Institute for Creation Research on water’s… erm, uniqueness.

The ICR has a very… interesting section on chemistry. Most of the time, it’s correct, and fairly unobjectionable – if a bit scatter-shot in its approach, jumping wildly between transition metal chemistry and ribose, and phosphates and finally water (which we’ll get onto in a moment). It’s chemistry, it’s fascinating and not that complicated.[citation needed]

After the page takes its time to cover some of the rules of chemistry, I fail to see the logical leap where this suddenly proves design. After all, it’s established the atoms bind a certain way, have particular properties, and then they form molecules. It’s all very deterministic. It’s almost as if the ICR trying the usual creationist trick of “I don’t understand this shit, therefore God”. Oh, wait, scratch the “almost as if” there, that’s exactly what it’s doing

But factually (in terms of the chemistry described), it’s still pretty much on the money and correct.

Or so I thought until I read this bit:

ICR_water

Now, I am tempted to give them the benefit of the doubt that this is just really badly worded. Like epically badly worded on par with most of the incoherent description found within 50 Shades of Grey. There’s a difference between being wrong, and not explaining yourself properly – so perhaps, just perhaps, the ICR is doing the latter here and I’m about to quibble over nothing. Of course, I’m no expert in the English language – as anyone who has proof-read my blog posts will attest to – but I’m sure that when you make a declarative statement with one sentence, then the next sentence should explain that declaration and not go onto a tangent.

So if you’re going to say that “water is a unique substance” then you should really follow it with some of its actual unique properties. Properties like it’s staggeringly high heat capacity – a property that is largely responsible for our climate being the way it is because water can transport energy around so easily (*cough* this is a big hint for Question 5 *cough*). That’s quite unique to water – at least it’s unique for such a common substance. I wouldn’t go on to imply the hydrogen bonding is unique to water as the ICR seems to imply in their lazy-assed way of explaining things. Anywhere where you have something to donate electrons (like oxygen, which has two sets of two electrons to reach out with) and something small and positively charged (like hydrogen, which readily loses the electron density around it to neighbouring atoms because it’s a pussy) this positive-attracts-negative interaction will occur. Boom, hydrogen bonding. It’s a common-as-muck interaction, in fact.

Hydrogen bonding

It’s true that hydrogen bonding plays a part in how water’s structure works, but that’s not unique to water. It’s not even particularly special in water itself – it’s just hydrogen bonding like in any other material that has that interaction. H-bonding is not even unique to simple interactions between molecules – it’s even the reason many larger ones hold the shape they do (DNA, secondary protein structures, and so on). I’ve even heard one good argument that they should be referred to as “NOF bonds” because in organic chemistry the lone pairs of nitrogen (N), oxygen (O) and fluorine (F) are significantly more important than the hydrogen part – though I’m not particularly taken with that designation as it’s not quite right either:

Yeah, that’s a hydrogen bond with hydrogen itself acting as the electron donor. Which is pretty damn cool.[citation needed]

But that doesn’t prove design. That proves electrostatic forces happen. That proves that the 1s orbital around hydrogen can contribute a very varied electron density around that atom – ranging from a positively charged protic hydrogen atom to a negatively charged hydride. A feat which in itself is entirely due to the fact that there’s only a weedly little (but unshielded) +1 charge binding those electrons in place. Something that itself is controlled by rules within quantum chromodynamics and electrodynamics at a much more fundamental level than I care to describe right now. That all comes together to allow hydrogen atoms polarise very readily, to become positive or negative determined by what they’re next to, not because some magic entity declared it to be so with a few settings and dials. And then they attract, because opposing that force requires energy, which the universe simply doesn’t like doing because it’s a lazy bitch.

Once you truly understand the laws of chemistry, you realise that there really is no other way that these atoms could arrange themselves plausibly – and you can see that there is no way “design” played a part in all of this.

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2 thoughts on “Institute for Creation Research on water’s… erm, uniqueness.

  1. Yeah, that’s a hydrogen bond with hydrogen itself acting as the electron donor. Which is pretty damn cool.[citation needed]

    Being a chemist must make you pretty jaded if you’re even joking about that not being amazing…

    (I’ve never heard of them being called “NOF bonds,” but the acronym FON has long been taught to me as if they were the only possible donors.)

    Reply
    • FON might have been the one I read, but I’ve evidently remembered it the other way around. Not that it matters, as the dihydrogen bonds show they’re not the only donors by a long shot.

      Reply

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