Creationism and Organic Chemistry

We are always impressed by what one can learn from creationists about science. Today’s example is provided by Answers in Genesis (AIG), one of the major sources of young-earth creationist wisdom. They have wonderfully educational article at their website: Carbon, The Building Blocks of Life. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

Some of the most spectacular wonders that God created remain hidden from the naked eye, and we just take them for granted.

Atoms are no exception. Virtually everything in the universe is made from about ninety kinds of atoms.

Actually (if we ignore dark matter) the whole universe is mostly hydrogen, but we’ll just relax here and move along with the article:

From the ground you walk on to the food you eat, almost everything is made of atoms.

Almost everything? Oh, right — for a moment there we had forgotten about non-atomic food. Jeepers — this is a great article! Let’s read on:

The properties of atoms are not random but fall into logical categories, which we organize into a chart called the periodic table of elements.

The periodic table charts the properties of atoms? Well, in a way that’s true. Okay, let us continue:

Atoms consist of three basic particles — protons, neutrons, and electrons. Simply by rearranging these particles, God formed millions of substances, each with its own texture, appearance, smell, and other unique properties.

Right — just shuffle those neutrons around and everything smells different. It’s quite amazing. Here’s more:

Can you imagine ordering just three types of materials to construct your entire house, including the roof, window panes, a leather couch, and even the milk in the refrigerator? That’s the ingenuity of our Creator.

Aaaargh!! Moving along:

Of particular interest to living things are carbon atoms. Carbon is found in all living things. Like a Swiss Army knife, carbon is extremely versatile. It easily bonds with almost every other element on the periodic table.

Yes! Just the other day we mixed some up in a blender with a bit of helium and produced a batch of helium carbide. Wonderful stuff!

Here’s the end:

What kind of designer could develop such flexible building material? God, the chief architect of life, had all the blueprints in hand before He ever laid the foundations of the earth.

Hey, that was good! Maybe next week they’ll post an article about Vitalism.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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43 responses to “Creationism and Organic Chemistry

  1. Was this written FOR a second grader or BY a second grader?


    I especially liked this cheery, loving Christian sentiment: The contrast between black coal and sparkling diamonds is a wonderful reminder of God’s grace, which transforms worthless sinners, fit only for burning, into precious gems that are “forever.”

    Fit only for burning, eh? How very special!

  2. They don’t mention that everything heavier than helium was made by stars which went supernova. Or, maybe they believe God just poofed carbon into existance when he “laid the foundations of the earth”. Curious oversight, however.

  3. Doc Bill asks: “Was this written FOR a second grader or BY a second grader?”

    I imagine it’s written for the homeschool market.

  4. At the risk of sounding stupid… hydrogen carbide? I knew about carbides (certain metal carbides and covalent carbides like boron carbide), but never heard of that one. Is it even possible, or is that the joke?

    I’m intrigued.

  5. It’s fluorine that bonds with almost every element, if not always easily with the noble gases–and evidently not with argon.

    Carbon is the lego set of the elements. Most importantly, it’s able to bond with four other carbons to make almost unlimited forms.

    And it’s made “by chance” in the stars, blown out “by chance” in supernova II and supernova 1a explosions, primarily. How marvelous of the designer to utilize chance up until the point of life, and then he makes life appear to be unintelligently constructed by genetic algorithms. Who but God would think so wonderfully, uh, stupidly?

  6. Helium carbide! It’s basic to … well, to lots of things.

  7. I’ll try the html formatting again with the last sentence:

    Who but God would think so wonderfully, uh, stupidly?

    I need to know which ones work here. Pharyngula won’t take “del,” while here “s” apparently doesn’t work. If a strike-thru appears in “wonderfully” above, then “del” works here, and if not, it seems that strike-thru isn’t possible here.

  8. Glen Davidson says: “I need to know which ones work here.”

    Use “less than” and “greater than” instead of brackets in what follows: Besides bold [strong] and italics [em] and [blockquote] you can use [del] for strikethrough and also — although I’ve never used it before — you can use [ins] for insert. That looks like this.

    Afterword: Insert doesn’t show. In some themes you get a colored background.

  9. Apparently the deprecated ones are out here, then–probably for the best, really. While scienceblogs requires deprecated tags in some, but not most, cases. Blogspot requires solely deprecated tags, and only a few of those.

  10. Blogspot requires solely deprecated tags, and only a few of those.

    Except for [a], which isn’t deprecated–the only exception so far as I know.

  11. Almost everything?? Almost everything?? :::facepalm:::

  12. Some themes available here at WordPress do a better job in the comments area. I’d particularly like numbered comments, but this theme is rather Spartan. That’s unfortunate. Still, I like the way the blog looks, so I’ll stick with this until something better comes along.

  13. D’oh! Helium carbide… ok got it.

  14. Ellie – not everything is made of atoms. There are all those supernatural entities, for example, and entire places like heaven and hell which are not made of atoms. Can’t forget those….

  15. Hey – nothing wrong with homeschooling! There are a few of us out here who don’t homeschool to pound in creationist dribble. We just didn’t want our daughter to be limited by our local schools standards. She’s testing about 2 grades above her age group so we’re happy.
    But yeah, we know plenty of homeschool families who do it for religious reasons so I guess that’s what everyone thinks of when the subject comes up. Too bad.

  16. fathersky says: “Hey – nothing wrong with homeschooling!”

    Nothing personal. I was thinking of some publishers whose books are written for that market. One called “A Beka” for example.

  17. larianlequella

    Dear “The Curmudgeon”,

    Please don’t take the p*ss out of these folks. They are too blindly stupid to know what you are doing. *gag* *puke*

    Okay, I couldn’t do that with a straight face. Just writing that made me throw up in my mouth a little bit… Take these f***ing retards to the task! The world would be a better place if they didn’t have a platform to spew their ignorance from. Please keep at it, and mock them into the oblivion they deserve!

  18. At the risk of sounding stupid… hydrogen carbide?


    To be fair, it IS true- except for the noble gases, carbon can bind with just about any other element. Covalent and coordination bonding.

    You can imagine how much fun I am at parties.

  19. SY says: “You can imagine how much fun I am at parties.”

    What’s a party?

  20. Virtually everything in the universe is made from about ninety kinds of atoms.

    Except that is isn’t; observational data combined with presently accepted cosmological theory leads to a conclusion that only about 4% of the universe is ordinary atom “stuff” — roughly a quarter is “dark matter” (not atoms,) and nearly three quarters is dark energy (who knows what it is, but definitely not atoms). Hell, most of the universe isn’t even baryonic.

    The article reads like a Jack Chick preprint…..

  21. Longie says: “The article reads like a Jack Chick preprint…..”

    To me it sounds like blasphemy! All that stuff about carbon is just wrong. Genesis 2:7 says that man was formed of dust. Not carbon, dust!

  22. SC, that brings to mind a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Dust Bunnies”?

  23. Acetylene= ethyne (H-C [triple bond] C-H]. What does helium carbide look like… He=C=He?

    I know the difference between an organic molecule like methane or ethyne and an inorganic molecule like a carbide has to do with the EN differences.

    That’s why the notion of a hydrogen carbide confused me. Bad reading on my part. Duh.

  24. The internet is not forthcoming on this. Is this carbide a transition/ intermediary step to another carbide or something? How do the orbitals work in that molecule?

  25. Helium, as the top member of the noble gases, doesn’t form any stable compounds. No carbides, sorry; I think that would stump even Neil Bartlett. But if you take out helium, argon, neon, krypton, xenon, and radon, you’re still left with 85 other naturally occurring elements that can form covalent or coordination bonds with carbon.

    Cliff Clavin-style trivia: it’s a little known fact that, despite xenon’s nearly non-reactive nature, breathing it will get you quite high, very similar to nitrous oxide.

  26. LRA, all “carbide” means is that the carbon is attached to a less electronegative atom or atoms. Commonly, we work with calcium carbide and sodium carbide (fairly ionic bonds), which react strongly with water to displace the cation and replace it with hydrogen (forming acetylene). In fact, calcium or sodium carbides are sometimes referred to as acetylides.

    The strongly covalent nature of carbon is evidenced in the extremely stable and hard silicon carbides and boron carbides.

  27. Ken Ham and his merry band of ignorant knuckle-draggers are a hoot!

    Only problem is, they are very influential with a large segment of the American population, who are also incredibly ignorant of almost everything.

    I don’t know which to fear the most: The possible theocracy looming in our future because of the religious right, or the idiocracy we now live in, again fueled by the religious right.

  28. Doc said:

    Was this written FOR a second grader or BY a second grader?

    I’d be more concerned if it was written FOR a second grader. Almost all of the second graders I know have more sense than this, so it would not have been written BY one.
    Quick story: A visiting friend dropped in to the Smithsonian Natural History museum one day and was standing next to one of the dinosaur fossils. As he’s standing there, he kind of mutters to himself, “Is this the T-rex?” At which point, a young boy (he said somewhere between 7-9) says, “Oh, it’s a (whatever it was), which you can tell by looking at the number of toes. See? Look at the feet, and then…” He want on to a rather lengthy and detailed explanation of how to tell the different dinosaurs apart. My friend (who was a pre-med at the time) said he felt like he should have taken notes!
    As always, there’s hope, my friends.

  29. Argon fluorohydride?

  30. LRA asks: “What does helium carbide look like… He=C=He?”

    Your problem is that you’re thinking in terms of two-dimensional diagrams. Picture the diagram for each Helium atom rotated 90 degrees, so that you’re seeing them edge-on, with an electron at top and bottom. In that position, place one of them on each side of a Carbon atom’s diagram (that diagram is facing you). The Helium atoms will fit quite nicely into their ordained places in Carbon’s outer electron orbit.

    (The scary thing is that it just might work!)

  31. Another one of those arguments that goes like this:

    No intelligent designer whose work we know would do anything like this, therefore it must have been intelligently designed.

  32. The Helium atoms will fit quite nicely into their ordained places in Carbon’s outer electron orbit.

    To quote our illustrious host…

  33. SY says: “AGGGH!”

    You can at least teach the controversy.

  34. Simply by rearranging these particles, God formed millions of substances, each with its own texture, appearance, smell, and other unique properties

    …poisonous, toxic, carcinogenic, flammable, radioactive, explosive…don’t thank Him for all of those at once!

    Can you imagine ordering just three types of materials to construct your entire house, including the roof, window panes, a leather couch, and even the milk in the refrigerator? That’s the ingenuity of our Creator.

    I particularly like how he made one of the most effective medicines for treating heart disease one of the most powerful explosives of the 20th century. Truly inspired work, that – requiring humans to produce vast quantities of high explosives just to treat a problem with our intelligently designed cardiovascular system.

    I also like how he used DNA for both humans and everything trying to eat/kill us. Some piker atheist might point out that it would have been in our best interests to make us more distinct from our environment, so we would be largely immune to disease, poisons, etc… – and that that using the same building blocks for us and everything else is only a ‘feature’ in the Microsoft sense of the word – but I would never have the poor taste to mention that.

  35. They may want to make a Telluride of Helium; Te=He=He.

  36. Rocket Mike says: “a Telluride of Helium; Te=He=He.”

    There’s also another noble gas compound, made with Argon, Gallium, and Hydrogen: ArGaHHHH

    Wait, it’s made with Argon, Rhodium, and Hydrogen: ArRhHHH.

  37. Wait, it’s made with Argon, Rhodium, and Hydrogen: ArRhHHH.

    That would be Piratetonium, right?

  38. Longie says: “That would be Piratetonium, right?”

    ArRhHHH is commonly known as Curmudgeonite.

  39. “The Helium atoms will fit quite nicely into their ordained places in Carbon’s outer electron orbit.”

    Yeah. I’m gonna need you to go ahead and VSEPR that for me.


  40. There is but One God, and His name is Gillespie.

    BTW, did you know that Charles Coulson (originator of modern valence bond theory) created the term “God of the Gaps”? There must be something about theoretical chemistry that attracts creationists- Fritz Schaefer (whose textbooks I used in college) is another prominent creationist.

  41. And here I was hoping for a helium carbide bit for my drill. It sounds like something out of Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon.

  42. Gabriel Hanna

    If your definition of “bond” is sufficiently broadminded, helium does f0rm “molecules” of helium, as do all the other noble gases.

    Neutral spherical atoms attract each other (van der Waals attraction); if the temperature is low and the atoms are heavy, the attraction will produce a stably bound “molecule”. The noble gases will all form bound pairs. The helium “dimer” is the longest bond in existence (55 angstroms, usually bonds are a few angstroms long).

    Spin-aligned hydrogen and tritium will not form bound pairs, but will form bound states if enough atoms are present. For atomic tritium you need three, for atomic hydrogen its a lot but I did calculations for over a hundred and never found it.

    I would call these “molecules”, however, “liquids made out of a few atoms”. Because neutral spherical atoms screen almost all of their nuclear charge, electrons in one atom can’t be associated with the other atom’s nucleus (which is the usual case). A “normal” bond involves the electrons in one atom interacting with the nucleus of the other, a van der Waals bond is an interaction between whole atoms.

    For people like LRA who did VSEPR, I think that most molecule software doesn’t even have van der Waals attraction in it. Certainly Gaussian doesn’t, it models the repulsion between neutral spherical atoms very well but it has no way to get the attraction, because it’s a whole atom effect, and not something you get by linear combinations of individual electron states.

    As for noble gas compunds, xenon makes true compounds, and argon makes one (HArF). Neon and helium are not known to make any.

    Sorry to go on at length but argon was the main subject of my dissertation.

  43. Gabriel Hanna says: “… argon was the main subject of my dissertation.”

    The only response is Arghhhhhhhhhhh!