Dialogue with Disciple

*  On 2/17/05, I received an e-mail from an individual who calls himself "Disciple of Christ."  Disciple asked for my thoughts on the attachment ("Universe Not 'Billions of Years' Old") that he had included with his e-mail.

*  On 2/21/05, I sent Disciple the following response:

Disciple,

Other than the quotations that were included with your attachment, the rest of the material you sent me appears to have been copied directly from an article (“Universe is not ‘Billions of Years’ Old”) by Kent Hovind (aka. Dr. Dino).  (The article appears to be no longer be available on Hovind's website.)

Strike One -

The first thing one should do when evaluating an article such as this is to determine the expertise and credentials of the author to see how qualified he/she is to speak knowledgably on the subject.  When Hovind’s qualifications are examined in this regard, they leave much (very much) to be desired.

Hovind received his “Ph.D. degree” from an unaccredited religious diploma mill that operated out of a house.  His so-called degree was obtained in Christian education (not a scientific field) and his uncharacteristically brief dissertation presented no original research.  The shabbiness of his dissertation is exemplified by the fact that it contained no title, no page numbers, no table of contents, no footnotes, and is replete with misspellings, grammatical irregularities, and formatting errors.  Whereas Ph.D. dissertations produced at reputable institutions of higher learning are normally reviewed by three to five committee members, Hovind’s was given the stamp of approval by only one person.  To put it bluntly, neither Hovind’s diploma nor his dissertation is worth the paper it is written on.

As far as I can determine, Hovind has taken no postgraduate-level courses from an accredited university in any scientific field related to the evolution/creation issue.  Most people who lack advanced training in the biological or earth sciences would have sense not to pretend to be knowledgeable enough to disprove some of the most fundamental discoveries of science.  Not so with Mr. Hovind – lending further credence to the adage that ignorance is bliss.  Besides ranking high on the hubris scale, he has also been caught telling falsehoods on more than one occasion. (See the article “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!” here, here, and here.)  Taking into account his lack of relevant training and his tendency to play fast and loose with the truth, anything he has to say that calls consensus scientific opinion into question should be taken with a very large grain of salt.  See Analysis of Kent Hovind and The Kent Hovind Page for an in depth discussion of the points I have raised above.

Strike two -

The next thing one should take into consideration when evaluating an article such as Hovind’s is the credibility of the references it cites.  In this case, Dr. Dino fails the test for scientific accountability in a big way.  All of the references listed at the bottom of his article are pseudoscientific books or publications from fringe-group creationist authors.  There is not a single bona fide scientific reference source among them.

It is not that difficult to find “authorities” who will endorse almost any idea, no matter how ill-conceived it might be.  (Remember, it was not that long ago that the tobacco companies used medical doctors to promote the notion that smoking was good for one’s health.)  But science is not democratic in the sense that it gives equal weight to every cockamamie idea that comes down the pike.  Scientific credibility is based on consensus opinion.  Only those concepts that have been thoroughly tested and have passed the tests under rigorous analytical conditions meet with widespread acceptance among members of the scientific community.  The fantastical ideas promoted by the reference sources in Hovind’s article have consistently failed to pass those tests.  That is why they are rejected by virtually the entire scientific community.  (See here.)

Strike three

Finally, one should examine the arguments presented in what is purported to be a scientific article to see how well they stand up against critical analysis by qualified scientists.  I can only assume that, since you went to the trouble of calling Hovind’s article to my attention, you must think his “proofs” stand up quite well.  I am afraid that this only serves to reveal how uninformed on this subject you actually are.  If you had taken the time to conduct even a cursory examination of some of Hovind’s specious claims, you would have found that they have all been debunked numerous times.  There is not a single “proof” against evolution in Hovind’s article that has not been thoroughly discredited by legitimate scientists.  One rather succinct rebuttal of his article can be found here at the Institute for Biblical and Scientific Studies, a Christian organization.  For a considerably more detailed refutation of a number of the far-fetched young-earth arguments Hovind has used at various times in the past, see “How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments.”  Many of Hovind’s “proofs” are so bad that even one of the most popular creationist websites, flaky as it is, will have nothing to do with them.  (See the article “A Warning from AiG” here.)  No wonder Hovind refuses to enter into a serious debate with anyone on the World Wide Web. (See here.)   He knows that, in that venue of free-flowing ideas where people have a chance to check out his rapid-fire litany of errors, he would be quickly exposed as the charlatan that he actually is.

You should also know that using Bible verses, as Hovind does, to prove the Bible story is correct is circular reasoning.  It is a logical fallacy to use a document to prove itself.

And he is out

Sorry to break the bad news to you, but the article you sent me is a worthless piece of pseudoscientific propaganda authored by a truth-twisting snake oil salesman who is engaged in deliberate disinformation campaign.  It is regrettable that you were suckered in by his chicanery. If you really want to know why legitimate scientists accept the theory of evolution as being the best scientific explanation for the diversity of life on earth, spend some time educating yourself at The Talk.Origins Archive.  You might even glean a better understanding of this issues by reading some of the articles on my website, here.  And if you still think creationism has all the answers, then I invite you to take my Challenge to Young-Earth Creationists.

___________________________

Regarding your quotations, it should be kept in mind that real scientists make only limited use of quoted material to make their case.  Instead, they analyze the evidence gathered from scientific observations and report their results in an objective manner.   While they make reference to the work of other scientists, they seldom use direct quotations of others to support their work.  On the other hand, selective quote mining is a stock-in-trade rhetorical device used by a great many creationist authors.  (See here.)

The potential drawbacks to selective quoting are not difficult to demonstrate.  For instance, if I were to selectively quote Matt. 10:34-37 from the Bible, do you think that, taken alone, this portrayal of Jesus as a sword-wielding home wrecker accurately describes his general approach to interacting with people?  If not, then you should be able to understand why quote mining is subject to such serious abuse.

Hoping that you find my comments informative,

Jack DeBaun

*  I didn't hear anything from Disciple until 3/29/05 when I received an e-mail from him titled "Evo's wann[sic] be a fern?"  The message contained a link to an article called, "A spoof on Evolution Theory."   He also included the following Bible quote which I have duplicated exactly as it appeared in his message to me -  "Pfalmes 4:8 'I will lay mee downe in peace, and sleepe: for thou LORD only makest me dwelll in safetie.'"

*  I replied to him on 4/3/05 with the following message:

Disciple,

You really had me fooled there for a minute.  At first I thought you sent me the “Spoof on Evolution Theory” because you actually thought that it had some scientific merit.  After reading it, I realize that you must have intended it as an early April Fool’s Day joke.  Thanks for the laugh.

As anyone who is familiar with the subject knows, an organism’s shape, size, and degree of complexity are not directly related to chromosome number or length or position of the genes.  (See here.)  They would also know that there are many ways that chromosomes can split, join, and duplicate to increase their numbers.  (See here.)  Furthermore, many chromosomes appear to contain various amounts “junk” DNA, portions of which appear to serve no useful function.  (See here.)  Thus it is not unexpected that the absolute quantity of genetic material in a cell does not correlate directly to biological complexity.    

Of course no knowledgeable evolutionist labors under the misconception that biological complexity is directly related to chromosome number, i.e., that more “advanced” organisms would necessarily have higher chromosome numbers.  The fact that Dr. Dino pretends that the theory of evolution predicts such a thing makes his spoof against evolution even more amusing.  As usual, the joke is on him.

The good doctor’s spoof does, however, raise an interesting question.  According to the Bible, man is supposed to have been created in God’s image.  If that is the case, then presumably God and man have the same number of chromosomes.  And if that is true, don’t you wonder why God has fewer chromosomes than a turkey?

I am a bit puzzled by the subject of your e-mail to me: “Evo’s wann [sic] be a fern?!”  Apparently this is an attempt at humor in keeping with the April Fool’s Day theme of your message to me.  Here’s one for you: Creat’s wann be donkey?!  Apparently they do.  Why else would they act like such dumb asses when it comes to the subject of evolution?

On a more serious note, please permit me to give you some advice and set some conditions for continuation of this rather one-sided dialogue where, thus far, I am doing all the heavy lifting.

1. If you want your arguments in favor of creationism to be taken seriously, it would behoove you to make some effort to improve your spelling.  The numerous spelling errors that have occurred in the few words you have written indicate that either you are quite young or that, if you are an adult, you are rather poorly educated.  Neither condition instills a great deal of confidence in any information you might convey about a subject as complicated as the theory of evolution.

2.  Simply cutting and pasting web pages without offering any commentary of your own is not a good way to impress others with the depth of your knowledge.  Anyone can download junk science from the Internet.  I can point you to sites that “prove” the sun revolves around the earth. (See here and here.)   Do you think that my doing so actually proves that the earth is the center of the universe?   Piling one load of junk on top of another load of junk does not change the fact that we are still dealing with junk.  It just means that it is getting deeper.  If you want me to continue responding to your messages, I ask that you refrain from the exclusive use of web page downloads.   If you truly have worthwhile input from the creationist perspective, then you should be able to express, in your own words, what “creationary theory” is and why it offers the best scientific explanation for the diversity of life on earth.  Of course references to articles on the Web are acceptable as part of your own personal commentary.  Nonetheless, simply cluttering my e-mail with pseudoscientific nonsense from the Internet will no longer earn a response from me. 

3.  In my last response to you, I called your attention to my “Challenge to Young-Earth Creationists.”  As is the case with most creationists, you simply ignored the evidence presented in the challenge by employing the typical “Creationist Monkey Defense Against Contradictory Evidence.”  I also provided ample evidence that should have convinced you that Kent Hovind, whose article you copied to me, has as much credibility speaking about evolution as does Brittany Spears speaking about quantum mechanics.  Instead of addressing his serious shortcomings, you responded by sending me another of his ridiculous straw man arguments against evolution.  In order to carry on a meaningful dialogue, it is incumbent on the participants to respond specifically to the claims made by their opponents.  Simply ignoring the evidence in my Challenge and in my expose` of Hovind does not constitute an honest effort on your part.  So here’s the deal – pick one topic from each of the eight categories in my Challenge and explain to me, in your own words (with references if you want), why the creationist model provides at least as good a scientific explanation for that line of evidence as does the theory of evolution. 

4. If you intend to continue corresponding with me only by sending me more copies of junk science that you have scrounged from the Internet, and if you have no intention of responding to my request in item 3, then I kindly ask that you delete my name from your address list.  Thus far, I have addressed the specific points that have been raised in the web pages you have copied to me.  Until you respond to my request in item 3, I will henceforth treat any subsequent e-mail from you as the spam that it is and delete it accordingly.  I do not have time to waste responding to those who ignore the evidence that I present against their arguments and who continue moving the goal posts in an effort to avoid the fact that they are losing the game.

 Freethoughtfully,

 Jack

*  Although I had asked him to remove me from his copy list if he wasn't going to respond to the requests I made above, he sent me one e-mail containing some religious quotations and another e-mail with a link to a website that discusses a device he is building that he hopes will allow him to run his car on water!!  Then on 4/17/05, he sent me the following message:  "Don't worry Jack.  I haven't forgotten about your document.  I will send a reply just as soon as time permits." 

* On 5/1/05, I received a copy of my e-mail message of 2/21/05 in which Disciple had interspersed his comments in red.  Since he actually addressed some of the points in my commentary to him, I waived my requirement that he must first respond to specific topics in my "Challenge to Young-Earth Creationists" before I would communicate with him further.  In what follows, my original comments in the 2/21/05 message are in black, Disciple's comments are enclosed in parentheses in red, and my response to his comments is enclosed in brackets in maroon.  I placed this exchange on my website on 5/11/05.  I informed Disciple the next day via e-mail that it had been included in my Dialogues.

Disciple,

Other than the quotations that were included with your attachment, the rest of the material you sent me appears to have been copied directly from an article (“Universe is not ‘Billions of Years’ Old”) by Kent Hovind (aka. Dr. Dino).  (The article appears to be no longer available on Hovind's website.)  (Does NOTHING get by you?!)  [Did you actually think you could get away with passing off these hackneyed arguments as being original on your part?  Do you automatically accept everything you read on the Internet as being accurate without determining the credibility of the source?  (Apparently you do, so long as it says what you want to hear.)  The original source of most of the creationist tripe that is sent to me usually doesn’t get by me for very long.  Most of it is disseminated by a handful of clueless evolution deniers who repeat the same claptrap ad nauseam. It is usually rather easy to track them down with a simple search on the Internet.]

Strike One -

The first thing one should do when evaluating an article such as this is to determine the expertise and credentials of the author to see how qualified he/she is to speak knowledgably on the subject.  (Does that include your precious Darwin?  He wasn’t a Botanist or Biologist.)  [At age 16, Darwin studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh.  While at the university, the knowledge gained from close friendships with zoologist Robert Grant and geologist Robert Jameson strengthened his understanding of, and enthusiasm for, the life and earth sciences.  He later transferred to the University of Cambridge where he came under the tutelage of botanist John Stevens Henslow.  At Henslow’s recommendation, Darwin accompanied geologist Adam Sedgwick on a tour of North Wales to learn geologic fieldwork.  And it was on Henslow’s recommendation that Darwin became the naturalist on the Beagle during its expedition to the Galapagos Islands.  Darwin served as the Beagle’s geologist, botanist, zoologist, and general man of science at a time when many ships did not even have anyone on board who could read or write.  What training and hands-on experience, equivalent to that of Darwin, does your precious Hovind have that qualifies him to claim expertise in the biological sciences?]  (Furthermore, last time I checked all that was required to know something about anything was to study.)  [In order to understand the intricacies of biological evolution, one must be well grounded in the fundamentals of the evolutionary sciences and be equipped with the proper learning tools to understand the literature.  An intimate knowledge of the terminology and complex processes involved is necessary to fully comprehend the basic scientific literature on the subject.  One can read the primary literature on this subject (or any other scientific subject for that matter) until one is blue in the face.  However, unless one is equipped to understand the details of what is presented, it is largely a waste of time.  At the basic research level, rigorous training in a related field is required to conduct complex evolutionary studies and properly interpret the results.  That is why the smart money regarding evolution follows the opinions of investigators who have an advanced education in some area of the biological sciences – not the ranting of some counterfeit pseudo-scientist like Hovind.  To gain some appreciation why an advanced degree is advantageous to fully comprehend the basic literature relating the to evolutionary sciences, see these examples here, here, and here.]  (Common sense does NOT come from a PhD!  If anything, all a PhD says is that you’ve been brainwashed into believing your teachers opinions, and are now qualified to spread your “biased” opinion.) [Does that include your precious Dr. Dino?  Anyone who compares the challenge of obtaining an advanced education in the sciences with brainwashing gives every indication of having had his own brain thoroughly washed and hung out to dry.]  (Do you still go to the Doctor?  Why, because he has read a few medical books more than the common person?  Why do you think it’s called a practice?)  [If a loved one required cardiovascular surgery to save his/her life, would you seek the expertise of a medical school trained cardiovascular surgeon?  Or would you allow some plumber to perform the operation because he claims that he fully understands the procedure after reading about it in some book in the library and on the Internet?  Practice: To work at, especially a profession. (definition from the American Heritage Dictionary)  Do you have a problem with it being called a practice?]  (Most degrees are going to have the subject material change in a few years anyways.  So does someone with a PhD that is now out of college have “outdated” opinions?  No…they continue to learn, and how?  They read a book that can be found, most of the time, at any public library.  If not at the library, no doubt on the Internet.  It doesn’t take going to a university to be intelligent.)  [Right, it doesn’t take going to a university to be intelligent.  However, it does normally require some level of advanced formal education to make the most out of one’s intelligence, if one is entering a scientific field of study.  The repository of scientific knowledge is now so vast that it is virtually impossible to become proficient in any specific area of study without obtaining a thorough education from an institution of higher learning.  In order to become proficient in the sciences, one must have access to the primary scientific literature.  Most public libraries do not contain a comprehensive collection of primary scientific journals.  Such collections are usually only available in the science libraries of institutions of higher learning.     

How many breakthrough scientific achievements that have occurred in the last 50 years can you name that were not accomplished by highly-educated, university-trained scientists?  How many Nobel Prizes in science in the last fifty years were awarded to self-taught individuals who restricted their reading to the material that can be found in a public library?  It does not take a university to be intelligent.  But it does normally take a university to maximize the potential of one’s intelligence - particularly in the sciences.]    

When Hovind’s qualifications are examined in this regard, they leave much (very much) to be desired. (Your opinion…not science.  Did our scientific fathers have degrees?  Were a majority of them evolutionists?  No & no.)  [Most of our early “scientific fathers” received some manner of formal training in the disciplines in which they were working and many of them were dead before Darwin wrote “Origin of Species.”  Certainly the latter were not evolutionists because Darwin’s theory, which made the scientific case for evolution, had not been advanced in their lifetimes.  They did not accept evolution for the same reason that they did not accept the theory of quantum mechanics – because it hadn’t yet been formulated as a scientific theory.  Our early  “scientific fathers” did not necessarily require the equivalent of what we call science degrees today because the scientific knowledge base on which they built their theories was relatively meager in comparison to the enormous body of scientific information that is available today.  They established the basic foundation on which today’s theories are constructed.  A lengthy formal education (and the degree it confers) was not an essential requirement then, as opposed to the present, because there was simply a lot less basic information to learn when the “scientific fathers” were setting the groundwork for today’s scientific advances.]  (Darwin was not the first dim-witted fool to spout at the mouth with his ludicrous notion.)  [I hope you are not overly sensitive to hot weather.  You know what the Bible says about those who call other people fools, don’t you?  (See Matt. 5:22.)  Until Hovind attains the same level of scientific achievement and recognition as Darwin, it can be safely argued that, of the two men, “dim-witted fool” is a far more apt characterization of Dr. Dino than it is of the father of the theory of evolution.]

Hovind received his “Ph.D. degree” from an unaccredited  (who “accredits” the degrees, and what qualifies them to “accredit” them?)  [See the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.  See the section titled, “Informing the Public about Accreditation” to learn why such oversight is necessary.  It is the goal of accreditation agencies to ensure that students get a quality education and to prevent them from being ripped off by unscrupulous “educational” institutions.  They also make it more difficult for imposters, like Hovind, to foist off their pseudo-degrees as the genuine article.] religious diploma mill that operated out of a house (your point being?  Again I can’t make myself more clear that common sense doesn’t come from having a degree.  Nor does it take a degree to be able to study/research a subject.)  [You seem to be laboring under the misconception that common sense is of paramount importance in dealing with scientific matters.  The truth is, common sense (folk wisdom) is frequently wrong and has consitently been at the forefront of opposing scientific advancement throughout history.  The subjects you mention below (i.e., flat earth, bleeding to cure disease, and geocentric universe) are perfect examples of common sense ideas that have been disproved by science.  Rather than being based on common sense, many scientific outcomes are counterintuitive.  For example, as explained by Einstein’s special theory of relativity, the speed of light is independent of the motion of the observer and source, rapidly moving objects appear to contract in the direction of motion and their mass appears to increase, and fast moving clocks will appear to run slow relative to a stationary observer.  None of these facts would have been arrived at exclusively through common sense reasoning.  While common sense may play a role in scientific success, such attributes as curiosity, logical thinking, skepticism, creativity, and objectivity are far more valuable.  For more on the connection between science and common sense, see here.]    

His so-called degree was obtained in Christian education (not a scientific field)  (by saying “Christian education” I am assuming you have come to the silly notion that because the college or university with the word “Christian” in it’s name or school curriculum automatically makes it an “un-scientific” facility.  That is just a mouthful of bologna sandwich you just spit out there.  Despite what you may think, I am sure out of the hundreds of them out there at least ONE is approved by the United States Government and their credits are transferable to a good majority of the secular universities out there.)  [Hold on there!  No need to go into your religious persecution act.  I was merely pointing out that Hovind’s degree was not obtained in a scientific discipline.  It does not matter if his “degree” was in Hindu education, Islamic education, or Wiccan education.  The point is, it is a general education degree, not a scientific one.  Of course having the name “Christian” in the title of the institute of higher learning does not automatically make it an un-scientific facility.  There are a number of Christian colleges with reputable scientific departments – Olivet Nazarene, Wheaton, Calvin, Biola, Messiah, Regis, and Beria to name a few.  There are biology professors in all these colleges that teach the theory of evolution as the only valid scientific explanation for the diversity of life on earth – just like the instructors in all the other legitimate science departments do.  You must be aware that many Christians find no conflict between acceptance of the theory of evolution and their religious beliefs, aren’t you?.  For some examples, see here, here, here, here, and here. ]   (Also, the rejection of evolution is not the rejection of science.)  [If your concept of science is really that vague, then I suggest you spend some time finding out just what science is all about.   Here would be a good place to start.  The theory of evolution is one of the best-corroborated theories in all of science.  It has been substantiated over the last 150 years by evidence collected from such diverse fields as geology, cosmology, molecular genetics, embryology, paleontology, radiometric dating research, population genetics, computer-simulated genetic algorithm studies, and biogeography.  To reject evolution is to call virtually the entire corpus of scientific knowledge into question.  With particular reference to the biological sciences, the renowned biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky correctly noted, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”]  (By far, it takes more faith to believe in evolution than creationism)  [Faith – a belief in something for which there is no objective, well-corroborated evidential support.  Sorry, but you have it backwards.  It takes absolutely no faith to accept the validity of the theory of evolution.  All it takes is critical thinking, an understanding of the scientific method, and a familiarity with the evidence.  Like all other scientific theories, evolution is based on empirical evidence.  Creationism, on the other hand is based on unflinching faith in the veracity of a Bronze Age creation myth concocted by pre-scientific desert nomads.  Science is a process whereby evidence is collected and examined, and then a hypothesis is developed and tested to determine how well it explains the evidence.  If, after thorough testing, the hypothesis is not in agreement with additional evidence, it is modified or rejected.  Creationists do science in reverse.  First they adopt an unalterable hypothesis, and then they begin scrounging around for evidence to prop it up.  Since they soon discover that their hypothesis is not supported by any empirical evidence, they either ignore the evidence altogether or fold, spindle, and mutilate it beyond recognition in an effort to make it force fit their preconceived schema.  The creationist hypothesis is never modified, even though it flies in the face of the available evidence.  To paraphrase Ashley Montague, science has proof without faith.  Creationism has faith without proof.] and his uncharacteristically brief dissertation presented no original research.  The shabbiness of his dissertation is exemplified by the fact that it contained no title, no page numbers, no table of contents, no footnotes, and is replete with misspellings, grammatical irregularities, and formatting errors.  Whereas Ph.D. dissertations produced at reputable institutions of higher learning are normally reviewed by three to five committee members, Hovind’s was given the stamp of approval by only one person.  To put it bluntly, neither Hovind’s diploma nor his dissertation is worth the paper it is written on.  (I fail to see what that has to do with the research he has done on evolution.)  [Let me get this straight.  Hovind (who has been caught telling bald-faced lies on more than one occasion) received a diploma-mill degree from a “university” in someone’s house after producing a dissertation that would have been soundly rejected by any reputable institution of higher learning, and you fail to see what that has to do with the quality of his so-called research.  No wonder you can’t tell the difference between legitimate scientific research and creationist mumbo jumbo. By the way, what research are you talking about?  Please show me one scientific research paper written by Hovind that has been published in any respected, mainstream, peer-reviewed, scientific journal such as “Science” or "Nature.”  Sorry, but scrounging through library books to dig up material that can be manipulated, quoted out of context, and misconstrued to make it seem to support your beliefs does not constitute valid scientific research.]   

As far as I can determine, Hovind has taken no postgraduate-level courses from an accredited university in any scientific field related to the evolution/creation issue.  (exactly, “as far as I can determine”…and it wouldn’t matter if he had or not.)  [Oh, but it would matter.  If he had a strong background in the biological sciences and had demonstrated some competency in that area, one might be inclined to give some consideration to what he has to say about the subject.  As it is, with his worthless credentials and demonstrated lack of scientific acumen, there is no reason to give his ramblings against evolution as second thought.] 

Most people who lack advanced training  (advanced training?  Please elaborate, I fail to see what your so-called “accredited universities in any scientific field related to the evolution/creation issue” indoctrinates that you can’t pick up either at your library or online.  You can’t mention a topic that ANY university teaches that the Internet won’t have more information on.)  [Anyone who thinks they can become thoroughly knowledgeable in a field of science today without devoting years of concerted study toward that goal, without receiving personal feedback and instruction from trained educators in the field, and without doing hands-on experimental research in the field or laboratory is naïve beyond belief.  Sure you can pick up valuable information about science from the library or online.  However, in attempting to do so, you will also be exposed to an abundance of junk science, particularly online.  One of the most valuable assets of a good science education is that it provides pertinent knowledge and the analytical tools that are necessary to effectively separate the wheat from the chaff.  Unless one is well trained in a particular scientific discipline, it is often difficult to filter out the noise and ascertain the legitimacy of what one is reading.  The ease with which you have been bamboozled by Hovind’s nonsense illustrates that point very clearly.

Another important consideration regarding the education issue has to do with the scope of Hovind’s assault on evolution.  It is one thing to glean some information from the Internet and raise a question about some particular aspect of evolutionary theory.  It is quite another thing for a pretend scientist like Hovind to have the audacity to think he can bring down the entire edifice of evolutionary theory.  As I have stated above, the theory of evolution is one of the best, if not the best, substantiated theories in all of science.  It has been strengthened by 150 years of evidence gathering and rigorous testing and has survived 150 years of attempts to prove it wrong.  It is unequivocally endorsed by every reputable scientific organization in the world.  To think that anyone with a bogus degree from someone’s home could be well enough informed to seriously discredit such a universally accepted (by virtually the entire scientific community) theory is utter nonsense.  And to think anyone could do the same thing by picking through the literature in their spare time is suffering from delusions of grandeur.]  in the biological or earth sciences would have sense not to pretend to be knowledgeable enough to disprove some of the most fundamental discoveries of science  (that’s a big leap of faith to believe a “naturalists” perspective of science who isn’t “accredited” in the field.)  [Methodological naturalism is a core tenet of the scientific method. As I have asked other creationists with whom I have corresponded, please identify just one universally-accepted scientific theory that involves anything other than strictly naturalistic causes and effects.] 

Not so with Mr. Hovind – lending further credence to the adage that ignorance is bliss.  Besides ranking high on the hubris scale, he has also been caught telling falsehoods on more than one occasion. (See the article “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!” here, here, and here.)  (I will look at those in more detail at another time)  [Since you are postponing an examination of these links, it appears that honesty is not high on the list of qualities on which you base the integrity of your sources of information.  But then as good old Martin Luther, the father of the Christian Reformation, once opined, "What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church...”  With that kind of attitude, it is no wonder that creationists consider fibbing about evolution to be acceptable behavior.  The problem is, it is not easy for most people, who do not have science backgrounds, to tell when they are lying and when they are telling the truth.  But then again, for most gung ho creationists, it doesn't really make any difference.] 

Taking into account his lack of relevant training and his tendency to play fast and loose with the truth, anything he has to say that calls consensus scientific opinion into question should be taken with a very large grain of salt.  See Analysis of Kent Hovind and The Kent Hovind Page for an in depth discussion of the points I have raised above. (From what you have said above, I would have to say that your so-called “strike one” doesn’t qualify)  [Then it appears you do not understand the rules for scoring the game.  Let me make the sports analogy a bit clearer for you.  Darwin hit a homerun with bases loaded to bring in four runs for the evolution team.  In the ninth inning, Hovind’s creation team is last at bat.  Hovind has just made the third out and his team has failed to score a single point during the game.  Hovind is now arguing with the umpire to have the game called on account of rain – even though not a single drop of moisture has fallen during the entire contest.

Let me borrow another sports analogy.  Darwin has just bowled a perfect 300 game.  Hovind is parading around bragging about what an accomplished bowler he is, because every time he throws his ball, it goes straight and true down the alley.  Unfortunately, he neglects to mention that the reason his ball always goes straight and true down the alley is because it travels all the way in the gutter.  Hovind's obsequious admirers, when confronted with the fact he only throws gutter balls, either pretend that the gutters do not exist, or change the rules so that throwing nothing but gutter balls beats a perfect game.]

Strike two -

The next thing one should take into consideration when evaluating an article such as Hovind’s is the credibility of the references it cites.  In this case, Dr. Dino fails the test for scientific accountability in a big way.  All of the references listed at the bottom of his article are pseudoscientific books or publications from fringe-group creationist authors.  There is not a single bona fide scientific reference source among them. (This proves that you don’t do your research.  Most of those authors have done a thorough investigation into the topic.  Again, it doesn’t take a degree to come to a scientific conclusion.  How do you discover science?  By using empirical evidence, is what science has been doing for millennia.)  [This again illustrates the difficulty of trying to assess the validity of supposed scientific claims without having the proper educational background to evaluate the true scientific merits of those claims.  Anyone with a modicum of scientific expertise would recognize immediately that these authors are not providing an objective assessment of the evidence.  These are the folders, spindlers, and mutilators of the evidence that I was talking about above.  They are not offering an unbiased analysis of the evidence.  They are desperately struggling to fit square pegs into round holes to present the illusion that everything jibes with their cherished myth.  Unfortunately, those who lack a firm grounding in the sciences, such as yourself, are easily duped by their magic.  Why doesn’t Hovind reference articles from mainstream scientific journals to support his attack on evolution?  The answer is simple.  There aren’t any articles in mainstream scientific journals that support his anti-evolution agenda. And there aren’t any such articles in those journals because there aren’t any legitimate scientific studies that have ever been done to support it.]       

It is not that difficult to find “authorities” who will endorse almost any idea, no matter how ill-conceived it might be.  (Remember, it was not that long ago that the tobacco companies used medical doctors to promote the notion that smoking was good for one’s health.)  But science is not democratic in the sense that it gives equal weight to every cockamamie idea that comes down the pike.  Scientific credibility is based on consensus opinion. (History alone proves that idea is false.  True science has never been a “general agreement.”)  [Again this reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the scientific process.  As stated above, science is not democratic in the sense that it gives equal weight to every idea that is proposed.  Only those explanations that have been rigorously tested, verified, and authenticated receive endorsement from the scientific community at large.  Only those explanations that survive repeated attempts at falsification and that make useful predictions enjoy consensus acceptance.  And only those explanations the attain general agreement within the scientific community are recognized as genuine scientific theories, like the theory of evolution.]

Only those concepts that have been thoroughly tested and have passed the tests under rigorous analytical conditions meet with widespread acceptance among members of the scientific community.  (i.e. the world is flat.  Get rid of a disease by bleeding yourself…go to the barber, he’ll fix you right up.  The universe is spinning around the earth.  There are at least a few of your consensus’ opinion for you.)  [Do you enjoy shooting yourself in the foot?  Thanks for making my point for me.  It was science, consensus science, that demonstrated that the concepts you mention were mistaken ideas.  People’s ideas regarding the flat earth and the earth-centered universe arose largely from their interpretation of ancient texts such as the Bible.  Remember that Galileo was threatened with torture and put under house arrest by the ruling Christian theocracy for daring to question the divine wisdom that the earth was the center of the universe. Martin Luther called Copernicus a “fool” for daring to question the Bible’s geocentric dogma. (Looks like you are not the only one in danger of getting your derriere barbequed.)  It was not until scientists had come to a general agreement about such things that they were finally cast into the trash bin of discredited ideas.]  

The fantastical ideas promoted by the reference sources in Hovind’s article have consistently failed to pass those tests.  (Send me the proof, I’d be happy to look at the documents/pictures/test analysis specs…etc., and don’t waste my time with someone’s opinion.  If it’s their research…send it my way.)  [The article referenced below, “How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments,” contains a bibliography of original scientific papers that support it.  I look forward to your analysis of the article after you have reviewed all the “documents/pictures/test analysis specs…etc.” that it references.]    

That is why they are rejected by virtually the entire scientific community.  (See here.)  (I’ve seen these kind of polls on both sides, so don’t bother me with them.)  [I know creationists do not like to be bothered with facts that are not to their liking, but all the polls I have seen show that scientists are virtually unanimous in their acceptance of the theory of evolution.  Do you know of any polls that show that the vast majority of scientists are creationists?  If you do, I would appreciate it if you would bring them to my attention.] 

Strike three

Finally, one should examine the arguments presented in what is purported to be a scientific article to see how well they stand up against critical analysis by qualified (again, the “qualifications” are your opinions.)  [By qualified I mean someone who has received advanced training in a relevant field of study.  Not someone who bought a fake degree in an irrelevant subject from a diploma mill.]  scientists.  I can only assume that, since you went to the trouble of calling Hovind’s article to my attention, you must think his “proofs” stand up quite well.  I am afraid that this only serves to reveal how uninformed on this subject you actually are.  (what is worse?  To study the subjects yourself or take everything that your so-called “qualified” sources say as gospel?  What if they told you that you didn’t really exsist, that you were just make-believe, would you know it’s true because they said so?  What if they told you that you can commit suicide because they had “undenying evidence” that reincarnation was real…would you believe it just because they are “qualified”?  Is it really just about what makes you feel good and pampered?  Yeah, I think that’s it.)  [You are mixing up science and creationism.  Science is not about what makes people feel good or pampered.  Science is about going where the evidence leads, even if it makes people feel uncomfortable.  Most scientists I know are not particularly enamored with the realization that, at some distant time in the future, our sun will evolve into a red giant and the earth will be reduced to a lifeless cinder.  Nonetheless, they do not automatically reject such a scenario, even though it may go against their wishes.  They accept it as a logical outcome, because that is what the available evidence tells us is most likely going to happen.  Creationism, on the other hand, is largely about boosting people’s egos in the face of evidence that suggests they may not be quite as unique and special, in the vast scheme of things, as they think they are.   That often means denying or twisting the evidence when it threatens to poke holes in their imaginary security blankets.  Creationists are made uncomfortable by the fact that the evidence shows that humans have descended from an ape-like ancestor.  Instead of following the evidence to its logical conclusion, they ignore or misconstrue it and perpetuate the myth that humans were magically poofed into existence, fully-formed, a mere 6,000 years ago from dust (or was it mud) by a now invisible supernatural designer who lovingly made them in his own image.  Why do they believe such a thing?  Because it makes them feel “good and pampered” and unique and special, that’s why.  That’s one of the significant differences between real science and creationism.  The former faces the facts, even if it doesn’t necessarily like what it sees.  The latter reflexively turns its back on those facts that it doesn’t want to admit are blocking its view.]

If you had taken the time to conduct even a cursory examination of some of Hovind’s specious claims, you would have found that they have all been debunked numerous times.  There is not a single “proof” against evolution in Hovind’s article that has not been thoroughly discredited by legitimate scientists.  (“legitimate scientists”…please.)  [Again, by legitimate, I mean those that have relevant training and experience.  Not someone with a store-bought diploma from some fly-by-night degree factory.]  

One rather succinct rebuttal of his article can be found here at the Institute for Biblical and Scientific Studies, a Christian organization.  For a considerably more detailed refutation of a number of the far-fetched young-earth arguments Hovind has used at various times in the past, see “How Good Are Those Young-Earth Arguments.”  Many of Hovind’s “proofs” are so bad that even one of the most popular creationist websites, flaky as it is, will have nothing to do with them.  (See the article “A Warning from AiG” here.)  No wonder Hovind refuses to enter into a serious debate with anyone on the World Wide Web. (See here.)   (I believe Hovind is smart in not doing an online debate…most intelligent people know that there are any number of lunatics who would be willing to pronounce something as true online because there is no accountability factor.  There reputation cannot be called into question simply because the information online cannot usually be traced to any one individual.)  [Oh the irony of it all.  First you attempt to make the case that one can become a scientific expert by simply reading material on the Internet.  And now you try to excuse Hovind’s reluctance to enter into an online debate on the basis that  “there are any number of lunatics” and “no accountability factor” online.  (Hovind’s website is indeed a stunning example.)  When you make up your mind whether or not the Internet is a useful platform for dispensing reliable information, please let me know. 

Hovind does not engage in online debates because he knows his rapid-fire, dog-and-pony-show approach would be totally ineffective if the opposition were given adequate time to properly respond to the litany of errors that he normally spews forth during his in-person presentations.  He is at least smart enough to know that, in an online debate, his pseudoscientific line of baloney would be cut to shreds by knowledgeable scientists who would have the time to formulate reasoned responses.  Moderated online debates are routinely conducted without any problems in many forums on the Internet.  There is no reason to think that Hovind would not arrange for such a debate if he truly thought he had a meaningful case to make.]  He knows that, in a venue of free-flowing ideas where people have a chance to check out his rapid-fire litany of errors, he would be quickly exposed as the charlatan that he actually is.

You should also know that using Bible verses, as Hovind does, to prove the Bible story is correct is circular reasoning. (what circular reasoning is?  Check out your own belief in the geologic column.)  [Using verses from the Bible to prove that the Bible is accurate is circular reasoning.  Using statements from any document that attest to the truth of that document in order to establish the truth of that document is circular reasoning.  It amounts to using the document to prove itself.  The broad outlines of the geologic column, from the Paleozoic period onward, were largely developed by creationist geologists.  If there was any circular reasoning involved in the process, they were as guilty as anyone else.  See here.]  It is a logical fallacy to use a document to prove itself.

And he is out

Sorry to break the bad news to you, but the article you sent me is a worthless piece of pseudoscientific propaganda authored by a truth-twisting snake oil salesman who is engaged in deliberate disinformation campaign.  It is regrettable that you were suckered in by his chicanery. If you really want to know why legitimate scientists accept the theory of evolution as being the best scientific explanation for the diversity of life on earth, spend some time educating yourself at The Talk.Origins Archive.  You might even glean a better understanding of this issues by reading some of the articles on my website, here.  And if you still think creationism has all the answers, then I invite you to take my Challenge to Young-Earth Creationists.

___________________________

Regarding your quotations, it should be kept in mind that real scientists make only limited use of quoted material to make their case.  Instead, they analyze the evidence gathered from scientific observations and report their results in an objective manner.   While they make reference to the work of other scientists, they seldom use direct quotations of others to support their work.  On the other hand, selective quote mining is a stock-in-trade rhetorical device used by a great many creationist authors.  (See here.)  (It does not discredit what they said, nor did I use them to persuade anyone.  I used them to show that the religion of evolution is not a “majority” vote.)  [I am glad you did not use your quotations to persuade anyone because use out-of-context quotations is not a persuasive form of argumentation.  Even if it were true that a majority of the lay populace does not believe in evolution, the validity of the theory would not be in jeopardy.  And even if it were true that a majority of all scientists do not accept evolution, it does not mean that the theory of evolution is not a valid theory.  The correctness of a scientific theory is determined by the consensus opinion of those scientists who are trained in areas of study that are most relevant to the theory in question - not by the courts, public opinion polls, or opinions of scientists in general.  The critique of evolution by a physicist should not be given any more credence than the critique of quantum mechanics by a paleontologist.  Because the scientific knowledge base is so immense and diverse, it is not possible for an individual scientist to become an expert in all fields of endeavor. Only those scientists whose specialized areas of research apply directly to the theory in question, can be considered to have the proper know how to comment authoritatively on that theory – and then normally only on that part of the theory that is directly related to their particular area of expertise.  The majority of all scientists do attest to the correctness of the theory of evolution, but that is not what necessarily makes it correct.  

There seems to be this prevailing misunderstanding among creationists that the validity of the theory of evolution is a numbers game that should hinge on the popular vote of all members of society, whether they have any substantive knowledge of the subject or not.  Fortunately that is not the way decisions in science are made. If they were, we would still be living in the Dark Ages bleeding patients to treat disease, executing “witches,” and burning people at the stake for having the audacity to claim that the earth is not the center of the universe.

Now you have confused science and religion.  Acceptance of evolution is not a religious act.  It is acknowledgement of the correctness of a scientific theory that is supported by overwhelming evidence.  See here for some examples of this evidence.  There is no more a religion of evolution than there is a religion of gravitational attraction.]              

The potential drawbacks to selective quoting are not difficult to demonstrate.  For instance, if I were to selectively quote Matt. 10:34-37 from the Bible, do you think that, taken alone, this portrayal of Jesus as a sword-wielding home wrecker accurately describes his general approach to interacting with people?  If not, then you should be able to understand why quote mining is subject to such serious abuse.

Hoping that you find my comments informative,  (accusatory, not informative.  I’m still researching those links by “certified” individuals, as you like to call them, to find if what they say is accurate.)  [I commend you for your decision to study the links I provided.  I am just curious what criteria you will be using to determine if the information they convey is accurate or not.  Will they be how qualified the individuals are to research a particular subject, how well they describe and analyze the evidence, and how objectively they interpret it?  Or will they be how well their opinions conform to your preconceived beliefs?

I am also curious what education in the sciences you have received.  Since scientific competency is so pertinent to our discussions, I wonder if you would be so kind as share that bit of information.

May I also ask you another favor?  It has been my experience is dealing with creationists that, when they are confronted with a question for which they do not have a ready answer, they normally ignore it.  Instead of admitting that they might have been in error or that the claims they have made cannot be backed up by solid evidence, they change the subject and pretend the question was never asked.  Before moving on to other topics, would you please address the questions and requests for clarification that I have included in my response above.  Such an effort on your part would be greatly appreciated.]