The upshot: value is intangible, and therefore money is intangible. It is no more inherent to gold nuggets than it is to nickel currency or electronic pulses in an online stock exchange. There is no more of an imperative on people to admit the value of a gold nugget than to agree to the value of a government-backed sheet of denim with George Washington's face printed on it. To insist that one must always be equal to another just adds a pointless level of complexity while tying the value of the dollar to the vagaries of the gold market.
This quote from Paul Krugman at the link Steinglass provides is absolutely brilliant:
The legend of King Midas has been generally misunderstood. Most people think the curse that turned everything the old miser touched into gold, leaving him unable to eat or drink, was a lesson in the perils of avarice. But Midas' true sin was his failure to understand monetary economics. What the gods were really telling him is that gold is just a metal. If it sometimes seems to be more, that is only because society has found it convenient to use gold as a medium of exchange--a bridge between other, truly desirable, objects. There are other possible mediums of exchange, and it is silly to imagine that this pretty, but only moderately useful, substance has some irreplaceable significance.
The rest of the Krugman article, while dated, is also very useful.