Eric and Kent Hovind
Kent, who refers to himself as Dr. Hovind, founded Creation Science Evangelism in 1989, to give talks about creationism at private schools and churches, and on radio and television broadcasts. Some of his beliefs are so controversial, he has even received criticism from other creationists, including Ken Ham’s Answers In Genesis.
Other critics of Hovind have also pointed out that Patriot Bible University (PBU), where Kent acquired his doctorate, is in fact a diploma mill, with unreasonably low graduation requirements, a lack of sufficient faculty or educational standards, and a suspicious tuition scheme.
In December of 2009, Kent’s doctoral dissertation was leaked onto the internet by the WikiLeaks website, which confirmed much of the speculation as to the intellectual and academic rigour actually required of a graduate to PBU.
In it, Kent talks in the first person about his mission from God, and sets out a series of assertions which essentially accuse the entire scientific establishment of geology, physics, mathematics, palaeontology, archeology, biology and chemistry of deliberately suppressing evidence that the planet is less than 10,000 years old and that life on earth originated in the garden of Eden — exactly as described in the first book of the bible, Genesis. No evidence in support of these claims have ever been presented for peer review.
Eric Hovind continues his father’s ministry, via various new media channels, most famously his YouTube channel ‘Creation Today’ in which he pretends to tackle “difficult questions atheists don’t want to talk about” by erecting straw-man arguments and posing questions which he thinks are far more interesting than they actually are.
These generally revolve around the basic tenets of Christian presuppositional theology, which were soundly debunked as far back as the 1920s, by the Vienna Circle of logical positivists.
I first met Eric in October of 2011, when he agreed to be a guest on the Fundamentally Flawed podcast, of which I am a regular contributor.
He was joined by Sye Ten Bruggencate, another inductee into the Liars for Jesus hall of fame. Together, they set out the Transcendental Argument for the existence of God, or TAG.
Previous to the broadcast section of the debate, we discussed how the recording was to be used. We agreed that no-one’s microphone would be muted, during the talk, and no-one’s comments would be edited or taken out of context in post-production.
During the recording of a second debate, this time involving Dustin Segers, my fellow Fundamentally Flawed host, Alex Botten, explained to Eric how offensive it is when he selectively chooses which types of scientific evidence he wishes to pay attention to and which parts he chooses to ignore.
Eric is a young earth creationist, who rejects the evidence of Darwinian evolution by natural selection and believes the world to be less than 10,000 years old. He teaches this to children and vulnerable adults via a series of DVD’s available on his website for $24.99 a pop.
When it was explained to Eric why so many people are disgusted by his Creation Today program of misinformation, he stuck his fingers in his ears and began to pray out-loud before revealing his “smoking hot wife” was waiting for him upstairs and promptly disappeared into the night.
Creation Today teaches lies about a range of scientific facts, with the intention of them being used by parents who home-school their children — an almost uniquely North American phenomenon, whereby fundamentalist evangelical Christians opt their children out of the public education system, so as not to expose them to any scientific facts about the non-magical origins of life on earth.
A few weeks after our second podcast with Eric, we discovered that he had edited together a promotional trailer for an upcoming Creation Today DVD, released via his Dr. Dino website, featuring a break-down of the conversation he and Sye had held with myself and Alex — exactly as we had made clear we did not give our permission for him to do at the time of the original recording.
When given the opportunity to correct this error, Eric stopped answering emails and twitter messages asking for an explanation. He was then given the opportunity to put right the feeling of ill will this understandably caused, by donating the proceeds of the DVD’s sale to the UNICEF children’s charity. If he agreed to do this, Alex and myself were happy to endorse the sale of the DVD. Eric declined.
At the time of writing, no preview version of the DVD has been made available for critical review, and attempts to prevent its sale are on-going. If the DVD is eventually released, it is highly likely to contain some sort of reference to “the debate atheists don’t want you to hear”. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that prominent science blogger and long time critic of the Hovind family business, PZ Myers, picked up on the story on his Pharyngula website.
This prompted Eric to call PZ and issue what has to be one of the funniest statements in the already rib tickling history of creationist irony. Complaining that PZ’s blog contained “factual inaccuracies”, Eric was given short shrift by PZ, who wrote:
In the 2007 sentencing of Eric’s father to 58 federal counts, including failure to pay $845,000 in employee-related taxes, it was revealed he had made threats against the investigators and those cooperating with the investigation, after protesting that he was exempt from taxes because he is employed by God and receives no income.
I laughed and laughed. A man who peddles lies to children as his profession, believes the earth is less than ten thousand years old, and thinks the book of Genesis is a science textbook complained to me about misinformation on my website.
In January of 2007, district Judge Casey Rodgers ordered Hovind to pay $640,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service, pay the prosecution’s court costs of $7,078 and serve three years parole once he is released from prison. His wife Jo was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervision.
The idea mooted at the time, was that the vast discrepancy between Jo Hovind’s sentence and that of her husband, was possibly an indication that the court felt Mrs. Hovind was heavily coerced into going along with Kent’s criminal activity and a victim of serious mental abuse. No evidence was ever produced to corroborate this claim.
In 2006 Glen Stoll, who worked with Kent Hovind on legal issues, was charged with encouraging people to avoid tax payments by claiming to be religious entities.
Kent Hovind is currently incarcerated at the FPC Satellite Camp of the ADX Florence prison in Florence, Colorado.
Edit 13th Dec 2011: Phone calls recorded while Hovind was awaiting trial were leaked onto the internet in 2007: http://atheistexperience.blogspot.com/2007/02/kent-hovinds-bizarre-phone-calls-from.html