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For Earth Day, Let’s Appreciate Our Planet’s Intelligent Design

Headline: “Earth Day: Greta Thunberg calls for ‘new path’ after pandemic.” (The Guardian)

Indeed! Right on, Miss Thunberg. The original Earth Day, exactly 50 years ago today, was a downer with its anti-human themes casting Earth and mankind as being tragically at odds with each other. An iconic poster adopted the slogan, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” For Earth Day 2020, let’s take a new path and find inspiration in the magnificent design of our planet for intelligent biological beings like ourselves. Discovery Institute geneticist Michael Denton has explored this theme in wonderful depth, but in an accessible way, too. How to get started? Watch “Privileged Species”:

And “The Biology of the Baroque”:

You’ll find much more on the Privileged Species website, including other documentary shorts with Dr. Denton, plus information about his books and articles. Also, for a complementary perspective, read The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery, by Discovery Institute astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez and philosopher Jay Richards. It’s out now in a new paperback edition with a brand new Foreword by the authors.

A Counter to Pessimism

That’s the “new path” I’d recommended, as a counter to the prevailing pessimism of our culture. My wife and I last night happened to watch the second episode of Season 1 of the 2014 HBO series True Detective. It’s quite dark, and I wouldn’t recommend it if you are remotely sensitive to such things. But it is thought-provoking. In one of many interesting exchanges, the “philosophical pessimist” Detective Rust Cohle, played by Matthew McConaughey, expresses his view that the evolution of human consciousness was a tragedy, and it would be much better if we all stopped procreating and quietly went extinct. That sometimes seems to be the underlying message of Earth Day.

Michael Denton advances a very different view, one offering light instead of darkness. Far from humans being the “enemy,” alien invaders of a planet that was never meant for us, the Earth was designed — intelligently, to put it in a very mild way — to be our home! Of course, that means treating our planet with respect. But it also means understanding the meaning of its intelligent design, the profound and hopeful implications for the way we think and live.

Photo: A scene from “Why Our Sun and Atmosphere Appear Intelligently Designed,” with Michael Denton, via Discovery Institute.