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The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery [NOOK Book]



“In a book of magnificent sweep and daring, Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards drive home the argument that the old cliché of no place like home is eerily true of Earth. Not only that, but if the scientific method were to emerge anywhere, Earth is about as suitable as you can...
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The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery

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“In a book of magnificent sweep and daring, Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards drive home the argument that the old cliché of no place like home is eerily true of Earth. Not only that, but if the scientific method were to emerge anywhere, Earth is about as suitable as you can get. Gonzalez and Richards have flung down the gauntlet. Let the debate begin; it is a question that involves us all.”
—Simon Conway Morris, Author of Life’s Solution: Inevitable
Humans in a Lonely Universe

“This thoughtful, delightfully contrarian book will rile up those who believe the ‘Copernican Principle’ is an essential philosophical component of modern science. Is our universe designedly congenial to intelligent, observing life? Passionate advocates of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) will find much to ponder in this carefully documented analysis.”
—Owen Gingerich, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, author of The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolution of Nicolaus Copernicus

“Not only have Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards written a book with a remarkable thesis, they have constructed their argument on an abundance of evidence and with a cautiousness of statement that make their volume even more remarkable. In my opinion, The Privileged Planet deserves very careful attention.”
—Michael J. Crowe, Cavanaugh Professor Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame and author of The Extraterrestrial Life Debate, 1750–1900

“The Privileged Planet will surely rattle, if not finally dislodge, a pet assumption held by many interpreters of modern science: the so-called Copernican Principle. Gonzalez’s and Richards’s argument is so carefully and moderately presented that any reasonable critique of it must itself address the astonishing evidence. I expect this book to renew the whole scientific and philosophic debate about Earth’s cosmic significance. It is a high-class piece of work that deserves the widest possible audience.”
—Dennis Danielson, Professor of English at the University of British Columbia and editor of The Book of the Cosmos
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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: 9781596987074
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing, Inc., An Eagle Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 290,487
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Guillermo Gonzalez, Ph.D., is assistant research professor of astronomy and physics at Iowa State University. He received his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Washington, and did his post-doctoral research at the University of Texas, Austin, and the University of Washington. He has received fellowships, grants, and awards from NASA, the University of Washington, Sigma Xi, and the National Science Foundation. He is the author of over sixty peer-reviewed scientific articles.

Jay W. Richards, Ph.D., is vice president and senior fellow of the Discovery Institute in Seattle. He received his Ph.D. with honors in philosophy and theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is the author of many academic and popular essays. He is also the author and editor of several books in subjects as diverse as science, philosophy, and theology, including Are We Spiritual Machines?: Ray Kurzweil Versus the Critics of Strong AI.
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Table of Contents

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

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