Dr. Dino's "Fractured Fairy Tales of Science"
A Response to Kent Hovind's Coast-to-Coast AM interview: August 2-3, 2000
Karen E. Bartelt, Ph.D.
The Coast-to-Coast AM radio program, hosted by Mike Siegel, is the successor to the defunct Art Bell program. A staple of late night radio, it is heard in most markets during the overnight hours. According to the host, the program "... deals down the middle with every issue under the sun." On August 2 (therefore ending early on August 3) the guest was Kent Hovind.
As a scientist familiar with Hovind's material, I was interested in what he would present on the air, and how he would deal with questions from the audience. I was not surprised. As a child, I grew up watching a TV cartoon show called Rocky and Bullwinkle. One of my favorite segments was called Fractured Fairy Tales, in which a traditional children's story was presented, but characters and plot twists seriously altered the original message. After listening to three hours of Hovind, I came away with the same assessment of Hovind's "science": it can sound convincing to someone who is not a scientist (especially at 2AM), but there are serious errors of fact, omissions, and misrepresentations.
What follows is a set of excerpts from the first three hours of that program. The entire transcript is available by contacting the program Coast To Coast. It should be noted that I and a number of other scientists emailed the program and volunteered to appear as guests to offer a scientific response, but we were uniformly ignored by Coast-to-Coast AM. So much for "dealing down the middle". In the interview and questions that follow, MS is Mike Siegel, KH is Kent Hovind, and the callers are identified by their first names. My responses appear in bold, and are interspersed throughout.
MS: Considered by many to be one of the foremost authorities on science and the Bible; you believe that the scientific evidence supports the Biblical record of creation. Give us an overview of what brought you to that.
KH: I was a HS science teacher for 15 years. I had become a Christian at age 16, and right away ran into the conflict between what I was taught in my science textbook and what I'm reading in the Bible, so I knew somebody was wrong, at least as far as evolution goes. There's no conflict between science and the bible, but there is quite a conflict between evolution and the bible. And a lot of people kinda automatically assume that evolution is part of science, and that's where the whole problem comes in. Evolution is actually a religion. There's no scientific evidence to back it up, and we even offer a quarter million dollars for scientific evidence to back up evolution. If somebody's got some, tell him to call in, I'd like to see it.
Hovind is considered to be "one of the foremost authorities on science and the Bible" only in his own promotional materials. See The Hovind Funnies. The "offer" is bogus. When a scientist recently put forth a specific proposal, Hovind backed down from this $250,000 amount, to a mere $2000. Additionally, he will not divulge who his "independent judges" are. Please see Kent Hovind's "$250,000 Award to Prove Evolution!" and "Dr" Hovind, "Created Kinds", and his $250,000 "Reward". Hovind also avoids internet debates like the plague. See Kent Hovind Refuses to Debate!!, and my comments in later sections.
KH: So about 11 years ago I began this ministry, travelling and speaking on creation, evolution, and dinosaurs. Our website is http://www.drdino.com ...So I now speak about 700 times per year all over the world on this topic. And we always invite those who differ or disagree to come to the seminar so we can straighten 'em out.
MS: Were you always of a strong Christian faith, first of all?
KH: Oh no sir, no sir. I certainly believed in evolution and I believed the earth was, you know, billions of years old, and, you know, believed the dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. I don't believe those now...
MS: You don't believe the dinosaurs lived millions of years ago?
KH: Oh, absolutely not. No sir.
MS: Well, how do you explain the findings of the fossils and the aging of the bones?
KH: Oh, I've got a lot of dinosaur fossils here. I love dinosaurs...They even call me drdino. But dinosaurs are just big lizards that lived with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The Bible teaches that before the flood came, the people lived to be more than 900 years old.
The Fractured Fairy Tales begin. Notice that Hovind makes no effort to explain what Siegel asked, nor does he provide evidence that supports his assertion that dinosaurs are "just big lizards". Anatomically, there are substantial differences between dinosaurs and lizards. Please see Walking With Dinosaurs AND Family Tree, a comprehensive, well-written website dealing with dinosaurs and other Mesozoic creatures.
MS: So there was an Adam and there was an Eve?
KH: Oh, yessir.
MS: And people, then, the years that we understand a year to be, they lived to be 900?
KH: Yessir, 912 was the average, before the flood. And there's a lot of reasons why they lived that long. I don't know if you saw the movie "Jurassic Park"? The amber that they drilled into, to get the mosquito blood out, 'course it's all fiction - Jurassic Park - but in real life, oftentimes amber contains air bubbles. When they drill into them, they find out the air bubbles are 30% oxygen. Kind of interesting. [snip] Dinosaurs are interesting, or confusing, to scientists, I should say, because they have very small nostrils. And small lungs. So they wonder how on earth did they breathe? You know, their lungs are too small, they've got this 80 foot-long body, with tiny nostrils and tiny lungs. Well, today, they probably couldn't survive in our environment, but I think before the flood came, in the days of Noah, the earth had double the atmospheric pressure, and there are several reasons for all of this, and 30% oxygen. And under those conditions the people would certainly live longer, and be healthier. [snip] Today insects are limited on how big they can get based upon the air pressure. Insects breathe through their skin. They don't have lungs like we do. They have to absorb it, and the larger an animal gets, the more problems he has with the surface area/volume ratio. So that a giant insect, like the spider that ate NYC in the movies is, you know, just not possible. They can't get that big. However, if you double the air pressure and increase the oxygen supply, they could certainly get a lot larger. Last summer in Germany a fossil centipede was found 8.5 feet long. Fossil cockroaches are found 18" long. Fossil dragonfly was found that had a three foot wingspan. Well, there is no possible way a three foot dragonfly could fly in today's atmosphere. Just not enough oxygen; and not enough air pressure. So that the preflood world, I believe, before the flood came, in the days of Noah, was very different, and had a canopy of water overhead that would increase the air pressure. And would make the oxygen, oh, 30-35%.
All scientists are simply "they" or "them" to Hovind. For this Fractured Fairy Tale, Hovind visits the cafeteria of science, and helps himself, buffet-style, to what he needs. What he is referring to is something called the "Pele Hypothesis" (though there is no indication that he has a clue where these data came from). In 1993 Notre Dame Magazine published reports on a dinosaur extinction theory based upon a drop in the oxygen levels, see The Dinosaurs' Last Gasp. Physiologist Rich Hengst, after studying the skeleton of an Apatosaurus, asserted that the animal (which has small nostrils and no diaphragm) would have a difficult time breathing at earth's current oxygen level (21%). Paleontologists Keith Rigby and Robert Sloan proposed that the dinosaurs were in distress near the end of the CRETACEOUS (not before the flood!) due to a drop in the oxygen level. To support their case, another researcher, Gary Landis, measured the oxygen concentration in bubbles within amber from Montana's Hell Creek Formation. These 30 samples, ages 69-63 million years (not 3500 years) did show a decrease in oxygen concentration from 35% to 14%.
So what's wrong with this picture? First, Hovind is guilty of selective data-mongering. Gigantism in insects occurred during the Carboniferous (ca 300 million years ago), not during a time when dinosaurs were dominant. "Most of the various insect taxa that attained exceptionally large body sizes during the Carboniferous did not persist after the Permian..." (Graham 1995). Large dragonflies were extinct before there were dinosaurs. Also, whether the Pele hypothesis holds water or not, none of these scientists was proposing that earth had a more oxygen-rich atmosphere 3500 years ago, but 69 million years ago. Second, this is one theory, based upon looking at one type of dinosaur, and oxygen samples taken from one place. I have not been able to find any articles more recent than the 1993 reports above, which makes me think that these data did not hold up well. Neither Currie and Padian's Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs nor Dingus and Rowe's The Mistaken Extinction (both published in the late 90's) mention the Pele hypothesis except in passing, and neither of these books considers dinosaur breathing ability to be important enough to address at all. A third consideration is related to an atmosphere having an oxygen content of 30%. Atmospheric scientist Richard Turco notes that "At higher oxygen concentrations (perhaps 30% or more of air) vegetation becomes explosively combustible, so combustion would act to limit the build up of oxygen" (Turco 1997). This gives a whole new meaning to the biblical metaphor of the "burning bush".
The "vapor canopy" nonsense was cleanly dispatched in 1983, when Soroka and Nelson pointed out that a vapor canopy containing the amount of water necessary for a flood would result in an atmospheric pressure 840X the current one (not 2X) containing 99.9% water vapor (not 30% oxygen). Let's see how well those big dragonflies fly under those conditions. Dinosaurs would have been crushed. So would Noah.
Frank Steiger, at his web site Creationism and Pseudo Science points out that a 43,000 mile-"high" vapor canopy would have been required to produce the water needed to flood the earth. The pre-"flood" earth would have been in total darkness.
Soroka and Nelson also calculated that the collapse of such a vapor canopy would have liberated about 1028 Joules of heat - enough, if released over "40 days and 40 nights" to raise the atmospheric temperature of the earth to 6400o F, the temperature of some stars. If we are to believe this Fractured Fairy Tale, Noah and the ark just bob through a thermodynamic cataclysm! See also The Demise and Fall of the Water Vapor Canopy: A Fallen Creationist Idea and Carbon Dioxide and the Flood.
[snip, break, return]
MS: So much to talk about with Dr. Hovind. Much of what we have to talk about has to do with the relationship between science and the Bible. It's really a fundamental debate, I suppose, and you can break it down to the two choices: creation vs evolution. [snip] As Dr. Hovind points out in one of his books, there was an atheist Russian astronomer who visited America and said either there was a god or there isn't. Then he said both possibilities are frightening. And so, did the universe come about randomly? Was it designed? I suppose those are the only two ways to take a look at it.
Siegel has fallen into the logical fallacy called the "false dichotomy", or "black and white thinking". How sad that someone trained as an attorney is so easily snared. In fact, there are many ways of accepting evolution and/or an ancient earth and maintaining a religious faith. See God and Evolution, and Viewpoints on Evolution, Creation, and Origins.
MS: Dr. Hovind, by the way, what is your specialty on your doctoral work? What area of specialization?
KH: Well, my doctorate degree is in education. I became very concerned about what kids were being taught in school, and so I did quite a bit of research on how the evolution theory affects education. The stuff that's in the textbooks the kids are being taught has been proven wrong 125 years ago, but they still keep it in the books to try to get the kids to believe this evolution theory.
[Digresses to free book advertisement] We've got eight lines comin' here now, book is called "Are You Being Brainwashed by Your Science Book?" [Gives phone number and website URL]
The Fairy Tale Detector begins to light up and beep beep beep. Hovind's "degree" is from an unaccredited mail order institution. See The Wild, Wild World of Kent Hovind. He has done NO research on "how evolution theory affects education", and there is NO data of this type in his thesis. It's as bogus as his $250,000 offer. See details at The Dissertation Kent Hovind Doesn't Want You To Read.
MS: You talk about what you describe to be the "lie of evolution". And you say the devil started this lie. Can you elaborate on that point and on what basis you make the statement?
KH: Well, in the Garden of Eden in Genesis chapter 3 the Bible records that Satan came to Eve and said, he asked her three questions. He said, Yea hath God said? He questioned, did God talk, did God say anything? What is God's word? And he said Ye shall not surely die, so he denied God's word, and then thirdly then he said If ye eat off that tree ye shall be as gods. The whole idea that man can become a god started with the devil in the Garden of Eden. And that's really what evolution teaches, that we started off like a rock, and we're slowly evolving, and, you know, eventually gonna become in charge of our own destiny.
Fractured Fairy Tale, big time. This is known as the "straw man" fallacy, where a caricature is put forth, then taken apart. Evolution says nothing about starting off as a rock, nor does it have anything to say about our destiny. Science literacy is at an all-time low, and lots of people lap this stuff up. But it's just a logical fallacy.
KH: [snip] We need to define the word "evolution". Because that's really critical here. When you get into a discussion like this, you have to define your terms carefully. And evolution has six different meanings, and one of them *is* scientific, five of 'em are religious. So what students are taught in school, they're shown lots of examples of the one that is scientific, and then it is left to the students to assume that all six of them go together as a package deal.
...And do not exist outside of the mind of Hovind. He has decided to place all of these disparate events under his convenient little umbrella called "evolution", and then attack them. But it's just more jousting with the "straw man".
KH: And that little book that we give out about being brainwashed has a good description of the six definitions. I can give them to you real quick: Cosmic evolution would be the Big Bang. There's no evidence for this at all. Nobody's ever seen any explosion create anything ordered. The origin of time, space, and matter is just simply a mystery that you have to take on faith. And that's the first step of evolution, is cosmic.
Evidence for the Big Bang comes from at least three independent areas. Hovind completely misrepresents the Big Bang as an ordinary explosion, and misunderstands that despite the presence of some very ordered constructs, like stars and galaxies, there *is* more disorder now than when everything in the universe was in one place.
KH: Then you have to have chemical evolution. The Big Bang supposedly produced hydrogen.
Dave Moore notes: "The Big Bang produced very little but hydrogen and helium, with some lithium and beryllium", see Supernovae, Supernova Remnants and Young Earth Creationism FAQ.
KH: How on earth do we get the other elements? You know, there's 92 elements. They would have to evolve.
We do not get them "on earth" at all, and Hovind's periodic table needs a little updating. There are about 116 known elements. Moore continues: "Various other elements (heavier than carbon but lighter than iron) are produced by fusion in the red giant stage of stars. Elements heavier than iron get produced mainly in supernovae, specifically in the explosive nuclear burning that takes place either during the phase where the shock wave that results from the collapse of the star's core encounters the outer layers of the star (for Types Ib, Ic and II supernovae), or in the general nuclear fireball that Type Ia supernovae become. In the aftermath of a supernova event, the local interstellar medium is saturated with these heavy elements.", see Supernovae, Supernova Remnants and Young Earth Creationism FAQ. For other great supernova sites, see Introduction to Supernovae and The Astronomer Online.
KH: Then there would be stellar evolution. Nobody's ever seen one star form. Yet you can look outside and there's enough stars out there that we know of that everybody on earth can own two trillion of them. There are plenty of stars out there, but we never see one form. We only see them being destroyed by novas or supernovas. So stellar evolution would have to happen, but it's never been observed.
"We" don't see them form if "we" don't bother to look. Fortunately, astronomers manning the Hubble Space Telescope did not give up so easily, see Hubblesite Newsletter.
Stars are not "destroyed by novas", some may become novas, and stars that end their lives as novas or supernovae fill the universe with heavy elements. See Supernovae, Supernova Remnants and Young Earth Creationism FAQ.
KH: Then we'd have to have organic evolution, that's the origin of life. Nobody's ever seen non-living material come alive; Redi and Pasteur proved it doesn't happen.
This Hovind Fairy Tale confuses "spontaneous generation" with "abiogenesis". The two are not the same, and anyone with a decent science background knows the difference. "Spontaneous generation" is the notion that inanimate matter could suddenly give rise to fully formed animals - maggots literally being generated from rotting meat. Redi did disprove this in the 1600s, as did Spallanzi in 1768; the idea was finally put to rest by Pasteur in the mid 1800s. But this is not the concept that scientists mean when the origin of life is discussed. "Abiogenesis" refers specifically to the origin of self-replicating molecules - not cells, and certainly not maggots - from inorganic chemicals. Life from inanimate matter (ie, maggots from rotting meat) is not the same concept as organic chemicals organizing, forming complex structures and reproducing, but it sounds pretty close to the general public, and Hovind exploits this weakness. For a discussion of abiogenesis and the creationist misuse of Redi and Pasteur in this context, see Abiogenesis and also Ian Musgrave's FAQ, Probability of Abiogenesis FAQs.
KH: Then we'd have macroevolution, number 5, which is changing from one kind of animal to another. Nobody's ever observed that. Dogs always have dogs.
Hovind has obviously not read Joseph Boxhorn's "Observed Instances of Speciation", nor Stassen-et-al's "Some More Observed Speciation Events. See 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution , as well as Carl Zimmer's fine book At the Water's Edge, which documents the fish --> amphibian transition and the abundance of transitional forms documenting the evolution of whales from land mammals.
KH: And then finally we have microevolution. Now this one is scientific. It is observed regularly. You know, wolves and dogs probably had a common ancestor. They're very different, but stand back and look at 'em. It's the same kind of animal.
"Stand back and look at 'em" is the sum total of definition of a "kind". Neither Hovind nor any other YEC has ever been able to describe a "kind" any better than this. An email from a Hovind supporter demonstrates this:
"Macro is not the same as Micro and I guess you know that. It's not a matter of where micro ends and macro begins. Macro hasn't been proven to ever exist, and the so-called evidences for it are preposterous." ("Janet")
My reply: You can't even define what a "kind" is, and that's what is preposterous. If you don't know whether horses and zebras are the same "kinds" or different "kinds", how can you tell whether their differences are on a microevolutionary or macroevolutionary scale? What about dogs/wolves/coyotes/foxes? One "kind"? Four? How about even-toed or odd-toed hoofed animals? How many kinds, and what are your criteria for saying so? Are all frogs one "kind"? How about New World and Old World monkeys? Great apes? And it absolutely must matter to you where one stops and the other starts, because you accept the former and deny the latter. You had darn well be able to differentiate between them besides saying that they're "not the same."
For more information on macroevolution and microevolution, see John Wilkins' article Macroevolution.
KH: So when I say the word "evolution", I'm not referring to microevolution, which everybody agrees happened. I'm referring to anything else above that. And there's simply no evidence for it at all. And if somebody wants to believe it, that's fine. I don't care what you believe. But I don't want you using my tax dollars to teach the kids that it's science. Cuz it's not. (haha)
Hovind does not pay income taxes but is not above using the court system when it suits him, even if it means claiming to be "an evangelist employed by God" as well as a resident not of the US, but the "Florida Republic." For more information on Hovind's income tax problems see The Hovind Bankruptcy Decision and Falsely Claiming Bankruptcy.
MS: Just as a practical matter, as you well know, the US Supreme Court has endorsed the notion of teaching evolution and excluded scientific creationism from the public schools as being religious. Which is not to say that's the absolute truth, but it is the final legal word in this country, so far at least, by the US Supreme Court.
KH: Well, that's not quite what happened. What happened, two states, AR and LA passed laws requiring the teachers to teach creation. And the courts struck those down in both cases. Teachers have always had the right to teach creation if they want. But when the state comes in and tries to mandate that they teach creation, so now you have a different situation. So the court, as much as I'm not sure I like their decision, you know, they were probably right in saying the states do not have the authority to mandate that the teachers teach creation. [snip a discussion on the Arkansas and Louisiana pro-creation equal time laws, and whether it is currently legal to teach creationism in the public schools]
MS: Explain to me how you could teach, for example, if you were to teach from a Christian point of view, and use the notion of Jesus as being divine, and the son of god and all of that sort of thing, as a former teacher and as an attorney, there is no way that I can see that you could get away with teaching that without also teaching, in a comparative religion course, about other religions. In other words, the public schools, the courts have said, are not the place to promulgate a particular religion.
KH: Well, correct, that's true, the teachers cannot promulgate a particular religion. They cannot try to convince the kid to become a Baptist or a Buddhist or a Catholic, but they certainly can present, they can discuss anything, any theories on creation or evolution. [snip]
MS: I think the only point I was making was that if it were to take a specific religion's doctrine.
KH: Correct, That would not be proper.
MS: That was my major point. But obviously in terms of the generic notion of scientific creationism, then, using what you're describing here: the science of that field. Sure. It would then become generic and it wouldn't be a particular religion. But if you were to use Hinduism or Judaism or Christianity as the singular basis for the conversation about scientific creationism, that's where the problem would be.
Siegel totally misses the point. There is no secular "scientific creationism". It does not exist outside of a particular branch of fundamentalist Christianity. It cannot be taught without invoking the tenets of a particular religion. Too bad an attorney/former public school teacher is unaware of this.
KH: Well, see, we already have a religion established in our schools, though, by teaching evolution. This is the religion of secularism and humanism. Evolution is a religion. It's not a science. There's no scientific evidence for the Big Bang, for macroevolution, for cosmic evolution. It's all just something people believe in. And I respect their right to believe in it.
Not really. It is hardly respectful to call Hugh Ross a cultist and heretic, as Hovind did on the 10-22-00 and 11-12-00 John Ankerberg radio shows.
KH: I do not want them using my tax dollars to force that down the throat of my own children.
Never fear! Hovind's children, now all adults, were educated in private Christian schools! Different things were forced down their throats.
KH: You know, they should keep their religion at home, and they should teach their kids at home about evolution. But it should not be allowed in the school system at all. It has nothing to do with science whatsoever.
This is known as "redefining" and using a nonstandard usage. Since creationists have been unsuccessful at getting creationism into the public schools, their next tactic is to declare evolution a religion. It doesn't fly. Many secular humanists accept evolution, and so do many Christians. This concept is not linked to one philosophy, as much as Hovind would like it to be true.
[snip initial intro]
MS: Dr. Kent Hovind is with us. If you would give us an indication about describing the world being 6000 years old and what the basis is for that, because even recently I've been sharing stories with the audience here. We've all been aware, of findings of remains of Neanderthals going back 100,000 years [snip] Now the feeling is that Neanderthals were actually far more sophisticated and socialized than we realized. We're finding ceramics that are that old, that were a part of that society, those societies, if you will. And the Sumerians, of course, 6000 years ago were writing things, as Zechariah Sichitt points out: talking about gods coming here, being potentially aliens, beings from other planets. So there's a lot that's gone on in terms of what one would call science about some of those issues. How do you square that with the notion that the earth is 6000 years old?
KH: Ah, that's a good question. The dating of certain artefacts like this is certainly done with a preconceived idea that evolution has happened and there has [sic] been changes and the earth is billions of years old.
It is difficult to tell whether Hovind is constructing this Fractured Fairy Tale from ignorance, or just plain lying through his teeth. Radiometric dating is a concept independent of evolution, and the multibillion year earth age would survive even if the theory of evolution were falsified tomorrow. For an excellent review of radiometric dating from a Christian with a real Ph.D. in geology, see Radiometric Dating - A Christian Perspective. For a review of young earth arguments from another Christian with a degree in physics, see Young-Earth Arguments: A Second Look.
KH: If you get into carbon dating which is how most of this stuff is done, at least for things less than 50,000 years old, it has some really funny stuff they come up with carbon dating, and I've got a 30 minute answer I give to that on my seminar, part 7, if people watch my videotape, or on my website drdino.
MS: Well I'd rather we have the answer here. That's why you're on the program.
KH: Sure, I'll give it to you real quick. Carbon dating is based on several obvious assumptions. If you had walked into a room and found a candle burning on a table, and I said Hey, when was that lit? And you said Well I dunno. It was burning when I got here. I said, oh, ok, let's see if we can figure how long it's been burning. So we measure the heighth [sic] of the candle. Now we can do that very precisely. Let's say the candle is 7" tall. Ok, we get all the scientists to agree it is 7" tall. Now, you still can't tell me how long it's been burning, but you now have a scientific fact. Let's get another scientific fact by watching how fast it burns. And we time it with Olympic stopwatches, and you know, we find out it's burning an inch an hour. Here's our two empirical bits of science: It is 7" tall; it's burning an inch an hour. When was it lit? Well, you're kinda stumped at this point because you're going to have to make a few assumptions. Number 1, how tall was it when it started? And of course, we don't know that. And number 2, has it always burned at the same rate? And you don't know that, either. When you dig up a fossil, a Neanderthal or whatever, you can test how much carbon-14 is in it. Very precisely, by the way. And you can test how fast it decays very precisely. And then you're kinda stuck. You have to guess how much was in it when it started. And has it always burned at the same rate? Has it always decayed at the same rate? We know that neither of those is true.
These assumptions may be true for candles, but they have nothing to do with carbon-14 dating. See A Radiometric Dating Resource List for real explanations of all aspects of radiometric dating. Wiens' article above also dismisses this nonsense in his FAQ section. Carbon-14 dating has been calibrated using tree rings and recently with lake varves (Kitagawa and van der Plicht, 1998), and potassium/argon dating was verified by its accurate dating of the 79 AD Pompeii eruption, see Argon dating technique verified.
KH: For instance, I'll just give you a few quick examples: Living mollusc shells were carbon dated 2300 years old. Science magazine, volume 141. Freshly-killed seal was carbon-dated at having died 1300 years ago, and they just killed it. That's Antarctic Journal, volume 6, page 211. Shells from living snails were carbon-dated at 27,000 years old. Science magazine, volume 224, page 58-61.
These examples are lifted from the "Answers in Genesis" website, and show only that neither Hovind nor AiG understand the limitations of C-14 dating. Marine creatures acquire much of their carbon from limestone that has been buried in the sea for millions of years. The C-14 originally present in the limestones is long gone, so of course these organisms appear to be old. Anyone acquainted with C-14 dating knows about this limitation, see Carbon Dating. More information on C-14 dating and contamination can be found at Carbon 14 - Contamination.
Keith Littleton summarized it very well in a Talk.Origins newsgroup post: "Radiocarbon dating is like a hammer. A person has to know how to use it properly in order to build a house with it. If a person is ignorant of how to use a hammer, then... using a hammer to build a house has problems that go on and on."
KH: One part of a mammoth was carbon-dated at 29,000 years old. Another part is 44,000 years old. Here's two parts of the same animal. That's from USGS Professional Paper #862.
Hovind makes a big-time misrepresentation here. I looked at the data in USGS Professional Paper 862. It is a 1975 paper by Troy Pewe entitled "Quaternary Stratigraphic Nomenclature in Unglaciated Central Alaska". It is a description of stratigraphic units in Alaska, but does contain more than 150 radiocarbon dates. Many of these dates are from the 1950's and 60's. There are three references to mammoths: hair from a mammoth skull (found by Geist in 1951 in frozen silt); "flesh from lower leg, Mammuthus primigenius" (found by Osborne in 1940, 26 m below the surface); and the "skin and flesh of Mammuthus primigenius [baby mammoth] (found by Geist in 1948 "with a beaver dam"). The dates given are, respectively, 32,700; 15,380; and 21,300 years BP BUT the last is thought to be an invalid date because the hide was soaked in glycerin.
NOWHERE IN THE PAPER DOES IT SAY, OR EVEN IMPLY, THAT THESE SPECIMENS ARE PARTS OF THE SAME ANIMAL. They were found in different places, at different times, by different people. One is even termed "baby", and the other is not. To construct this Fractured Fairy Tale, Hovind must have hoped that no one listening would check and see what his reference really said.
KH: One part of Dima, the frozen mammoth, the baby one that was emaciated, was 40,000 years old. Another part was 26,000, and the wood around the carcass was dated at 9000 years old. I mean, in spite of all the hoopla, carbon dating just simply doesn't work.
The only dates I have found for "Dima" are close to 40,000 years BP: "The field evidence and radiocarbon analysis indicate that the baby mammoth, who was named Dima, was buried in a bog or small lake by a mudslide 44,000 years ago" (Newell, p. 66) and "...Dima was dated at 41,000 + 900 BP", see The Mysterious Origins of Man: Atlantis, Mammoths, and Crustal Shift. Since Hovind completely misrepresented the Alaskan mammoth data above, it is not unreasonable to assume that his information about "Dima" is also incorrect.
KH: It's based on some very fundamental assumptions. A couple of Russian scientists carbon-dated dinosaur bones at under 30,000 years old. Hugh Miller in Columbus, Ohio, had four dinosaur bone samples carbon-dated, and they came back at 20,000 years old. The only reason they even dated them is that he did not tell them they were dinosaur bones.
According to Robert Kalin, a specialist at the University of Arizona's radiocarbon dating laboratory, Hugh Miller's fossils were not bone. Like most ancient fossils, the organic portion of the bone had long ago been replaced by minerals. The young "dates" are from contamination and/or carbon-containing preservatives (Lepper 1992).
KH: If you go into an average laboratory and say I've got some dinosaur bones and I want 'em carbon-dated, they'll say, Oh, we can't carbon-date these, because they're too old. You see, they assume the age based on the geologic column. You know the geologic column is taught in every textbook in earth science in public schools. The geologic column does not exist anywhere in the world. And there's overwhelming evidence that the geologic column all formed rapidly. All those layers of strata. We find petrified trees standing up, running through all these layers. I've got pictures of 'em in that little booklet that we give out, "Are You Being Brainwashed by Your Science Book?" If people wanna get that we can give 'em one. And lots of data on this. The geologic column all formed rapidly in Noah's flood.
There is no evidence that the geologic column formed rapidly, and lots of evidence - like the existence of river channels under thousands of feet of strata, see Young-Earth Arguments: A Second Look that argue against rapid deposition. A global flood does a poor job of explaining delicate features commonly found in sedimentary strata: burrows, footprints, raindrop imprints, mudcracks, nests, coprolites (what happens when you flush?). See Creation? These Fossils Say No. The polystrate trees pose no problem for the geologic column, and are explained at "Polystrate" Tree Fossils.
KH: In the early 1800's, people started teaching that, you know, the earth is older than 6000 years old. We had guys like Charles Lyell come along in 1830, and he's probably the primary guy that developed the geologic column that we use today, with the Cenozoic and Mesozoic, and Jurassic, and all that kind of stuff. And the whole thing's baloney. It doesn't exist. The only place you can find this geologic column is in your textbook.
I told Hovind in October of 1998, before a large gathering, that the geologic column was in use before Darwin was born (1809):
"The geologic column is a concept fundamental to geology, and is one of the big pieces of evidence that supports biological evolution. These layers of sedimentary rock were laid down such that the lowest layer is normally the oldest. The lowest layers harbor the most primitive life forms, and one sees a sequential emergence of more-complex life as one goes from the lower levels to the higher.
Accusations concerning the geologic column abound in Hovind's publications. He asserts that the geologic column was "made up" by evolutionists, and that is exists only in textbooks. What is the reality?
A complete geologic column exists in North Dakota and at least 26 other places on earth, see The Geologic Column and Its Implication to the Flood.
It was devised not by evolutionists, but by Christian creationist geologists like William Smith. Smith was one of the first to acknowledge and index fossils. The column was in wide use by 1830, almost 30 years before Darwin published Origin of Species. (Bartelt 1998)"
Hovind seems content to perpetuate his false history of the geologic column.
KH: There's no question the earth has layers, but the question is, how did they get there? Rapid stratification happened when Mt St Helens blew up there in Washington. It blew 600 feet of mud down there into the valley. Several days later the Toutle River, which had been dammed up by this mudslide, went over the top, and washed out a miniature grand canyon in about 15 minutes. It's a 1/40th scale grand canyon. Washed out in just a few minutes. When they go down into the canyon today, you notice the sides of it have all nice neat layers and strata, just exactly like Grand Canyon.
A variation of the Fractured Fairy Tale begun by the ICR's Steve Austin. This logical fallacy is called a "false analogy". The layers near Mt. St. Helens are made of volcanic ash, not limestone, sandstone, or shale. See A Visit to the Institute for Creation Research. The fact that unconsolidated volcanic ash can be easily carved by water does not imply that consolidated limestone, sandstone, and shale - the rocks that from the Grand Canyon walls, can be rapidly carved by water.
KH: And you would think, if you went to public school you would think, that each of these layers formed slowly over millions of years, when the truth of the matter is if you get a jar of dirt, put some water in it, shake it up, it'll settle out into layers, in your hand in a few moments.
And, by gum, you get nothing that resembles sedimentary rock! The false analogy strikes again.
KH: Water automatically sorts particles by density and by their shape, and so the flood in the days of Noah sorted all this strata of the earth we have through a lot of different factors, ah, liquefaction, and cavitation plays heavily into [sic] this destruction of minerals and stuff in rapidly-moving water.
And if this were true, you would see a geologic column with conglomerates on the bottom, then sandstone, then shale, then limestone. Hovind has refuted the creationists' flood geology!
KH: But the fossils then are found in the layers and they assume the layer's a certain age. So if you take in a dinosaur bone, they're going to assume it's about 100 million years old, and they're going to date it until they get that number. They may have to test the sample four or five times. Then they come back and say Yup, that's right. 70 million, or 100 million. Just like we thought. Ha ha ha.
If Hovind has particular information that a particular date is incorrect, he should supply that information. Allegations involving "they" or "them" are useless. He has done this previously, accusing "scientists" of finding Hyracotherium (primitive horses) in modern strata. In October 1998 I challenged him to present these findings to a reputable journal:
"The geologic column has contributed to what we know about horse evolution. Here is what Hovind has to say: 'They have taken critters from all over the world, South America, Europe, and Asia, and put them together in a predetermined area. They have already decided to start off with the smallest to largest animals. That is not the way they are found.'
"What Hovind is suggesting here is that 'they' are being purposely fraudulent. Who are 'they' Kent? If you think that scientists are purposely deceiving the public, why don't you come up with specific names of scientists and exactly what fossils are out of place?
"He continues: 'They find them in different layers, but they have it in the textbooks that eohippus slowly changes into equus, the modern horse. That's bologna', and 'Modern horses are found in layers lower than eohippus.'
"The only bologna here is what Hovind has written....so much that a link to the Oscar Meyer website is suggested. If Hovind knows of an Eocene Equus fossil, I challenge him to submit his findings to a reputable scientific journal." [Bartelt 1998]
That was two years ago. The world is still waiting!
MS: Well, do you agree with the history that says that the Sumerians did writing 6000 years ago? Inscriptions?
KH: Well, no, the Sumerians, I don't know about the Sumerians particularly. I know the Egyptians and the Babylonians, I guess that's the forerunner to the Sumerians, they greatly exaggerated their history.
MS: But how do you know that? You weren't there.
KH: I know. That's correct. I wasn't there. But I think you'll find a...
MS: You see in other words you're asking people to accept your point of view in a very hypothetical perspective that you have to the same degree that you're saying all the of science that's come down about the earth's age and about Neanderthals going back 100,000 years and all of this sort of thing. You're asking them to reject that on some of your hypotheses that are speculation as well. The notion that you can create those layers in a cavern, in a crater, for example, such as the Grand Canyon doesn't mean that, it means it could have happened that quickly, it doesn't mean it did necessarily.
Siegel's finest exchange. Too bad Hovind sidetracked him in the next segment.
[snip digression on public schools, where Hovind says it is best to just not teach origins at all]
KH: Ok, but they are, ok, so we're stuck with the situation, at least for today. Now, since we are, what should they teach? I think you can teach the kids the names of the bones and the muscles and teach 'em the biology, ok kid, here's your liver, here's your spleen, here's how it works. And if a kid says, Well how did we get this?, at that point the teacher should say, I'm sorry, we're not allowed to discuss origins because it's too controversial, and no matter what I say, somebody will be upset.
Biology without any organizing principles. Kind of like memorizing bible verses, I guess.
[snip more on origins]
MS: Now, lemme ask you,...define for us if you could, why you believe the earth is 6000 years old?
KH: Ok, well I would start off by saying, If you add up the dates given in the Bible, it comes to about 6000. You know, the Bible says Adam was 130 when Seth was born, and Seth was 105 when Enos was born. And I've read the Bible many scores of times, and studied it for many years, and have never found anything wrong with it. Certainly has changed my life, and I believe the Bible is literally true and scientifically accurate in all of all of its, uh, when it deals with a scientific subject, it is absolutely correct.
Then Hovind also believes that:
1. emotions and wisdom reside in the heart, not the brain. See Exodus 4:14 and 4:20; Leviticus 19:17; Matthew 15:17-20; Ecclesiastes 8:16; and many more.
2. wheat seeds literally die when they are planted (John 12:24); the Greek word used means physical death. ( 1-2 from Collins 1995)
3. bats are birds, and unclean ones at that! (Leviticus 11:19)
4. insects walk "upon all fours" (Leviticus 11:20-23)
5. the value of "pi" is 3, not 3.1416..... (I Kings 7:23-26 and II Chronicles 4:2-5)
6. striped and spotted lambs can be bred by placing peeled sticks in front of the parents as they breed (Genesis 30:37-41)
7. the earth is a circle (nope, not a sphere) (Isaiah 40:22)
KH: Then when you look at the scientific evidence. For instance, the moon is going around the earth. But the moon is leaving us 2-3"per year. It's slowly cycling out. Because of a lot of complex physical factors. Bottom line is, the moon is leaving. Well, that means it used to be closer. Now if you bring the moon back closer, the tides get higher. Falling off with the inverse square law, actually, if you half [sic] the distance, it would quadruple the attraction...Well somewhere in there the tides are gonna be so high it's gonna erode the beach clear back to Chicago. In a hurry. And, uh, at one point two billion years ago, the moon would be touching the earth. Now here they're trying to tell the kids in school the earth is 4.6 billion years old. I look at this as a science teacher and say, I'm sorry, it can't be. Now you might need 4.6 billion years to make your rock turn into your prince, like your theory says, but it's just not available. ...And I can go all day on the scientific evidence against the earth being billions of years old.
The trouble is that Hovind's so-called scientific evidence amounts to nothing but another Fractured Fairy Tale. The real story on the earth/moon system is explained at The Recession of the Moon where physicist Tim Thompson discusses both recession and tides in detail. The other "scientific arguments", Fractured Fairy Tales all, are summarily discarded at Young-Earth Arguments: A Second Look.
KH: The only way you're gonna get 6000 is from the Bible.
Almost a true statement....finally. From a particular interpretation of the bible, using a date that was inserted in the King James Version in 1701. Many Christians do not accept this interpretation.
[snip speculation on the Sphinx, age of the Pyramids, alien construction, etc., BREAK]
Mark: Hey, great topic tonight , just what I'd like to talk about. The creationists - they teach - I wouldn't want their teaching, their theology in the school either, because it's just as wrong as the [sic] evolution I believe. Evolution is pretty ridiculous if I think about it, but starting in Genesis, though, it does not counterdict [sic] life before Adam and Eve. It's pretty clear, if you understand just a little bit of ancient Aramaic the first word, "was", "the earth was without form and void", that's really an impossible translation, because there was no past tense of the "to be" verb. So the more accurate translation should be "the earth became without form and void". And the other word - excuse me, tryin' to slow down a little bit here so I can be clear - the second word "replenish", he instructs the animals and Adam and Eve to replenish the earth. That insinuates there was something there before, and considering the error in the translation in the King James of that verb, that makes a lot of sense. [snip]
KH: Alright, thank you, Mark, for calling. What you're referring to as far as the word "was" meaning Hebrew word "hava", "became"; you're talking about the ruin/restoration theory, or the gap theory as it's commonly called. We cover this in great detail on our videotape #2, but I'll give you a quick answer. In 1611, when the word "replenish" was commonly used to just simply mean "fill", the King James translators used the word "replenish" because the Hebrew word there just simply called for "fill". God said, "Adam, go fill the earth." It did not start to mean "fill" again in English until about 1650, and English words change meanings from time-to-time. When I was a kid, the word "cool" meant "not hot". Who knows what it means now. But, uh, English words simply change meanings. So this is a case where it changed meanings from 1611, and there could not be any life before Adam and Eve for all sorts of scriptural reasons. In Exodus 20 in the ten commandments the bible says the lord made everything in six days: in heaven and earth the sea and all that in them is." Ya know, he wrote that on a rock wid [sic] his own finger. An' he don't stutter [sic]. Jesus said in Matthew 19:4 the creation of Adam and Eve was the beginning. There was nothing before that. The end of, well it gets into the gap theory and the day-age theory, and that's all, you know, we got a [sic] hour long answer to that on videotape #2 of our 15 hour seminar. So I would disagree that there's life before Adam. Adam was the first man. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:45, "Eve is the mother of all living."
All living what? Bacteria? Dogs and cats? Apparently taking the bible literally has its limits, even for Hovind!
KH: And it looks like some of what you're teaching is what Hugh Ross teaches, you know about Adam being the first spirit-being. That there was actually life before that. And I disagree totally, and I'll be debating Hugh Ross on the John Ankerberg Show the end of this month. Uh, he's a real nice guy, but he's just dead-wrong on a couple things, and I'm gonna straighten him out."
The tapes from the Ankerberg show are available at The John Ankerberg Show. By the 10-22-00 show, both Ankerberg and Ross are clearly irritated by Hovind, his nasty comments about Ross, and his myopic views. On one of these shows, Hovind admits that he knows no Hebrew, so this makes his comments to Mark (above) an argument from ignorance.
Tom: There are two things that bother me right off the bat. One this comment about 912 years. There are a lot of people who operated on the basis of a lunar year, which would have made that about 76 calendar years. And the other thing: the number of days that God took to create things. I think it's rather presumptuous to assume that this is a 48 [sic] hour day, especially since God is so much more than we are. How about that?
KH: Ok, well a couple of things. If you want to go with the lunar year idea, if you read the scriptures, you'll find out two of the people - Enoch, and one other one, I forget - were 65 when their son was born. So if you're gonna divide that by 12, that makes him 5.5 years old when he becomes a daddy. I don't think so. They really were living to be 900 years old, and there's a lot of biological reasons why they could do that. In the original creation, there was no genetic load. There [sic] were not deformed chromosomes, and they didn't suffer under the...You know, your gene code now is a copy off a copy off a copy off a copy who knows how many times of Adam. And the fact that it even works at all is pretty amazing. After all this copying process it's been through and plus the hostile environment, we, and the extra things we throw at it.
If we are all copies of Adam, why aren't we all males? Why don't we all have one X and one Y chromosome? There is no genetic evidence at all that all humans originated from a single person. A recent article in The London Times points out that "Women were the complete article long before men, a new study has shown. Geneticists have found that female genes acquired their modern form 143,000 years ago but the male version was not up and running for another 84,000 years. The result overturns the Biblical description of women being created from a spare rib left over from a man, and suggests that if Eve ever did meet Adam she was slumming it, genetically speaking."
KH: And as far as [it's] presumptuous to say that God used twenty-four hour days, God, God coulda done it in six seconds. I think he did it in six days just to select, just to create a week for us. There's certainly no scientific reason, there's no lunar reason or solar reason why we have a seven day week. But just about every culture in the world operates on a seven day week. It's just like it's kind of built-in. And I think that's [sic] remnants, people remembering from the original creation when God established this seven day week. Nobody's ever been able to tell us why we have a seven day week. Napoleon tried to change it to a ten day week and it was disaster for the French in the revolution over there. So, I would disagree. I think they really were living to be 900 years old, and um, could not be a lunar year for the reason I mentioned, you know, they'd be five and six years old when they're havin' kids. That just doesn't happen.
Hovind is certainly selective in his miracles! He considers pre-flood people to have built the pyramids, and asserts that their long lives conferred unusual intelligence (ie, ark construction), says their chromosomes are in better shape than ours, then balks at the idea of these superhumans fathering children at age five. The current youngest father for whom I could find information is an eleven year-old in Great Britain. If an eleven year-old can do it now, why preclude this possibility for a younger person from this super race described by Hovind?
Concerning the calendar, Hovind needs a MAJOR history lesson. His assumption must be that people are too ignorant or disinterested to investigate whether his claims about a seven day week are accurate. Again, his information is just plain wrong:
"Every society has either invented the week or copied it from others. A time unit longer than a day but smaller than a month is essential to human affairs. It was originally intended to set aside special days for recurring activities such as worship and marketing. Weeks of early peoples were not of the same length, but varied from one area to another. Many primitive cultures used a four-day week, possibly in honor of the four directions. Central American peoples used a five day interval; Assyrians had a six day period; pre Christian Romans had periods of eight days called nundinae. For many centuries, ancient Greeks (like Babylonians and Egyptians of the same period) divided their thirty day months into three "decades" of ten days. Egyptians called their ten-day period decans. Observation of the sky, in addition to originally fixing the beginning of a day, also resulted in determining the length of our weeks. It stems from an ancient and interesting tradition.", see Days.
The Jewish calendar is a modified Babylonian calendar. The "tradition" referred to above is the seven day week gradually adopted by the Babylonians, then assimilated by the Hebrews during their captivity there, see Larry Freeman's Calendar Origin Page.
Finally, the Maya adopted a religious calendar - the Tzolkin - based upon twenty thirteen day periods, which one source attributes to the time period involved in slash-and-burn corn agriculture The Origin of the Maya Calendar.
Australian aboriginal peoples functioned with no weeks at all, but a rich astronomical knowledge of seasonal changes.
Paul: [snip] Now, um, I think it's fair to say the continents, particularly North America and Europe were interlocked at one time like they were a puzzle piece. And I think scientists have them pinpointed, I think it's three inches per year, and I was just curious, basically what your view is on that.
KH: Ok, continental drift, you can get a long answer to that on my website, or in my video #6. As far as Pangaea, the continents all fitting together, it's just baloney. It didn't happen. I taught earth science for years,
Maybe it's not too late to get a tuition refund.
KH: and I'm tellin' you if you look at a map you will find out, in order to get Pangaea, to get Africa and South America to fit together, for instance, they had to shrink Africa 40%. They do not fit unless you shrink Africa 40%. You know, get an earth science textbook and look up Pangaea, and you will see Mexico and all of Central America, you know Belize, well, not Belize. Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama - they're all gone. They took 'em out. They twisted two continents clockwise and twisted another one counterclockwise.
I challenge anyone who buys this hooey to visit any of a number of great plate tectonics sites, including Deconstructing Pangaea and The Breakup of Pangea which show the actual movement of the plates. What Hovind sees as a change in size is either wishful thinking or a change in the type of map projection he is used to seeing. As for Central America, it is not a matter of taking it out to get the continents to fit; it is that much of Central America did not exist until the Tertiary, a fact that can be substantiated by fossil and geological evidence.
KH: Plus it's pretty obvious if you look at the world, if you take the water out of the ocean, you'll find out there is dirt underneath. You know, these continents are not floating around like lily pads in a bathtub. They are connected. It's just the low places happen to be filled with water. That's all.
And this person claims to have taught earth science. No knowledge whatsoever of the composition or structure of the earth's crust, nor any evidence that Hovind has ever looked at a map of the world showing things like trenches, rifts, and other plate boundaries. Jes' some good ol' water an' dirt!
KH: Continental drift theory, there's no question the continents are drifting a little bit. I was just standing on top of the San Andreas Fault last week. I was speaking out in California, and I'm goin' there again, let's see, day after tomorrow. So, I do, I've studied the San Andreas Fault, the Hayward Fault, the New Madrid Fault, none of 'em my fault, but I've been there, done that, have a T-shirt. There's no question they're moving a little bit. The question is, How long has this been happening? And can we come to any conclusions or assumptions because of this? What we know is they're moving a few cm per year, sometimes a few inches per year. And that's it.
As anyone with even a minimal background in the earth sciences knows, that's not "it" at all. One particularly congruent example confirming both plate tectonics and the accuracy of radiometric dating can be found in the Hawaiian Islands. In 1838, geologist James Dana noted that the Hawaiian volcanoes were more heavily eroded as he travelled from the southeast toward the northwest (ie, Hawaii much less eroded than Kauai). He could conclude only that Kauai was older than Hawaii, but had no mechanism that explained why this was so. When the Hawaiian islands were radiometrically dated, this trend was confirmed, with Kauai being 5 million years older than Hawaii. When one follows this chain of seamounts northwest from Hawaii, the increase in age (and erosion) continues: Laysan - 19.9 million years; Midway - 27.7 million years; Suiko (near Japan) - 59.6 million years, see The Formation of the Hawaiian Islands. There was no explanation for this trend until the advent of plate tectonics. The ages are explained well if the volcanoes were formed as the Pacific Plate passed over a hot spot; the hot spot that is currently forming the Loihi Seamount off the southeast coast of Hawaii (the only part of the chain with active volcanoes). Assuming only that plate velocities are similar to the rates measured today (and in Hawaii it's about ten cm per year), one would expect to see a volcano that formed 27 million years ago to have moved 2700 km from the hot spot. Midway is about 2400 km from the hot spot. Hovind can neither explain these data away nor explain why, if radiometric dating doesn't work, there is a trend in the Hawaiian Islands consistent with erosion patterns.
KH:As far as how long it's been going on, I think it all started at the time of the flood, when the Bible says the fountains of the deep were broken up. I suspect there was a lot more water under the crust of the earth, which is now on the surface. Which is why the earth is 70% drowned. The Bible says in Psalm 136 and in Psalm 24 that the earth was, when God built the earth, he made it, he founded it upon the seas. So apparently there was an awful lot more water in the crust of the earth that is now upon the surface. And it probably came shooting out when the fountains of the deep broke open along those fault lines.
Here Hovind opens up a major can of worms that no young earth creationist has addressed so far. If one is proposing that the "fountains of the deep" supplied the water, then that water was originally under pressure. In 1983, Soroka and Nelson explored the physical consequences of such an event, concluding that "Using the geothermal gradient and assuming that water within pores would be as hot as the rocks themselves, we estimate that the average temperature of the water would be 1600oC ... The consequences of liberating this much heat within the time limits stated in Genesis would be that once again the Earth's surface and atmosphere would be raised to such high levels that the passengers on the 'ark' could not possibly survive." If one invokes a naturalistic explanation - in this case water beneath the earth - then one must look at all of the aspects of such a proposal. Hovind never does this. Again, Noah-et-al are "toast".
Rick: What I was wantin' to know is, so the supposition made so far is that the universe as a whole is only 6000 years old. [snip] Well, have you not, like, taken a look at the fact that there are things in the universe visible to us that are more than 6000 light years away?
KH: How do you know that? I believe you're right, and you are right, probably, but you can't measure the star distance beyond about twenty light years. [snip] I taught trigonometry for years. I'm tellin' ya, it just can't be done.
And the trigonometry was taught with all the talent he brought to the teaching of earth science, I bet.
KH: Even twenty light years might be a stretch because the farthest you can get away from an object on earth is 8000 miles. That's earth's diameter. So if you looked at a star in January and you waited six months, and now you're on the opposite side of earth's orbit, which is a huge circle, and then you look at the star again, you can get a little bigger base to calculate the distance using parallax trigonometry. But even then, earth's orbit around the sun, as huge as that is, is only sixteen light minutes in diameter. One year has 525,000 minutes in it. Over half a million minutes in a year. And so to look at a star one light year away, using opposite sides of our orbit as a base, which is as big a circle as we can get, that's like having two surveyors 16" apart looking at a dot 8.25 miles away, and trying to calculate the distance using trigonometry. That's just for one light year, and that is assuming you can tell where you were six months ago with any amount of precision, which I doubt. Most astronomers will tell you 20-100 light-years is the max you can measure using parallax,
"Most astronomers" would never say anything this incredibly ignorant. Hovind went on this jag against Hugh Ross on the Ankerberg Show as well. Hovind doesn't understand much about modern science; he certainly knows nothing about the degree of sophistication in instrumentation. Proud of his ignorance, Hovind told Dr. Hugh Ross that Ross was "crippled by your education". Not similarly crippled, Hovind is free to dismiss all of modern astronomy using the "argument from personal incredulity", another logical fallacy.
Physicist Tim Thompson (2000) comments: "The Hipparcos mission measured a lot of parallaxes (over 100,000), some as small as 0.001 arc seconds, which translates into distances as far away as 3260 light years." On the Ankerberg program, Dr. Ross referred to parallaxes of 0.0001 arc seconds.
KH: so they go to other methods like red shift or luminosity which have all sorts of serious problems, and wouldn't hold up two seconds in a court of law if they had to be offered as evidence. The stars are probably billions of light-years away; I don't know. Nobody knows; they probably are.
Thompson comments (2000): "Of course it's easy to dismiss what you don't understand with a wave of the hand, but the reality is that those other, indirect distance measures have a lot going for them. After parallax, the cepheid distance scale is the next rung in the cosmic distance ladder, and so is crucial to the measure of long galactic and extragalactic distances.
The bottom line for cepheids is that there exists a period-luminosity relationship. If you measure the period, you can deduce the true luminosity. By comparing the true luminosity to the apparent luminosity (what your eyes or telescope actually sees), then you can derive the distance (because we know that the light intensity falls off as the inverse square of the distance over non-hugely cosmic distances). All of this was discovered back in 1912 by Henrietta Swan Leavitt (1868-1921) at the Harvard College Observatory (when she moved from volunteer to staff in 1902 she earned a salary of 30 cents per hour). Leavitt's discovery may be the single, most important discovery in all of astronomy, but she and other early women astronomers remain essentially unknown outside of the professional community.
Before Hipparcos there was no link between the cepheid and parallax distance scales, as no cepheid variable star was close enough to Earth for a parallax distance measure. Hipparcos changed all that by measuring the parallax for a number of cepheids. Preliminary results showed that the cepheid distance scale pre-Hipparcos was probably about 10% too short [M.W. Feast & R.M. Catchpole, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 286(1): L1ÄL5, March 21, 1997]. Considering that there were no Earth-based parallaxes for any cepheid variables before, a 10% slip is not bad. It implies that the cepheid distance scale is pretty close (there has been a lot of fiddling and tweaking since then, and that 10% turns out to be too much, it was really better than that).
Hovind thinks that the cepheid distance scale would not hold up in court, but I suspect that his legal opinion is about as valuable as his scientific opinion. Now calibrated by Hipparcos data, the cepheid scale would hold up in any court.
Cepheids are the primary extragalactic distance measurers too. Only a few galaxies are close enough for cepheids to be seen from Earth, and that's how Hubble proved that the Andromeda galaxy was a galaxy, and not a "nearby" nebula back in the 20s (thanks to Henrietta). Now the Hubble Space Telescope can see cepheids in galaxies as far away as 50,000,000 light years or more, and that same cepheid distance scale is directly tied by Hipparcos to the parallax distance scale".
KH: But we certainly do not know that the speed of light has always been constant. Last month there was an article in the newspaper. I can find it here for you quickly on my computer, where they speeded light up to 300X the speed of light. This was in [the] New York Times, May 30, the year 2000. You can get it on newyorktimes.com; they cover that. "Scientists claim they have broken the ultimate speed barrier, the speed of light. Three hundred times the normal velocity of 186,000 miles per sec." At Harvard University, a few months ago, they slowed light down to one mile per hour.
Thompson again (2000) : "Factually correct, but as usual, interpreted in the light of ignorance instead of knowledge. Both of those neat tricks were accomplished by establishing very weird conditions in a laboratory that are as close to impossible as it gets in nature. The slowing of light was done in a superdense, supercold Bose Einstein condensate; cosmological light will never encounter such a thing. The speeding up of light (which does not violate any law of physics by the way) was done in an artificially "supercooled" gas with two Raman pump lasers, which are very unusual in the intergalactic environment.
But indeed, it is true that we don't know that the speed of light has always been a constant, and there are a number of legitimate "variable speed of light" cosmologies on the drawing board. But we have pretty good reasons to believe that the speed of light has been constant throughout that part of spacetime that we can see (the strongest evidence regards the constancy of the Fine Structure Constant)."
On the Ankerberg Show, an exasperated Dr. Hugh Ross also pointed out the support for a constant speed of light via the hyperfine splitting.
Matthew: Yes, Dr. Ken - is it Bovine?
KH: Hovind. H-O-V Hovind.[snip]
Matthew: Ok, I want to make a point. I notice you were happy to include history and other cultures to substantiate that there was a golden age where people lived for thousands of years cuz you mentioned the Greeks and the Sumerians. But when it comes down to; things that agree with your paradigm [sic]. But when you refer to the Sumerians that they say things that don't agree with your paradigm, you reject them. So you just, you know, if it substantiates your position, history or mythology, you accept it. If it doesn't meet your paradigm, you reject it. Because if you look into the golden ages of those other cultures, they'll say that that yes there is a golden age, but that golden age lasted, for instance in the Hindu calendar, for 700,000 years. The previous yuga. So you'll reject that part, but you'll, you know what I mean?
KH: Oh sure.
Matthew: You talked about Adam and Eve as the first created beings. Sure, but they said that the Anunnakis, that was the first genetically-engineered humans by the Anunnaki. And "Anunnaki" means "from those who came from heaven". So you'll reject, you know, I mean, like, we could go on and on about this, but basically you're being very prejudicial to your own point of view.
KH: Oh, I think probably everybody is. I'm sure you would be too. I believe the Bible is literally true and scientifically accurate, and I know of no mistakes in it. And I would defend that against anybody. If you know of some, I'd like to see it [sic]. I think you'd find these other cultures, these other writings, you find all sorts of obvious scientific errors. You know, like the earth is on top of a giant turtle. You know, which is standing on top of a big elephant. [snip] I think that when you get the big question though, since some of these things are not known, should we make all the taxpayers pay to have them taught as if it's [sic] a fact? I'm comin' up to speak in Ontario here pretty soon. I've spoke [sic] at the University of Guelph, and I've seen all your texts. Not all, but a lot of the textbooks up there. You teach the same things they teach down here in the United States: that, you know, the earth is millions of years old. They just state it dogmatically like, I was there. And, you know, that's just not fair.
Matthew: I think the main problem is, there, Ken, that people have their own points of view, and they believe them wholeheartedly. [snip]
KH: OK, Do you believe the earth is billions of years old?
Matthew: I believe this universe is really old. I mean billions, yes.
KH: Ok. Were you listening when I said the moon is moving away a couple inches a year? [snip]
Matthew: Ok, well, the moon moving out 2" a year. You say we don't know if that is a constant. But, you know, there is a theory that the moon came out of the earth. So, obviously it would have been touching the earth. It woulda came [sic] from the earth. We're just talkin' theory now, I realize. But I don't think you've looked at all the theories.
KH: Oh, I have. You can call J P Dawson<jpdawson.com>. Mr. Dawson is the one who dated the moon rocks. When he was working for NASA, he was in charge of their science division. I said, "Mr. Dawson, how old is the moon?" He said, "I don't know." He said "I'm the one who dated it. We got these rocks. We dated 'em. We got samples from." He said "Sometimes we'd get, from the same rock, we'd get a few thousand years for a date, and 2 billion for a date." He said "I don't have a clue how old it is, and nobody does." But NASA goes out and they publish a 4.6 billion, just so it matches the textbooks age of the earth.
This prompted me to visit JP Dawson's website, which had an extensive biography. It was pretty obvious that, though Dawson had worked for NASA, his area of expertise was concerned with thermal properties of the rocks, and he had NEVER dated a lunar rock. Obviously there is a substantial misrepresentation here, but by whom - Hovind, Dawson, or both? I decided to get more information by emailing both Hovind and Dawson. Here are the emails:
Dawson's reply (9-1-00): Hey Karen -- The moon rocks were studied by many different people -- all agree that we can not determine the actual date they were formed -- most of the rocks were composites of various minerals that were not formed at the same time. the webpage contains the info on the decay of the speed of light -- and it is still a matter of much discussion within the scientific community. Many will not accept it regardless of the data. NASA stopped promoting the idea of 4 billion years because of the dating measurements on the Genesis rock (see webpage) -- the answers were inconsistent. I am sure "K" believes that secular science is right but we can not support that theory with the moon rocks. I don't know if this helps -- but I can only relate what we did -- I cannot prove a negative. Thanks for your interest. JP
I replied (9-5-00): But you didn't answer my question about whether what was said about you *dating* rocks was true or false. It's obvious that you worked on lunar samples, but you didn't date them, did you?
Dawson replied: all agree that we can not determine the actual date they were formed
I replied: All do not agree; this is a gross overgeneralization. Most disagree heartily with you. Some certainly would say that some dates may indicate the time of metamorphism rather than formation.
Dawson replied: NASA stopped promoting the idea of 4 billion years because of the dating measurements on the Genesis rock (see webpage) -- the answers were inconsistent. From the NASA website.
last night regarding the Genesis Rock: "anorthosite", "almost entirely composed of plagioclase", "about 4 billion years old" but "a norite sample...is about 4.5 billion years old, virtually as old as the moon itself." The rock is difficult to date because it is *not* composed of several minerals. The maria basalts date consistently to 3.2-3.9 billion years old, and some of the plutonic stuff to 4-4.5 billion years. Some rocks have had their clocks reset by later impacts, and would thus give younger dates. If you have contrary information or evidence of fraud, I suggest you go public.
I don't know if this helps - but I can only relate what we did - I cannot prove a negative. Thanks for your interest. JP
I replied: You really never said what you did. I hope you can clear this up.
AND I NEVER HEARD FROM JP DAWSON AGAIN!
Hovind's reply (9-12-00): What makes you think the moon is billions of years old? Are you ready for another debate yet? We can do it at your college if you like. KH
I replied (9-14-00): You dodged my question, as usual, bud. But that's ok. Your reply is very useable "as is".
Hovind replied(9-22-00): You never answered my question. When do you want another debate? KH
I replied (9-25-00): Only because you blew off my question, and it was such a simple one: So, bud, who was lying? You or Dawson? This is a very simple question requiring a one-word answer. Here - check one of the following:
____ I was ______ Dawson was
Hovind replied(9-26-00): Mr. Dawson told me on the phone that they got dates ranging from a few thousand to several billion from the moon rocks. When is the next debate? We can do it at your college in front of your students. I will pay my own way. KH
I replied (9-27-00): Did you bother to check and see who "they" were? Or that Dawson had nothing to do with it? Careful as usual, huh? I have a much better idea. I will be happy to engage you in a written debate on the New Mexicans for Science and Reason website. That way people will actually have a chance to think about what you are saying.
Hovind replied(9-27-00): Walt Brown at creationscience.com is looking for someone to do a written debate. I don't have time right now.
No, he is not. See Walt Brown's Pseudochallenge.
Conclusion: Hovind passed along inaccurate information, repeating what Dawson told him without checking it out.
Susan: To me, the same being, which to me is God, created the universe, the world, all the beings, and all the beings on other planets. What is the problem with that? And at the same time, we, he also gave us free will, free choice, and consequences. We get into discussions like this, which make for wonderful radio talk shows. I would imagine that was part of [garbled] visions. But is there some reason this could not have happened?
KH: Well, as far as beings on other planets, ah, we're [sic] pretty well proven that there are no intelligent beings on the other planets we can see around our sun. Our solar system.
Susan: Is there some reason that the god could not have done this?
KH: Oh, he certainly could have. I don't know what he did. You know, he can do whatever he wants. But nobody's ever proven the existence of other planets. There was one guy, big article published, we saw other planets around that other star, you know. The stars are just simply too far away. It turned out later it was a wobble in his telescope base that was making a shadow that he thought was a planet. I don't know if there's [sic] planets around other stars or not. [snip] So far, at least, again, if it was in a court of law, it would be extremely shaky evidence, and it has not been proven that there are other planets besides these nine around our sun. And there certainly, I think, has not been proven there's life on any of those. People ask me if there's intelligent life on other planets. And I say, Man, I taught high school 15 years. There's not much intelligent life on *this* planet. [snip]
It would sure have been affirming to have had Hovind for a teacher, yes? Again, Hovind's explanation is but a Fractured Fairy Tale of the true state of "planet hunting". It is no longer the work of "one guy", but of several high-powered research groups with instruments capable of measuring Doppler wobbles to better than 3 parts in 108 (Discover, March 2000). A newer, even-more-sensitive technique measures the drop in brightness as a planet transits across the face of a star (Scientific American, September 2000). About fifty planets have been confirmed using one or other of these methods.
MS: Well, how do [you] deal with the question of, for example, Hindu belief, or Buddhist belief? Or the Koran, or other so-called bibles or religious books that other religions follow? Are they all wrong, and the Old and New Testaments are right, in your view?
KH: Yeah, those folks all need to come to my seminar. I can straighten 'em out. Won't be a problem.
Dorothy: I have a question for the doctor. He says that Adam and Eve are the only people on the planet. I'd like to know where Cain got his wife.
KH: Well, if you read Genesis chapter 5, the Bible says in verse #3 that Adam lived after he begat Seth, 800 years, and begat sons and daughters. You could have an awful lot of kids in 800 years. They married sisters. [snip]
MS: But that's an interesting point, because we know that that kind of procreation leads to various kinds of increased incidence of problems and aberrations.
KH: It does now because we have such a genetic load. Average person has 3500 defective genes. But that would not be the case when the race was pure and clean.
Whoa, Nellie, let's think about this. According to information from the human genome project, humans have only about 50,000 genes, and Hovind wants us to believe that 3500 of these, on the average, are defective? I think he has been spending too much time reading comic books about mutants. The reality is that Hovind's information concerning biology is as bad as his statements about earth science and astronomy. The average human has FIVE, count 'em, FIVE, lethal mutations. See Genetic Screening and Ethics an Overview. Not 3500. No way.
MS: What race?
KH: The human race. [snip] There's a human race, and different skin colors, and different racial, what we call racial characteristics. There's [sic] several theories about where those come in. Probably the best theory is that the Tower of Babel, which would have been a few hundred years after the flood, is where the races began. When god confused the languages, they went off into their small groups, all speakin' the same language. And if you get a small in-breeding group, you know, 2000 years after the creation, you're gonna get genetic disorders, and racial traits could be a result of this Tower of Babel incident. But I think that there's no question from scripture and from science that all humans are the same race, and have the same genetic code, and certainly can interbreed. So there's no reason scripturally to be a racist. You know, we all came from Adam and Eve, and then later from Noah and his family. [snip]
So racial traits are genetic disorders? There is no evidence of a human dispersal from the tower of Babel 4000 years ago. Linguistic and genetic relationships point to many human population splits over 100,000 years. For a short summary, see Ross' article Genetic Distance and Language Affinities Between Autochthonous Human Populations as well as a recent abstract by Cavalli-Sforza.
KH: [in response to a long, convoluted discussion of microevolution by caller, Jeff] Ok, as far as, all we've ever seen is [sic]changes within the same kind. For instance, at Sea World, or Sea Life, in San Diego. I just read the article today. But I forget where it was. They have a whal-fin. Where
they took a killer whale and a dolphin, and crossed it [sic]. And then the wolphin, or whatever they're calling it, is now ten years old, and it had a baby. So it's not sterile, like most crosses are. But if you stand 100 feet away and look at a killer whale and a dolphin, you'll say, you know that looks like the same "kind" of animal. The Bible uses the word kind, and not species. And just because some people have decided that a dog, a wolf, and a coyote are different species, does not mean god decided it's a different "kind" of animal. Speciation happens, by our modern definition of speciation, but no evolution ever happens.
This Fractured Fairy Tale contains several misstatements of fact. Kekaimalu, now fifteen years old, is a cross between an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Turisops truncatus) and a FALSE killer whale (Pseudoorca crassidens), not the much larger black-and-white "Free Willy"(Orcinus orca). No one has ever crossed a dolphin and an orca. (Elsberry, private communication, and Cetaceans. She lives and performs at the Sea Life Park in Hawaii and has interesting characteristics of her mixed heritage (intermediate size; 66 teeth vs 88 for bottlenose dolphins and 44 for false killer whales). Her female calf, fathered by another bottlenose dolphin, was born in 1991, and looks very much like a bottlenose dolphin, see Sea Life Lore
Such interspecies breeding is hardly unknown. Though mules are normally infertile, there are several accounts of mules giving birth, sometimes to fertile offspring. "Blue Moon" was born in Nebraska in 1984. His mother was a mule, a donkey/Welsh pony cross. The same donkey was Blue Moon's father. Chromosomally, Blue Moon was a mule. In Brazil in 1986, a mule mated with a stallion, and gave birth to an animal that chromosomally was pure horse (Travis, 1990).
The problem with Hovind's "stand back and look at it" definition is the lack of quantification. Perhaps horses and donkeys are the same "kind" (or in scientific terms, still capable of some degree of interbreeding). Perhaps the same is true of some whale species. But neither Hovind nor any other young-earth creationist can define what constitutes "speciation" and what constitutes "evolution" beyond the "stand back and look at it" test.
Hovind seems to favor the dog, wolf, and coyote as being part of the same "kind". What about foxes? Raccoons? Hyenas? What is and is not part of the "dog kind"?
How about horses and zebras? They kind of look alike when I stand 100 feet away, but they don't seem to be able to interbreed. Is there a barrier to reproduction between horses and zebras? Have creationists ever tried this experiment? And with which "kind" of zebra? If chromosome number is an indicator of a kind, then one runs into a real problem with zebras and horses: horses have 64, but Przewalski's horse has 66 and donkeys have 62. Hartman's zebra has 32, plains zebra has 44, and Grevy's zebra has 46. Six different "kinds", or two, or one?
If chromosome numbers are unimportant, then what puts chimpanzees (48) and humans (46) in different "kinds"? Human chromosome 2, the second largest, is a fused version of two chimp chromosomes.
It was Karl Linneaus, whom creationists love to call their own, who said, "I demand of you, and of the whole world, that you show me a generic character, by which to distinguish between Man and Ape. I myself most assuredly know of none...But if I had called a man an ape, or vice versa, I should have fallen under the ban of all the ecclesiastics. It may be that as a naturalist I ought to have done so" (Futuyma 1982). Obviously, when Linneaus "stood back and looked", he saw apes and humans as the same "kind".
This all culminates in the huge bottleneck problem of getting two of each "kind" - and let's not forget the fourteen of each "clean kind" on the ark. From loading to feeding to scooping poop, it is hardly unreasonable to ask how many animals were present. See Morton's Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study, Isaak's Problems with a Global Flood and Henke's More Errors On True.Origin: J. Sarfati's Support of Flood Geology.
If someone like Hovind postulates that, for example, dogs, wolves, and coyotes are all one "kind", and there were only two of them on the ark, then Hovind is the BIGGEST EVOLUTIONIST of all time, since he would be proposing that this diversification into dogs and wolves and coyotes (and foxes?) occurred in a few HUNDRED years, a rate evolutionists consider laughable.
KH: [snip] It does illustrate the point that since neither side can prove their point, why do all sides have to pay for the evolution-religion to be taught? I mean, I can't prove mine, he can't prove his. So how come I gotta pay for his to be taught? Heehee, this is just not fair. It's certainly unconstitutional, to establish a religion of evolution at taxpayer's expense. And so that's what I'm saying. You mentioned, you said there's scientific evidence for evolution.
MS: Well, I just want to interject one thing about that statement, because *in your opinion* it's unconstitutional, but the courts have not said that unconstitutional to teach evolution in the public schools.
KH: I don't think that's been tested in the courts. You know, the creation has been tested many times, but I think it's about time we sue some teacher, especially for teaching false information.
Say, I have a great idea! Hovind could use his $250,000 to do just this. Use it to sue "some teacher" for spreading "false information". I hereby challenge Hovind to pursue this, as he has been challenged to produce evidence for his many false statements before. I won't be holding my breath.
MS: Well, if you have, I'm only making the point that at the moment there is no definitive statement from the US Supreme Court, which is the arbiter of the Constitution- best we can do- that what you said is correct. And it is not the case that evolution has been prohibited.
KH: Ok, I would say I *believe* that evolution is a religion and should be prohibited.
MS: Ok, fair enough. That's a perfectly good statement.
Kent Hovind is able to propagate his Fractured Fairy Tales of Science via the internet, videotape, and through personal appearances in churches and schools. His message appeals to those who are unaware that his "evidence" is without merit. Unfortunately, since there is a general lack of scientific literacy, this translates to a large number of people. My purpose in writing this review is to expose these assertions of Hovind's for what they are: inaccurate, sometimes out-of-context, frequently outdated non-explanations of the way the world is. In critiquing each segment and providing references for further study, it is my hope that this document will be a resource for those who have to mount a counterattack when Kent Hovind comes to town.
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