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."