Friday, 4 December 2009

Theism Predicts (Introduction)

Over at Daylight Atheism, a commenter named "Ric" asked if Ebonmuse would take a crack at a list predictions written by a creationist and have a go at answer them. I told Ric that I would take a stab, and this post is the beginning of that, but first, some background is in order.

The list in question comes from William Dembski's old blog (he turned the asylum over to the lunatics some time ago) Uncommon Descent. As someone who used to frequent a site called
After the Bar Closes
quite a bit, I can tell you that there are whole threads devoted to showing the bad argumentation displayed by the denizens of UD. In fact, the Uncommonly Dense Threads have amassed almost 1600 pages of comments critical of UD and the bad reasoning, arguments, and general idiocy posted there, including that which comes from the head honchos that write there. (For instance, one poster believes that one can not simulate mutation and selection in a population unless one also mutates the OS of the computer running the sim, and another swears that Dawkins' Methinks it's a Weasel program somehow cheats even though it's been pointed out multiple times that he's wrong.)

Anyway, on to the list. There's 14 listed "predictions" that are made by theism and materialism according to a commenter named Bornagain77 (BA77). Yet, right off the bat there's a problem. Most of what BA77 says is predicted by Materialism is a strawman representation, and none of what he claims is predicted by "theism" is actually predicted by simple belief in a god, which is what theism boils down to. What he really wants to say is that his brand of literal creationism predicts these things, but he's still wrong as we shall see.
1.Materialism predicted an eternal universe, Theism predicted a created universe. – Big Bang points to a creation event.

The first one is a common error that creationists make that centers around conflation and misunderstanding the physics behind the big bang. What most creationists fail to understand is that ideas like Olber's paradox, for example, show that an eternal static state universe does not exist and has not ever existed. The big bang model does away with this idea by showing that there has been a definite change in state of the universe at some point that we label time t=0 where our current idea of the universe came to be. This does not imply that the universe is not eternal or that it is, and materialism doesn't rely on either of these being the case.

To make matters worse, the big bang marks the beginning of time for our universe. Time as we know it did not exist before the big bang, so speaking of time before time started is rather useless. It's rather odd to speak of an eternal universe that existed before time existed.

Now, what does "theism" predict? In BA77's case, theism predicts a creation event it is true. We can not, however, claim that creation has happened. And, the creation event being "predicted" here is that of the story of Genesis, which has been shown to be wrong (i.e. time scales, sequence of events, etc.)
2. Materialism predicted time had an infinite past, Theism predicted time had a creation – Time was created in the Big Bang.

Similar to the above, this is not predicted by materialism as we know from the big bang that time as we measure it did not exist before that event. In fact, it is materialistic science that showed us that the big bang happened, not Biblical creationism. In fact, there's no mention of god creating time in the Bible in the Genesis account at all.* If we truly went by the Genesis account, we wouldn't be able to say one way or the other whether god created time or it just was. Again, we see a straw man depiction of materialism coupled with an incorrect summation of the creationist's position. Hind sight is 20/20 of course.

This post is getting rather long, so subsequent posts will handle the rest of the 14 "predictions" on the list.

*Edit: Some theists claim that "In the beginning" means that time began then, but the Genesis account need not mean that. It could simply mean the beginning of the universe, story, Earth, whatever, independent of time. It also doesn't say that god made this beginning happen or that god created the initial conditions of "in the beginning."


Tao said...


RIc said...

Thanks for the post, OMGF. I am enjoying it so far. I especially like your poke at GilDodgen, who certainly is one of the stupider posters at UD, a dubious distinction, since he ranks among the lowest in a crowd of stupid people. As a sock puppet, I taunted him about this a few months back, and I jokingly ranked the regulars at UD in terms of intelligence, from highest to lowest. In my ranking, O'Leary, GilDodgen, and BA77 were at the bottom.

Anyway, one mistake I always felt BA77 made, though, was treating materialism and theism as monolithic entities. Of course we both know that these terms are vast rubrics encompassing many, many schools of thought.

It also seems to me that to claim credit for some of these things, BA77 accepts the most liberal, tenuous interpretations of metaphorical language from his personal holy book. It's a great example of weak sense critical thinking: be critical of what you disagree with, but go very, very easy on what you hope it true.

Ric said...

Oh, and one other thing. It's highly ironic that BA77 can only engage in his false bragging because of the findings of materialist science. If it weren't for science, he wouldn't know whether the universe had a beginning or not.

GCT said...

Their anti-science attitude is surely one of the most ironic things about the ID scam. And, great point about them being most critical about what they a-priori disagree with while going easy on that which they want to be true. I don't think there's any denying that that's exactly what BA77 is engaging in here.

Anonymous said...

The picture is really stupid because fossils don't necessarily prove anything on their own. There are huge gaps between the evolution "levels" so to speak, meaning there are missing fossils that until found, prove the theory wrong.

GCT said...

"The picture is really stupid because fossils don't necessarily prove anything on their own."

They are great evidence that fit in with all the other evidence we have and help to create a comprehensive picture of the evolution of life on our planet.

"There are huge gaps between the evolution "levels" so to speak, meaning there are missing fossils that until found, prove the theory wrong."

This doesn't make any sense. The theory is somehow proved wrong until we can provide the fossils that fit into gaps A, B, and C? If we were to find fossils that did not fit the theory, that would prove it wrong (like the famous pre-Cambrian rabbit). Lack of confirmatory evidence does not disprove a theory.

Additionally, we have quite a bit of fossil evidence, which is only part of the theory. We also have a lot of other evidence which you can find here for instance.