The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery

Overview


Is Earth merely an insignificant speck in a vast and meaningless universe? On the contrary. The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery shows that this cherished assumption of materialism is dead wrong. Earth is far more significant than virtually anyone has realized. Contrary to the scientific orthodoxy, it is not an average planet around an ordinary star in an unremarkable part of the Milky Way.

In this provocative book, Guillermo Gonzalez and...

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The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery

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Overview


Is Earth merely an insignificant speck in a vast and meaningless universe? On the contrary. The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery shows that this cherished assumption of materialism is dead wrong. Earth is far more significant than virtually anyone has realized. Contrary to the scientific orthodoxy, it is not an average planet around an ordinary star in an unremarkable part of the Milky Way.

In this provocative book, Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay W. Richards present a staggering array of evidence that exposes the hollowness of this modern dogma. They demonstrate that our planet is exquisitely fit not only to support life, but also to give us the best view of the universe, as if Earth were designed both for life and for scientific discovery. Readers are taken on a scientific odyssey from a history of tectonic plates, to the wonders of water and solar eclipses, to our location in the Milky Way, to the laws that govern the universe, and to the beginning of cosmic time.

In The Privileged Planet, you will discover:
Why the best scientific evidence refutes the misnamed Copernican Principle—the widely held idea that there is nothing special about Earth or its place in the universe
Why the sheer number and size of galaxies does not mean that Earth’s capacity to sustain life is the result of blind chance
How Earth is precisely positioned in the Milky Way—not only for life, but also to allow us to find answers to the greatest mysteries of the universe
Striking ways in which water doesn’t behave like most other liquids—and how each of its quirks makes it perfectly suited for the existence of creatures like us
The harmony of Earth and the Moon: how they work together to sustain Earthly life as one intricate system—and how that system produces the best solar eclipses where Earthly observers can see them
How Jupiter and Saturn protect Earth from cataclysmic destruction
How the laws and constants that govern the universe must be narrowly fine-tuned for the existence of any complex life

The Privileged Planet's astounding findings should lead any individual to reevaluate entrenched assumptions about the universe—and even to reconsider our very purpose on what so many have dismissed as nothing more than an accident of cosmic evolution.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A movement known as "intelligent design" has emerged in recent years to counter evolution theories that hold that the design of the universe is random. Critics have dubbed this the "new creationism," since many in the movement correlates the intelligent designer with the Judeo-Christian God. Gonzalez and Richards now take the defense of intelligent design one step further. By assessing the elements that compose our planet, they argue, we can tell that it was designed for multicellular organic life. The presence of carbon, oxygen and water in the right proportions makes it possible for organic life to exist; and this combination of minerals and chemical elements exists only on Earth. Moreover, they argue, we can measure the ways that Earth became habitable. Thus, tree rings, stomata on leaves, skeletons in deep ocean sediments and pollen in lake sediments help us to measure how life on Earth developed by design. In addition, the authors contend, the universe itself is designed for discovery ("Mankind is unusually well-positioned to decipher the cosmos. Were we merely lucky in this regard?" No, the authors respond), and because the Earth is habitable we can use it as a measure of the uninhabitability of other planets. "The myriad conditions that make a region habitable are the best overall places for discovering the universe in its smallest and largest expressions." Overall, the authors (Gonzalez is an assistant research professor of astronomy and physics at Iowa State, Richards has a doctorate from Princeton Theological Seminary) provide a reasoned case for intelligent design, but it's important to note that the vast majority of scientists reject the intelligent design argument, and this book is unlikely to persuade many to change their minds. B&w photos. (Mar. 8) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780895260659
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing, Inc., An Eagle Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 3/15/2004
  • Edition number: 312
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 183,575
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction
Section 1. Our Local Environment
Chapter 1 Wonderful Eclipses 1
Chapter 2 At Home on a Data Recorder 21
Chapter 3 Peering Down 45
Chapter 4 Peering Up 65
Chapter 5 The Pale Blue Dot in Relief 81
Chapter 6 Our Helpful Neighbors 103
Section 2. The Broader Universe
Chapter 7 Star Probes 119
Chapter 8 Our Galactic Habitat 143
Chapter 9 Our Place in Cosmic Time 169
Chapter 10 A Universe Fine-Tuned for Life and Discovery 195
Section 3. Implications
Chapter 11 The Revisionist History of the Copernican Revolution 221
Chapter 12 The Copernican Principle 247
Chapter 13 The Anthropic Disclaimer 259
Chapter 14 SETI and the Unraveling of the Copernican Principle 275
Chapter 15 A Universe Designed for Discovery 293
Chapter 16 The Skeptical Rejoinder 313
Conclusion: Reading the Book of Nature 331
Appendix A The Revised Drake Equation 337
Appendix B What about Panspermia? 343
Notes 347
Acknowledgments 417
Figure Credits 419
Index 421
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2004

    Ideal for anyone who enjoys good science writing.

    This is good science from top to bottom. Carl Sagan gained praised for reasoning for chance. Gonzalez applies updated, and more thorough analysis. His findings suggest that much is unlikely rather than likely. Gonzalez deserves as much favorable notoriety as Sagan. But it is unlikely that this will be forthcoming. The reason is that the philosophical implications differ. His answer to the Hitchhiker's questions on 'the meaning of life, the universe, and everything else' may not be the same as that preferred by Sagan. But is this preference science? Any who enjoys science, reason, and reasoned scientific debate, should love this book. Book of the year and the decade!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    I think we are entering a period in which science begins to reve

    I think we are entering a period in which science begins to reveal things about reality that makes people feel uncomfortable, i.e. traditional evolutionary theory, anatomy and physics (especially in the quantum world). We are beginning to see that traditional perceptions of the universe and science is insufficient for adequate explanation as to the most important question: Why? In other words, the "hows" are begining to bore us and so we search for the whys. This book is rather arduous to read carefully but quite intriguing to skim. Regardless, I sympathize for its point of views. I used to be an avid believer in a "Darwinian" theory of evolution and a purely "naturalistic" view of the universe, but have been disappointed time and time again by vague, slow-coming and contradictory scientific explanations by doggedly stubborn scientists who "want" a particular theory to be the best theory rather than being indifferent as to what really is the best theory.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Pseudoscience at its best...

    i find it rather ironic that the previous reviewer mentions and critiques the work of Carl Sagan. The very same man who actually was a strong opponent to exactly this type of supposed scientific reasoning and claims. its called pseudoscience, pick up a dictionary and read it. then pick up and read the "demon haunted world" by carl sagan. as for "priviliged planet"... well I'll let Carl Sagan speak for me... "Extraorinary claims, require extraordinary evidence".

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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