From 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.
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From the Inside Flap
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 a lot 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 original 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 gives us the best view of the universe, as if Earth-and the universe itself-were designed both for life and for scientific discovery. Readers are taken on a scientific odyssey from a history of tectonic plates, the wonders of water, and solar eclipses, to our location in the Milky Way, the laws that govern the universe, and the beginning of cosmic time.
You will discover:
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 fit 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 just where there are observers to see them
How Earth's atmosphere helps protect us from harmful radiation, yet has a tiny window open to the radiation crucial for life and scientific knowledge
How Jupiter and Saturn protect Earth from cataclysmic destruction
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
How the laws and constants that govern the universe must be narrowly fine-tuned for the existence of any complex life
Copernicus: how the popular idea of his achievement and its significance contains more ideologically skewed myth than historical fact
Why the sheer number and size of galaxies does not mean that Earth's capacity to sustain life is just the result of blind chance
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.