The Privileged Planet – The Search For Purpose In The Universe. Many scientists and philosophers have claimed that Earth is an ordinary speck of dust adrift, without purpose or significance, in a vast cosmic sea. Yet current astronomical evidence seems to suggest just the opposite.
We now know that a rare and finely-tuned array of factors makes Earth suitable for complex life. We depend on our planet’s oxygen-rich atmosphere, its large moon, its planetary neighbors, and its precise location within the solar system and Milky Way galaxy. But there is more. The same factors that make a planet like Earth hospitable to life also provide the best conditions for scientific discovery.
Is this correlation merely a coincidence? Or does it point to a deeper truth about purpose and intelligent design within the cosmos?
The Privileged Planet is based on the book with the same title by Jay Richards and Guillermo Gonzalez. Production began in October 2002 and was completed in June 2004. The documentary presents the Richards/Gonzalez hypothesis that the Earth was designed to both sustain complex life and enable scientific discovery.
Location photography took place at the Mt. Wilson Observatory, the University of Washington, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Iowa State University, the Parkes Observatory, and other locations in the United States and Australia.
The film is highlighted by interviews with leading astronomers and cosmologists including Robert Jastrow (author of God and the Astronomers), Paul Davies (The Mind of God, Accidental Universe, The Big Questions), and Donald Brownlee (Rare Earth).
The Privileged Planet includes extensive computer animation that illustrates the structure and operation of the Milky Way galaxy, black holes, solar eclipses, planetary magnetic fields, and our own solar system. A highlight of the documentary is a journey from Earth to the edge of the known universe.
In June 2005, the Discovery Institute arranged for a special showing of the film at the Smithsonian Institute. The event triggered a firestorm of controversy and media coverage in response to what many perceived as the Smithsonian’s endorsement of the theory of intelligent design. The Smithsonian ultimately withdrew its initial support of the screening which took place as originally scheduled. The Privileged Planet was also aired on PBS during 2005-06.