What Passes For Science in Fundamentalist Christianity: Dinosaur Adventure Land, Fundamentalist Felons, and Assorted Other Idiocy

When I met Kent Hovind, he was in the backyard of his Pensacola home. He was wearing a sport coat and tie in spite of the balmy weather, checking in on a guided tour of his backyard “theme park”, Dinosaur Adventure Land. The tiny area was covered with women in long, baggy skirts and dresses, and children (the female of these were similarly clad). Kent Hovind was an evangelist and a “Young Earth Creationist” who traveled from Independent Baptist church to Independent Baptist church, teaching a doctrine of a 6,000 year young earth, a living Loch Ness Monster, a need to rid ourselves of social security numbers and a discomfort with environmentalists, homosexuals and “Bud-dumber”. He had quite a large following in his own niche, and sold in person and by catalog his 18-video seminar set, charts and related literature. With a squeaky-clean-cut voice and the the personality of an infomercial, he was a fundamentalist church’s dream. The fundamentalists’ golden boy turned out to be electroplated.

Those of you familiar with the theory of  Young Earth Creation may have heard of him. Several years ago he was something of a local phenomenon in Pensacola, that distinctly zealous city that hosts Pensacola Christian College, Pensacola Christian Academy, and A Beka Book (more on all of these later). During the years that I lived in Pensacola I heard his name frequently (frequently in connection with Arlin and Bekah Horton, who had disagreements about tax evasion). My connection to him always stemmed from some acquaintance or Christian friend that touted him as an ‘expert’ on Creation. Which brings up an interesting point: If he is the mascot that Christianity came up with for their scientific theories, how do they expect any one to take them seriously?

While he has faced previous charges of assault and battery, burglary and building a theme park without a permit, he is currently in prison on conviction of some fifty-eight charges of tax evasion, obstruction and falsely declaring bankruptcy. Upon arresting him for these tax violations the government also seized about forty-five thousand dollars and a collection of his church’s guns. (Apparently, Armageddon was coming sooner than we expected it.) The court papers say, “Notwithstanding the debtor’s listing under penalty of perjury in his schedules and statement of affairs that he has no income, has no expenses, and owns no property, the evidence shows otherwise. Records from the State of Florida, Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (“DHSMV”) reflect three motor vehicles, a 1987 Mercury, 1989 GMC, and 1984 Honda titled in the debtor’s name. Real property records from Escambia County, Florida reflect that the debtor and his wife purchased a home on December 16, 1993 from Ernest and Voncile Hicks and gave the Hicks, a mortgage in the amount of $60,000 encumbering the home. The testimony of Mrs. Hicks together with a closing statement from the sale, reflects a purchase price of $90,000 for the house with the debtor paying $30,369.43 down. Mrs. Hicks’ testimony further established that the debtor makes regular payments on the mortgage and has in fact paid in advance on the mortgage. Typically, payments are made with third party checks made payable to the debtor and endorsed over to Mrs. Hicks. In February, 1995, the debtor paid $3,265.00 for the installation of central heating and air conditioning in the house. Additionally, the debtor has three children all of whom attend a private Christian school for which he and his wife pay approximately $4,800.00 per year in tuition and fees.  An inventory of the debtor’s van following seizure by the IRS revealed video and audio tapes and printed literature on creationism published by the debtor. Included in the literature is an order form containing prices designated as “suggested donations:” The “suggested donation” for the video tapes ranged from $9.95 each to $14.95 each with the “donation” for a set of all eighteen (18) of the debtor’s videos of $180.00. “In the face of all of the foregoing, the debtor apparently maintains that as a minister of God everything he owns belongs to God and he is not subject to paying taxes to the United States on the money he receives for doing God’s work. While in his correspondence to the IRS he denies being a tax protester, the evidence overwhelmingly establishes otherwise. At the hearing on this motion, debtor’s counsel represented to the court that the debtor was now ready to do everything which was required of him to comply with the Bankruptcy Code and the Internal Revenue Code including the filing of tax returns and payment to the trustee in accordance with the plan filed immediately prior to the hearing. However, the debtor himself never took the stand during the hearing to testify to that nor has he ever filed any amended schedules and statement of affairs to reflect his true financial status. Given this debtor’s history and the documentary evidence presented, I cannot find that this debtor has any intention of complying with the Bankruptcy Code nor with the Internal Revenue Code.”

Here’s a one of Hovind’s lectures, full of radical “scientific” and political commentary. Watch at your own risk, and then consider that this is the sort of radical stuff being taught to children in private schools that use A Beka Book and many, many other private curriculums – without any countering viewpoints.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 46% of Americans believe in Creationism. What they don’t seem to poll is how many of the believers have ever studied evolution. Having attended private schools and being homeschooled (all of the above solidly featuring A Beka Book curriculum), I can say for certain that I was never taught evolution in any sense except for why we don’t believe in it and how carbon dating is inaccurate. Consequently, I’ve never been able to contribute to an intelligent conversation about intelligent design. (Is that an oxymoron?)

The good news is, ignorance is curable. To that end, I picked up The Darwin Experience: The Story of the Man and His Theory of Evolution, a nifty boxed coffee table book with plenty of religious and scientific history predating and surrounding Darwin and his theories, featuring lots of fascimiles of his papers, letters, and other memorabilia. It’s suitable for a coffee table book, and good for sharing with my little budding scientist in bite-sized chunks. I sat up late the night I brought it home and read, and read, and read. 

About literatelibran

Writer of words, thinker of thoughts, dreamer of dreams, mom. View all posts by literatelibran

3 responses to “What Passes For Science in Fundamentalist Christianity: Dinosaur Adventure Land, Fundamentalist Felons, and Assorted Other Idiocy

  • kirinjirafa

    Bad religious people who use policies to recreate the experience of a relationship with God- they all end up doing this sort of thing. they poison the truth because their dogma is their god, and maybe I’m just making this up, but I think the effort that goes into enforcing that in the lives of others is just an attempt to validate and make a reality out of the fantasy they’re living.

    Incidentally, I think it’s a little ironic that you slipped Charles Darwin in there at the end, as if he somehow represents a break from pseudo-science and dogmatic subjectivity. He wasn’t exactly a careful researcher or a trained scientific mind; his main contribution to scientific thinking today was essentially a notion, and yet he is referred to by many as a great mind of recent history. In my oh-so-expert opinion, Darwin is as bad as Hovind, and loving on a guy like that is the same slippery slope, just on the other side of the hill.

    Just some thoughts- but I see the core problem here as people setting up their ideology as supreme and ignoring God for that.

  • dysaniac

    Kirinjirafa, you mention the core problem being that people set up their ideology as supreme and ignoring God for that. I agree with the first part of that statement, but not the second: the scriptures of most major religions require their adherents to believe their ideology is not only true, but uniquely so.

    In fact, unimaginable eternal suffering awaits those who reject it. Now, we consider the Holy Inquisition to be a canonical example of religious intolerance. The exquisite tortures devised by the inquisitors were gruesome, and may even have stretched the imagination, but they were far from eternal in duration. The divine punishment for nonbelievers is a literally superhuman measure of intolerance.

    Of course there are self-professed Christians who believe there are “multiple paths to heaven”, but they’re scriptural heretics: the New Testament states quite unambiguously that there is only one path to the Father. All others lead to the aforementioned eternal torment.

    There will always be those who practice intolerance out of piety, because intolerance is a scriptural doctrine, and a core doctrine, at that.

  • In the Beginning: Our Origins Unit Study | The Literate Little One

    […] so, whereas I was only taught Young Earth Creationism (primarily from A Beka Book, Ken Ham, and Kent Hovind) I’m teaching Trey both evolution and the biblical creation […]

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