Privileged Species with Geneticist Michael Denton Gets Its Online Premiere (Evolutionnews.org)
The documentary with geneticist Michael Denton, Privileged Species, is available to see now, free on-line.
Dr. Denton extends the argument for intelligent design to the ultra-, ultra-fine-tuning of the cosmos for carbon-based life forms like ourselves. You cannot watch these 33 minutes without coming away with the very powerful conclusion that the universe was designed with us very specifically in mind.
The documentary investigates the special properties of carbon, water, and oxygen that make human life and the life of other organisms possible, and it explores some of the unique features of humans that make us a truly privileged species.
(The article The Place of Life and Man in Nature: Defending the Anthropocentric Thesis by Michael J. Denton published on bio-complexity.org is on the same subject as the video.)
This video is about Dr. Michael Denton's views on the ways the universe is designed to support complex organisms like humans and why humans are unique among the species on earth. Dr. Denton is a highly respected scientist who's research focuses on locating genes responsible for inherited retinal disease in humans. His research has led to the identification of the gene used in the first successful gene therapy for inherited blindness.
The video opens with a clip of a materialist saying that man is an insignificant speck on an insignificant planet orbiting an insignificant star in an insignificant galaxy. The remainder of the video contradicts this view. The video explains how special humankind is and that we live on a special planet in a universe that was designed for life. At the close of the video Michael Denton explains that the fitness for the universe to support human life is one of the major discoveries in science and religion. The video demonstrates the difference in the worldviews of materialists and non-materialist. Materialism is nihilistic, negative, and depressing, while non-materialism is inspiring and uplifting. It is entirely consistent with the evidence John Lennox has discussed, that atheism is harmful and belief in God is enormously beneficial. (My post Skepticism, The Big Lie. Activist Skeptics and Atheists are a Danger to the Health and Well Being of Believers also discusses the evidence showing that spirituality and belief in religion are beneficial.)
When you consider the number of "coincidences" that allow life to exist, it is absolutely astonishing. This video focuses on carbon, water, and oxygen, and that alone is amazing. But when you add the equally amazing cosmological fine tuning, and the factors that make earth an ideal place for intelligent life to exist, it is mind boggling. Coincidence or the anthropic principle lose any force they might have had as explanations, and the multiverse theory (for which even mainstream scientists admit there is no evidence) doesn't explain it either.
In this video:
What is man's place in nature and what is his relationship to the rest of the universe?
- T. H. Huxley:
The question of questions for mankind—the problem which underlies all others, and is more deeply interesting than any other—is the ascertainment of the place which Man occupies in nature and of his relations to the universe of things.
The materialist world view.
- Bill Nye "The Science Guy", "I am just another speck of sand."
- For most of human history man regarded himself as unique.
- By the 19th century a growing number of people were questioning man's special status.
- According to Darwin and his followers there was no fundamental difference between humans and other animals. After Darwin, many scientists believed humans arose naturally.
- George Gaylord Simpson:
Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind.
George Gaylord Simpson
- Part of this quote by Carl Sagan is in the video. I have included the fuller quote for context:
“There is something stunningly narrow about how the Anthropic Principle is phrased. Yes, only certain laws and constants of nature are consistent with our kind of life. But essentially the same laws and constants are required to make a rock. So why not talk about a Universe designed so rocks could one day come to be, and strong and weak Lithic Principles? If stones could philosophize, I imagine Lithic Principles would be at the intellectual frontiers.”
Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
Science indicates the universe is designed to support complex life such as human beings.
- The discoveries of science over the past century have indicated that many features of our universe seem to be specially prepared to allow life to flourish. If these features were even the slightest bit different, life as we know it could not exist.
The forces of nature are fine-tuned to allow the universe to support complex life.
- There are four forces of nature: the gravitational force, the electromagnetic force, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force. If any of these were slightly different from what they are, life would be impossible.
- Gravitational force: If the gravitational force was weaker, stars and galaxies would not form. If it was stronger the universe would collapse.
- Strong nuclear force: If the strong nuclear force was smaller the only stable element would be hydrogen. If stronger, there would be no hydrogen and therefore no water and no life.
- Supernovae: The chemical elements are produced in stars and distributed by supernovae. Too many supernovae and they would destroy life, too few and there would not be enough elements for life to exist.
- Fred Hoyle:
A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology
More information on the fine-tuning of the universe to support life can be found in my post
The Fine-Tuning of the Universe to one part in 1010123is best explained by an intelligent designer and creator, aka. God.
- Carbon is the basic building block of living things. It is only the element that could be used to build complex self-replicating systems.
- Carbon is capable of forming an almost limitless number of compounds.
- Carbon compounds are only stable within a narrow range of temperatures.
- Carbon makes technological civilization possible: natural gas, petroleum, clothing, sugar, plastics, anesthetics are carbon compounds.
- Water is one of the best solvents. A large number of substances are soluble in water.
- Water is less chemically reactive than other solvents so water does not limit the chemical reactions that substances in water can undergo.
- It has just the right viscosity for life. If water's viscosity was lower, structures in cells would not survive when subjected to outside forces. If it was higher, circulation of blood in our bodies would be impossible.
- Water has a high heat capacity which maintains stable temperatures on the planet and in living things.
- Evaporative cooling of water is greater than most other fluids. When the temperature outside an organism is higher than its body temperature, evaporative cooling is the only way to dissipate heat. This benefits humans more than other animals because we are hairless and it allows us to be active longer during the heat of the day in warm climates.
- Unlike most liquids water expands when it freezes allowing ice to form on the top of bodies of water. This provides insulation and prevents them from freezing solid which would make life impossible.
- Water works with the tectonic cycle to recycle the elements and minerals needed for life. Tectonic action brings new materials to the surface and water dissolves and erodes rocks making elements and minerals available for life. Eventually materials are washed to the sea floor where they are recycled by tectonic activity.
- Animals get energy by using oxygen in slow combustion of hydrocarbons.
- Oxygen is necessary to for complex organisms to exist.
- Earth is just the right size to have an oxygen atmosphere. A planet larger than earth would retain primeval gasses like hydrogen and helium, a smaller planet would lose all its atmosphere.
- Plants use sunlight in photosynthesis to obtain energy. Oxygen is a waste product of photosynthesis.
- Photosynthesis needs visible light to work but visible light is just a very small part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
- However most of the sun's output is visible light.
- The earth's atmosphere is just the right composition to allow visible light to reach the surface where plants can utilize it and produce oxygen.
- Human life requires at least 20% oxygen in the atmosphere.
- If there was too much oxygen, there would be spontaneous combustion.
- O2 which is prevalent in the lower atmosphere is much less reactive below 50ºC. but if the concentration of O2 was over 30% spontaneous combustion would occur.
- O2 does not absorb heat. The huge increase in O2 in the atmosphere in the last billion years had no effect on the heat balance of the earth.
A Privileged Species
- The elements and compounds needed to make a self replicating system are also fit to maintain a complex creature like ourselves.
- The human brain has powers including mathematical reasoning that far surpass the abilities of other animals.
- The physical design of the human larynx enables us to utilize a much broader range of sounds than any other mammal, facilitating sophisticated verbal communication of complex ideas.
- The human hand is better adapted than any other known appendage for the intelligent manipulation of the physical environment.
- The human body and mind seem to be optimized in a variety of ways to make us the only animal who can harness the use of fire, which opened the doors to technology.
- Earth seems optimized for scientific discovery. A clear atmosphere and its location in the galaxy enabled observations that have fueled science. Humans have the potential to do science and are on a planet that allows science to be done. (More at my post on The Privileged Planet)
- Michael Denton: "In my opinion discovering the unique fitness of the universe for carbon based life and beings like ourselves is one of the major discoveries of 20th century science and one of the major discoveries of all time in the area of design, religion, [and] science ..."