Guillermo Gonzales and Jay Richards produced a book and DVD in 2004 entitled The Privileged Planet: How Our Planet Is Designed For Discovery. These skillfully written resources are a welcome rebuttal for the naturalistic science community’s belief that planet Earth is nothing special in view of the likely presence of billions of planets in our Milky Way galaxy which may possess water—a prerequisite for life. The late Carl Sagan (1934-1996) optimistically speculated there may be as many as one million civilizations similar to ours. Such beliefs pique human imagination and are still popular today. Sagan was a master communicator who popularized science.
As a classroom teacher one of my queries to students was whether they believed there was advanced life anywhere else in the universe. Most students answered in the affirmative. When asked what they thought their science teacher believed they answered even more positively in the affirmative. They were surprised to discover I did not believe in life anywhere else in our vast universe. One reason I offered included my suspicion that if any other intelligent beings exist among the many planets surrounding 50 billion trillion stars within the billions of other galaxies in the universe, it seems strange that not even one intelligent signal has been received to confirm their presence since the Creation described in Genesis 1:1. I offered my opinion to class members prior to some of the more recent persuasive arguments offered by astrophysicists such as Guillermo Gonzales, Hugh Ross, and others on the subject of Earth’s uniqueness.
The Privileged Planet concept has been developed to demonstrate the utter impossibility that life could exist on any other planet in the universe. This uniqueness is not easy to understand unless one studies the issues thoroughly. Brief discussions fall woefully short. Planet Earth possesses over 200 design characteristics all of which must be present in order for Earth to manifest life. The enormous size of the universe, its expansion rate, its quantity of matter and dark energy, and the number of stars are necessary parameters enabling unique Earth life. That Earth supports life, human life in particular, is no accident of chance. Knowledge of the uniqueness of Earth, humanity, and life in general on our planetary home is an occasion to offer worship of the Creator and our love for him.
Carl Sagan in his popular 1980 Cosmos television series did not exult in the uniqueness of our planet and human life. His opening statement “The cosmos is all that is, or was, or ever shall be” contains multiple theological and scientific errors. The second phrase does not remind us that science had identified a beginning of the universe long before the Cosmos programs—the beginning of time, space, matter and energy at a finite time in the distant past. The third phrase reveals a theological error: According to the Book of Revelation our dimensions of time and matter will come to a close at the onset of the New Creation (Revelation 21). The initial statement, “The cosmos is all that is,” propounds a theological ignorance of the spiritual dimensions of God’s existence outside the dimensionality of human existence.
With respect for Sagan’s ability to popularize science, we add a caveat. Science is a naturalistically based discipline according to the dictates of many professionals in the field of science. Those professionals verbalize respect for Stephen J. Gould’s principle of NOMA (http://jasscience.blogspot.com/2008/03/noma-principle.html), deliberately separating the world of theology from their view of science. This separation is a metaphysical error of unprecedented dimensions.
Copernicus was a Christian who frequently referred to God in his works. He straightened out astronomical concepts: the sun was the center of the Solar System and the earth revolved around the sun. But his name came to be attached to “The Copernican Principle,” also ironically known as “The Mediocrity Principle.” The Earth is not as important as it once seemed because it was no longer envisioned to be at the center. Translation: Earth is merely one part of an enormous universe. As such, it was deemed to be insignificant. We reject such reasoning. Earth is a “Privileged Planet.”
In God’s wisdom, he provided an utterly unique Solar System and a unique Planet Earth. Naturalistic thinking deflects us from the uniqueness of planet Earth. Copernicus was a believer in God. It is unfortunate the definition of the “Copernican Principle” suggests that Earth is far from unique. In reality, Earth is unique beyond comprehension!