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Meditation 856
Creationism's Intellectual Dishonesty

by: JT

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In a recent New Scientist it was mentioned that Kent Hovind's doctoral dissertation was available from WikiLeaks. Of course I had to download it and read it. I'm now also making it available to you. (You'll need a pdf reader to view it.)

Hovind's Dissertation

Read as far as you can bear to. You'll quickly see this is badly written - really, really badly written. Remember, it is a doctoral dissertation, not a grade six essay in one of those Christian Elementary Schools.

Let me give you some examples of Hovind's arguments - from further in the document than you probably have the patience to read. On page 94 he offers to "give you some of the evidences that the earth is young." He starts with coral reefs, and then goes on to discuss bristle cone pines.

To summarize his arguments:

  Coral reefs: Bristle cone pines
Premises:
  1. "People have said that the growth of coral reefs aught (sic) to show us how old the earth is"
  2. "People who have studied coral reefs say they could have been formed in four to five thousand years with no problem"

 

  1. "The guides in California say that there is no apparent reason why any of these trees should ever die. Apparently they will live until some disease strikes them."
  2. "The Bristle Pine trees indicate an age of about four thousand years maximum"
Conclusion "indicates a young age for the earth." "indicates a young age for the earth."

Brilliant argument isn't it? We have premises without any source beyond "people say" and "guides in California say" and we are supposed to swallow them whole. I will admit that if you accept the premises for the coral reefs (and the first one is entirely questionable), the conclusion does almost follow, but as far as the bristle pine argument goes, there is no linkage whatsoever between the premises and conclusion. And this is the thesis that got Hovind his doctorate.

There's more of the same throughout Hovind's dissertation, and I invite you (if you have the time to waste) to pick a paragraph and critique it.

I just want to raise one other point. It has always been my view that when creationists use genuine scientific research to make their case, they make a practice of taking something out of context, and then re-interpreting it or misinterpreting it to make it fit their pre-conceived argument. I thought they just did this with science, but as Hovind shows in his concluding remarks, he will even do this with his infallible bible.

He wraps up with:

"Jesus said in Matthew 19:4 that the creation of Adam and Eve was the beginning. I believe Jesus was right."

Did Jesus really say that?

Referring to the actual passage (and depending on which translation is used, there are variations) it says (KJV) "And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,"

This isn't quite what Hovind is claiming it says. More importantly, Matthew 19:4 is in the midst of a section, not on creationism, but on divorce. Jesus is not expounding young earth creationism, he is talking about permanence of marriage vows. Hovind has lifted the verse out of context and reinterpreted it for his own purposes to place the emphasis on another issue. It strikes me as fundamentally dishonest.