxide, animals use oxygen.
It seems obvious that life adapts to whatever level of oxygen is available and isn't all that picky. The claim by The Privileged Planet that the atmosphere is just right for life is clearly false.
The contention that the atmosphere lets in just the right type of light while blocking harmful light such as UV and gamma rays is true for humans, but not true for life in general. Not only is this particular "narrow range" of light not necessary for life, but light is not actually needed at all. Bacteria has been found that uses toxic hydrogen sulfide in the same way that plants use light for photosynthesis. If our atmosphere didn't block UV rays, then organic life would simply need some sort of UV blocker for an outer coating. The fact that the available light is just right, is simply because that was the light that was available and therefore was the light that was adapted to. Simple as that. If our atmosphere let in large amounts of UV light, then Privileged Planet would be making the claim, "our atmosphere lets in just the right amount of UV light to support life . . . What a privileged planet we live on!"
Privileged Planet states that the outer planets are large enough to shield the Earth from comets. If you see the Solar System drawn to scale it becomes obvious just how absurd this claim is. While it is true that Jupiter's immense gravity may occasionally draw comets away from Earth, it also pulls asteroids towards Earth increasing the possibility of an asteroid strike*. In either case, the effect is minimal due to Jupiter's distance from Earth. Imagine the solar system drawn at 1:9,000,000 scale. Jupiter, the largest planet, would be only 52.5 feet in diameter and 56 miles away. How much do you suppose it actually blocks? If missiles were being fired at you from all directions, would a shield the size of house 56 miles away block very much?
The assertion that life no larger than a pea could exist if gravity were slighter larger is simply not true. This asserts that the pressures from a higher gravity would limit the size of life. The pressures at 5,000 feet under water are tremendously greater than our gravity, yet large life forms exist there.
The video mentioned Copernicus igniting a revolution with his belief that the Earth revolved around the Sun, yet they didn't mention that he had to leave Rome to avoid persecution from the Creationists of his day. He waited until he was near death to publish his work. Some claim that this is not true, and the Church encouraged his work. However, 70 years after Copernicus published his work, Galileo was threatened with torture and spent his last days under house arrest for teaching the Copernican system. Copernicus' book wasn't removed from the Vatican's banned list until 1835. If he wasn't afraid, he should have been.
It is an amazing coincidence that the Earth is 400 times larger than the Moon and also 400 times further away, thus giving them the appearance of having the same size. However, this is not as important for discovery as Privileged Planet would have you believe. For example:
The eclipse did indeed allow for the verification of Einstein's theory that gravity bends light. But the size ratios of the Sun and Moon were not necessary for this discovery to be made. In fact, they actually presented a problem for the scientists. The closeness in apparent size allowed too much coronal light, thereby making the experiment more difficult. Contrary to what Privileged Planet states, the experiment would have been much easier if the Moon were larger and blocked the Sun entirely. The "privileged" sizes of the Sun and Moon are NOT the best sizes for this discovery as claimed. In fact, in this case their "privileged" sizes were a hindrance.
The video makes much of how the "privileged" sizes of the Sun and Moon enabled the discovery helium in 1870. But, it didn't quite get the facts right. Although Pierre-Jules-César Janssen obtained the first evidence for helium during the eclipse of August 18, 1868 (not 1870), the actual discovery of helium was made Sir Norman Lockyer on October 20, 1869 (also not 1870 and not on the day of a solar eclipse) using his spectroscope (a device for studying solar coronas during NON-eclipses). Later, in 1870 he suggested that he had found an unknown element. This was confirmed in 1885 by William Ramsay while examining minerals here on Earth. The discovery of helium did not require a solar eclipse, much less the "privileged" sizes of the Sun and Moon.
But even when solar eclipses are necessary for discoveries, it is not necessary for the Sun and Moon to have the "privileged" sizes stated in the video. It is true that their size relationship produces a full corona. However, even if the Moon were larger, the eclipse would still produce a corona. The difference would be that one could only view part of the corona instead of the full corona, yet the same coronal information could still be observed. See animation below.
Eclipses don't happen every month because the Earth's orbit around the sun is not in the same plane as the Moon's orbit around the Earth. In fact, eclipses only occur in a given location about every 300 years. So until a few hundred years ago when we entered the age of fast travel, eclipses were almost useless for scientific experimentation. A given scientists is not going to see more than one in his home town, and might not even see that. Now if the orbital path of the Moon was adjusted so that it always passed between the Sun and Earth, such as Jupiter's moons do - That would be privileged!
While it is true that some mathematical formulas are quite simple, others are quite complex. Since it's a topic covered, calculating when solar eclipses will occur is extremely complex. See here for the method. Get your calculator ready!
There are a lot of formulas in science. Some are easy, some are hard.
Even putting aside the misinformation presented by this video, one still has to ask, "Is Earth a privileged planet, or just the planet that life has adapted to?"
Life here on Earth shows an amazing ability to adapt to whatever environment is available, be it hot, cold, high pressure, low pressure, oxygen rich, or oxygen starved. It's hard to believe that life can't adapt to a wide variety of "privileges" on other planets.
Is this planet privileged for exploration or do scientists simply make the best use of conditions that exist? Had the conditions been different, then Privileged Planet would have made the same argument, just using different examples, such as
Voltaire summed it up with the following satirical piece:
It's easy to imagine an ammonia-breathing being somewhere right now exclaiming, “Wow, what are the odds that this planet has just the right amount of ammonia in the atmosphere, we are just the right distance from our sun to maintain an average temperature of 180º, the three moons provide just the right amount of tidal action, we are close enough to the planet Glebdork so that we can explore it¼ We must indeed live on a privileged planet!"
See what others had to say about The Privileged Planet
Reviews of Associated Book
Drake Equation for determining number of extraterrestrial civilizations
Rare Earth Hypothesis
Life that exists in extreme conditions
Planets, Water, and Atmospheres
2005-12-20 Anonymous (Atheistic Evolutionist) wrote
2005-12-27 Tad (Young Earth Creationist) wrote
2006-01-11 kathy hanson (Young Earth Creationist) wrote
2007-01-03 Sage, Atheistic Evolutionist, wrote