Eating Rocks on a Gas Giant: An Analysis of Kent Hovind’s Doctoral Dissertation.

“Hi, I’m Kent Hovind” (p.4/102) [1]

Yeah, that’s how it starts.

Kent Hovind, love him or hate him, has been a polarizing figure in the creation/evolution debate. An ardent Neo-Ussherian leads people to be very interested in the scholarly nature of his doctoral dissertation.

Hovind maintains his controversial status in the Christian community as well. He has followers for sure, but many Christians, of the Old Earth Creationist or Theistic Evolution variety, heavily critique Hovind’s ideas. This is to be expected, however, even fellow Neo-Ussherians (Young-Earth Creationists) are distancing themselves from Hovind as of late.

Without any further ado, let’s analyze some select portions of Hovind’s dissertation.

Hovind has an interesting origin story for the theory of Evolution. He states:

“Satan, in the form of a serpent, brought the doctrine of Evolution into the garden of Eden.” (p.15/102)

Contextually, he is referring to Satan’s statement “ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5)

Needless to say, this is not a helpful comparison. Hovind has to imagine that evolution in some way or another teaches that we shall become gods. This is nonsensical, sure you can say perhaps atheists use evolution as a reason not to believe in God, but to attribute the origin of a scientific theory or the seeds of it to such a specific area is hyperbole and/or rhetoric at best, fear-mongering at worst.

When talking about Augustine, Hovind states:

“He would be the equivalent of a theistic evolutionist today”(p.28/102)

There really is no way to determine that as developments in evolutionary theory were not exactly as they were today. We can speculate what Augustine would believe, but to just straight out say “Augustine is basically a theistic evolutionist lol xd” is shoddy scholarship.

He consistently refers to Evolution as a religion, again, anyone can treat any idea with religious devotion but his use of terms only confuses the reader instead of elucidating the points in a succinct way.

“Bring me a Mars rock or a Jupiter Rock, I’ll eat it or lick it”(p.74/102)

Contextually, he is referring to the idea that there is no life on any other planets, therefore there wouldn’t be any harmful bacteria on the rocks. However, you can still be harmed by substances that aren’t living, so it’s still probably not a good idea to lick or eat something from another planet that hasn’t been tested. Also, to point out the obvious, there are no rocks on Jupiter, it’s a gas giant.

 “Jesus would be a liar if Evolution is true” (p.102/102)

This is an unhelpful false dichotomy. We need not put immediate stumbling blocks in front of unbelievers. I have no problem with someone really studying objections to evolution, in fact, scientific dialogue is a good thing and we should encourage it.

However, when you just come out and say, It’s either Jesus lied and Evolution is true, or Jesus was right and Evolution is not true you’re giving a false dichotomy. There are a wide range of beliefs about how science and the Bible reconcile, to limit ourselves to only one seems unnecessary. There simply is not enough from the text of scripture to be this dogmatic about it. You think evolution is wrong? Fine, no problem. But do not insinuate the intentions of your brothers and sisters in Christ, that they’re just a bunch of compromising Christians, but not like you who stands firm on Ussher’s chronolo….I mean the Bible.

Conclusion

I think you should read Hovind’s doctoral dissertation, it is worth reading. Not for intellectual pursuit, but for a laugh and as a reminder that anti-intellectualism in the Christian culture needs to stop. Listen to the words of Augustine.

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience.“Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although “they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion [1 Timothy 1.7].”  [2]

[1] The PDF form of Kent Hovind’s Doctoral Dissertation, released by Wikileaks.

[2] Augustine: The Literal Meaning of Genesis, Book 1 Chapter 19 Paragraph 39

8 Things Creationists Should Stop Doing.

1. Questioning The Faith of Christians Over This Issue Whether it’s the age of the earth, if the seven days were 24-hour periods or climate change, none of these issues are salvation issues, they aren’t even necessarily theological issues, but scientific issues with theological implications.  The exception being the seven days, that should be understood in the context of the ancient near-east an the historical-grammatical method of interpretation. I’m happy to let the reader take their position as they may, the important thing is to not pretend someone is going to hell because their seven days don’t follow the Gregorian calendar.

2. Buzzwords and “Gotcha!” questions. 

We are here to win souls, not just arguments. Regurgitated, rehearsed lines and responses are not the best way to engage someone.

3. Pretending you’re a Scientist or an expert in a certain field because you read a few articles on the topic.

This should be self-explantory, don’t pretend to be an expert in a field where you’re not.

4. Citing Shoddy Sites 

We don’t need a convincing case of dinosaurs living with humans from dinosandhumanstotallyarebffs.com or iamgullibleandbelieveanythingagainstthemainstreamscientificopinion.com, cite proper academic sources to back up your claims.

5. Using Bad Arguments

“If humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes?” “How do explain the sunrise?” “Tide goes in Tide goes out, you can’t explain that” and other low-energy questions should be avoided at all costs. You aren’t going to convince the average Joe when you show a blatant misunderstanding the most basic features of their beliefs.

6. Accusing Christians who disagree with you for selling out to the world.

Disagreeing with someone on the conclusion regarding empirical data doesn’t necessarily mean someone is a sell-out or are on some bandwagon. Perhaps they’ve seriously considered this issue and their implications and find the conclusions thereof to be coherent. Get to know not just what someone believes but also why they believe what they do.

7. Using History to Disprove Science 

History is not meant to address scientific claims, so appealing to the historicity of a belief is irrelevant to a self-correcting system.

8. Bully Christians Into Believing Your Interpretation

Rhetoric like “You don’t submit to scripture if you don’t believe the Earth is X years old” is harmful to our brothers and sisters and when you treat the age of the earth as an essential doctrine in which the Christian faith once delivered to the saints stands or falls. You’re standing on the quicksand of dogmatism that the rock of our salvation isn’t on.

Conclusion

I know it’s a joke in Reformed circles to look to a fortune cookie for wisdom but while eating at an asian buffet, there was a fortune that perhaps you’d like to hear. Regardless of the source, it has a point that you should take into consideration. It said “Speaking the Truth is a loving act.” This is my intention.