Gold of the gaps

Does gold have a purpose? asks an unnamed author in Evolution News & Science Today. The author goes on to observe that there is more gold on earth than astrophysicists can account for and also that gold has risen to the surface of the earth faster than might be expected. They go on to note the “availability of many essential elements at the surface of the earth …” and also discuss the use of gold in medicine. They are somewhat breathless at the discovery that the body can metabolize gold:

Gold nanoparticles, which are supposed to be stable in biological environments, can be degraded inside cells, [boldface in original]

even though, as they note, gold salts have been used for decades in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

At any rate, the article stresses the “mystery of biological gold” and claims several hints why gold may have a purpose: its abundance and seemingly unlikely transport to the surface of the earth, the ability of cells to “metabolize” [sic] gold, the fact that gold persists in the body, and the usefulness of gold for therapeutics. The conclusion of the article is

Since ID advocates are better equipped to think outside the box than are the paradigm-locked materialist scientists, they are more free to consider a positive answer — showing once again that intelligent design is not a “science stopper” but a fruitful way to pursue interesting questions. If the answer is “Yes, gold has a purpose,” the applications could be profound.

Au boy! The author seems a little Au-struck by what seem to me relatively unrelated scientific discoveries and is trying Au-fully hard to weave them together into a fine-tuning argument. Here is my translation of the conclusion:

Since intelligent-design creationists are desperately searching for “hints” of design, they are more likely than empirically based scientists to come up with a positive answer — showing once again that intelligent-design creationists can pretend that any unanticipated scientific discovery leads to “interesting questions.” If the answer is, “Yes, gold has a purpose,” no practical applications will result.

Actually, the answer to the question is, “Yes, gold, like anything else, has whatever purposes we assign to it.”

Thanks to Glenn Branch, who apparently reads Evolution News, so I generally do not have to.