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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Kent Hovind scandal: Not much impact from his fall?

Some have wondered what the outcome would be for the ID community when last fall American creationist Kent "Dr. Dino" Hovind was sentenced to ten years in a US federal prison for tax evasion.

I didn't think it would make any difference because the word on the street was that Hovind was always pretty much out there by himself, doing his own thing, with some pretty questionable credentials. There was nobody else to drag down.

And his attitudes, in general, were pretty far out. For example, according to the Pensacola News Journal ,
Kent Hovind, whose life’s mission is to debunk evolution, says he and his employees are workers of God and therefore exempt from paying taxes. He pays his employees in cash and does not withhold their taxes or pay his share as an employer.

Well, Kent, what about all those American Christians who volunteer in the communities that their taxes support? They work for God by giving much more to the community than what is needed just to keep the roads clear and the lights on.

Anyway, Marcus Ross, the creationist geologist who received his PhD recently, amid controversy, writes me to say,
I think that, thankfully, there will be generally little fallout among the broader creationist and ID communities for the sins of Kent Hovind. Hovind is/was radically disconnected from virtually the entire YEC community, and had been sharply criticized by YECs in particular for poor scientific and Biblical arguments. His connection to ID is even more remote (basically just his use of ID materials). He never did any research of his own; never participated in large conferences; never subjected his ideas to scrutiny by trying to publish in the YEC literature. This last point is important, because as the YEC (and ID) community has grown, it has become more focused on peer-review and self-correction. To do that you must recognize the authority of other people as qualified to evaluate one’s work. Ultimately, it was Hovind’s refusal to submit to any authority besides his own that landed him in prison.

But we need not worry. We cannot control who uses ID or YEC arguments. I certainly hope that those who do are responsible, but the broader, responsible communities will continue to move forward with their respective programs and goals regardless of the occasional problematic proponent.

Marcus R. Ross
Assistant Director, Center for Creation Studies
Assistant Professor of Geology
Liberty University

(Note: If you are writing about Hovind or the tax case, ReligionNewsBlog provides a lot of links.)
If you want to understand why the intelligent design controversy cannot go away, read By Design or by Chance?.

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