Scientists say it’s unlikely life happened elsewhere

The Privileged Planet (2004) is a 60-minute video documentary explores the conditions on Earth that allow for intelligent life. Dr. Norman Geisler says it presents one of the best arguments for the anthropic principle he’s seen.

You can watch online here:

What’s the “Too long, didn’t read” version?

Atheists would like us to believe that the Earth isn’t anything special, that it’s just one of billions of planets throughout the universe that is teeming with life.

But are habitable planets rare or common in the universe?

Guillermo Gonzalez, astrobiologist at Iowa State University says, “The answer could be yes, and the answer could be no, and either answer is interesting.”

There are unchanging physical laws that apply to every part of the universe. The factors that made life possible here on Earth must be the same factors that apply everywhere else.

Take, for example, liquid water. The chemical properties of water are exquisitely suited for carbon based life. Liquid water helps define a habitable zone. If it’s too hot, water boils away. If it’s too cold, as with Mars today, it freezes out.

The recipe for life is much more complex than “just add water”. What other ingredients would be needed?

Here are some required factors (there were 20 identified as of 2004):

  1. Correct location in the galaxy
  2. Correct distance from sun
  3. Protection by giant planets
  4. Correct type of star
  5. Large moon
  6. Terrestrial planet
  7. Plate tectonics
  8. Magnetic field
  9. Oxygen-rich atmosphere
  10. Liquid water

All these factors have to be met at one place in time in the galaxy if you’re going to have a planet as inhabitable as the Earth.

They have calculated that the probability of any planet forming with all of these necessary factors as being 10-15, or:



Bijan Nemati, a physicist at Jet Propulsion Labratory, says, “On their face value, these probabilities are speaking. What they are telling us is this can’t happen, or this is very unlikely to happen in the galaxy.”

Gonzalez adds, “There are many probabilistic resources in the galaxy. But on the other side of the coin are all these factors that you need, that you have to get just right, in order to have just one habitable planet like the Earth. And that leads me to conclude that, yes, we are rare in the galaxy.

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Author: Shawn Nelson

Shawn Nelson is the President of Geeky Christian, a ministry which seeks to use technology to evangelize the lost and provide free material for Christian growth. He holds a BA in Biblical Studies from San Diego Christian College and an MDiv from Veritas International University where he is currently a Doctor of Ministry student. He is married with two children. He is also the author of several free books and others on Amazon.

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