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4.6 out of 5 stars
The Privileged Planet
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235 of 266 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2005
Format: DVD
I'm absolutely baffled at how many reviewers bring up the subject of "evolution" in their reviews of this DVD. Be they for it, or against it, they seem to base their opinion on it based on how they feel about "evolution". However, this DVD actually does not really take on that topic at all! What it does cover is something along the lines of Peter Ward's "Rare Earth". The uniqueness of earth in its ability to foster life.

Yes, it does have more of an Intelligent Design slant, which isn't suprising considering who made it, but there is nothing actually against the theory of evolution in this video at all. If you decided to love or hate this DVD, don't base your opinion of it on your opinion of Darwinism (be it for or against). That's really not the substance of the video, and anyone who thinks it is is completely missing out on the focus of the video.

This video is really well done, and features narration by John Rhyes Davies. If you're interested more in this subject, I'd definitely recommend the book "Rare Earth", or the DVD "If We Had No Moon" (narrated by Patrick Stewart).
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100 of 111 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
A thoughtful gaze cast beyond our atmosphere begs questions as to the how and why of time, exsistence, and purpose; questions which no sane person can, or should, ignore. In acknowleging the metaphysical dimension inherent to physics and cosmology, Gonzales and Richards join company with Kepler, Einstien, Hawking, Davies, and common folk like you and me. The

Privledged Planet film is a an excellent introduction to the more detailed book of the same name. It's a provocative guide through current evidences in physics and cosmology, which challenge the Copernican Principle and its cousin, the Principle of Mediocrity. Stimulating analysis such as this is what energizes science to move forward in the pursuit of truth, in this case looking not just at what the cosmos is, but to what it says.

If the tone of vulgar, sophmoric derision found in some of the negative reviews sounds eerily familiar, one should hardly be surprised. Defenders of orthodoxy never welcome dissent, or open inquiry for that matter, and visceral reactions are predicatable when such people sense a heretic in their church. The Privleged Planet has committed no sin against the empirical enterprise known as science; it merely refuses to genuflect before the doctrine of philosophical materialism. Gonzalez and Richards

have laid out a persuasive, testable argument and set a good example. Science, understanding, and the pursuit of truth will be better for it.

B. Woodall, M.D.
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373 of 431 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2004
Format: DVD
From the folks at Illustra Media comes their latest nail in the coffin of exhausted theories on the evolutionary process.

Its a pretty big nail too.

This is the first well produced video that I've seen on the concept of the Anthropic Principle, the observation that our habitable earth...is just a little too perfect for life to exist when compared to the rest of the known Universe.

I'm pleased to see Dr. VanMeurs doctoral dissertation of a review on a video he's apparently never seen.

So for everybody else...here's a review by someone who HAS watched the video.

Very well produced and digitally filmed. The graphic presentations are excellent and near the level of the first edition in this series.

The scientists interviewed are very articulate and not out to bash you with the concept of "God" but to point out that the concept of our Universe actually teeming with life... is something that seems to fly in the face of the known facts.

FOR EXAMPLE: If we just took the space between Alpha Centauri and the star we call our Sun (about 4.3 light years) there seems to be only about a 2 mile layer of atmosphere that is known to be habitable by humans, without the aid of some sort of equipment.

Most of the video spends its time on the major points of the Anthropic Principle...right kind of sun, location in the solar system, location in the galaxy, atmosphere, presence of water...etc.

I wish there had been more video of the earth's landscapes used...simply because our earth is beautiful...and the respect this video gives it is breathtaking.

I found myself being in awe of the minuscule proportion of my existence as compared to the rest of the universe, yet somehow trying to figure out in all that space...why so little of it is accessible to a human being and why are we concsious of this fact?

The video should be an excellent starting point to start any discussion on the eternal question... "Why?"

Its been said that the Intelligent Design movement is dangerous. Dangerous to who? Those who have the most to lose in a debate I guess. Those who have no answer to the "Why?"

One technical flaw...on the bonus features, one of the pages on the Q & A section has no picture...but still works.
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60 of 68 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2006
Format: DVD
I just borrowed this video and watched it. Initially I intended to do other things and have it on while I did some chores. But I was quickly drawn in, and my attention soon became undivided.

This video is scientifically understandable and cinematically beautiful.

It is revealing that those reviewers who have attempted to discredit this video attack it as being "christian propoganda", "fundamentalist garbage" etc, etc. Actually, christianity, Jesus, or anything related to Christianity is totally absent from the video, except the idea that the universe has purpose and is intentionally created. But this conclusion comes at the very end of the video, and if you've watched it through to the end you will have already arrived at the conclusion yourself by paying attention to the irrefutable scientific knowledge of the physical properties and processes that make life on earth possible and the discovery of creation possible.

This video goes into the very fundamental essential parameters for a habitable environment, and the "coincidence" that they all exist on our planet. But takes it further by recognizing that earth is also the best known location in the universe for DISCOVERING the physical properties and processes of the universe. This is illustrated simply and compellingly in this video.

(One elegant example which is expressed w/ beautiful visuals is the total eclipse of the sun example. "Coincidentally" in order for there to be the sort of total eclipse of the sun that can reveal the spectrum of the sun as it is darkened by the blockage of the moon you essentially must have perfection in design. The sun is about 400 times larger than the moon, so for it to work, the sun must also be precisely that far from the moon from our perspective on earth. Basically, since the sun is 400 times larger than the moon and 400 times further from the earth than the moon is, we enjoy these total solar eclipses. But these eclipses also provide the exclusive processes by which we can understand the sun's spectrum, which enables us to pursue an entirely new discipline of astrophysical research and discovery.)

Why sit there with your head buried in the sand? Watch this video and come to your own conclusions. It's actually interesting and a fun watch.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2006
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This is a well-made film with top-notch production values. It presents ideas about the universe that have caused a lot of controversy. The intelligentsia apparently see it as a threat to secular humanism and their outrage was so great they tried to ban public showings of this film at places like the Smithsonian.

As a scientist I'm shocked at the knee-jerk reactions and narrow-mindedness of some of my peers who ignore the film's content and instead attack the personalities associated with its production. I see The Privileged Planet not as an indoctrination tool, but as an educational tool. Yes it posits the principle of intelligent design, but it in no way attacks any of the sacred cows of modern science. In fact, it is not anti anything. The film asks more questions than it answers, and in my book that is what real science is all about.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2006
Format: DVD
This DVD has moved to the TOP of my list! It is an awe inspiring journey from a mountain in California to the edge of the Universe.

Why is water the key to life? How do we know that scientifically, the universe can only support carbon-based life forms? Is is accident that the earth has all of the conditions necessary for complex life-forms, and has the best conditions for scientific discovery?

Check out the extras, question and Answers. Note 5 & 6. Jastrow steps on his own arguments, and admits his conclusions:

Summary of his quotes: "Everything scientifically points to creation because there is a definite begining to the universe. I CANNOT believe in this as creation because I am Agnostic!" ????What Jastrow?

The pictures from space of the earth are awe inspiring on their own. All the DVD extras are exellent.

This DVD presents the ideas of scientists, agnostics, physicists, philosphers, and a mix of everything in-between in an attempt to answer whether or not Intelligent Life is here by merely the number of possibilities or if the physics of the universe suggests that carbon based life can exist anywhere else at this time.

The film does NOT really conclude with an answer. It is not needed.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2006
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This DVD gives a nice overview of many ways in which our planet is unique among all other bodies in the known universe. Visuals are excellent and examples are clear and easy to understand.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2006
Format: DVD
In this video you will hear compelling reasons to conclude that Earth is unique in the universe, and designed as well. The two points are made seperately first, then combined toward the end.

To make the point that the Earth is unique a small set of various factors that the Earth requires to sustain life. Some examples include: temperature range, distance from the sun, the type of sun, the size of earth, the type of atmosphere, the moon tides, the size of the moon, the appropriate "wobble" of the earth and tilt of its axis, the amount of water, the amount of solid earth, location in the galaxy, etc. The chances of such a combination of these and more reasons are beyond astronomical...and that's the point. You shouldn't expect that you can travel across the universe and find another planet so finely-tuned to support intelligent life.

The second point points out reasons to believe that there is PURPOSE built in around us, not just one or two coincidences, but apparently designed conditions with the purpose of our learning. Examples like: the size and closeness of the moon seems to perfectly fit in a way that not only eclipses, but leaves just enough room to show the sun's corona, which was used to discover the sun is made of mostly hydrogen. Or placement in the galaxy allows us vision of not only our own galaxy, but of many others as well. That the math that governs physics is fairly simple, so that we may understand how physics works.

Lastly, the film brings up the amazing balance of phyisics that is so precise that to do something like make gravity the slightest bit stronger or weaker would make life impossible. And there are numerous necessary settings that you wouldn't expect randomness to produce.

Everyone should see this film and think about what would expand these ideas or disprove them. Very thought provoking, and significant to all our lives.
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60 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2004
Format: DVD
Viewing audiences will be treated to an intriguing discussion about the possibility of detecting purpose or design in nature. The movie summarizes and illustrates key points of "The Privileged Planet" hypothesis that was first presented by Astrobiologist Guillermo Gonzalez and Philosopher Jay Richards in their superb book of the same title. It functions as a wonderful companion to the book and also stands upon its own as an enjoyable, first-rate film.

"The Privileged Planet" contains stellar animation and good accompanying music. The film features the unforgettable John Rhys-Davies (from Indiana Jones and LOTR fame) as narrator, and his incredible voice captivates you from the opening moments of the movie.

The film also includes several other scientists (such as Paul Davies, Donald Brownlee, Robert Jastrow and Seth Shostak), who provide background information on scientific discoveries and also chime in with their respective points of view. The DVD also contains plenty of worthwhile special features, including a fun Q&A section.

Viewing audiences will be treated to an intriguing discussion about the possibility of detecting purpose or design in nature. This film has the advantage of presenting such ideas in the context of physics, astronomy and astrobiology-so there is none of the rancor that generally accompanies the discussion of such ideas in biology. It is very refreshing, indeed.

This is a delightful film, with serious intellectual substance and high production values. It is highly recommended!

(This reviewer is a staff member of the Center for Science & Culture. However, I became intrigued by the hypothesis prior to any working relationship with CSC.)
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2006
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This is a beautifully done DVD, and is awe inspiring regardless of your philosphical viewpoint. While done primarily from an intelligent design viewpoint, it treats the other side fairly.

I personally, find the evidence of design compelling. In no other area of thought would we even consider complexities of the sort routinely observed in the material universe as accidental. When we find ancient art or structures no-one suggests that they happened by accident. Yet, given the much higher complexities of the universe, and especially of life, many are willing to take what seems to me, an irrational position. IF in fact, life is such an obvious accident, then why can't we, as intelligent creatures, create it? We can't even create plant cells, much less animal; as I said, I find design compelling.

This is a very thought provoking dvd; I intend to read the book.
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