(Update: July 6th with additional quotations)
Flamewars are unbecoming. Mostly. Sometimes I just can't help myself.
I feel torn. In my twenties I used to think that "boots and all" was the best debating tactic when closely held principles were at stake. Now, in my thirties, I wonder if my debating reserve is now more a function of my mortgage, my more-than-full-time job, or a little more life-experience. Could it be a loss of idealism and a lack of care? That last prospect gives me the shudders. God save me from a lack of care.
But sometimes you just have to throw the towel in. Sometimes, the degree of ignorance you encounter in a debate makes progress impossible. Perhaps this is the lesson I am now slowly learning in my thirties: When to leave people to their own delusions. As Edith Sitwell once said "I am patient with stupidity, but not with those who are proud of it." Perhaps I should be more mindful of the question of whether giving vacuous ideas oxygen by arguing against them does more harm than good.
I refer, in this instance, to my enduring, horrified fascination with Young Earth Creationism. This vein of Creationism is, in fact, more than just the logically broken, medievally minded, simplistic, bibliolatrous notion that the Earth is 6000 years old. No, what is worse is its deeply offensive claim that those who do not support Young Earth Creationism (and their advocates) are apostates; less enlightened and less effective as Christians than the "true" Church that remains faithful to a literal reading of Scripture; even that opponents are "tools of Satan". Oh, and those in the tent of Deceived Christianity include Anglicans, Catholics, and those in the Salvation Army. No wonder that many questing and intelligent seekers are permanently put off believing in Jesus! In this age, Young Earth Creationism is the primary engine causing Christianity to be rejected among those who are seeking spiritual truth, and yet who can plainly see through Science that Creationist claims about the natural world are patently false.
I maintain a strong position in opposing those who tarnish Christianity with such casuistry, and without apology. Perhaps worst in this field is Kent Hovind, who pushed all kinds of Creationist quackery until he was finally sentenced to ten years prison for tax fraud earlier this year. His wife will now also be sent to prison for the same offences.
Well, Kent maintains a blog, even from prison. And what a magnet it has become to people who share his views! When I read it, my palms itch. It's a tragic circus of the absurd, the credulous and the angry.
Thus, I belatedly arrive at my purpose for this essay. I have trawled the gibbering insanity so you don't have to. What do Creationists really believe? What do they believe when they apply the same degree of skepticism to other propositions as they do to their basis in their belief in the age of the Earth?
What I present below is a quick and non-exhaustive snapshot of who believers in Young Earth Creationism find themselves as fellow travellers with. It's scary, and it's sad.
All the quotes I present below (including spelling mistakes) are quoted verbatim from the comments to the various postings on Kent Hovind's blog. Where links are included I am using Google's index to present the URLs where that phrase is used. So...
What do a lot of people who believe in Young Earth Creationism also believe?
1. That The United States Government does not exist.
• "It is an established fact that the United States Federal Government has been dissolved by the Emergency Banking Act, March 9, 1933. The receivers of the United States Bankruptcy are the International Bankers, via the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The receivers of the Bankruptcy have adopted a new form of government for the United States. This new form of government is known as a Democracy, being an established Socialist/Communist order under a new governor for America"
• "Since the dropping or the gold and silver standards and the complete floating of the dollar 'lawful money' has ceased to exist".
2. The IRS is an illegal entity and no one has to pay tax! Yay!
• "So has Dr. Hovind commited any wrong? YES! He is serving Jesus and that royally disses the devil (the god of this world) off ...He has done no evil becuase the IRS is 100% illegal anyways!"
(Oh, and the IRS are demonically inspired.)
• "Don’t we have enough against us with satan and his demons which include certain irs agents?"
3. The U.S Government was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, as part of a sinister plot to create a despotic state, just like Pearl Harbour (which was, of course, also a conspiracy).
• "The gov’t’s story of 9/11 is impossible according to the laws of physics, and therefore was likely an inside job a la Hitler and the Reichstag fire."
• "I’m guessing you are one of those scoffers that the Bible told us about that would pop up in the last days, the type that doesn’t allow himself to be so confused like the rest of us Christians, with the facts. As for 9/11 there are only 400 physicists and engineers that all say that it was impossible for a building to pulverize itself by the damage done by the planes and the puny fires. How do you explain building 7 being reported as collapsed 1/2 hour before it fell and the testimonies of all the eyewitnesses who heard explosions prior to the collapse? How about the picture of a melted core column that looks like it wa cut at a perfect 60 degree angle with luke skywalkers laser sword? Yeah the planes did it.Forget the eyewitnesses cause they were there and you weren’t so you know more than those who were there. OK so good is evil to you?"
4. The U.S Government are involved in a conspiracy to keep Hovind in jail, or worse, simply because he is a Christian. His theft of $600,000 in taxes had nothing to do with his conviction.
• "You know why he’s REALLY in prison. It has nothing to do with taxes! This is not a political free feral. As Christians we are at war with all those who want us silenced. My family finally found out the status of Dr. Hovind. He’s in solitary confinement and the government is trying to put him in prison overseas. There is only one reason for this, THEY WANT HIM DEAD!"
• "I heard of your arrest. And as I had suspected, it was for the unconstitutional non-law of the Federal Income Tax. And as I had also suspected, many disinformers would use that to discredit you and your works. On wikipedia, youtube, or just any where that you are mentioned, they keep using the lie that you had broke a law."
• "(Hovind) has taken a stand for the work of God to not be a tax collector"
5. Don't vaccinate your kids. The Government is trying to kill them.
• "They will try to kill your kids through vaccinations and if that doesn’t work, they have other ways."
6. The Government is poisoning your food. With soy. Don't eat the soy!
• "They poison our food with chemicals, give us soy to drink and eat. They put it in most of our packaged foods."
7. The Government has a cure for Cancer but hush it up because of "big money".
• "Cancer is being cured all over the world. There is a cure today yet in America there are those who are doing their “research” to find a “cure” and it has already been found. But it is a big money making project for them NOT to find a cure for cancer in America."
8. The Government is poisoning your drinking water. Don't drink the water!
• "They contaminate our drinking water with flouride and clorine. Even our toothpaste has flouride and it has been outlawed in many parts of the world."
• "there is a poison warning on all flouride toothpaste tubes that has only shown harm rather than benefits."
• "other countries refuse to use flouride or treat with that well known poison"
9. Canola oil is toxic. Don't eat Canola oil!
• "Many places are using Canola Oil to cook the foods that we eat. Canola oil is toxic."
10. Actually, everything, everywhere is a conspiracy. Do you need proof? Look out! behind you!
• "Kent Hovind knew about this information" (and is in prison because of this)
"This nation is being run by a CRIME SYNDICATE, of which the Bushes and Clintons are part and parcel"
• "G.W. Bush drunk blood out of a skull, sat in a coffin naked, and swore occultic oaths to an extremely powerful secret society which he has continued to rely upon for favors up until this day"
• "The Bush clan got their family fortune from the Opium Trade back in the 1800s"
• "The Bush clan is one of the world’s ranking Illuminati bloodlines."
Apparently, the Clintons are just as bad:
• "The Clinton clan is partners in crime with the Bushes. When Clinton was Arkansas’s governor, and Daddy Bush was president, TONS of cocaine was being smuggled in nightly into the Mena, Arkansas Airport by CIA black operatives."
• "I admit to being slow, dull, and dumbed down by western institutions to which I have been exposed: but it only just really occurred to me that the reason a lot of people come here is because they have sold their very own moral souls to a beast of biblical proportions and they want submissive Y.E.C. to come to them cowering, begging to lick the blood from their very own Gestapo issue knee high black boots and swell their faltering confidence in their shameful decision to sell all that they have and ever will have to a foreign faceless and alien power."
11. Hovind was right to ignore all letters demanding payment of taxes because (silly IRS), they wrote his name in UPPER CASE. Everyone knows that if your name is written in UPPER CASE it's not actually referring to you, but a legal fiction involving the same sequence of letters. (BTW: Cheques sent to Hovind spelling his name in UPPER CASE were always summarily banked.)
• "...alternatively, he might have simply tendered a affidavit declaring that he is not the PERSON named on the documents before the court but that he was there to represent that entity."
(to which one response was, seriously: "I want to faint. How can Kent Hovind stand alone against our entire country’s misunderstanding? Somebody needs to write a book. This is HUGE!")
12. And yes, so we have the complete set: The moon landings were fake.
• "I found this video on whether we really even went to the moon at all. What a deception it could be."
• "I have finally sat down and watched a serious documentary about the photos and film/ video evidence of the moon landings - and you can now put me down as one who believes there are questions to answer - many photos / video was filmed on earth [maybe all of it] - there is no doubt some filming was a mock up made on earth - the question is why? it is the same question dave von kleist asks about 911"
13. People opposing Kent Hovind without question are children of Satan, apostate deceivers, Jesus denying mockers and God-haters. Your sincerity as a Christian is irrelevent and void if you take a Christian brother to task over faulty doctrine, regardless of how damaging it is to the Body of Christ.
• "You’ve taken Satan’s number"
• "You are spiritually blinded and a child of Satan."
• "It IS the time of the Apostate church folks. The End is getting near."
• "Most of the persecution meeted out on Gods People in the bible was done by the so called religious rulers. Many reasons for this,but afew I can think of-/ Hatered of God word/ Shows up their evil deeds" (spelling mistakes in original)
• "Remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit."
• "Just remember when it is time to receive your mark on your right hand or forehead, we tried to warn you. Jesus Christ is the truth and we have tried to show you the truth to wake you up from your demonic stupor, but I’m thinking the real reason behind your scoffing is your love of sin. Forsake it before it is too late for you, it is a delusion, and does not last forever but life in Christ does. Hell awaits all you scoffers... God is angry at the wicked every day Ps. 7:11b and you are but a breath and a heartbeat away from his eternal wrath."
• "You are again calling Jesus a liar, yet you claim to follow him. Further, you again publicly ridicule your “fellow brethren,” whether some are strong or weak in the faith."
14. Spelling. Creationists Don't believe in spelling. Or Logic. Or Reality.
Take, as one small example, one random but representative example of Creationist Logic:
• (speaking of the plain meaning of a phrase)
"Is the question “Do you understand the charges?” the same as “Do you comprehend these accusations?” I suggest that there is a profound difference between these two simple questions"
(tortured logic excised, but this poster eventually "interprets" this phrase as actually meaning)
"Do you presume to take a maritime commercial material liability onto your trading vessel in the form of the persona you are presuming to take possession of?".
This, then being a partial justification for Hovind to regard the Court's authority as null and void. I think "yes" would have been perfectly sufficient an answer to the original question.
And the spelling mistakes? Far, far too many to list.
• “Jesus made this sacrafice so that we, as sinners, could have eternal life… Jesus didn’t sound all that humble when he turned the tables over in the sancuary. The biggest problem in America today is our 'sancuaries'”
• “The catechism of the catholict church they give it to children.”
• “I am apalled at this convinction…”
• “flouride” (a lot of people are concerned about this dangerous chemical. Must remember not to bake with it)
“…There is no constition right not to be”
• "A couple manage to mis-spell Hovind. (Hoving, Howind)"
Lastly, I especially regard it as telling when people describe themselves as “Christions”. Hallelluyah!
15. Guns. Yep. Lots of guns.
• "PS. I’m big on the second amendment too. I carried to church this morning, and I’ve got a loaded gun in my back pocket as I’m typing this!"
This list is a sample, and I believe a fair one, of the tenor of support for Young Earth Creationists. Well, these quotes are drawn from a longer narrative involving impenetrable quantities of doublespeak and an assumption of greater knowledge of constitutional and taxation law than two centuries of polity.
From my reading, there is a substantial overlap between these views and those of Hovind himself. Hovind believes, for example:
- The pyramids were not built by the Egyptians.
- The notion that UFO's were "Satan's transport" should not be dismissed out of hand.
- The 666-barcode argument is valid and a concern.
- The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is worth endorsing and selling at Hovind's seminars. (quote: "Be sure to read PROTOCOLS OF ZION [sic] call [sic] my office if you cannot find a copy."
- Sonar is part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
- A fighter pilot "escorted" the second plane into the twin towers on 9/11. (reference: Hovind DVD Seminar, #5 I think)
- "Four people have called me from Arkansas and Missouri, to report seeing customers at the grocery store pay for purchases by scanning their hand."
"There is much empirical data that conclusively proves vaccinations can be harmful, and in many cases fatal, and should therefore be avoided. [.....] There is also a book available through CSE which provides in-depth information concerning the dangers of vaccinations and how they destroy our God-given immune system. "
- "Democracy is evil and contrary to God's law."
- "CALLER: You think the 9/11 conspiracy has bigger implications as to it relates to a One World Government? HOVIND: Absolutely. That's the whole purpose."
- "I think when somebody does study this and realises that a ball falling from the top of the Twin Towers would fall in nine and a half seconds and the Towers came down in ten and a half seconds. Something's wrong."
- "There is about four or five [feathered dinosaurs] that have been found. They're all fake. They're coming from China. These Chinese guys who make 40 cents a year. [...] They're faking them. They spend years forging these things."
- "We just had a report from a missionary. I talked to him today for 45 minutes. He's going over and I'm going over with him for sure this time. They have located a pterodactyl, several pterodactyls, a apatosaurous and a plesiosaur. All on the north-east side of the island of Indonesia."
- (advice to the mother of a cancer patient): "If you do nothing with cancer your life expectancy is somewhere between 6 and 10 years. If you take chemo your life expectancy is between 1 and 2 years... I think the last thing I would do would be to take the medical profession's approach."
- "The Bird Flu is mostly hoax."
- "Satan is going to work towards reduction of the population and lowering cholesterol is good way of doing that."
- "AIDS was purposefully developed in a Maryland laboratory to wipe out population."
Oh, how I could go on. I want to pose this question: If these are the kinds of beliefs, and the kinds of supporters, that stubbornly refuse to be separated from Young Earth Creationism, then what does that say about the rigour of Young Earth Creationism itself? Is it, on this analysis, likely to be based on a genuine search for truth, or merely on the reinforcement of benighted prejudice?
It is these people- the scared, hayseed conspiratorialists that provide the backbone, the funding, and the moral support for Young Earth Creationism, and the Creationists are happy to take their money and their devotion without ever challenging them on the more fringe beliefs they hold. Apparently it is more important to convince infidels to believe in your model of radioactive decay than it is to convince your Christian brother to get his kids inoculated against the measles. This willful blindness has made corrupt organisations like Answers in Genesis rich. Christians should do more to expel these teachings from their midst. As a Christian, who has seen this kind of rubbish preached in my own Church (although not to the extent seen here), I just can't apologise to those who think we should be "softly, softly" with nitwits like these. Anyone who supports a Young Earth Creationist ministry such as AiG or CMI, or ICR is damaging the cause of Christ by encouraging people to base their faith in Jesus on demonstrable lies.
So, do we continue to argue with such people? A quote I read years ago sticks with me:
"Reason's weakness is its belief that it can convince unreason". Is there any point in wading into such debates and enduring the ignorant flack that follows? Is there any benefit to be gained?
I'd like to think so, but I'm no longer sure. Your views are invited (as indeed are additions if I have missed any of the stranger beliefs that Creationists share).