Via PZ and WikiLeaks, in case you hadn’t seen this bit of timeless comedy gold, you can now download Kent Hovind’s entire “doctoral dissertation” for “Patriot Bible University,” a farcical Christian outfit housed in a doublewide offering correspondence courses. If the above is an example of what “Patriot Bible University” considers an acceptable lead-in to a dissertation, then let’s just say the whole preposterous charade that is fundamentalist “education” is even more hilarious than you think.
While we’re on Hovind (and it’s worth noting that this remains one of our most trafficked posts ever), I’d like to add a rider to remarks that Kazim and several commenters made in the preceding post. I agree it’s most important to attack ideas and not the people expressing them — but only to a point. Yes, the ad hominem attack is a fallacy, and is most commonly used simply to score cheap shots (and yes, I’ve been guilty of that one), or when the arguer has run out of intellectual steam and can’t muster rebuttals to strong points made by his opponent.
But this is a very different thing from attacking people when they have demonstrated, by their statements or actions, that they are not merely wrong but bad and foolish people. Kent Hovind is a case in point. First off, I don’t see anything unacceptable about calling a person who is convinced to the core of his being that dinosaurs walked the earth alongside humans an “idiot.” This is not name calling, but merely descriptive, in the same way I have pointed out that Richard Dawkins’ referring to Ray Comfort, the World’s Stupidest Christian™, as an “ignorant fool” and my referring to him by his unofficial title of World’s Stupidest Christian™ are not insults but descriptors*. Listen to Ray talk and read his writings, and his stupidity is on raw display. It cannot be denied any more than you could deny getting wet while standing in a thunderstorm. There is simply no way to refer to him other than to call him what he is: a stupid, ignorant fool.
Hovind is a man who is not merely ignorant but arrogant and entitled. He is convinced he is above the law, and remains unrepentant even when a ten-year jail sentence served to show him he was wrong on that point. Moreover, he has had an impact on a number of sycophantic followers, whom he has taught to lie and prevaricate just as he does. Read the comments from Hovind’s defenders in that old post of ours, and you’ll see them spouting the usual run of tortured, self-serving falsehoods to claim Hovind’s conviction on rather blatant tax fraud was Christian persecution at the hands of a Satanic government. So, QED, Kent Hovind has significantly damaged not merely the intellectual but the moral development of hundreds if not thousands of people. He has caused demonstrable harm.
He is also, in his self absorption, utterly cold and heartless to those who really do care about him. Listen to the audio clip between Hovind and his wife Jo. Listen to her try to express her feelings to him, her concern over the rightness and wrongness of the situation they find themselves in, and then listen to him shut her down with icy finality. He’s right, he’s always right. Because he’s God’s wingman. He doesn’t need to change, he’s perfect. It’s she who needs to “advance.” You have to wonder if we witness, in that exchange, the entire dynamic of fundamentalist Christian marriage in microcosm. Is this really a world in which unfeeling, authoritarian men are simply deaf to any of their wives’ emotional and moral concerns? Sure seems that way.
So, yes, I will always concentrate on attacking arguments first. But I will not refrain from condemning people worthy of condemnation. So go laugh at Kent Hovind’s “dissertation,” and then laugh at Kent. Because he’s an ignorant, arrogant, entitled, cold-blooded, self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing, felonious piece of shit. Quote me.
*Speaking scientifically, I know I cannot prove that Ray is necessarily the world’s stupidest Christian. There may well be many who are much much stupider. But if so, then they — unlike Ray, who proudly flies his stupid flag in public at every opportunity he gets, many of which he instigates himself for the attention — have the sense to stay out of the spotlight about it. Which, in turn, would make them smarter than Ray by just that much. So perhaps it can be proved that Ray’s the stupidest after all.