Sunday, January 16, 2005

Board of Education of Blount County Schools

Contact information Board of Education of Blount County Schools

Read also about the score card for Blount County. See the grades for science... Shocking...

District 1
Mr. Donald L. Talbott
Phone: 984-9712

District 2
Mr. Chris Cantrell
Phone: 681-6872

District 3
Mr. Charles Finley
Phone: 983-8426

District 4
Mr. John Davis
Phone: 982-3051

District 5
Dr. Don McNelly
Phone: 977-7277

District 6
Mr. William Miller
Phone: 982-9431

District 7
Mr. Mike Treadway
Phone: 995-0272

District 6
Mr. William Miller
Phone: 982-9431

District 7
Mr. Mike Treadway
Phone: 995-0272
Read more! - Creationism vs. evolution central debate behind rejection of textbooks - School board OKs teaching evolution alternatives - School board OKs teaching evolution alternatives: "``Nowhere did we call or quote a religious authority,'' McNelly said. ``I feel comfortable what we have done as a board meets the test of the court cases.''"
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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

News: Theorist and Author Challenges Viability of Evolution

From Agape press the following article:
Theorist and Author Challenges Viability of Evolution: "(AgapePress) - A mathematician and philosopher says a growing number of intellectuals are questioning the viability of Darwinian evolution."

Interesting quotes

Narrowing the big tent of ID Dembski comments on theism

Theorist and Author Challenges Viability of Evolution" author="Dembski">Dembski says if one accepts a blind evolutionary point of view, it is hard to square with any coherent form of theism.

and argues that "teaching Darwinism in schools causes children to lose their religious faith".

Theorist and Author Challenges Viability of Evolution" author="Dembski">The theorist says public school children who, for example, are taught Darwinian evolution as a proven fact are likely to lose their faith in God.

And presents some interesting statistics (no source provided)

Theorist and Author Challenges Viability of Evolution" author="Dembski">Dembski, who is an associate research professor in the conceptual foundations of science at Baylor University, estimates that only one or two percent of biological scientists believe in God.

Statistical estimation does not seem to be his strong point

See also The Flagellum Unspun The Collapse of "Irreducible Complexity" by Kenneth R. Miller

and Commentary on William A. Dembski's "No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence" (Lanham, Maryland:Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2002, 404pp.) by Wesley R. Elsberry

The most disappointing aspect of "No Free Lunch", though, has to do with section 5.10, "Doing The Calculation". Dembski had promised, under critical questioning, to publish an example of the application of his framework for inferring design from "The Design Inference" as it would be applied to a non-trivial example of a biological system. Section 5.10 is apparently what Dembski intended to serve as payment on that promissory note. However, it fails to deliver on several points. Dembski does not establish that the example, that of a bacterial flagellum, has a specification according to the usage in "The Design Inference". Dembski also fails to enumerate and then eliminate multiple relevant chance hypotheses, as indicated in "The Design Inference". Dembski especially does not evaluate the hypothesis that the bacterial flagellum developed through evolutionary change; a curious omission given the context. The single "chance" hypothesis that Dembski does bother to consider is a marginal refinement on the old antievolution standby, "random assembly". At least, the technical jargon looks denser around Dembski's argument than I've seen around "tornado in a junkyard" presentations. But all in all, section 5.10 does little to help those who wanted to see how a design inference could be rigorously applied to biological examples.

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Sunday, January 09, 2005

Antony Flew retraction


Antony Flew has retracted one of his recent assertions. In a letter to me dated 29 December 2004, Flew concedes:

I now realize that I have made a fool of myself by believing that there were no presentable theories of the development of inanimate matter up to the first living creature capable of reproduction.

He blames his error on being "misled" by Richard Dawkins because Dawkins "has never been reported as referring to any promising work on the production of a theory of the development of living matter," even though this is false (e.g. Richard Dawkins and L. D. Hurst, "Evolutionary Chemistry: Life in a Test Tube," Nature 360(6399): pp. 25-26, 5 November 1992) and hardly relevant: it was Flew's responsibility to check the state of the field (there are several books by actual protobiologists published in just the last five years), rather than wait for the chance possibility that one particular evolutionist would write on the subject. Now that he has done what he was supposed to do in the first place, he has retracted his false statement about the current state of protobiological science.

Flew also makes another admission: "I have been mistaught by Gerald Schroeder." He says "it was precisely because he appeared to be so well qualified as a physicist (which I am not) that I was never inclined to question what he said about physics." Apart from his unreasonable plan of trusting a physicist on the subject of biochemistry (after all, the relevant field is biochemistry, not physics--yet it would seem Flew does not recognize the difference), this attitude seems to pervade Flew's method of truthseeking, of looking to a single author for authoritative information and never checking their claims (or, as in the case of Dawkins, presumed lack of claims). As Flew admitted to me, and to Stuart Wavell of the London Times, and Duncan Crary of the Humanist Network News, he has not made any effort to check up on the current state of things in any relevant field (see "No Longer Atheist, Flew Stands by 'Presumption of Atheism'" and "In the Beginning There Was Something"). Flew has thus abandoned the very standards of inquiry that led the rest of us to atheism. It would seem the only way to God is to jettison responsible scholarship.

Despite all this, Flew has not retracted his belief in God, as far as I can tell. But in response to theists citing him in their favor, Flew strangely calls his "recent very modest defection from my previous unbelief" a "more radical form of unbelief," and implies that the concept of God might actually be self-refuting, for "surely there is material here for a new and more fundamental challenge to the very conception of God as an omnipotent spirit," but, Flew says, "I am just too old at the age of nearly 82 to initiate and conduct a major and super radical controversy about the conceivability of the putative concept of God as a spirit." This would appear to be his excuse for everything: he won't investigate the evidence because it's too hard. Yet he will declare beliefs in the absence of proper inquiry. Theists would do well to drop the example of Flew. Because his willfully sloppy scholarship can only help to make belief look ridiculous.

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