Well, I was wrong.
Turns out that my Arch-Rival in Taking Over the World has apparently bought into Kent Hovind's treasure trove of wacky ideas, which largely consist of factual distortions, quote-mining, and general denialism (here's an overall description of what I mean by 'denialism').
` While I've told him just a few drops in the bucket about what I know on this subject, it literally takes mountains of de-scrambling to go up against Hovind's creativity. Thus, I've decided to start building this mountain by exposing the true amount of effort Hovind put into his doctoral dissertation.
Unfortunately, even this takes half a mountain. In fact, I started taking it apart in May, but then had to work all day for weeks, and was sick for the next month and a half, etc. Even then, that's not even why it's taking so long -- this dissertation is actually just so packed with misinformation that it takes seemingly forever to tease apart, to the point where it's increasingly becoming tedious.
` Deception overload is a typical strategy of young earth creationism proponents, so much so that it's been named 'The Gish Gallop' after Duane Gish, whose anti-evolution arguments are so packed with multi-layered nonsense that his opponent would need ten minutes to unpack and refute each one.
` This is an effective strategy because he and his opponents are both given the same amount of time, yet his opponents need much more time than he does. Even when his opponents address his arguments before he gives them, he still gives the same argument, word-for-word, by the script, without even acknowledging his opponent's counterarguments.
That isn't going to happen here, on this blog. I have no such time constraints here, so no matter how big the document is I can take it apart. Even better, once I do this, these arguments will not get up and re-assemble themselves as though I hadn't done anything to them.
I am not even finished with Chapter One of this dissertation, so in order to finally post part of this endeavor, I have decided to break it up into five parts -- this one about the document itself and its introduction, and then one for each of its four chapters.
` So, here goes:
Regarded as a good source of information by certain creationists -- while others regard him as a good source of embarrassment -- Kent Hovind is best known for preaching that evolution is a false 'doctrine' used to justify atheism, as well as much paranoid ranting about various conspiracy theories and one-sided debating that he 'always wins', largely by not acknowledging his opposition's arguments.
` It's amazing how well that works when your audience doesn't know or care what the 'other guy' is trying to say.
` Hovind is perhaps most famous for earning himself ten years in Club Fed for not paying his taxes, and the fact that he and his wife made several withdrawals just under the $10,000 required reporting limit suggests that they wanted to keep their wealth a secret. He didn't apply for his properties or programs to have a tax-exempt status, so why does he think he shouldn't have to pay taxes?
` Because, as I have always noticed, he doesn't live in the real world, or at least he pretends that he doesn't. Better yet, where does he actually claim to live? According to the Pensacola News Journal, Kent's property is not taxable because:
When asked where he lived, Kent Hovind replied, "I live in the church of Jesus Christ, which is located all over the world. I have no residence."Seriously? He even claimed that he shouldn't have to tax his employees' income because they're "missionaries", and besides, all his income belongs to God anyway, not the government. From this, he's claiming that the government is persecuting his religion.
` Just like all his other tactics for upsetting the status quo, such distractions as presenting oneself as a religious martyr does not get one anywhere in reality -- especially not in a court of law.
` This does not surprise me, considering that Hovind has long ago fallen from the edge of the Religious Right into a vortex of spinning conspiracy theories in which The Country's Dominant Religion is Being Persecuted.
` Honestly, I think that Kent Hovind is an artful master of twisting thousands of pieces of half-truths and other false evidence into one seemingly-coherent picture in the most creative ways. That's something to keep in mind during this series of posts, and the reason why is coming up next:
Hovind is also known for bragging about his Ph.D. to the point that, not only does he call himself 'Dr. Dino', but he even had the astonishing egotism to be listed in the Pensacola phone book with the actual prefix 'Dr.'. Seriously -- who does that?
` All his bizarre behavior aside -- does he really deserve that title? More importantly, does he even deserve to be regarded as an authority figure on the topics on which he preaches?
Let's start with the first question: Is he a doctor, of anything?
In order to get an advanced degree like a Ph.D, you are required to write a doctoral dissertation (a.k.a. doctoral thesis). That means you must generate a body of original research, which must add to existing knowledge -- otherwise, it's basically a term paper.
` Once it is approved by a thesis committee of 3-5 individuals, it is considered to be a completed document, is archived for anyone to access, and does not change. That doesn't mean the author can't continue to pursue the thesis topic, only that the thesis itself can't be amended.
In 1999, a critic by the name of Skip Evans sent a request to Hovind for a copy of his dissertation. Hovind replied that it had been lost in a move, so Evans requested permission to acquire a copy from Hovind's alma mater, Patriot University.
` Hovind granted him permission, and Patriot sent Evans the 101-page document -- that is, the original, not a copy, complete with pictures that had been literally scotch-taped onto the paper.
` Evans repeatedly emailed Mr. Hovind requesting permission to publish it online. These emails were ignored for about a year until Hovind replied on January 16, 2000:
Anyone wishing to get a transcript of our current material to post on a web site or distribute to others is free to do so as long as no changes are made and credit is given including my name, address, and web site. Permission is given only for the most recent version to be posted.Most recent version? Does that mean it earned him his most recent version of his Ph.D.? As Hovind's original thesis was not the 'most recent version', Evans wasn't allowed to take direct quotes from it.
` The same went for Karen Bartelt, who earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Montana State, and who posted an online review of the thesis, which Evans had sent to her.
` Interestingly, Bartelt's own dissertation includes this paragraph:
"In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment for a doctoral degree at Montana State University, I agree that the Library shall make it available to borrowers under the rules of the Library. I further agree that copying of this thesis is allowable only for scholarly purposes, consistent with 'fair use' as described in the U.S. Copyright Law. Requests for extensive copying should be referred to University Microfilms International, 300 North Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48106, to whom I have granted 'the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute copies of the dissertation in and from microfilm and the right to reproduce and distribute by abstract in any format.'"If you want to see how easy it is to find UMI's dissertations -- and the bulk of universities archive with this company -- check out the UMI search engine!
Karen Bartelt noted that one of Hovind's website FAQs, 'Where did you get your degree?' began with the idea that inquiries into his education often lead to an attack by 'evolutionists', and that:
They mistakenly think that by belittling the man they have answered his points and won the debate. When the opponent in a debate begins using ad hominem attacks, it is an obvious signal that they are losing the debate on facts and must resort to other means to try to save face or divert attention. It is also interesting to watch how the evolutionists will spend much time and effort scrutinizing a subject like my degree or credentials yet won't spend 2 seconds scrutinizing how ridiculous the evolution theory is! They truly strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. Matthew 23:24Swallow a camel? Right. Scrutinizing evolutionary theory and looking for errors is what biologists tend to focus on for a living, but I know that's not what he means.
` After Hovind is done being defensive, he finally answers the question, although notice he doesn't mention that his degrees are in Christian Education. In fact, he doesn't like to mention this at all despite the fact that his profession involves being a pastor and talking about everything in relation to the bible.
... I finished my Masters (1988) and Doctorate (1991) degrees in education from Patriot University. At the time it was small Christian university [sic] in Colorado Springs that offered an extension program for people involved in full time ministries. I was taking courses from Patriot University (established 1980) while it was a ministry of Hilltop Baptist Church and offered a Ph.D. in education. ... Long after I graduated, Patriot became independent of the church, moved their offices into a house and dropped the Ph.D. in their education program. ...Indeed, Hovind only needed three years to complete his 'doctorate', and it probably cost him less than $2,000, judging by Patriot's current prices. After defending Patriot University, he mentions his dissertation, which, note, he describes as being longer than 101 pages:
My 250-page dissertation dealt with the subject of the effects of teaching evolution on the students in our public school system. ... My itinerary is available from my office or on my web site, and any evolutionist interested in a public debate any place they chose [sic] is welcome to contact me to arrange a time while I am in their area. Since they think I don't have a degree, they can call me Kent, Mr. Hovind or even "hey you," if it will make them feel better. Since they don't think I am "properly educated" it should be easy for them to demonstrate how wrong I am....It is, as we'll see, but that's beside the point. Such defensive writing shows that he must have been affected by the criticisms of his thesis. This, as we'll see, is not because these criticisms are ad hominem, as there is no reason to resort to ad hominem other than for amusement.
` I'd like to mention, though, that this FAQ has actually been deleted and then taken off the internet archive in September 2010, so although I have seen it in the past with my own eyes, I now only have others' copies of it to cut and paste from.
One other important detail -- how many pages did his thesis have? The document that Evans and Bartelt criticized was only 101 pages. Hovind told Evans in the aforementioned email:
My dissertation was originally about 100 pages. I continued adding material and it grew to 250 pages. Over the last 10 years I have constantly been adding material. It is now many hundreds of pages and will be put into book form as time permits.Wait a second! I thought he said it was lost in a move, but now he's got it and is adding to it? Since a dissertation is finished and in the archive, that doesn't sound like one. Incorporating a thesis into a book is one thing, but it sounds like he's waiting to officially publish it when it's 'completely' finished -- it should already be published!
I had to see this document in order to judge for myself just whether it's meant to be a dissertation, and what it actually says -- thankfully, I found a PDF of it on Wikileaks: it exactly matched Bartelt's description, including the fact that it lists sixteen chapters and actually has only four.
` Not only that, but the 'almost quotes' (which Karen used to get around not being able to directly quote the thesis), were quite obviously from the same document.
But, hang on! Patriot Bible University denies this is Hovind's dissertation in their FAQ section, (beginning by incorrectly stating that Wikileaks is affiliated with Wikipedia), and that this whole thing started many years before when someone who claimed to be a fan of Hovind's called up to ask for Hovind's dissertation:
When told that Patriot does not retain student works he begged for “..anything you have by Hovind...I just love him so much I’ll take anything you have...”. In Patriot’s naivete a ROUGH DRAFT of his dissertation PROJECT was sent to the caller.And then, suddenly, they found that "a scientist" had done a critique of it on the internet! This story seems to refer to to Evans and Bartelt.
An important point; if, unlike any normal university, they don't keep student works, then what were they doing with a rough draft of a pre-thesis?
` Also, this page says that Patriot University lets students distribute their own works at their own discretion. If this is so, then why would they send his notes/rough draft to the caller? Is there a way to make sense of this?
This is my top suggestion: The real purpose of this page is to generate some doubt for the idea that this document was even Hovind's 'original' dissertation in the first place, and to say that since they don't have copies of his 'real' dissertation anyway (and neither does Kent, evidently), then no one can check to make sure!
` Brilliant! Now how will Kent show anyone that he's actually earned a Ph.D.?
Another purpose of this page is to distract from the whole authenticity-issue by saying that:
The controversy and battle over Hovind's dissertation is not about the quality of his work. It is a spiritual battle over worldview. Evolution v. Creation. Man's "knowledge" or God's Word.Before this claim can be substantiated, the page instead ends with a threat:
Those whose [sic] have chosen to reject the Savior will be cast into the lake of fire FOR ETERNITY. That is a long time. There are no “do-overs”. Eternity is longer than the 17 billion years evolution claims for the present age of the earth.Whoever wrote this seems not to realize that a) 'evolution' is not an entity that makes claims, and b) there is yet to be any scientist who studies evolution or the rest of nature who will claim that the earth is as old as 17 billion years. (Quote-mining opportunity!) Trust me, they won't.
` They will, however, claim that the earth (and the rest of the solar system) is 4.5 billion years old, which is only about 1/4 that amount of time. This figure comes from the results of many independent dating techniques on the earth and its inhabitants, as well as the moon, meteorites, and the sun.
` Furthermore, the astronomical sciences show that, for example, judging the rate that space is expanding, the entire universe was a singularity between 13 and 13.5 billion years ago, and so no object in the universe can even be 17 billion years old.
` If you look this information up yourself, you'll see that whoever wrote this page does not know how to use a search engine before writing down their blind assumption as to what scientists actually think or have found.
My other observations about this page include more typographical errors, and at the bottom, a touchy-feely Jesusy video that automatically starts playing and cannot be stopped, and is apparently placed there in order to distract people from the supposed purpose of the page.
` Which brings the question; what has the validity of Christianity (or the warning that non-Christians will burn for eternity, much less distracting videos) got to do with whether or not Kent Hovind's dissertation is the real thing?
That's right, it doesn't, as it neither addresses the criticisms nor defends Hovind's reputation.
Yet, remember that Hovind himself said that the original dissertation was about a hundred pages -- this document is 101 pages long! This would very much seem to indicate that, not only is this Hovind's original dissertation, but that he isn't finished with his degree, either. (Maybe he's had more time for that in prison?)
` Judging by reading this 'masterwork', Hovind had also thought that by achieving its 101-page length with help from the powers of double-spacing, increasing the margins to two inches, heavily padding it with three-inch margin quotations, repeating himself needlessly and rambling aimlessly, that it somehow came off as more impressive.
My next point is -- you guessed it! -- that the length of the thesis is not nearly as important as its content, and that is what this five-part blog series is really about. After all, work like Hovind's is the very epitome of wild distortions being claimed to amount to evidence.
As I've stated, a dissertation must be original research -- for example, Carl Sagan's dissertation predicted that the planet Venus would be as hot as it is because of the greenhouse effect. This was an important addition to our body of knowledge, and it turned out to be correct. (Incidentally, it was also 85 pages, single-spaced.)
` Kent Hovind's dissertation, as you will see ahead, contains no original research, as he freely admits in the introduction, and it is so badly researched and written that if it were a high school book report it would receive an 'F'.
Which brings one more question before I begin dismantling this document; what kind of thesis committee would let Hovind pass? The dissertation says it is written to be reviewed by Dr. Wayne Knight, who is currently the president of Patriot Bible University.
` I'm not sure of the size of this school when it was sending Hovind books, but when I went to its website (last updated in 2006), it listed six staff members, no teachers (except for the Holy Spirit and some Christian authors), and I also found that its current location is indeed listed as a residential address.
Patriot's website informs us that it is accredited by Accrediting Commission International, which (at least according to Degree.net), is a corporation which is not recognized by either the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the United States Department of Education, UNESCO, and other education departments around the world .
` According to John Bear, the FBI's principal consultant and expert witness on diploma mills and fake degrees for 12 years, the ACI was known as the IAC until it got busted:
In 1982, there opened for business in Missouri the International Accrediting Commission (IAC). They aggressively marketed their accreditation services among hundreds of then-unaccredited institutions in the United States. Their standards were rather modest, but they were operating within the law, and they were able to bestow that magical word "accredited" upon their clients.
More than 130 institutions had achieved IAC accreditation by 1989, when one Eric Vieth established the Eastern Missouri Business College and immediately applied to the International Accrediting Commission. Vieth opened his headquarters in a one-room office in St. Louis, Missouri, and issued an eight-page typewritten catalog that listed faculty members such as Arnold Ziffel, Edward J. Haskell, M. Howard, Jerome Howard, and Lawrence Fine.
Trivia buffs may recall that Arnold Ziffel was the pig on the TV show Green Acres, Eddie Haskell was the obsequious friend on Leave It to Beaver, and the Messrs. Howard, Howard, and Fine were collectively known as the Three Stooges.It gets better. The college seal was emblazoned with the phrase Solum pro Avibus Est Educatio, which means "Education is only for the birds," and the motto was Latrocina et Raptus, or, loosely translated, everything from petty theft to highway robbery. Doctorates were offered by mail in dozens of fields, from aerospace to marine biology. The marine biology textbook was identified as The Little Golden Book of Fishes.
Unlike what you may have been imagining, Eastern Missouri Business College founder Vieth was wearing a white hat. As assistant attorney general for the state of Missouri, he had set up this clever sting operation. And when the head of the International Accrediting Commission stopped by, had a quick look around, accepted a cashier's check, and pronounced the East Missouri Business College fully accredited, he was immediately slapped with an injunction and was ultimately fined heavily and ordered to shut down his agency.
End of story? Sadly, no. Immediately after the closing of International Accrediting Commission, there opened, the next state over, in Beebe, Arkansas, the Accrediting Commission International (ACI), which immediately invited all of the IAC schools (except, presumably, Eastern Missouri Business) to become automatically accredited by ACI.
Sure is hard to slip through their fingers! I also found that, according to the ACI itself:
We are primarily a religious school accrediting agency. Due to the views of most of our schools concerning the separation of church and state, we have never applied to the U.S. Department of Education for any affiliation with the government.And until they do, they will be free to continue accrediting dubious universities. Aside from its own questionable credentials, is there any reason to think that Patriot Bible University should be considered a respectable institution?
` Considering the fact that anyone from there could possibly accept Hovind's ramblings -- full of gross spelling, grammatical, punctuational, and most of all factual errors, with no formal citations at all, nor footnotes, and with page numbers hand-written in every ten pages -- as an actual doctoral dissertation, I submit that it is not.
Even if this document is a rough draft, as Patriot claims, or simply unfinished, as Hovind claims, it is not based on reality enough to be salvaged into something that is even remotely respectable, as I will shortly demonstrate. (As I have decided to divide this into five parts, almost all of my demonstration will come after this post. Sorry for the inconvenience.)
` As a reference, I have reproduced most of Hovind's dissertation in this series, and am working from a PDF of the original material, which I downloaded from the Wikileaks page, thanks to uTorrent, although I later found that the PDF can be more simply viewed on Ratbags.com.
` Feel free to judge it for yourself.
Before I break the skin of this document, I would like to remind my Arch-Rival that the only word I am trying to shake his faith in is the word of this man, and by extension, anyone who publicly espouses the same false claims.
` It seems unlikely to me that anyone who takes Hovind seriously would change their opinion of him, but if they are curious and patient enough to read through this series of criticisms, they may wind up with some idea of an outsider's perspective.
Far from being one long ad hominem attack, or an attack on Christianity or spirituality, this is a legitimate (and thoroughly-referenced!) criticism of the quality and factual content of Hovind's work, which demonstrates that he has neither the credentials he claims, nor that he should be taken seriously as an authority on history, science, or even religion (particularly ones that aren't his own)!
` Here it is:
This heading would have been the title of Hovind's thesis, but it has none. This is presumably because his thesis also lacks a subject to which one can assign a title.
` Although it is supposed to be about "The Effects of Teaching Evolution on the Students in our Public School System", which is a legitimate subject for an advanced degree in education, this thesis largely consists of off-topic rumination.
On the Dedication Page (actually more than one page), Hovind mentions that he's not even the one responsible for typing it up! This is a most unfortunate thing for one's thesis committee to find out, so it's quite bizarre for someone to trumpet in the first words of one's thesis:
I can think of many people who have been influential in the production of this book. Miss Kim Van Gundy spent countless hours typing, correcting and retyping the manuscript.Let's just say, we'll see just how well Kim Van Gundy has helped in the correcting department, as well as the sentence-structure department:
My Mom and Dad supplied the computer for this work to be done on. There have been many times they financially supported my ministry.Wait -- if he typed this himself on his parents' computer, then why did he need Kim Van Gundy and her typewriter? Also, if he used a computer for this, even back in 1991, I would expect it to have spell-check!
` Also, why would he even need his parents' help, considering that he was 38 at the time, with a wife whom he thanks for all his infernal reading of books, as well as his three children, whom he also thanks for helping him set up and pack up at his lectures.
Most of all I must thank my Lord Jesus Christ for patiently working with me and equipping me for the work of the ministry.Apparently, Jesus didn't have spell-check either, nor the ability to help him correct all of his masses of egregious factual errors, which we'll see soon enough. (Honestly, I couldn't blame Jesus for not helping this guy.)
` But first, let's look at his introduction. Notice that it starts out very much like his lectures, and not at all like a serious dissertation:
Hello, my name is Kent Hovind. I am a creation/science evangelist. I live in Pensacola, Florida. I have been a high school science teacher since 1976. I’ve been very active in the creation/evolution controversy for quite some time. ...As I seem to recall, my Arch-Rival himself has told me that the serpent in the Garden of Eden was just that -- a snake. After all, if the bible says it's a snake, then why add an interpretation?
It is my burning desire to help Christians get back to a simple faith in God’s Word. Satan’s method has always been to instill doubt in God’s Word. The first sentence that came from Satan that is recorded for us in the Bible is: “Yea, hath God said?” He started by questioning God’s Word in the garden of Eden. It worked there so he has used it ever since.
` As we'll see in Chapter One, this whole 'Satan in the Garden of Eden' thing is how Hovind uses the bible as 'evidence' that Satan spread the 'doctrine of evolution' to Adam and Eve and then on to the rest of humanity. He then argues that various religions, cultures, historical events, and even science, are linked to the snake's words as written in the Book of Genesis.
` Hovind's critics (like me) have a problem with how he argues this, rather than that he argues this, so I'll let him walk us through at his own pace:
In the twentieth century the major attack Satan has launched has been against the first eleven chapters of Genesis. He knows that the entire Bible stands or falls on the validity of these chapters. I believe that the Bible is the infallible, inerrant, inspired, perfect Word of God.Interestingly, Hovind's faith plus his claim that Satan is part of, and personally agrees with, his interpretation of the bible, would seem to serve as the foundation for this entire dissertation, as it is very noticeable in the way he presents his evidence fragments.
In this book I’ll be covering, in a nutshell, the creation/evolution controversy. I will explain why it is so important, the effects that the theory of evolution has had on our society, the creation alternative, and what we should do about the problem. I will try to answer questions that modern science has raised from a Scriptural viewpoint.Except, as we'll see, he doesn't ever get around to that -- at least not in his first four chapters!
I have been saved for twenty-two years by the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. I believe that God’s Word is infallible and flawless in every detail. If the Bible says that something was created a certain way, then that is just the way it happened.Again, he's stating what he has faith in, and then he seems to contradict himself:
Now, as a science teacher, I want to keep an open mind and understand why, how, and when God created the earth, if those things can be known. There are some things we cannot understand, and some things I believe that we can.So, does that mean he'll keep an open mind just in case it didn't happen the way the Bible says it did? I'm actually not sure what he means by this, so if my Arch Rival could help me....
` A scientist, I should mention, is trained to figure out how something has occurred, rather than to throw up their hands when they don't know the answer and say, "I give up, therefore it's evidence of my inner convictions!"
That is really what science teachers ought to teach their students -- especially if they claim to have been teaching for fifteen years! -- although, I should mention that Hovind only taught at private schools, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "private school teachers do not have to be licensed but may still need a bachelor's degree."
` Hovind doesn't even seem to have a real bachelor's, much less a Ph.D, and here's his own admission that his 'thesis' is not original research:
I will be quick to point out that “there is nothing new under the sun” Most of my ideas are the result of the input of hundreds of Godly men and women through the years. I have attempted in this book to simply explain the things I have learned through many years of studying both science and the Bible.In other words, this is not a thesis -- it's largely a rehash of what he's learned, not adding to our knowledge. Basically, it's like a book report on all the books he's read from his correspondence courses at Patriot (and, I could add, a rehash of his radio shows and presentations). Already, it's disqualified as being a doctoral dissertation, yet it goes on:
Many things I can document and verify with the “experts” (whatever an expert is). Some things in this book I couldn’t prove to anyone.How can anyone verify something with an expert if they don't know what one is? Also, is he bragging that some of his ideas are unacceptable to anyone but him? If he can't prove some of these things to anyone, then why are they in his dissertation?
` Instead of a table of contents, he talks about how the 16 chapters of his thesis were inspired by the topics he spoke about on his radio show.
Each broadcast dealt with a different topic. We have selected some of the most helpful topics and developed them into chapters toward this book.Helpful to make his case, perhaps, but not the most relevant to the subject. In any case, only four of these chapters were finished by 1991, which can only mean he had completed his Ph.D. -In-Progress, right?
Several legitimate questions about the creation account given in the Bible need to be answered. Number one, "Don't all scientists believe in evolution?"As one can notice, that question has nothing to do with the bible. To answer it, though; modern biologists accept evolution because they understand what it is, understand what one should expect to see in the world if it's true, actually see those things in the world, and thus have no need to "believe in" it.
` People like Kent, however, don't show any glimmerings of recognizing the difference between their own definition of 'evolution' versus what evolution-studying scientists would call 'evolution'. In any case, that's a whole topic that a thousand blog posts would not cover.
One may recall that there is a certain notorious petition which asked scientists if they agree that evolution should be questioned and analyzed. First of all, since all scientific theories must be put under intense scrutiny at all times, and since more details concerning evolution are being discovered and studied, it is being scrutinized in ways it's never been scrutinized before.
` Second, that's the way things are supposed to be in science, so what kind of scientist would disagree with whether evolution should be questioned and analyzed?
` Note that this tells us nothing about whether or not these scientists thought that evolution makes sense, but the screwy part is that creationism proponents claim that this was the question being asked. (There's also more to this, but I'll have to get to it in some other post.)
To be sure, before 1958, when Darwin and Wallace first told the world of their powerful and predictive theory of evolutionary workings, other people couldn't have accepted this theory because they hadn't known about it.
` To say that great minds like Galileo did not accept that life forms evolve is meaningless because they lived before Darwin and Wallace had explained how it could even plausibly work. True, there had been some notions of "evolution" before Darwin and Wallace, but these ideas lacked any plausible mechanism, so who would believe them?
While all of the evidence is not in yet, I feel it is still the, [sic] best option to take God’s word at face value. The Bible has never been proven wrong yet, and I believe it never will be.It's great that Hovind believes the bible is not only God's word but is so undistorted that it can definitely be taken more or less literally at face value. Let's just say, people who study the bible's history would very much disagree, for countless reasons.
` To take a random example, I was recently reading this AP article about a group of bible scholars, many of them Orthodox Jews, who have been at work for 53 years on a very special project at Hebrew University in Jerusalem -- tracking every single change that has been made to the Old Testament.
` When I say studying the bible, I mean studying the bible:
This is an endeavor so meticulous, its pace so disconnected from that of the world outside, that in more than five decades of work the scholars have published a grand total of three of the Hebrew Bible's 24 books. (Christians count the same books differently, for a total of 39.) A fourth is due out during the upcoming academic year. ...
Bible Project scholars have spent years combing through manuscripts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, Greek translations on papyrus from Egypt, a printed Bible from 1525 Venice, parchment books in handwritten Hebrew, the Samaritan Torah, and scrolls in Aramaic and Latin. The last member of the original team died last year at age 90.
The scholars note where the text we have now differs from older versions — differences that are evidence of the inevitable textual hiccups, scribal errors and other human fingerprints that became part of the Bible as it was passed on, orally and in writing. ...
The Book of Jeremiah is now one-seventh longer than the one that appears in some of the 2,000-year-old manuscripts known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some verses, including ones containing a prophecy about the seizure and return of Temple implements by Babylonian soldiers, appear to have been added after the events happened. ...
It is this kind of study, rather than belief, that causes people to come to this conclusion. So, what role does belief play in this work?
"A believing Jew claims that the source of the Bible is prophecy," said the project's bearded academic secretary, Rafael Zer. "But as soon as the words are given to human beings — with God's agreement, and at his initiative — the holiness of the biblical text remains, even if mistakes are made when the text is passed on."In contrast, there are no arguments in Hovind's thesis which support the idea that the bible can be taken at face value other than his claim "I believe". Needless to say, when your whole thesis rests on the assumption that the bible can be taken at face value, and yet you fail to support this assumption, then saying that you believe it's true does not substitute for an argument.
` The next section up for analysis is Hovind's first thesis chapter, 'History of Evolution'. I'm not sure when I'll be finished with it, considering that school will probably interfere, but let me warn you all first; it's much longer than this blog post! (As are the other three chapter analyses so far!)
I do think that this post is long enough, but as I didn't type out every bit of the text, I did leave out parts which I could have commented on but didn't think they were particularly important. Especially in comparison with what's coming up.
` Still, questions/potential corrections/comments always welcome, even ones that contain insults and death threats -- my favorites!
(Of course, sometimes it gets out of hand, which is why I'd like to thank the Montreal Police, for arresting this guy, who's actually sent hundreds of hate-filled spam emails my way! Thanks, David Mabus, for saying you'll chop off my head! I feel so special now!)
Well, off to work on the next post in this series....
(Edit: I'm done! Please go here for the next section!)