Deuterium-onomy

Question from Moses:
I’m not going to enlighten you on my personal beliefs, because it is moot to my question that I will pose momentarily.

I have made note that your readers all seem to agree that science and rational thinking should be revered above all else.

And further understanding that choice is a free will, individual thought process or belief that may or may not be brought into actions.

So here is my rational, scientifically proven, free willed, intellectual question: “If there is no creation theory, then why isn’t the earth filled with abundant quantities of deuterium just as the rest of the solar system is?”

p.s. The world’s space agencies has sent, and continues to spend billions of dollars for, probes and robots searching for life, but science has proven that the water here on earth is certainly different than elsewhere in our solar system.

I await your response in earnest.

Answer by SmartLX:
Thanks in advance Moses, it’s almost never this simple.

Deuterium IS abundant on Earth; one in about 6,400 hydrogen atoms in ocean water is a deuterium isotope (which is just a hydrogen atom with a neutron) instead of the usual type. This ratio is higher than some of the objects in space we’ve been able to analyse, and lower than others. All measurements within the solar system including on Earth have been within 1-2 orders of magnitude (specifically a factor of ~30), with Halley’s Comet and Comet Hale Bopp near the high end and Jupiter’s atmosphere near the low end. The fact that our ratio is closer to the comets has caused some to theorise that comet collisions with the early Earth are the source of much of our water. There’s nothing special or unique about the ratio at all.

Your personal beliefs may be moot, but to an extent they are also obvious. Only a creationist would make an argument from ignorance based on the supposedly unknown reasons for a scientific factoid (and I’m not surprised that the factoid itself is bogus, though perhaps you are surprised), or use the term “creation theory”. Only devout theists are creationists because faith in a creator is ultimately the only compelling reason to be one. You might be a Christian creationist or a Muslim creationist; few other religions have so many.

As for the water, we’ve known about the ice crust on Europa since the 1970s and it’s likely that Mars and Venus had liquid water in the past. Multiple extrasolar planets are the right distance from their stars to have liquid water, provided water exists there; here’s a list.

7 thoughts on “Deuterium-onomy”

  1. “So here is my rational, scientifically proven, free willed, intellectual question: “If there is no creation theory, then why isn’t the earth filled with abundant quantities of deuterium just as the rest of the solar system is?”

    I’m trying to figure out what creation theory (or any theory of everything) has to do with the amount of heavy hydrogen on planet Earth compared to elsewhere in the universe. But I think I realized something – it doesn’t. You are asking about two separate, unrelated things.

    I got that figured out finally. Now if I can figure out what a “scientifically proven question” is, I’ll really be in the tall cotton…

    1. I think the association is as simple as the idea that if there is no explanation for something, and you state or imply that “God created the universe and happened to arrange it that way”, it becomes literally the only available explanation. It’s the archetype of an argument from ignorance, but this particular one fails even before it can be declared a logical fallacy because it turns out there isn’t even a something to explain.

  2. “Your personal beliefs may be moot, but to an extent they are also obvious. Only a creationist would make an argument from ignorance based on the supposedly unknown reasons for a scientific factoid (and I’m not surprised that the factoid itself is bogus, though perhaps you are surprised), or use the term “creation theory”. Only devout theists are creationists because faith in a creator is ultimately the only compelling reason to be one. You might be a Christian creationist or a Muslim creationist; few other religions have so many.”

    Well, SmartLX, with all due respect, you don’t seem to be particularly rational in your approach, as the above rather patronising quotation reveals. Science is – or should be – about evidence, and no one who cares about science should be concerned where the evidence leads. But isn’t it interesting that one theory – namely, the theory of intelligent causation (which is highly rational, and, in fact, I would suggest, that the validity of reason itself cannot be explained without it) is dismissed as merely “creationism” or “religious bias”? A true scientist should never be promoting atheism or theism. If sound consistent inference from the evidence suggests one or other view of reality, then so be it. It is abundantly clear from the empirical evidence of reality that the concept of an intelligent creator is entirely rational, and not merely an “argument from ignorance”. Indeed, if you want to cite “argument from ignorance” I could just as easily argue that “naturalism of the gaps” is a “filler theory” that is in no way proven – or even strongly suggested – by the evidence of reality.

    A truly rational scientist should have the grace, humility and intelligence to say (at the very least) “we don’t know” or “yes, I can understand why many intelligent people believe in intelligent causation”. The ‘argument’ that “the theory of intelligent causation is inherently scientifically invalid” is an example of epistemological (and indeed moral) illiteracy.

    The claim that “science equals atheism” or even suggests atheism, is one of the great myths of our age.

    1. Allistair, I might not have pursued the subject of Moses’ own beliefs if not for the fact that he withheld them so pointedly. It’s not as bad as when people pretend to be atheists to ask supposedly challenging questions, but it betrays the same assumption of prejudice: the idea that an atheist won’t take a Christian’s arguments seriously. I stand on my record in this regard; when a question is asked, I answer it as posed, and discuss the reason for the question separately if relevant.

      Moving on, the apparent validity of reason supports the existence of an intelligent cause only by way of yet another argument from ignorance. We don’t know why it’s the case, therefore it’s likely to be this particular hypothesis that happens to be around (not a scientific theory, as Tim’s already written). It’s the basis of presuppositional apologetics and the transcendental argument, and it’s precisely why these aren’t convincing if you don’t already believe. If you want to fill the gap in this argument, establish why a god is the only possible source of logic and reason, taking into account hypothetical sources that we haven’t thought of yet. Or try, and by doing so, discover why no one has.

      “Naturalism of the gaps” is a common phrase, though only in apologetics. To avoid it one need only allow for the possibility of the supernatural, which agnostic atheists like me do. It doesn’t affect science, because science only has the means to test for natural phenomena even if the supernatural is possible. Thus science doesn’t need to take a position on the existence of a god until there’s some substantive evidence for one.

  3. Allistair writes: [Science is – or should be – about evidence, and no one who cares about science should be concerned where the evidence leads.]

    I totally agree, and I think science does just that. Science only cares about getting it right.

    [But isn’t it interesting that one theory – namely, the theory of intelligent causation (which is highly rational, and, in fact, I would suggest, that the validity of reason itself cannot be explained without it) is dismissed as merely “creationism” or “religious bias”?]

    I don’t understand how you could write that sentence about how science should be about evidence, and then the very next sentence write such an unscientific statement!

    First off, “intelligent causation” is not a scientific theory. At best I’d call it a concept. Why isn’t it a theory? Because there isn’t even one single shred of evidence or empirical data that supports it. None. It is pure speculation, baseless and devoid of data. If you think science’s only job is to follow the evidence (as you stated), why should “intelligent causation” be considered? The concept is conjecture, nothing more.

    To call it highly rational is also rather dubious. There are plenty of false logic loops in the creationist story. We’ve touched on some of them in previous discussions. None of them have yet to be rectified by any believer on this site to date.

    Creationism is not dismissed by science because it is religion based. It isn’t even considered because there is nothing TO consider. No data, empirical evidence, or facts.

    I challenge you, directly, to provide us with such data or evidence. If you cannot then there is no reason to take up the concept of intelligent causation in a scientific discussion…

    [If sound consistent inference from the evidence suggests one or other view of reality, then so be it.]

    It does, and none of it points to creationism.

    [It is abundantly clear from the empirical evidence of reality that the concept of an intelligent creator is entirely rational, and not merely an “argument from ignorance”.]

    We shall see when you post your evidence….

    [Indeed, if you want to cite “argument from ignorance” I could just as easily argue that “naturalism of the gaps” is a “filler theory” that is in no way proven – or even strongly suggested – by the evidence of reality.]

    Then please argue it. I’d like to hear your detailed and scientific explanation of such a statement.

    [A truly rational scientist should have the grace, humility and intelligence to say (at the very least) “we don’t know” or “yes, I can understand why many intelligent people believe in intelligent causation”.]

    Science says “I don’t know” all the time. That’s because we don’t know everything, and that’s why we study and investigate and probe the world around us, so we can know something we didn’t previously. Scientists might even understand why someone might believe in creationism. Key word, of course, being “believe”. Because there isn’t any data for such a concept…

    [The ‘argument’ that “the theory of intelligent causation is inherently scientifically invalid” is an example of epistemological (and indeed moral) illiteracy.]

    It’s a completely rational conclusion to reach. It IS invalid because it is unsupported.

    [The claim that “science equals atheism” or even suggests atheism, is one of the great myths of our age.]

    Science does not equate atheism. Science is neither atheistic or theistic. As we’ve both said science just wants to get it right. What science has done, however, is consistently discover things that directly contradict theistic claims about the cosmos. It is this that might make science appear to be against religion. It isn’t against religion. What it has discovered and defined and explained, however, does not agree with religious claims. This is why science appears to be against religion.

    1. Tim:

      “First off, “intelligent causation” is not a scientific theory. At best I’d call it a concept. Why isn’t it a theory? Because there isn’t even one single shred of evidence or empirical data that supports it. None. It is pure speculation, baseless and devoid of data. If you think science’s only job is to follow the evidence (as you stated), why should “intelligent causation” be considered? The concept is conjecture, nothing more.”

      And therefore so is the idea of “non-intelligent causation”. I would be interested to know how you think one totally unobserved idea of causation (as in the case of the origin of reason) should be regarded as ‘scientific’ whereas another unobserved idea should not be.

      Science is not just about observation, but also inference. After all, if that were not the case, then bang goes the Big Bang, and indeed almost the entire theory of common descent, since not every single stage of this putative process has been observed. Therefore, according to your definition of what constitutes ‘science’, these theories are speculative,.

      We can infer the intelligent origin of reason, because we assume that reason is objectively valid, which it would not be within an entirely materialistic paradigm (reason being merely an emergent property of our evolving brains, and thus developing for reasons of utility and not truth). If you are a consistent materialist, then you would have to accept that you interpret reality as you do, because this viewpoint provides you with some utility (after all, this is what is projected onto so-called ‘religious’ people). Now I am well aware that you may think that the material human animal can discover ‘facts’ which are limited to that which is derived from observation and other forms of sense perception, and these ‘facts’ constitute what is defined as ‘truth’. This is perceived to be the function of science, which is taken to be the most effective and authoritative method of discovering reality. Of course, this assumption (indeed, dare I use the word ‘presupposition’) has not been arrived at by any empirical means, but, in fact, has the same epistemic status as any other metaphysical idea. Therefore your insinuation that evidence should be limited to empirical data rules out the validity of science itself, since it is not derived in this way or by this means. Thus naturalism cannot explain reason itself, because reason, by definition, has to be above the mere mechanics of material cause and effect. Non-reason clearly cannot be the origin of reason. Reason cannot be derived from specific material events, otherwise it would be entirely defined by them (and thus would be unable to speak about reality as a whole, but would be merely a tool to achieve some limited end with regard to human survival and well-being).

      You seem to think that a ‘scientific theory’ (according to your definition of science) is superior to a mere ‘concept’. I find that very strange. All scientific theories are concepts, and science itself is entirely dependent on certain assumptions, which are themselves subject to logic. Truth is thus much bigger than your limited conception of science.

      1. Allistair writes: [And therefore so is the idea of “non-intelligent causation”. I would be interested to know how you think one totally unobserved idea of causation (as in the case of the origin of reason) should be regarded as ‘scientific’ whereas another unobserved idea should not be.]

        We have gobs of evidence that shows that life has evolved over time from simple organisms to the complexity seen today. We have genetic evidence that all living things come from a common ancestor. We have quite a knowledge base about the laws of chemistry, physics, thermodynamics, etc, and we know that life works within these parameters. Life does not violate the rules of the universe in other words. We know the building blocks of life can be found in space, on asteroids and comets. We know of molecules that naturally make copies of themselves, proteins that fold themselves, and so forth because that is just a chemical property they have. No life or interference needed for those things to happen. Why shouldn’t we think the origins of life have a natural beginning?

        Don’t forget that there is ZERO empirical evidence for the existence of the supernatural, including entities that create things. Not one single scrap of data. I’ll ask you once again (as I have in so many of these threads already on this website) to provide some evidence of this creature. Assuming that you can prove the creature exists, you must then prove that it created anything. Just because the god creature exists doesn’t mean it went around making living things.

        You can ignore the mountain of data supporting the theory of evolution and pointing to an old Earth all you want, and continue to rationalize and speculate on what some unproven divine entity might have done. But that doesn’t change the fact that all the data points towards natural beginnings…

        [Science is not just about observation, but also inference. After all, if that were not the case, then bang goes the Big Bang, and indeed almost the entire theory of common descent, since not every single stage of this putative process has been observed. Therefore, according to your definition of what constitutes ‘science’, these theories are speculative,.]

        Science is about inference, but you can’t infer about anything until you have data and evidence to look at in the first place. There is all kinds of data and evidence, and it all points to natural beginnings. Inferring about ID is not scientific because there isn’t anything pointing towards that. It’s all baseless conjecture…

        [We can infer the intelligent origin of reason, because we assume that reason is objectively valid, which it would not be within an entirely materialistic paradigm (reason being merely an emergent property of our evolving brains, and thus developing for reasons of utility and not truth).]

        No, we cannot infer that. I hate to beat this dead horse, but you keep trying to lead it to water and get it to drink, only the evidence and data river is dry my friend. What evidence or data can you offer that shows that our ability to reason objectively has to come from an intelligent design? Once again, utter speculation on your part. What data or evidence can you provide that shows that objective reason cannot exist in a purely natural world? Again, you have nothing. You are guessing, sir, as you always do. Some in here would probably argue that reason is not actually objectively anyway, since we can never be sure we have all the information available and thus cannot be objective while data is missing or unknown. But that’s another discussion.

        [ If you are a consistent materialist, then you would have to accept that you interpret reality as you do, because this viewpoint provides you with some utility (after all, this is what is projected onto so-called ‘religious’ people)]

        The utility being the satisfaction of my curiosity and the desire to be intellectually honest with myself.

        [Now I am well aware that you may think that the material human animal can discover ‘facts’ which are limited to that which is derived from observation and other forms of sense perception, and these ‘facts’ constitute what is defined as ‘truth’. This is perceived to be the function of science, which is taken to be the most effective and authoritative method of discovering reality. Of course, this assumption (indeed, dare I use the word ‘presupposition’) has not been arrived at by any empirical means, but, in fact, has the same epistemic status as any other metaphysical idea.]

        I disagree, and I’m sure that does not surprise you. Yes, I think science is the best method man has of understanding and defining the natural phenomena we see and experience. Science is based on the validated and vetted open examination of information and data. Nothing else, not logic or philosophy or anything, has such requirements.

        [Therefore your insinuation that evidence should be limited to empirical data rules out the validity of science itself, since it is not derived in this way or by this means.]

        If it’s not empirical it isn’t verifiable. You and I both know that you can get a “true” statement in logic or philosophy that is, in reality, completely false. If it isn’t “empirical” it can’t be considered “evidence” or “data”. You really want to set up a system of understanding and discovery on something that can’t be verified? What a horrendous idea.

        [Thus naturalism cannot explain reason itself, because reason, by definition, has to be above the mere mechanics of material cause and effect.]

        Incorrect, for all the reasons already stated above.

        [Non-reason clearly cannot be the origin of reason.]

        This is another variant of the self-defeating theist argument that holds that life can’t come from non-life and intelligence can’t come from non-intelligence. Then the atheist asks how the god creature that supposedly brought it (reason or life or intelligence) did so if the god creature’s reason and life and intelligence can’t exist until a designer made that happen. Then the theist invokes the exception rule, saying the god creature just always had life, intelligence, and reason. But in doing so the theist just admitted that life, intelligence, and reason does not have to be created to exist, and therefore defeats their own argument.

        Or we could just comment in another direction, which is that man did not create reason. The reason why things happen has always been there. What hasn’t been there is the ability to determine that reason, to figure it out. Reason has been there because the universe is constant (or at least incredibly stable), and that is what allows reason to exist. The development of the human mind allows those reasons to be discovered and documented.

        [Reason cannot be derived from specific material events, otherwise it would be entirely defined by them (and thus would be unable to speak about reality as a whole, but would be merely a tool to achieve some limited end with regard to human survival and well-being).]

        See above.

        [You seem to think that a ‘scientific theory’ (according to your definition of science) is superior to a mere ‘concept’. I find that very strange. All scientific theories are concepts, and science itself is entirely dependent on certain assumptions, which are themselves subject to logic. Truth is thus much bigger than your limited conception of science.]

        A theory is superior to a concept in science, and if that needs to be explained to you then you do not have a usable understanding of the scientific method. All theories start out as concepts, but not all concepts reach the stage of being a theory.

        Truth may be bigger than science, but that doesn’t make the work of science invalid or inaccurate.

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