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Bombardier beetle chemicals would explode if mixed without an inhibitor (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Bombardier beetle chemicals would explode if mixed without an inhibitor (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CB310.1:

The bombardier beetle would explode if the hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone that produce their ejecta were mixed without a chemical inhibitor. Such a combination of chemicals could not have evolved.

A bombardier beetle, photo by Ian Juby


  • Gish, Duane T., 1977. Dinosaurs: Those Terrible Lizards. El Cajon, CA: Master Book, pp. 51-52.
  • Hitching, Francis, 1982. The Neck of the Giraffe, New York: Meridian, p. 68.
  • AiG, 1990. The amazing bombardier beetle. Creation Ex Nihilo 12(1): 29.

CreationWiki response:

(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. That description of bombardier beetles' physiology is inaccurate.

Talk Origins is 100% correct in saying that this claim is an inaccurate description of bombardier beetles, however it is also a total misrepresentation of what creationists have said on the topic.

Nowhere in the AiG article is it claimed that without the inhibitor the bombardier beetles explode. The purpose of the inhibitor is to prevent any reaction from occurring, not to prevent an explosion. The only reference to the beetles' exploding is in reference to the speed of the reaction, by simply saying that it does not explode fast enough to blowup the beetles.

It is based on a sloppy translation of a 1961 German article by Schildknecht and Holoubek. Hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone do not explode when mixed. What actually happens is this: Secretory cells produce a mixture of hydroquinones and hydrogen peroxide (and perhaps other chemicals), which collects in a reservoir. To produce the blast, the beetle releases some of this mixture into a reaction chamber, where catalases and peroxidases cause the mixture to oxidize in chemical reactions that generate enough heat to vaporize about a fifth of the mixture. The pressure of the released gasses causes the heated mixture to be expelled explosively from the beetle's abdomen.

AiG could not have been using too sloppy a translation since their actual description is a good match for Talk Origins’.

2. There is no reason to consider the evolution of bombardier beetles implausible. See Bombardier Beetle Evolution

Nothing but Statistical Thermodynamics and Information theory, the lack of an evolutionary mechanism, the lack of a source for the information in the beetle's DNA, and the lack of intermediate forms. There are plenty of scientific reasons to consider the evolution of the bombardier beetle implausible, however there are plenty of faith-based reasons to consider it plausible, seeing as how science operates on observation, repeatability and predictability. The "evolution of the bombardier beetle" is none of these things.

3. The bombardier beetle is often used as an example of evidence for design. How can such arguments be taken seriously when the people making them do not even know how their example works?

Given the fact that AiG’s actual description is a good match for the Talk Origins' description, apparently Talk.Origins doesn't know how the example works either.

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