Re: Probing the Chemistry of Creation

Howard J. Van Till (
Tue, 3 Aug 1999 09:00:47 -0400

Regarding the effort of the scientific community to develop a convincing
scenario for the formation of the first living organisms, someone said,

"IMHO the materialist-naturalists have already lost because after 40 years
of trying, they have exhausted all simple and hence plausible naturalistic
explanations. If they ever do manage to work out a series of steps that
leads from non-living chemicals to a truly living system, IMHO it will look
so contrived that it will be an argument for *Intelligent Design*, not for
a `blind watchmaker'."

Suppose that physicists had followed the same line of reasoning with regard
to a much simpler phenomenon, one that can be observed routinely in the
laboratory. Here, for instance, is an excerpt from an encyclopedia on the
topic of superconductivity:

"Superconductivity is a low-temperature phenomenon in which a metal loses
all electrical resistance below a certain temperature called the critical
temperature (Tc). This unusual behavior was discovered in 1911 by a Dutch
physicist, Heike KAMERLINGH ONNES. In experiments to measure the resistance
of frozen mercury, he and one of his graduate students discovered that the
resistance vanished completely at a temperature of 4.15K (-289 degrees C).
In 1913, Onnes won the Nobel prize for physics for his discovery."

As simple and repeatable as the phenomenon of superconductivity is,
however, there was no satisfactory explanation for it until 47 years later.
Continuing the encyclopedia's story:

"The BCS Theory, a theory of superconductivity at the microscopic level,
was presented in 1958 by American physicists John BARDEEN, Leon N. COOPER,
and John R. SCHRIEFFER for which they were awarded the 1972 Nobel Prize in

"While the BCS theory has been quite successful in explaining the
properties of metallic superconductors, it fails to explain several
important aspects of new ceramic superconductors. Many models have been
proposed to explain high-temperature superconductivity, but thus far none
has received widespread acceptance."

So, it would appear that superconductivity was clearly an ID type
phenomenon from 1951 (1911 + 40) until 1958. Even now, although
superconductivity in metals may have a "materialistic-naturalistic"
explanation, perhaps superconductivity in ceramics is still an example of
ID. It might even be argued that the BCS theory, with its appeal to
phonon-coupled electron pairs, is so contrived as to be best seen as
support for *Intelligent Design.*


Howard Van Till