The Privileged Planet: The Search for Purpose in the Universe examines some of the most fundamental questions in astronomy and cosmology: Is life common or rare in the universe? Is the existence of a habitable planet like Earth the result of cosmic purpose or merely good luck? What does it take to build a habitable planet? What makes scientific discovery possible?

While exploring these questions, the documentary describes the intriguing argument made by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards in their book, The Privileged Planet, that the rare conditions that produce a habitable planet also provide the best overall setting for scientific discovery.

Narrated by actor John Rhys-Davies and featuring a diverse group of scientists and experts, The Privileged Planet casts new light on the perennial question: What is our place in the universe?

To learn more about the evidence, ideas, and people, discussed in The Privileged Planet, explore the resources below.


Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards, The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery (Washington DC: Regnery, 2004)

D. Scott Birney, Guillermo Gonzalez and David Oesper, Observational Astronomy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee, Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe (New York: Springer, 2003).


General Articles

Jay Richards and Guillermo Gonzalez, Are We Alone in the Universe? American Spectator (May 1, 2004)

Jay Richards, The Search for Extraterrestrial Life: The Question That Won’t Go Away, The Colson Center (May 19, 2010)

Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards, Paleomagnetism and The Privileged Planet, Discovery Institute (Oct 5, 2004).

Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards, A Response to Some Objections by Kyler Kuehn to The Privileged Planet, Discovery Institute (April 29, 2004).

Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards, Was Starlight Deflection Important for the Acceptance of General Relativity?, Discovery Institute (August 2, 2004).

Guillermo Gonzalez, Donald Brownlee, and Peter Ward, Refuges for Life in a Hostile Universe, Scientific American (Oct. 2001).

Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards, Priest of the Cosmos, Touchstone (Nov. 2006).

For a discussion and study guide of The Privileged Planet documentary, see The Privileged Planet Discussion and Study Guide, by Ryan Huxley of the IDEA Center.


Some Related Scientific Papers

Guillermo Gonzalez, Habitable Zones in the Universe, Origins of Life & Evolution of Biospheres Vol. 35, no. 6 (Dec. 2005)

Guillermo Gonzalez, Mutual Eclipses in the Solar System, Astronomy & Geophysics Vol. 50, no. 2 (April 2009)

Guillermo Gonzalez, The Galactic Habitable Zone, in Proceedings of the Space Telescope Science Institute Symposium (2005).

Guillermo Gonzalez, Donald Brownleee, and Peter Ward, The Galactic Habitable Zone: Galactic Chemical Evolution, Icarus Vol. 152, no. 1 (2001).

Llyd Wells, John C. Armstrong, and Guillermo Gonzalez, Reseeding of early earth by impacts of returning ejecta during the late heavy bombardment, Icarus Vol. 162, no. 1 (March 2003).

Llyd Wells, John C. Armstrong, and Guillermo Gonzalez, Rummaging through Earth’s Attic for Remains of Ancient Life, Icarus Vol. 160, no. 1 (Nov. 2002).

Guillermo Gonzalez, Is the Sun Anomalous? Astronomy & Geophysics Vol. 40, no 5 (Oct. 1999).

Guillermo Gonzalez, Wonderful Eclipses, Astronomy & Geophysics Vol. 40, no. 3 (June 1999).


Stories and Reviews

David Hughes, Review of The Privileged Planet, The Observatory Vol. 125, no. 1185 (April 2005).

Mike Martin, Are We Alone in the Universe? Hispanic Magazine (Nov. 22, 2004).

Amy Combs, Review of The Privileged Planet, Astronomy (December 1, 2004).

Philip Gold, The Universe: A Lab Designed with Us in Mind? The Washington Times (April 18, 2004)


An Illustra Media Production