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The Privileged Planet DVD Review by Carissa Ruiz

Illustra Media
PO Box 636
La Mirada, CA 90637-0636

We are special! Our planet is special! We are not just here on a random planet, circling a random sun, in a random solar system, randomly placed in our galaxy. This 60-minute documentary, The Privileged Planet, shows us just that! This film is based on the book of the same name, published in 2004 by Guillermo Gonzalez (Ph.D., Washington), an astrobiologist, and Jay W. Richards (Ph.D., Princeton), a philosopher. The film starts by telling the viewers that in the last century the science of astronomy has defined our planet as just a randomly placed planet that "got lucky" to produce life--that there is nothing particularly special about our planet and its diverse complex life. They have supposed that, because of the billions of galaxies, there must be hundreds of planets similar to ours. 

Though the scientists in this DVD don't argue there may be simple life on other planets, they believe, based on the scientific evidence, it is not probable that another planet with complex life would exist. They take into account Earth's placement in the galaxy and in the solar system, its magnetic field, its moon (including its size and distance from the Earth), and more. 
Then they present an amazing thesis of how special this planet is. According to their research, not only is Earth's placement necessary to support complex life, it also allows for discovery. The fact that we have a thin, clear atmosphere and are placed in between the spiral arms of the galaxy allows us to see into outer space and to make discoveries about the universe. They show that the moon's size and its distance from Earth enable it to create a perfect solar eclipse, and through those eclipses we have been able to see the sun's corona and see the light spectrum, which has helped in the science and technology fields. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this DVD and the bonus materials. In fact, I was so impressed with this DVD that I bought the book as well. The quality of scientists they had, the use of visuals, the outline, and the thesis of the whole documentary were quite impressive. 

They used scientists from both sides of the "intelligent design" debate, but the most notable person was astrobiologist, Guillermo Gonzalez. (You might recognize Gonzalez from Ben Steins' "No Intelligence Allowed" documentary.) The only thing I didn't care for was the title they gave for Jay Richards. In the beginning of the film they title him "philosopher," which he is, but it made him seem out of place and irrelevant to the topic, until you learn that he co-wrote the book Privileged Planet. I thought they should have given him a title like "co-author/philosopher" or "researcher/philosopher." 

Privileged Planet is a well-done documentary, and it is well worth watching. Even more, it is worth buying and sharing with non-believers. Though the idea of intelligent design is introduced, the video never attempts to declare who that designer may be, which is understandable. First of all, the makers of this video are part of the Discovery Institute, which tries to remain science based. Secondly, discovering a Creator in creation is expected, but finding the identity of the Creator is not. That can only found in the Word of God. Furthermore, their thesis doesn't exclude Christ as the designer. When viewed in light of our original commission to subdue the earth, it actually concurs with the God of the Bible. Our ability to subdue the earth has greatly depended on our discovery and understanding of things such as physics and the elements. 

So to conclude, we inhabit a special planet with special complex life forms on it and with a privileged ability to discover the beauty and the mathematical order of the universe. When we approach with integrity to discover these truths, it will lead us to ponder the Creator, "though he is not far from each one of us"! 

Product review by Carissa Ruiz, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2010