This article is the third in a three-part series featuring remarks at the Discovery Institute’s Dallas Conference on Science & Faith, hosted by Park Cities Presbyterian Church on Feb. 17, 2024. To read part one, click here. To read part two, click here.

Have you ever looked up under the starry night sky, and been overwhelmed with a feeling of insignificance and littleness? When you look up at the vast reaches of space – one’s problems and day-to-day difficulties seem to fade into the background, placed in perspective under the immensity of our universe.

The Copernican Principle

For decades, scientists and philosophers alike thought it greatly improbable that Earth was unique. Of the hundreds of billions of stars and galaxies “out there,” it was seen as highly unlikely that Earth is the only one with life.

Right? Perhaps not – as we’ll soon see.

The idea that Earth is not special is often known as “the Copernican Principle.” It’s named after mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus whose heliocentric model of the universe placed the sun – rather than the Earth – at its center. The Copernican Principle really doesn’t have much to do with Copernicus the man, however.

While you may not have heard of the Copernican Principle, it greatly impacts the culture all the same. In essence, the Copernican Principle tells us the Earth isn’t special – and therefore, neither are you.

The late materialist astronomer Carl Sagan once said, “The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.” He put it this way in Pale Blue Dot,

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

In other words, all we are is one “lonely speck” floating through the “obscurity” of space. There’s nothing particularly special about us at all.

But this couldn’t be more wrong.

The Privileged Planet

At the Dallas Conference, astronomers, philosophers and scientists presented remarks based off Jay W. Richards’ and Guillermo Gonzalez’s book The Privileged Planet, showing how modern science is discovering that the Earth appears to be specially designed – particularly for life, scientific discovery, and technological advancement.

Here are just a few of the factors that make Earth a special place, as presented by Principal Research Scientist Bijan Nemati and philosopher Jay Richards.

Earth is a Terrestrial Planet

While there are a near-countless number of planets in our universe, only 4% of them are terrestrial, meaning they’re made up of rock and metals. Thirty-five percent of planets are Neptune-Like planets, 31% are Super-Earth planets and another 30% are Gas Giants – all of which are life prohibitive. As a quick thought experiment, imagine what it would be like to live on a planet made of gas – you wouldn’t be able to.

Earth is in the Circumstellar Habitable Zone

Our planet happens to be in the perfect “Goldilocks Zone,” orbiting our sun at just the right distance. Get closer and Earth ends up like Venus – extraordinarily hot with no liquid water. Get farther away and Earth ends up like Neptune – extraordinarily cold with no liquid water.

Earth is in the Galactic Habitable Zone

Our planet exists in the perfect spot in our galaxy to sustain life. The Earth is located in between the Milky Way’s spiral arms – which are hazardous to life, due to the increased number of planets – and far enough away from the galactic center to minimize the impact of radiation.

Earth has a Protective Magnetosphere

The Earth has a protective magnetic field – generated by the Earth’s liquid outer core. This magnetosphere protects our planet from what would otherwise be lethal solar wind.

Earth has Plate Tectonics

Our planet has an active geology and moving tectonic planets. While it may be counterintuitive (you can thank planet tectonics for earthquakes), the movement of the Earth is essential; the geological process recycles nutrients needed to sustain life.

Now, there are numerous additional factors that make life possible on Earth. We have the right planetary neighbors, we have the right kind of sun (a stable, main sequence star), we are in the right galaxy, we have the right composition of gases in our atmosphere, and we have the right kind of moon to stabilize the axial tilt of our planet. And there are more.

All of this adds up to two possibilities. Either the Earth is exceptional by chance – which becomes increasingly unlikely with every new scientific discovery about how special Earth is – or we’re here by design.

As scientist Bijan Nemati put it, “We look like we are in an exquisitely designed planet.”


Here are three things to take away from the above scientific observations.

First, don’t believe our culture’s lies that the Earth – and you – are nothing special. Our planet is a beautifully designed place that is intended to foster and sustain life – life that is loved by its Creator. And this Creator has endowed human beings with a special privilege – we bear His very image and likeness.

Second, if you are a parent, teach your children that the Earth is special; it is not “one among many” such places in the universe. Teach them to respect and appreciate nature; help them develop a Christian worldview with respect to the environment. God has given human beings the responsibility to steward and care for His creation.

Third, teach your children that they too are loved, desired, and specially designed by God who wants to have a relationship with them.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork
” (Psalm 19:1, ESV).

To speak with a family help specialist or request resources, please call us at 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).

Related articles and resources:

Helping Children Understand God

Leading Your Child to Christ

Helping Your Kids Know God Better

Telling Your Kids About Jesus

Protecting Your Child’s Faith in Public School

Dawkins Admits: ‘May be Still Something for Me to Learn About Religion.’

Photo from James Webb Space Telescope.