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Ch. 6 - Neocreationism

#32: Oct. - Dec. 2006 (Non-Fiction)
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Chris OConnor

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Ch. 6 - Neocreationism

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Let's use this thread to discuss Chapter 6 - Neocreationism.
Saint Gasoline

Re: Ch. 6 - Neocreationism

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The three arguments of neocreationism seem to be the Abrupt Appearance Theory, which I had never heard of until reading this book, irreducible complexity, and complex specified information.It strikes me as odd that people consider this Neo-creationism, because I don't really see anything new in these arguments, aside from a blatant down-playing of the religious motivations.The abrupt appearance theory seems to be more of a philosophical view than a scientific one. It is true that all the evidence we have for an old Earth can be reconciled with "abrupt appearance". Hell, it is feasible to argue that the world just appeared right now, and all your memories are an illusion. This is of course compatible with the evidence, but it doesn't really make any predictions that could be tested. Meanwhile, old Earth theories make a lot more testable assumptions and it certainly coheres with our observations better.As far as irreducible complexity goes, I think this is probably the easiest argument to refute. The problem with the argument is that Behe assumes the function of an organic structure must remain constant. For instance, in his mousetrap example, he assumes the function must be to catch mice, but he doesn't entertain the possibility of a mousetrap having a part removed and yet still having the ability to serve another function! Perhaps it could be used as a paper weight with the spring missing? Also, like Scott mentions, people have been very creative in showing how a mousetrap could still continue to catch mice with some of its parts missing!I think the scaffolding response also does well to throw doubts on Behe's criticism. The fact that an organ is irreducibly complex doesn't mean it couldn't have evolved. Rather, it means it couldn't have evolved while utilizing the same function, and without any extra "scaffolding" parts. Unfortunately for Behe, most evolutionary changes involve a change of function (just look at how jaw bones in reptiles were later used for hearing in mammals!) and have scaffolding parts that are later removed as their purpose is used up.I was not too familiar with Dembski's idea of complex specified information, and I would have liked more details on his stance, but from Scott's outline it seems rather awful. The fact that it would give false positives is surely a damning criticism, and his "design inference" seems to infer design in many situations where this is simply not the case at all.These are all arguments focusing on "disproving" some tenet of science, with the assumption that doing so paves the way for a more credible belief in God. Of course, disproving evolution or the age of the Earth would be just as supportive of belief in fairies as it would be for belief in God--which is to say that it does not logically support such beliefs at all.
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