Dr Dino Does 'Delphia
The SettingKent Hovind, aka Dr Dino, presented a "Creation Seminar" at Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia on May 7–8, 1999. Flyers advertising the event were distributed throughout the area, but we might have missed it entirely if someone hadn't sent out a mailing addressed generically to "Science Teacher" at a number of local schools and colleges. It was because one science teacher (AP) received a flyer that we were able to rouse an NCSE contingent to attend. We took in the presentation in overlapping shifts and compiled this report from the combined notes from the weekend.
The flyer advertising the event asked, "Is the World a Product of Random Chance?" It also promised answers to the burning questions:
- Does Science Contradict the Bible?
- Did you know that Dinosaurs are Mentioned in the Bible?
- Is there a Political Reason Evolution is Being Promoted in the Public Schools?
The central image in the flyer depicts a human, a theropod dinosaur, and a wooly mammoth eyeing each other warily while an indeterminate flying reptile glides over the banner "CREATION SCIENCE EVANGELISM". With this information and the fact that the event would be held in a conservative nondenominational Christian church, we expected a strong religious component to the presentation.
Philadelphia's Calvary Chapel is a large facility with a worship area, classrooms, and meeting facilities. There is an elementary school affiliated with the church and a number of other social and educational programs. The main sanctuary where Hovind made his presentation is a large room arranged like an amphitheater with a capacity for about 1000 persons. The sloping floor of the hall puts the speaker on a level above the heads of those in the first several rows. In the middle of the hall is a large media area from which technicians can control lighting, sound, and recording equipment. The crowd for Hovind's presentation was far below the capacity for the facility, though there were easily several hundred people in attendance.
Style and FormatHovind's presentation was animated and entertaining. The format was an illustrated lecture - almost a multimedia performance; Hovind used presentation software to project images, partial quotations from the scientific literature and biblical references. However, the presentation was purely expositional; there was no relationship to a seminar in which the participants are supposed to provide some of the intellectual content and critical analysis. Hovind talked and showed his illustrations; everyone else listened.
The high-quality graphics made for some interesting viewing. Now that the images and the text being presented were easier to see, the viewing angles were more "creative". For example, when using quotes out of the scientific literature, these were scanned in at an angle. This may just be an attempt at an "esthetic" presentation of boring old quotes, but scanning at an angle solves two problems at once. First, Hovind can say that he didn't quote out of context, because, after all, there is the quote right there on the page with the rest of the text. Second, the angle of the view made it difficult to see what the rest of the text really said, because it contains partial segments of a number of sentences - some quite complex. To someone familiar with scientific writing, however, it was clear that a proper reading of the text did not agree with Hovind's interpretation.
The content of the presentation came directly from the materials in Hovind's videos and web site (http://www.drdino.com), though in a much abridged presentation. Indeed it was almost an antiphonal phrase repeated at intervals: There isn't enough time for me to go into this in detail, but you'll find the details in my videos and other materials for sale out in the corridor. Because this presentation was made in a church and before a sympathetic crowd, the connections between the "science" and the Bible were made explicitly and often. As if to underscore the point, Hovind often capped his "scientific" tidbits with a Bible verse.
In the beginning, Hovind listed his objectives for the seminar:
A. Strengthen people's faith in the Bible
B. If you're not saved, I'll try and get you saved
C. If you are saved and not busy for the Lord, I will try to make you uncomfortable.
These are reproduced on his web site (http://www.drdino.com, last accessed Dec 11, 1999).
The "scientific" presentation was a string of summary statements stated out of context and in the most absurd way possible. Hovind followed this by a "Now, isn't that ridiculous?" or "how could they be so silly?" Then, he would give his own interpretation of the data: that the world was created in 6 days about 10 000 years ago — a chant he repeated often throughout the program and had the audience repeating along with him by the end of the first evening's presentation.
Much of the presentation focused on the "political" reasons why biblical creationism is not taught in the schools — after all, Hovind's presentation "proved" that true science supports the accuracy of the Bible as a literal scientific and historical document. Most of these reasons revolve around an international conspiracy Hovind called "The New World Order" (NWO) consisting of Ted Turner (and his wife, "Hanoi" Jane, of course), the British Royal Family, the State of Israel, the ACLU, and a smattering of former and present US government officials, business leaders, and social activists (particularly those advocating population control) — shades of the Trilateral Commission.
What is most remarkable is that Hovind predicted that the "target date" for the implementation of the NWO's world-domination plan was May 5, 2000 — not coincidentally, Hovind noted, the 50th anniversary of the founding of the modern state of Israel. This is also the date, according to Hovind, by which the NWO wished to reduce the world's population to no more than 500 million people (less than 10% of the current population). This claim was so remarkable that Skip Evans added a counter on his "Hovind" web page which shows the number of days before the NWO target date (see http://www.mindspring.com/~tallulah/hovind/).
Hovind's "Science"Throughout the course of the "seminar" were a number of remarkable claims and citations of research. Most, of course, had to do with the "anomalies" and "inconsistencies" in the scientific literature, such as inconsistent radiometric dates and mathematical approximations which turn out not to be correct — ice cores, Mt St Helens, and the "many failures of science" figure prominently here.
The presentation begins pretty much with standard literalist anti-evolutionary fare: micro- versus macro-evolution, the second law of thermodynamics (stated incompletely, of course), and the correlation between teaching evolution and the rise in crime rates, divorce, and venereal diseases with the decrease in "moral values", SAT scores, and IQ — though none of these is documented. Finally, Hovind gave the "evolution fairy tale" — the frog that turns into a prince.
He uses supposed evidence from studies on population growth, star evolution, cometary travels, the decay in the speed of light, oil fields, fluctuations in the earth's magnetic field, the saltiness of the ocean, the young age of the Sahara Desert, geological erosion rates, and more to prove that the earth cannot be older than about 10 000 years old. The details of his "logic" are burdensome, but one example is that of the oldest tree. Hovind argues that since the oldest tree is no more than a few thousand years old, how could the earth be any older? Interested readers can find (and now hear an audio version of) these arguments and "evidence" on Hovind's web site (http://www.drdino.com/SeminarAudio/Part1/index.htm, last accessed Dec 11, 1999).
Briefly, here are the major points covered by Hovind in his May 7–8, 1999 presentation at Calvary Chapel.
On Evolution and Paleontology
Darwin has been disproved at http://www.darwindisproved.com. Unfortunately for Hovind, this site was an April Fool's joke, which would have been obvious to anyone who was scientifically literate.
Dinosaurs are alive and well on planet earth! Someone saw a yellow dinosaur with a beard. There are many reports of Pterodactyls flying around Papua, New Guinea (this information came from Carl Baugh who has been there!). A fisherman caught a small dinosaur in Lake Erie near Lakewood OH which is now on display in Carl Baugh's museum in Texas.
ICA stones from Peru show clear drawings of dinosaurs indicating that man and dinosaurs live together. See the web site http://www.darwindisproved.com.
Leviathan mentioned in the Bible is a fire breathing dragon
In ancient literature what were called "dragons" where actually dinosaurs. The way the ancients killed these dragons (for example, Tyrannosaurus rex) was to pull off their small forearms and let them bleed to death.
We don't see sea monsters (dinosaurs) now, in contrast to many such tales from early sea-farers, because modern ships engines make too much noise and scare them off.
Human and dinosaur footprints were found together in the Paluxy River bed in Waco TX. NOVA filmed a creationist named Baugh and an unnamed evolutionist during this dig, but would not document the findings. The evolutionist refused to examine the evidence.
A clay doll was found in rocks dated at 12 million years old in Nampa ID.
Fossilized insects and animals were of enormous size before the flood; reptiles never stopped growing.
How did Noah get all those animals on the ark? He took 2 of each kind, not necessarily 2 of each species. He also took baby animals because they (1) were smaller, (2) ate less, and (3) had a longer life span to reproduce
All species were vegetarians before the flood, so animals had no fear of humans
On Geology and Earth Science
There was no continental drift. No Pangaea!
Radiometric dating is wrong because the moon rocks have different dates (see http://www.jpdawson.com). Carbon 14 dating is inaccurate because two bones from the same Mammoth date 22 000 and 40 000 years old.
Hovind has discovered a cure for cancer. A vitamin B17 deficiency causes cancer just like vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy. Taking B17 plus C will cure your cancer. See http://www.canceranswer.com or http://www.worldwithoutcancer.com.
"The whiter the bread, the quicker you're dead" because white bread lacks vitamin E and lecithin. Cancer incidence increased when vitamin E and lecithin were removed from breads to make white bread.
One reason Adam and Eve lived so long (more than 900 years) is because they were vegetarians. The average life span of humans before the flood was 912 years. Noah was 600 years old when he built the ark.
A hyperbaric chamber can heal you and grow giants like before Noah's flood where there was twice the current levels of oxygen and atmospheric pressure. This is confirmed by scientists who studied the air bubbles in amber (see Time 1987 Nov 9;p 82). Under these conditions, Dr Mori in Japan grew a tomato plant 40 feet high yielding 15 000 tomatoes.
On Society and Government
We should not have any public schools. See http://www.exodus2000.org.
According to the 10th amendment to the US constitution, the federal government should get out of education.
Democracy, which always leads to a dictatorship, is an illegitimate form of government in that rights are conferred by man. In a constitutional republic like the US, rights are conferred by the creator.
Oral TraditionFollowing the presentation, one of us (SM) managed to contact Hovind and ask some specific questions about the sources of his claims. For many of them he seemed to accept at face value the claims of anyone who (a) was a Christian of the same stripe as he, and (b) who seemed (to Hovind) like a reliable source. When asked specifically about certain claims, he replied that he felt no need to investigate.
For example, he thinks B17 is the cure for cancer because people are convinced that they have been cured from cancer after taking B17. Repeatedly, he used testimonies and people's phone numbers as proof positive. Time magazine was the only reference in his seminar.
With regard to the "yellow dinosaur with a beard", he said that is what someone said. When asked if he investigated any of these stories, he replied that takes them at face value and gave more phone numbers of people to call for proof.
He said that the supposed plesiosaur (see RNCSE 1997; 3) is not is not a basking shark because the testing (of the protein sequences in the cartilage) showed only a 97% match to basking shark samples. After all, he said, human and monkey [sic] DNA show the same 97% match. Since no one knows the DNA of a plesiosaur, why would there not be a 97% match between these and a basking shark?
He said that someone told him the morning of his presentation about http://www.darwindisproved.com so he added it to his presentation. Later that day he discovered it was a hoax and removed it (though we have to wonder how much later, since he was still using that example at 9:30 on Friday evening). One would think it would be wise to check out a web site before recommending it to a large audience.
Lastly, we defended his claim about the side-by-side dinosaur and human tracks in the Paluxy River. These had long ago been discredited and disavowed by anti-evolutionists. The president of Philadelphia's Institute for Bible Studies and Science was present at the excavation of a supposed human footprint. He made a cast of it and took it to an expert who said it definitely was not a human foot print. We offered the phone number of the witness as "proof".
He Just Keeps On ...An important part of the program is Hovind's reminder that it is "perfectly legal" to teach "creation science in schools. The US Supreme Court, he claims, has said so and it is the conspiracy of the NWO which is preventing it. There is now, he claims, an "approved" Bible curriculum for public schools which can be adopted for use; of course he neglects to mention that this curriculum has failed to overcome constitutional challenges to its implementation in the public schools.
Hovind is also undaunted by challenges to his interpretation of the Scripture. He relies on the King James Version as the authoritative text, even when biblical scholars point out to him the different ways in which passages are rendered in prior versions, in particular in Hebrew versions. Hovind replied in a phone conversation (with SM) that he would consider this, but there is no evidence on his web site that there has been any significant change in his evaluation of the specific objections to his interpretations nor any acknowledgment that he has considered any of them.
Hovind returned to the area in mid-November. His presentation was held at Limerick Chapel in Limerick PA. Limerick Chapel is a big church with a big school. In keeping with the suggestions of Barbara Forrest and Pierre Stromberg (see RNCSE 1998) one of our members wrote to the pastor to warn him about Hovind. There was no reply before the scheduled appearance.
While in the area, however, Hovind did manage to make at least one appearance on a radio talk show. When a local NCSE member requested a chance to go on the air at a later date to refute the religious aspects of Hovind's presentation, the producer demurred, saying that they wouldn't do another show on this topic for at least several weeks.
Hovind's next scheduled visit to Pennsylvania will be Nov 4-6, 2000. However, if you want to see when Hovind will visit your area, just connect to http://www.drdino.com/itinerary.htm for all the latest. You will be amazed!