The Wonder of Water

In the properties of water the cosmos is revealed to be a transcendent unity, with life on Earth and beings of our biological design as its central aim and focus.

– Michael Denton

I love a good science book and this one is right up there. It’s both readable and informative. Water is truly unique in its properties and the way they conspire together to make life like ours on a planet like Earth possible. This book not only sets forth many of the unique properties of water but also explains why they are teleological, not only with respect to specific ends but also with respect to teleological hierarchies. Chalk up another one for Intelligent Design.

Chapter List

1. The Water Wheel
2. Tectonic Recycling
3. Preserving the Ocean
4. The Climate Machine
5. Water, Trees, and Light
6. Water and Human Physiology
7. Water and the Cell
8. Conclusion

http://WonderOfWater.org

150 thoughts on “The Wonder of Water

  1. Water is definitely really cool. I remember the first time I learned why water has a weak electrical charge. It made a lot clear to me why lots of chemical reactions require aqueous solutions in order to work.

    To get the fine-tuning argument off the ground, it would have to be posed as something like, “why do the fundamental variables have precisely the values that they do such that stellar nucelosynthesis can generate the elements necessary for complex molecules?”

    As always, I hasten to add that if complex molecules can form living things without any further interference, then the fine-tuning of the cosmos is the only place where it is reasonable to posit a Demiurge. Or maybe there are two Demiurges, one for the cosmos and another for life? Maybe a third Demiurge for multicellular organisms, a fourth Demiurge for bilateral metazoans, a few more tucked away here and there, and finally a seventh or eighth Demiurge responsible for guiding hominids from sentience to sapience?

  2. dazz, to J-Mac:

    You’re the double slit experiment poster boy: both gone and still here

    That’s at least a triple entendre.

  3. CharlieM: How do you know that there is a lot more dust, rocks, and sand, than life in the universe? How do you know that stars and galaxies are not living entities?

    How do we know we are?

    Are we not at the same evolutionary level as bacteria? Do the bacteria in your gut know that the environment they are living in is in fact a living being?

    Proof by anology?

  4. dazz: You’re the double slit experiment poster boy: both gone and still here

    In double slit experiment involving the hidden “observer” behind the slit, electrons “travel back in time”…that is if there is such a thing as time in quantum mechanics…
    So, if time is an illusion, as it appears to be, I have left and had already returned before I have left… It’s simple in QM… 😉

    Next time you attempt to judge God, remember that time for Him doesn’t exists… or at least it is not linear as it is for you…

  5. J-Mac: The properties of water or the atoms bonding together to form water molecule are not inherent in any equations. The Schrodinger equation DESCRIBES quantum mechanical BEHAVIOR of very small particles mainly on subatomic level

    At what level do the properties of the elements exist?

  6. J-Mac: Next time you attempt to judge God, remember that time for Him doesn’t exists… or at least it is not linear as it is for you…

    I thought you believed time does not exist at all. If that is the case,…

  7. Joe Felsenstein: Which is precisely my point.You can’t tinker with the properties of water separately— they come from Schrödinger Wave Equation.

    No, the chem teacher just explained that all those properties of all elements came out of the SWE.

    Any handwaving would be on the part of the person who wanted to see water as “designed”.

    What is the contradictory point to what the video said??
    Why is God referred to as SHE?? Another wave of feminism I think!
    anyways.
    I wiki this S-wave law.
    It is about fixed properties in nature being affected by curves in nature.
    Thats the point!
    the video shows how its so fine tuned it could only be from a creator.
    Your s-wave law says its fine tuned also.
    Even at quantum levels its proves how the essence of the attributes of water are held in tight lines.
    I don’t know much about these physic things except from youtube . Yet I don’t trust the conclusions. I think they got it wrong past Einstein or a few more years.
    Even then its suspicious.
    If its no better then evolutionism THEN ITS WORTHLESS conclusions and terrible scientific methodology.
    Physics comparisons are not trustworthy.
    Anyways.
    Waves change nothing about bullseye results.

  8. Robert Byers: Why is God referred to as SHE??

    Haha, you might try to hide your distaste a little, Robert.

    Anyway, nobody mentioned God. We were discussing the designer. The identity of the designer is off-limits if I am not mistaken, so might as well be a she.

  9. phoodoo: That seems to be the problem.

    Perhaps. Perhaps my lack of understanding of how the conclusions you seek, follow from the premises you state, is caused by your inability to make sense, or detail the logical connection between them. In fact, I’m quite sure that is the case.

    Its also why you can’t understand, that if you are to have choices, then both good and bad must exist.

    I request that we take that subject up in it’s designated thread.

  10. CharlieM: How do you know that there is a lot more dust, rocks, and sand, than life in the universe? How do you know that stars and galaxies are not living entities?

    By having a definition of life that doesn’t include stars and galaxies.

    If you define life to include stars and galaxies, then I submit that the properties of water, or rocks, are completely irrelevant to the existence of life. Then whatever poo-ID pseudo-argument Michael Denton, and Mung by extension, are trying to advance here, is without merit. I’ll gladly leave you to take my place in your argument with them.

    Are we not at the same evolutionary level as bacteria?

    I don’t even know what you mean by “evolutionary level”.

    Do the bacteria in your gut know that the environment they are living in is in fact a living being?

    I’m persuaded that they don’t, not that I see the relevance of what bacteria know about anything to this discussion.

  11. newton: I thought you believed time does not exist at all. If that is the case,…

    Einstein once said, “For we convinced physicists, the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, however persistent.”
    Which means REALITY could and probably is timeless…

    Time is inescapable FOR US. We measure it…We see the effects of its “passing”… such as aging…But not for God… Einstein knew about it because he wanted to get to know THE MIND OF GOD…

  12. newton:

    CharlieM: How do you know that there is a lot more dust, rocks, and sand, than life in the universe? How do you know that stars and galaxies are not living entities?

    How do we know we are?

    Because we are the ones who get to define what we mean by “life”.

    Are we not at the same evolutionary level as bacteria? Do the bacteria in your gut know that the environment they are living in is in fact a living being?

    Proof by anology?

    I’m am not trying to prove anything, I am offering questions that I would say are worth thinking about.

  13. Rumraket: By having a definition of life that doesn’t include stars and galaxies.

    Then if you had said “carbon based life” then I would have agreed with you. But I would not insist that all life must be carbon based.

    If you define life to include stars and galaxies, then I submit that the properties of water, or rocks, are completely irrelevant to the existence of life. Then whatever poo-ID pseudo-argument Michael Denton, and Mung by extension, are trying to advance here, is without merit. I’ll gladly leave you to take my place in your argument with them.

    But their arguments are relevant to life on earth. They are discussing life as it is found on earth, you are the one who made a generalisation of life throughout the whole universe.

    I don’t even know what you mean by “evolutionary level”.

    I am thinking about what it means to be “more evolved” or “less evolved”. But it is taking the discussion off topic so I’ll say no more.

    I’m persuaded that they don’t, not that I see the relevance of what bacteria know about anything to this discussion.

    True enough. I’ll let it drop.

  14. Here is some interesting research:

    The Dance Of Water: New Insight Into Water’s Strange Bulk Properties

    Water is familiar to everyone—it shapes our bodies and our planet. But despite this abundance, the molecular structure of water has remained a mystery, with the substance exhibiting many strange properties that are still poorly understood. Recent work at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and several universities in Sweden and Japan, however, is shedding new light on water’s molecular idiosyncrasies, offering insight into its strange bulk properties.

    In all, water exhibits 66 known anomalies, including a strangely varying density, large heat capacity and high surface tension…

    “Understanding these anomalies is very important because water is the ultimate basis for our existence: no water, no life,” said SLAC scientist Anders Nilsson, who is leading the experimental efforts. “Our work helps explain these anomalies on the molecular level at temperatures which are relevant to life.”

    66 known anomalies! I didn’t realise there were so many.

  15. J-Mac: In double slit experiment involving the hidden “observer” behind the slit, electrons “travel back in time”…that is if there is such a thing as time in quantum mechanics…
    So, if time is an illusion, as it appears to be, I have left and had already returned before I have left… It’s simple in QM

    Time is not an illusion in either quantum mechanics or general relativity. The laws of quantum mechanics are time-symmetric, which means that the kinds of transformation they allow are different from classical mechanics. Nor is time an illusion in general relativity, even if one thinks (as apparently Einstein did) in a “block universe”, a finite but unbounded four-dimensional geometric structure.

    The most that one can say is that neither general relativity nor quantum mechanics contain anything like ‘the arrow of time’. But the arrow of time is not just a bit of our embodied phenomenology. It’s also crucial to thermodynamics and all sciences constrained by the laws of thermodynamics.

    So the question is not, “how can we transcend the limits of our embodied temporal consciousness and attain awareness of the universe sub specie aeternitatis“” but rather “how can we understand thermodynamics in terms of quantum mechanics and/or general relativity?”

  16. CharlieM: Because we are the ones who get to define what we mean by “life”.

    Most of us don’t define life in such a way to include rocks and dust

  17. newton: Most of us don’t define life in such a way to include rocks and dust

    Rumraket seems upset though that no one is writing books on the fitness of water for rocks and dust.

  18. Mung: Rumraket seems upset though that no one is writing books on the fitness of water for rocks and dust.

    Or the fitness of water to create comets whose impacts can cause the extinction of life. Another miracle of the schizophrenia of design

  19. Mung:

    CharlieM: 66 known anomalies! I didn’t realise there were so many.

    And all of them inherent in the Schrödinger Wave Equation.

    If you know where else they come from, do let us know. Maybe a super-hyper genome is out there that somehow encodes the properties of chemical compounds?

  20. Joe Felsenstein: If you know where else they come from, do let us know.

    They don’t come from equations. Gravity doesn’t come from an equation, and Newton’s laws of motion don’t cause things to move.

  21. Mung:

    Joe Felsenstein: If you know where else they come from, do let us know.

    They don’t come from equations. Gravity doesn’t come from an equation, and Newton’s laws of motion don’t cause things to move.

    So how does an Intelligent Designer go about changing the properties of water so that they are inconsistent with the Schrödinger Wave Equation? Where does she go to make the change?

  22. IN THIS chapter [Chapter 1] we have seen that it is the unique capacity of water to exist in the three states of matter in the ambient temperature range, in conjunction with the low viscosity of ice and water, that makes possible the hydrological cycle, which has reliably delivered water to the terrestrial ecosystems of planet Earth for millions of years. And because the turning of the hydrological wheel depends largely on the unique properties of water, this means that in effect, water, the very matrix of life, delivers itself to land-based ecosystems by its own capacities. We also have seen that water further possesses just the right suite of diverse chemical and physical properties for the efficient erosion and weathering of the rocks, and for extracting the essential nutrients of life, while at the same time generating the key constituents of the soils that store that vital harvest for the benefit of plant life and indirectly all animal life on land. In the case of water’s erosional and weathering abilities, it is hard to imagine any phenomenon more indicative of design. Here is a diverse set of physical and chemical properties that convey the impression of having been arranged specifically to the end of breaking down rocks both mechanically and chemically. Even if just one property were involved in eroding the rocks it would be wonder enough, especially in conjunction with the fact that the hydrological cycle depends, as discussed above, on the unique capacity of water to exist in multiple states in ambient conditions. But already we have touched on not one but at least five different properties of water that work together in the task of breaking down rocks and weathering minerals: (1) water’s ability to exist in three different states in the ambient temperature range; (2) water’s high surface tension; (3) water’s expansion on freezing; (4) water’s viscosity; and (5) water’s capacity to dissolve an unusually wide variety of substances.

    – Denton, Michael. The Wonder of Water: Water’s Profound Fitness for Life on Earth and Mankind (The Privileged Species Series) (Kindle Locations 362-372). Discovery Institute Press. Kindle Edition.

  23. Joe Felsenstein: They don’t come from equations. Gravity doesn’t come from an equation, and Newton’s laws of motion don’t cause things to move.

    So how does an Intelligent Designer go about changing the properties of water so that they are inconsistent with the Schrödinger Wave Equation?Where does she go to make the change?

    Actually its THEY(the trinity and not she or he)
    Anyways
    The creator made the system he made these WAVES and the elements to fit in and around.
    Why would THEY change the properties and threaten this s-wave thing?? if its a true thing of coarse.
    Why are you asking the creator to change things to prove the creator did not already makes things fine tuned?
    The creator created this WAVE thing and merged it all together.
    Thats the point of the video and the ID scientists on it.

  24. Kantian Naturalist: Time is not an illusion in either quantum mechanics or general relativity. The laws of quantum mechanics are time-symmetric, which means that the kinds of transformation they allow are different from classical mechanics. Nor is time an illusion in general relativity, even if one thinks (as apparently Einstein did) in a “block universe”, a finite but unbounded four-dimensional geometric structure.

    Either general relativity or quantum mechanics has to be wrong as they can’t be unified. QM has been 100% reliable. On which one would you bet to be wrong?

    Kantian Naturalist: The most that one can say is that neither general relativity nor quantum mechanics contain anything like ‘the arrow of time’. But the arrow of time is not just a bit of our embodied phenomenology. It’s also crucial to thermodynamics and all sciences constrained by the laws of thermodynamics.

    So, you don’t accept that electrons travel back in time to change their properties due to conscious observer because there is no arrow of time attached to QM

    Kantian Naturalist: So the question is not, “how can we transcend the limits of our embodied temporal consciousness and attain awareness of the universe sub specie aeternitatis“” but rather “how can we understand thermodynamics in terms of quantum mechanics and/or general relativity?”

    Unfortunately, our consciousness poses another problem to the “arrow of time” in our everyday life (where time seems to have the arrow of time in one direction; from the past toward the future) with backward causation, where experiments have shown that our conscious experience (proven by MRI imaging) of emotional responses in brain activity to be up to 4 seconds before the stimuli…If consciousness it emergent, material product of the brain, there is a problem with the arrow of time in our everyday, material life. How could this be if time is real?

  25. Robert Byers: Why are you asking the creator to change things to prove the creator did not already makes things fine tuned?
    The creator created this WAVE thing and merged it all together.
    Thats the point of the video and the ID scientists on it.

    Actually this is totally to-the-point. Yes, I think that the Discovery Institute is presenting an argument that things are already fine-tuned the way they are, and is not presenting any case that any Designer intervened since.

    Byers and I would disagree as to whether fine-tunedness of properties of water are really fine-tuned. Others herehave pointed out all sorts of other things that look unpleasant about the chemistry of the universe.

    But we would all agree that the DI intends to make the case, not for a Designer that intervenes, but for a Creation so wonderful it could not have occurred by chance. Whatever it means for the particle interactions that lead to the Schrödinger Wave Equation to “occur by chance”. As if we knew what kind of universe we would have if the Designer just made the universe by rolling dice.

  26. J-Mac: Einstein once said, “For we convinced physicists, the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, however persistent.”
    Which means REALITY could and probably is timeless…


    Time is inescapable FOR US. We measure it…We see the effects of its “passing”… such as aging…But not for God… Einstein knew about it because he wanted to get to know THE MIND OF GOD…

    I like some of einsteins ideas but this is dumb.
    Its okay to say God/heaven is eternal and so TIMELESS.
    Yet we do not live in a illusion of time.
    God did not create a illusion of time.
    These convinced physicists are screwing things up as usual.
    They are drawing conclusions from minor details.
    The same problems in evolutionism.
    Too quick without better reflection and other options.

    This shows there is room for better ideas in this physics stuff.
    Saying we don’t live in tIME is like those who say everything is just atoms or those who say our bodies are just water and a wee bit of chemicals.
    They are missing the bigger equations here surely.
    Et Tu Einstein??! I’m surprised at him. i knew the ones after him said drew obviously wrong conclusions but good grief.
    For sure the wrong people interfere with better people in the circles that deal with these things.

  27. J-Mac: Unfortunately, our consciousness poses another problem to the “arrow of time” in our everyday life (where time seems to have the arrow of time in one direction; from the past toward the future) with backward causation, where experiments have shown that our conscious experience (proven by MRI imaging) of emotional responses in brain activity to be up to 4 seconds before the stimuli…If consciousness it emergent, material product of the brain, there is a problem with the arrow of time in our everyday, material life. How could this be if time is real?

    “Haynes and his colleagues imaged the brains of 14 volunteers while they performed a decision-making task. The volunteers were asked to press one of two buttons when they felt the urge to. Each button was operated by a different hand. At the same time, a stream of letters were presented on a screen at half-second intervals, and the volunteers had to remember which letter was showing when they decided to press their button.

    When the researchers analysed the data, the earliest signal the team could pick up started seven seconds before the volunteers reported having made their decision. Because of there is a delay of a few seconds in the imaging, this means that the brain activity could have begun as much as ten seconds before the conscious decision. The signal came from a region called the frontopolar cortex, at the front of the brain, immediately behind the forehead.

    This area may well be the brain region where decisions are initiated, says Haynes, who reports the results online in Nature Neuroscience1.

    The next step is to speed up the data analysis to allow the team to predict people’s choices as their brains are making them.”

  28. newton,

    That’s different. In the experiment you’re referring to (which is a variation on the classic Libet experiment), the subjects are spontaneously deciding to act, rather than responding to a stimulus.

    J-Mac is describing a scenario in which the subjects are responding to a stimulus, and the response to the stimulus precedes the stimulus itself:

    …experiments have shown that our conscious experience (proven by MRI imaging) of emotional responses in brain activity to be up to 4 seconds before the stimuli…

    I am skeptical and would like to see a citation. J-Mac?

  29. Joe Felsenstein:

    [Mung] They don’t come from equations. Gravity doesn’t come from an equation, and Newton’s laws of motion don’t cause things to move.

    So how does an Intelligent Designer go about changing the properties of water so that they are inconsistent with the Schrödinger Wave Equation?Where does she go to make the change?

    I think Mung is suggesting you are making a map/territory error by implying the Schrödinger equation is a prescriptive law rather than a predictive model.

  30. keiths:
    newton,

    That’s different.In the experiment you’re referring to(which is a variation on the classic Libet experiment), the subjects are spontaneously deciding to act, rather than responding to a stimulus.

    J-Mac is describing a scenario in which the subjects are responding to a stimulus, and the response to the stimulus precedes the stimulus itself:

    I am skeptical and would like to see a citation.J-Mac?

    Possibly but I think J- Mac’s confusion is more likely

  31. Alan Fox: I think Mung is suggesting you are making a map/territory error by implying the Schrödinger equation is a prescriptive law rather than a predictive model.

    Probably, yes. But we do use the Schrödinger Wave Equation for prediction, and it works, being an integral part of quantum mechanics. The question is, where does the Intelligent Design of water come in?

    Quantum mechanics with its SWE summarizes (and predicts, statistically) the interactions of particles, and the properties of atoms and of molecules, including water. If a Designer did something special to ensure the properties of water, she did it by making the fundamentals of matter work out that way — the properties of particles etc. We do not require a special term in the SWE for water.

    The point I was making was that whatever change an Intelligent Designer made was one which still allowed the behavior of matter and energy to be summarized in these simple laws. Thus it did not just affect water, but also all other chemicals and much else besides. Which is the point a number of commenters here have been making: not just water, but cyanide too. So painting a picture of the “design” of the universe as ensuring the properties of water leaves out too much.

  32. Alan Fox: I think Mung is suggesting you are making a map/territory error by implying the Schrödinger equation is a prescriptive law rather than a predictive model.

    Certainly that at a minimum. I think his teacher was bullshitting the students or Joe misunderstood what was being conveyed.

    https://youtu.be/IPcMtY-wjYI?t=1

  33. Mung: Certainly that at a minimum. I think his teacher was bullshitting the students or Joe misunderstood what was being conveyed.

    I made clear earlier: the teacher said that the properties of the atoms, and all chemical compounds, were in principle inherent in the Schrödinger Wave Equarion. The teacher did not discuss Design in any way.

    Does Mung think that statement by the teacher is bullshit? Why?

  34. Joe Felsenstein,

    Probably, yes. But we do use the Schrödinger Wave Equation for prediction, and it works, being an integral part of quantum mechanics. The question is, where does the Intelligent Design of water come in?

    As the design on the latest apple mac starts with an Intel processor and the design of the processor starts with an ALU, Registers, memory and gates and these sub components start with the design of a c-mos transistor which is made possible by the design of the atom.

    The design of water starts with the design of hydrogen and oxygen which starts with design of quarks leptons etc. Turtles all the way down with maybe some strings at the end 🙂

  35. Joe Felsenstein: I made clear earlier: the teacher said that the properties of the atoms, and all chemical compounds, were in principle inherent in the Schrödinger Wave Equarion.

    Does Mung think that statement by the teacher is bullshit? Why?

    Because it’s a meaningless statement that sounds profound. Ergo, bullshit.

    To say that all the properties of water are inherent in some equation is pure Grade A bafflegab.

  36. Mung: Because it’s a meaningless statement that sounds profound. Ergo, bullshit.

    To say that all the properties of water are inherent in some equation is pure Grade A bafflegab.

    You’re being unnecessarily pedantic — and that’s my job!

    Clearly the teacher meant that the wave equation in principle entails all mathematical descriptions of the properties of water. (A little principle of charity goes a long way here.)

  37. Joe Felsenstein: Probably, yes.But we do use the Schrödinger Wave Equation for prediction, and it works, being an integral part of quantum mechanics.The question is, where does the Intelligent Design of water come in?

    Quantum mechanics with its SWE summarizes (and predicts, statistically) the interactions of particles, and the properties of atoms and of molecules, including water.If a Designer did something special to ensure the properties of water, she did it by making the fundamentals of matter work out that way — the properties of particles etc. We do not require a special term in the SWE for water.

    The point I was making was that whatever change an Intelligent Designer made was one which still allowed the behavior of matter and energy to be summarized in these simple laws.Thus it did not just affect water, but also all other chemicals and much else besides.Which is the point a numberof commenters here have been making: not just water, but cyanide too.So painting a picture of the “design” of the universe as ensuring the properties of water leaves out too much.

    Okay. No special term in SWE for water. “leaves out too much”
    Your saying water is not a equation made by a designer, that reveals design by its fine tuning, BUT instead, under reductionist laws, it would only be SEW that a designer would design.
    Hmmm.
    The video is saying water is a complex equation showing design.
    hmmm.
    the answer must be that SWE is only at a basic level in these things. Water is more then SWE!
    There is more information.
    Information concepts are embraced by ID thinkers.
    SWE is not the origin for water. Water , its elements, are based on complex equations and embraced by SWE.
    its information plus SWE(its thats true/you know physics and correction,
    so the creator is shown by the INFORMATION called water and how its fine tuned including a glorious extra fine tuning of SWE.
    Its not accurate to see elements as just bits in SWE.
    this is a flaw in these things ID thinkers have taken up.
    There is a complex information system going on. SWE is just a minor case in it.
    Water is more then SWE. so its existence complexity is more then SWE.
    Its fine tuning is more then SWE.

  38. Kantian Naturalist: Clearly the teacher meant that the wave equation in principle entails all mathematical descriptions of the properties of water. (A little principle of charity goes a long way here.)

    The teacher did not specifically talk about water.

    It’s called quantum chemistry. Mung can call bullshit all Mung wants, but it is an active area of research in chemistry.

  39. colewd: The design of water starts with the design of hydrogen and oxygen which starts with design of quarks leptons etc. Turtles all the way down with maybe some strings at the end

    How are these designs implemented?

  40. Mung: To say that all the properties of water are inherent in some equation is pure Grade A bafflegab.

    Where do they come from?

  41. newton: Where do they come from?

    You might just as well ask why is there water. Why is there a universe?

    (My answer : I don’t know.)

  42. Alan Fox: You might just as well ask why is there water. Why is there a universe?

    (My answer : I don’t know.)

    And now we’re back at the principle of sufficient reason!

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