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Physics, Earth & Space Icon Physics, Earth & Space

From National Geographic, New TV Series to Violate Materialist Taboo?

One Strange Rock

On March 26, National Geographic will premiere a new ten-part cable TV series titled One Strange Rock. The show is about life on Earth, and it features what National Geographic is best known for — beautiful nature footage. It will be hosted by Will Smith and feature several astronauts, who will give their space-based perspective on Earth. Here’s the trailer, and there are more on the website.

At first glance, it looks like this will be little different from other recent National Geographic and BBC nature documentaries. However, given the reigning materialist impulse to constantly downgrade our place in the cosmos to the common, banal, and unremarkable, calling our planet “strange” sounds almost…insurgent. It’s a strong taboo: Neither the Earth nor the human race is allowably described as unusual, because that could suggest (shudder) intelligent design, some destiny or purpose behind our existence.

Yet the short description of the new series in the current issue of National Geographic magazine (March 2018) reveals several aspects that could be of special interest. On page 71, a brief announcement of the series describes it as follows: “Take a thrilling tour of one of the universe’s most peculiar places — Earth.” Then starting on page 78 are three stunning pullout illustrations detailing “13 things that make life on Earth possible.” The article begins with a statement worthy of agreement: “Earth is well equipped as a planet and ideally placed in our solar system and galaxy to support life as we know it.”

The illustrations cover three important concepts relating to Earth’s habitability: geophysical processes, the circumstellar habitable zone (described as “not too hot or too cold”), and the galactic habitable zone (described as “a safe location”). It will be worth watching to see how the program treats these “Rare Earth,” aka “Privileged Planet,” factors.

Photo: From One Strange Rock (trailer), via National Geographic.