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Hovind’s $250,000 June 18, 2007

Posted by Joe in agnosticism, atheism, belief, creationism, ethics, evolution, fallacy, Kent Hovind, logic, psychology, science, skepticism.

The inimitable Kent Hovind has had his $250,000 dollar version of The Amazing Randi’s Million Dollar Challenge offered for anyone who can “give any empirical evidence (scientific proof) for evolution.*” available since 1990. (The quoted star is significant, because you have to prove his straw man of evolution to capture the prize.)

Here is how Hovind defines evolution:

Evolution is presented in our public school textbooks as a process that:

1. Brought time, space, and matter into existence from nothing.
2. Organized that matter into the galaxies, stars, and at least nine planets around the sun. (This process is often referred to as cosmic evolution.)
3. Created the life that exists on at least one of those planets from nonliving matter (chemical evolution).
4. Caused the living creatures to be capable of and interested in reproducing themselves.
5. Caused that first life form to spontaneously diversify into different forms of living things, such as the plants and animals on the earth today (biological evolution).

  1. There is no scientific theory that states that matter, time, or space came into existence from nothing. The big bang and related theories are only able to deal with what occurred after time, space and energy already existed in the Universe (though very far from there present form) and describe how the Universe has gotten from that state to the way we see it today.
  2. This process may be referred to as “cosmic evolution, but it has nothing at all to do with biological evolution. It involves completely different process of which not all are completely understood or uncontested. This is so vague as to be meaningless. Which theories of the “cosmic evolution” of what does he want proven?
  3. This is not biological evolution. This is a process called abiogenesis. Unless Hovind believes that life existed forever he must grant that abiogenesis has occurred at least once. What needs to be proven?
  4. I think that being capable of reproduction is part of the definition of life. This seems a redundant point considering number three covers abiogenesis.
  5. Ah, finally we get to biological evolution. No problem demonstrating this one. The fossil record tells the tale. If this was the challenge, it would not have lasted a day.

Hovind’s asterisk points to this 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:[Snip reiteration of five “events” above]

“Microevolution” was really a stroke of rhetorical genius on the part of the creationists. They essentially grant that the mechanisms of random mutation and natural selection occur and do create variations in existing species, but they use the micro and macro concept to create an imaginary barrier that somehow keeps species from becoming reproductively isolated and therefore creating new “kinds”. This way any demonstration of evolution can be swept under the rug as just micro evolution; they were just minor variation they didn’t actually change the “kind”. (It helps that there is not concrete definition of what a “kind” is.)

Any evolutionary change which would be undeniably a change in “kind” must be over a very large time period. Thus leaving the creationists the ability to claim that no evolution is occurring, but that they are simply different animals. Those are the dinosaurs. Those are the birds. As long as you only allow yourself black and white categories you can easily create all the “missing links” you want, regardless of the gray specimens.

(Next up: Proof vs. Evidence)



1. religionandatheism - July 9, 2007

Of course Hovind, who is hardly worth paying attention to at all, is completely wrong. His definition of evolution is sub-mental at best. Evolution is not offered as a scientific explanation of where time and space came from. Evolution is a word that has many meanings. In the scientific context it most commonly refers to biological evolution, which has nothing at all to do with the origins of space and time. Evolution as a concept, in the general sense, is completely pointless in refuting. Hovind’s idiocy, for example, could be said to evolve. Then again, he’d disagree there too.

Young Earth Creationism is, however, better at least than Intelligent Design, since ID muddies the water for people who ordinarily think clearly. It’s a propaganda campaign. YEC is a propaganda campaign too, but it is so obviously stupid that no reasonable person could possibly fall under its spell. In Europe it is seen as a symptom of religious fallacies extended to their logical conclusion, and I’m sad to say it is no surprise to people here that it is the US that has the largest YEC following (at least in the Christian world).
The entire premise of Young Earth Creationism are the calculation of an Irish clergyman half a millenium ago. He figured out how long each person in the Bible lived, and traced it from the end to the beginning (Genesis) concluding that the world was created (roughly) in 4004 BC.
Here’s a really good video to show anyone you might come across who thinks that’s a reasonable thing to believe:

2. jens - August 14, 2007

This thing of “kinds” is pretty funny. I just finished a heated discussion over at Seeing God’s Breath (http://tinyurl.com/yqy4jj) which you may have already read. Anyway, the gist of one argument came down to these kinds, and the argument went so far as to say that according to the Bible, “All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fishes.”

Therefore, obviously, there are really only four “kinds” out there and they are immutable. Taking an argument to it’s most illogical conclusion to satisfy a point is always fun, especially when someone else does it and doesn’t see the lunacy in it.

The argument centered on hybridization and particularly the fact that naturally occuring (i.e.-sexual and unforced) sheep/goat cross genus hybrids have been scientifically documented. This, and hybridizations which produce fertile offspring, give some weight to the possibility of hybridization being one catalyst for quick speciation when combined with isolation. It also throws YEC’ers for a loop since God said each “kind” should only produce it’s own.

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