Discoveroids: Privileged Planet, Again

A big part of the Discovery Institute’s “evidence” for the existence of their intelligent designer — blessed be he! — is the fact that Earth is suitable for life. In their way of thinking, that’s flat-out proof that it was supernaturally designed for us.

Their posts frequently mention this “evidence,” and sometimes it’s amusing enough for us to write about — see, for example: Klinghoffer Insists Earth Is Unique, and also Solar Eclipses — Their Design Is Undeniable. It’s also interesting that other creationists have adopted the Discoveroids’ argument — see Ken Ham Adopts the Privileged Planet Doctrine.

Today the Discoveroids are beating the same drum again at their creationist blog. Their latest is A Panicked Scientist, a Privileged Planet, written by Klinghoffer. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The special place of the Earth in the cosmos, its privileged situation, as if by design, makes some people very uncomfortable.

Are you one of those people, dear reader? Too bad, because your discomfort is going to get worse. Klinghoffer says:

In fact I got an email yesterday conveying a complaint from a scientist who didn’t like our saying that his research points, as indeed it does, in that direction. I think he was panicked by the association with ID, and from a career perspective you can hardly blame him.

Ooooooooooooh! Klinghoffer got an email from a panicked scientist. Or, perhaps that scientist was complaining that the Discoveroids had misinterpreted his work. We’ll never know. Klinghoffer tells us:

Earth as a Privileged Planet is the theme of a book co-authored by our colleague Jay Richards.

Yes, we know. Jay W. Richards, a Discoveroid senior fellow, along with Guillermo Gonzalez, or “Gonzo” as we call him, co-authored the classic creationist book, The Privileged Planet, a “fine tuning” argument applied to Earth. Richards was a former faculty member at Biola University, a bible college, where he taught apologetics.

Klinghoffer continues:

An aspect of the impressive evidence on that score [Hee hee!] will receive attention tonight from the new documentary mini-series from the National Geographic Channel, One Strange Rock. Our planet’s view of the sun is critical to life, obviously, but equally critical is that it’s a shielded view. It’s one of the many features of our blue home that must be just right to support our existence, as well as to permit exploration of universe.

Ooooooooooooh! Everything has to be just right! The Discoveroids have previously mentioned that TV series, and that’s when we wrote Discoveroids: A New TV Series To Rant About.

Then he gives us a big quote from an article, presumably discussing the next episode of that TV show, about how conditions on Earth are better for life than on Mars or Venus — especially Earth’s “natural defenses against the sun’s cosmic rays.” That’s supposed to clinch the argument for an intelligent designer. He finishes with this:

They ask, “So, what makes Earth so special compared to its neighboring planets, and how did we end up with these natural defenses?” Well, that is just the question that panicked the poor scientist, isn’t it?

Huh? That’s it? That’s all he’s got? Apparently so. Powerful stuff — at least to the Discoveroid mind. What do you think, dear reader?

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22 responses to “Discoveroids: Privileged Planet, Again

  1. “Or, perhaps that scientist was complaining that the Discoveroids had misinterpreted his work. We’ll never know.”
    Hence MNb’s Law applies once again – creacrappers (including IDiots) are lying until proven otherwise. So the default position is misinterpretation. Deliberate misinterpretation.

    “especially Earth’s natural defenses against the sun’s cosmic rays.”
    Supernatural defenses didn’t suffice?!

  2. No matter how unique Earth may seem to be, no matter how “privileged” Klinghoffer et al. seem to think it is, no matter how astronomical the odds are that all this may have happened by chance — there is no way to prove that it didn’t happen by chance. The odds may be “astronomical” — but then, so is the size of the universe (duh), and so is the number of planets in this universe.

    Moreover, the very things that make Earth seem privileged are factors that provide for long-term stability, giving evolution the time it needs to work its magic to develop intelligent life with the physical means to develop technology.

    So what’s the point of long-term stability if the Grand Old Designer (G.O.D.) is just going to poof intelligent life into place from the very beginning — with no evolution needed?

    I don’t think the I.D.iots will have an answer for that.

  3. If the intelligent designer(s) decided to privilege Earth for life, then whatabout the peculiar behavior of
    1) the 2nd law of thermodynamics – is that also designed for life on Earth?
    2) the conservation of specified complex information?
    3) the laws of nature being the same, as far as we know, everywhere and always?

    Is there any information about the existence or non-existence of life elsewhere anytime?

    Are the intelligent designer(s) unable to design life on non-privileged planets?

  4. “Privileged”? Maybe for life as we know it: carbon-water based; DNA hereditary material; water based photosynthesis; oxygen based respiration. But these and underlying chemistry are hardly constraining for life elsewhere even if it is carbon-water based. Photosynthesis (if indeed present) might use hydrogen sulfide (H2S, some earth organisms actually do) which would not result in the oxygen atmosphere that seems to have led to the diversity of plant and animal life on earth. The formation of a self-replicating entity is all that is necessary for life to get started. No reason why it can’t be quite different, with different building blocks, different chemical composition, different metabolism. All natural, no designer needed. Still hope to know in my lifetime.

  5. Michael Fugate

    Doesn’t the fact that we have to share it with creationists make the earth rather unprivileged?

  6. Derek Freyberg

    Oh no, it’s Douglas Adams’s “edge of the puddle” yet again.

  7. They are 100% correct! This is a very unique planet! Because it si this one and the only one like it anywhere! But then you can say that about any planet or object anywhere! Being unique does not mean much!

  8. Interesting that human life is the same as other life. It takes a planet which is privileged for any kind of life, and only such privilege, for there to be human life.
    Whatever design there is in human life, it presents no difficulty once simple life is possible.

  9. Michael Fugate

    Isn’t it just that there is liquid water?

  10. Hey — it just occurred to me.

    If life is so special that He made the Earth so privileged to support it, why didn’t the G.O.D. make a bajillion planets special enough to support life? Why just this one place, Klinghoffer?

  11. Earth being shielded is proof that woo woo is real, huh? What about the end of the Permian, when Earth lost its ozone layer and the magnetic field essentially collapsed? About 95% of all species died in the resulting mayhem. Some protection.

  12. You mean skeptics – how dare you doubt the Grand Old Designer (blessed be Him/Her/It)?
    @RSG: you should not be so greedy! If you hadn’t just this one you wouldn’t even be able to whine for more than one planet supporting life! Given that the inhabitants of this one planet tend to screw things up – even the G.O.D.’s Own People have voted a clown into the White House – the G.O.D. was very wise to make just one. And how do you know it’s just one? Wait and see! There may be many more privileged planets!
    @SJS: such unfortunate colleteral damage was necessary to reach the ultimate goal: sentient beings like you and me. Too bad we tend to abuse that sentience with our unjustified skepticism. The G.O.D. provides a protection shield, the G.O.D. takes away the protection shield, all according to His Plan. Your silly question, that’s not according to Plan. It’s an unfortunate side effect of your sentience.

  13. Yes, Derek Freyberg, it’s Klinghoffer arguing once again like Doglas Adams’s puddle.

    This metaphor for the Privileged Planet (or fine-tuned Universe or whatever) argument was independently put forward in John Updike’s 1986 Roger’s Version, which incidentally has as one protagonist a character who (in 1986!) makes all the ID arguments, much better than the DI ever did. Updike, marvelously well-informed, cites an article in The Sky & Telescope, A Rotifer’s Viewpoint,, which in turn is taken from Life Beyond Earth, by Gerald Feinberg and Robert Shapiro, 1980; more details here:

  14. @James St. John
    And don’t forget the Flood!

  15. Michael Fugate

    Nice piece Paul, likely this argument has most likely been made over and over through time. Voltaire and Hume perhaps.

  16. Voltaire, a deist, was one of those who used the analogy of the watchmaker.

  17. @mnb0 That was my point — Klings is saying that there IS just one privileged planet, made by design just for the Designer’s life forms.

    What I was trying to get across (not too well, evidently) was the idea that if there IS a Grand Old Ddesigner,She/He/IT would have the power to make a bajillion planets privileged with the conditions suitable for life, and such life is such a grand thing that the G.O.D. would stock each and every one with life in His/Her/Its image. There would be life on Mars, life on Venus, life on the moons of Jupiter, etc., etc. There would be unmistakeable radio signal signs of life coming from all over the galaxy.

    The fact that we don’t see this to me is evidence that there is no Grand Old Ddesigner, and the Earth is the product of a rare set of circumstances favorable for the development of (somewhat) advanced forms of life.

  18. “The fact that we don’t see this to me is evidence ….”
    Apparently I am the one who didn’t get the point across. One inhabitable planet, a dozen ones, a gazillion ones …. given IDiocy it’s all evidence for a Grand Old Designer (blessed be Him/Her/It). That’s what they are Idiots for and why you and me aren’t.

  19. I may not be an IDiot, but when it comes to tags I am certainly an idiot. I meant for. Once again this is testimony for my sinful nature.

    [*Voice from above*] Tags aren’t your only problem, that’s all I can fix for you.

  20. What is an uninhabitable planet to an omnipotent agent?
    God can make life anywhere he wants. What does he have to do to a planet to make it inhabitable – he can make life on Mercury, Venus, or on the Sun or in empty space?
    What makes Earth inhabitable? According to other arguments of creationists (including ID-ers) there are natural laws which make life impossible anywhere where the laws of thermodynamics apply, or where conservation of complex specified information holds.

  21. You just nicely argued the failure of naturalism, TomS – in the creacrap mind. Hence a Grand Old Designer (blessed be Him/Her/It), who polishes away every and any inconsistency your narrow mind makes you perceive.

  22. I don’t understand.
    1) What does it mean that the Earth is inhabitable, if the laws of thermodynamics make life impossible there?
    2) What does it mean that Venus is uninhabitable, if the supernatural can make life there?