Kent Hovind

Kent E. Hovind (born January 15, 1953) is an American evangelist and prominent "Young Earth" creationist who is currently offering US$250,000 to anyone who can prove evolution "is the only possible way" that the universe and life arose, although his numerous critics consider the challenge to be spurious because evolutionary theory has nothing to say about how the universe came about or how life began. The self-styled "Dr. Dino" (whose Ph.D, from an unaccredited university, is in Christian education) established the Creation Science Evangelism Ministry in 1989. Hovind now speaks frequently in schools, churches, university debates and on radio and television broadcasts, and is the subject of controversy and public scrutiny.

Hovind said on February 9, 1969, he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. He graduated from East Peoria High School in 1971. Hovind is married and has three children and 4 grandchildren.

In 1975 Hovind started a Baptist Christian school and church, at which he taught and pastored. Over the years he has been a high school teacher at Christian schools.

When the internet came into the mainstream Hovind created his "Dr. Dino" web site and began producing articles and information as well as selling his own products β€” video tapes, books, fossil replicas, etc. β€” to a mass market. None of his material is copyrighted and he encourages people to copy his material and distribute it to others. Hovind speaks at hundreds of churches, schools, and other venues each year and he has been a featured speaker at many of the Steeling the Mind Bible Conferences. He also hosts a daily radio talk show and has established Dinosaur Adventure Land in Pensacola, Florida.

In 2001 Hovind started Dinosaur Adventure Land, a YEC-theme park in Pensacola, Florida. The park depicts humans and dinosaurs co-existing in the last 6-4,000 years with the more recent dinosaurs being the Loch Ness monster. The park does not explore "the Jurassic and Cretaceous eras," but rather "depicts dinosaurs as coexisting with human beings." In 2004 the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, (CSICOP), visited Hovind's dinosaur theme park and claimed the "park" is deceptive and purposely misleads visitors. The Southern Poverty Law Center noted the park also "claims that a few small dinosaurs still rove the planet."

Hovind has come into conflict with other young earth creationists, who believe that many of his arguments are invalid and, consequently, undermine their cause. One in particular, Answers in Genesis has publicly criticised him after he had criticised AiG's article, "Arguments we think creationists should NOT use". In the letter Carl Wieland, Ken Ham, and Jonathan Sarfati noted that some claims made by Hovind are "fraudulent" and "mistakes in facts and logic which do the creationist cause no good." He is also criticised by Creation Ministries International (formerly AiG Australia). Their article "Maintaining Creationist Integrity" responds to Hovind's criticism of the original Answers in Genesis article.

Hovind is mostly known for his debates with evolutionary biology scientists. The best-known contemporary evolutionary biology scientists, Richard Dawkins and the late Stephen Jay Gould, have in the past refused to debate Hovind by claiming that debate is not how science works and gives charlatans more of an advantage than systematic inquiry. Hovind disagrees, and feels that they avoid debate simply because the audience will perceive that evolution is not as factual as evolutionists claim it is.

In Hovind's debates, he traditionally focuses on points that he claims serve to discredit evolutionary theory, physical cosmology, and geology. He also presents what he claims is evidence for a Biblical flood, a young earth, and the canopy theory. However, conventional scientists working in the appropriate fields, as well as some young Earth creationists, do not agree with Hovind's assertions.

Others criticize Hovind for his involvement with Arkansas state Representative Jim Holt's Anti-Evolution Bill in 2001 (House Bill 2548). This bill "would have required that when public schools refer to evolution that it be identified as an unproven theory," which some politicians noted "would have made Arkansas a laughingstock." Holt called upon Hovind as an "expert" who "testified for Holt before the State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee, alleging much of the information pertaining to evolution in our science textbooks is false." As for the legislation, "Holt admitted much of the information in his bill came from Jonathan Wells' "Icons of Evolution."

Critics charge that Kent Hovind's creation/evolution presentations are a mix of Christian Fundamentalism, and conspiracy theories. The Southern Poverty Law Center has criticized Hovind as a result of his selling books such as Fourth Reich of the Rich, and recommending The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an established hoax that has been widely used as a justification for anti-Semitism. The center explained "Are you worried that Darwin's idea produced 'Communism, Socialism, Naziism, abortion, liberalism and the New Age Movement?' Then Dr. Kent Hovind is for you." Also the center critized Hovind for claiming "Democracy is evil and contrary to God's law." Hovind has stated, "I love the Jews. But The Protocols of Zion was written to explain how to control the world, I mean, it lays it all out. But it’s really carefully done so that if it is ever discovered the Jews take the blame for it."

The SPLC also was appalled at Hovind pointing "his followers to Citizens Rule Book, popular among antigovernment "Christian Patriots"; Media Bypass, an antigovernment magazine with strong anti-Semitic leanings; and titles by America's leading authority on tax-dodging, Irwin Schiff, who was indicted on criminal tax evasion charges in March 2004."

Hovind has made the following offer:

I have a standing offer of $250,000 to anyone who can give any empirical evidence (scientific proof) for evolution.* My $250,000 offer demonstrates that the hypothesis of evolution is nothing more than a religious belief.

Critics view this to be spurious however, not least because of the conditions which Hovind imposes. The winner would have to convince Hovind of the reality of evolution and would be required to scientifically prove that God doesn't exist. The asterisk denotes the terms which he claims show significant gaps in the gradual progression predicted by the theory of evolution:

*NOTE: When I use the word evolution, I am not referring to the minor variations found in all of the various life forms (microevolution). I am referring to the general theory of evolution which believes these five major events took place without God:

1. Time, space, and matter came into existence by themselves.
2. Planets and stars formed from space dust.
3. Matter created life by itself.
4. Early life-forms learned to reproduce themselves.
5. Major changes occurred between these diverse life forms (i.e., fish changed to amphibians, amphibians changed to reptiles, and reptiles changed to birds or mammals).

On December 19, 2005, Hovind announced while on Truth Radio, that he is increasing the offer to $1,000,000 for the Christmas holiday week. And that he is doing it with confidence that no one will ever be able to prove evolution. The vast majority of scientists do not take Hovind's work very seriously or agree with his interpretation of the facts.

Critics argue that the offer is merely a publicity stunt, that it is deliberately designed to be impossible to win, and that it reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of both science and the scientific method. Critics say that his description of evolution does not match with the scientific definition and that he conflates evolution with other unrelated issues in the description of his challenge. Furthermore, it would be impossible to prove gravity under the same conditions as Hovind requires.

Some creationists also do not approve of Hovind's offer. Answers in Genesis said it "would prefer that creationists refrained from gimmicks like this."

Hovind has said a panel of judges would decide if a claim had met his criteria, but he has refused to say who would be (or is) on that panel. He has even refused to say what their qualifications might be. Challengers who have submitted claims to Hovind have become convinced that he does not actually use a panel of judges, in spite of his promise to do so.

The winter 2005 issue of Skeptic included an article titled "Doubting Dr. Dino" by Adam Kisby. Kisby lays out Hovind's arguments in formal logic, asserting that Hovind's challenge is logically invalid. The proof states "that our first and second hypotheses are reducible to the equation \mathrm{U} = \varnothing, which describes a non-existing universe". Kisby "dispatched my proof to Dr. Dino after committing it to paper" and "many weeks later I received a terse reply from Hovind in which he dogmatically rejected my proof." Hovind's reason was "the universe is evidence of a Designer - not proof there is no Designer." Thus Kisby concluded "I contend that either my proof is technically correct or Hovind's $250,000 offer is fundamentally flawed. If my proof is correct, then Hovind is constrained by the terms of his offer to release the money. On the other hand if Hovind's offer is flawed then he is morally obligated to withdraw it or modify it." The following (Spring 2006) issue of Skeptic, though, suggests that Kisby's proof may have some flaws. Various objections to the proof appear in the magazine's "Doubting Dr. Dino's Doubter Forum" (p. 21).

Hovind has made controversial remarks regarding conspiracies, science, creation, religion and government over the years. Hovind considers the King James Version of the Bible to be the inerrant word of God that must be taken literally. Because of this, he believes all findings of science will eventually be found to agree with Scripture β€” which he claims is a priori known to be true. He claims that evolutionists also have a priori assumptions, namely that God does not exist (or at least not one that performed special Creation), thereby distorting their own application of science.

He has a social conservative stance demonstrated with his presentations are fused with political messages that are socially conservative. Hovind maintains that Biology textbooks are "lying" and advocates simply taking evolution out of the textbooks because he considers evolution to be a "religion." Hovind's presentations are also fused with other political comments, including posting political cartoons on his PowerPoint slides as the audience waits for his presentation, and comments saying: "I'm not trying to get evolution out of the textbooks, nor am I trying to get creationism into the textbooks. What I'm trying to do is get the lies out of the textbooks." ( video tape #3.)

Hovind has several conspiracy theories about the US government. For example, he believes that Laetrile works and teaches that the US government is conspiring to suppress a cure for cancer. On his radio program that he claims the US government was behind the 9/11 attacks and that a "lot of folks were told not to come to work." He attributes this belief to the films 911 In Plane Site and "Loose Change." He also believes the "Oklahoma City bombing was done on purpose. Did you know the Federal Government blew up their own building to blame it on the militias and to get rid of some people that weren't cooperating with the system?" He also allegeds that "UFOs are apparitions of Satan" and that the US government possesses UFOs.

In terms of science, Hovind disregards all fossil evidence, claiming "no fossils can count as evidence for evolution," because "all we know about that animal is that it died," and we do not know that it "had any kids". During a debate with Farrell Till, Hovind made the following claim about Donald Johanson: "He found the leg bones of Lucy a mile and a half away from the head bones. The leg bones were 200 feet deeper in a deeper layer of strata. I would like to know how fast the train was going that hit that chimpanzee." However, the claim itself is false and, while Hovind has been informed of this, he continues to make it. He also claims the Grand Canyon was not created over millions of years, as geologists explain. Rather, Hovind claims the Grand Canyon was created by the Great Flood (as told in the story of Noah's Ark) in the Old Testament.

* In 2000 Hovind was given the "P. T. Barnum: One Born Every Minute" award from the New Mexicans for Science and Reason (NMSR). This was awarded for Hovind's speech on May 7, 1999, in a packed room in Philadelphia, that "urged his audience to study convincing new evidence of humans living with dinosaurs". Hovind's evidence turned out to be the annual NMSR April Fool's prank.

* In 2004, Hovind was interviewed on Da Ali G Show, in an episode titled "Science" from the first season of the show's U.S. run on HBO. "Ali G" (comedian Sacha Baron Cohen) told Hovind that the fact that Hovind ate bananas proved that he was descended from monkeys and accused him of failing to flush a backstage toilet.

* Hovind's ideas on evolution, and science in general, have been published in Chick Tracts, comic strips intended to convert people to Fundamentalist Christian Baptism.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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