Monday, May 27, 2013

Intelligent Design videos by Illustra Media

The Privileged Planet

This is a video is based on the book The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards. Any well stocked library will I have a copy of the book. Many of the local public libraries around me do.

The book and video argue for a simultaneous correlation between the cosmic and terrestrial conditions that make rational sentient life possible on earth with that sentient life on earth to be able to make otherwise unlikely scientific discoveries. The evidence seems to suggest that a cosmic designer intended to both promote sentient life on earth and have that rational sentient life make scientific discoveries about the universe and so to ask deep questions about origins. This obviously has theological and theistic implications.

Some of the common objections to the Privileged Planet Hypothesis include the following:

1. If we humans didn't exist on earth, we wouldn't be around recognize how much we're able to discovery. Therefore the hypothesis is moot. 

2. The hypothesis only makes its conclusions based on the sample size of one example (i.e. humans on earth in this universe) rather than multiple sentient beings on various planets and various universes. Therefore you cannot gauge apparent designed advantages or disadvantages.

3.If we were able to make much fewer scientific discoveries, people could still propose the hypothesis because we wouldn't know how much more discoveries were possible. Therefore, one can't determine the existence of or gauge the intentions of a cosmic designer. Conversely, maybe there are many more scientific discoveries we could have made if things were slightly different. Therefore, that too would make it difficult (or impossible) to determine the existence of or gauge the intentions of a designer. Maybe by design or by bad luck (if there is no designer) we're being "cheated" out of a vast amount of scientific knowledge and discovery. But we wouldn't even know it even if it were true. 

4. In essence, the Privileged Planet hypothesis is basically painting concentric target circles wherever the arrows have landed. So, of course you get apparent coincidental and remarkable 'hits'.

The problem with these objections are similar to objections to the fine-tuning of the universe. See for example this video by William Lane Craig where he gives a useful analogy. Or this analogy explained by Deborah Haarsma. It seems to me that what these objections forget (or at least under appreciate) is all the ways in which it so happens we are able to make scientific discoveries because it JUST SO HAPPENS that certain conditions are such that we can make those discoveries.

Here's an analogy that can of help us appreciate the good fortune we have. Imagine a boy who wants to learn more about the world around him and he secretly discloses this to a newly made rich friend of his financially strapped poor father. The boy unfortunately has difficulty seeing objects both far and near. Then one day a package is dropped at his front door. The package so happens to have a pair of bifocal eyeglasses inside it. He tries them on and they enable him to see much better. In fact, they seem to almost perfectly be the right prescription. As the days go by, he continues to get more and more packages. One day he receives a magnifying glass. Another day he receives a telescope. Later a microscope. Another day he receives a miniature model car which he has to assemble and along with the car are trifocal and multifocal lenswear which he can use to help him assemble it. Now given the scenario, wouldn't it be reasonable for him to conclude that it was his father's rich friend who was sending him these gifts so that he could pursue his passion for discovery rather than that packages were accidentally being dropped off at his house? Even if the the packages were dropped off at the wrong house, one could conclude that they were being dropped off intentionally for the purpose of someone making discoveries and doing science. True, he wasn't receiving volumes of an encyclopedia on a regular basis. He had to make the discoveries for himself. But the point of the analogy should be obvious. Without those tools to enhance his vision, he wouldn't be able to see the things he does and make the discoveries he did. Similarly, there are many coincidences in our earthly circumstance that serendipitously work out for our scientific advantage. And just because the child didn't get access to better investigative tools (e.g. surveillance aircrafts, the Hubble space telescope, or to an electron microscope) doesn't negate the fact that he DOES have equipment that enhances his vision. When it was more probabilistically likely that the child (or we humans on planet earth) should have not had such advantages.

If I understand Gonzalez correctly, of the 65 places in our solar system where one can observe solar eclipses, "it's an amazing coincidence [that] the one place that has observers is the one place that has the best eclipses."

Here are various YouTube links to the video.
The Privileged Planet


in 12 parts


with Spanish subtitles (full video)

Darwin's Dilemma
with some European language subtitle (full video)

Unlocking the Mystery of Life

More recommendations:

The Big Bang, Multiverses, and the Anthropic Principle Discussed by William Lane Craig

"The Moon's Divine Design" Creation Update radio with Hugh Ross (Jan. 4, 2005)

 Fine-Tuning for Life in the Universe by Hugh Ross

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