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Evolutionists haven't met Hovind's challenge to prove evolution (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Evolutionists haven't met Hovind's challenge to prove evolution (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CA341:

Evolutionists have been unable to claim $250,000 offered by Kent Hovind for proof of evolution.

Source: Dr Dino

CreationWiki response:

Hovind's offer:

  • I have a standing offer of $250,000 to anyone who can give any empirical evidence (scientific proof) for evolution.* My $250,000 offer demonstrates that the hypothesis of evolution is nothing more than a religious belief.

Many creationists are not thrilled by the offer Kent Hovind has put forth, as it undermines the intent of the creation science movement to be taken seriously in the overwhelmingly secular leaning and evolutionary biased fields of science in today’s world. Such organizations as Answers in Genesis have responded to this offer simply by saying they “would prefer that creationists refrained from gimmicks like this.”

(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

The challenge is set up so that it is impossible to meet it whether evolution is true or not. First, Hovind conflates many areas of science, including cosmology and abiogenesis, under his misuse of the word evolution. Second, he wants proof that the universe came from nothing, which is not known to be true (and which is not relevant to evolution). Third and most important, Hovind requires proof that "evolution . . . is the only possible way the observed phenomena could have come into existence." It is impossible to prove a universal negative. In fact, scientists already seriously consider alternatives for abiogenesis (namely panspermia).

On the contrary, Hovind has explained many times how evolution is not a single coherent theory, but rather an ambiguous collection of beliefs which are defined under the guise of natural selection by evolutionists (which is better known as microevolution to creationists who understand the difference). Hovind even breaks evolution down into subcategories as follows:

  1. Cosmic evolution- the origin of time, space and matter. Big Bang.
  2. Chemical evolution- the origin of higher elements from hydrogen.
  3. Stellar and planetary evolution- Origin of stars and planets.
  4. Organic evolution- Origin of life from inanimate matter.
  5. Macroevolution- Origin of major kinds.
  6. Microevolution- Variations within kinds

Microevolution, or natural selection, is the only one of these we actually observe and can test and recreate to our heart’s content, making it scientifically valid. This, however, is not evidence for evolution, and can just as easily be explained as an ingenious design application instilled in our genetic makeup from an intelligent creator 6,000 years ago.

Hovind’s offer does not require proof that the universe came from nothing, just that it does not require a creator of some kind (i.e. the God of the Bible), which evolution presupposes. Certainly the belief of evolution does not require knowledge of how or why it started, but the inability of evolutionists to explain this mystery adds to the gaping holes that riddle evolution.

Granted it is impossible to prove how or when life ultimately began, which is why things such as a 6 day creation, abiogenesis, and panspermia are beliefs and are not part of operational science. Creationists just happen to have a historical document known as the Bible to affirm their beliefs.

Hovind's challenge requires proof that evolution (and other origins) occurred without God. However, evolution does not deny God, as Hovind himself acknowledges, and Hovind admits that it is impossible to disprove God. Thus Hovind himself implies that his challenge is flawed and impossible to meet ("David" 2005).

Although Hovind’s challenge may very well have been with good intention, because not everyone interprets things the way he does, disputes such as this were bound to happen. From Hovind's perspective, he is simply fed up with the belief of evolution being force fed to our children from day-one through public schools, books, television, museums, aquariums, and many other institutions that proclaim the “fact” of evolution and ultimately indoctrinate more and more followers into the mass appeal that evolution always boasts. On his website, Hovind fumes: "Since all taxpayers are being forced to pay for evolution to be taught exclusively in public schools and evolutionists have had the last 130 years and billions of dollars in research grants to prove their religion, the burden of proof is on them to supply proof of their theory."

The judging is likely to be unfair. The judges are all picked by Hovind, so they are probably biased, and Hovind has refused to let unbiased judges judge a challenge (Kolosick n.d.). Hovind's hand-picked judges may well be unqualified, too, since Hovind does not have the background to judge qualifications. There is even evidence that the judges do not exist: An advertisement in Pensacola headed "Attn: Hovind's Expert Committee" received no responses (Vlaardingerbroek n.d.).

This is part of the reason some creationists believe this was a mistake on Hovind’s part. The challenge was doomed from the get-go because either the evolutionists would present the evidence (if there were any) to Hovind and it would be systematically rejected as evolutionists predicted, or it would be rejected legitimately and evolutionists would still cry foul. And of course neither side would be able to come to an agreement on which judges are truly unbiased.

Hovind himself says he will not accept important evidence. He will not accept macroevolution in the form of speciation as evidence for evolution.

That is because speciation is not evidence for macroevolution, because variation within groups of organisms (however you wish to define those groups) only proves that creatures can adapt to their environments, but does not qualify as evidence that these adaptive changes are without limitation. That is like saying “I watched someone jump really high, so that is proof that they used to be able to fly.” Evolutionists commonly use the bait ‘n switch method of using “microevolution” to prove “macroevolution.”

Several people have tried to collect on his challenge, only to get a runaround or to be ignored: Lenny Flank received only nonanswers when he asked Hovind to clarify what "fundamentally different kind of animal" means (Flank n.d.).

This is a typical evolutionist tactic of trying to blur the lines between a genetic change that decreases or rearranges information and one that increases information (has not been observed), which macroevolution depends on. This is why the definitions of species and kind are so ambiguous, because although a fox is obviously the same “kind” of animal as a dog (canine family), they are not known to be able to interbreed with each other. Basically, the canine “kind” which God created and said “Let the earth bring forth the living creatures after his kind,” brought forth dogs, foxes, wolves, coyotes, and jackals, which are all characteristically different yet obviously familiar variations (species, breeds, etc.) of the same “kind.” This trend can be seen throughout the animal kingdom in an amazing display of diversity in creative design, and yet the true relationships remain clear and apparent. Evolutionists however, use this ambiguity to their advantage because apparently if creationists cannot definitively explain what qualifies as a “kind” then the differences between a hippo and a horse or a fish and an amphibian can be trivialized down to nothing more than natural selection given sufficient time.

On “kinds”: Assuming the bible is true, and God did create all manner of living creatures within the purported 6 day period, there would be a definitive set of animal kinds that were completely unique and distinctly different than each other kind. Assuming these groups or kinds of creatures each were instilled with the genetic disposition to adapt physically to their environment within a set limitation of gene variation, the extreme diversity that we observe presently, considering our knowledge of rapid speciation caused by natural selection, is an expected result of six thousand years of change within these kinds. Furthermore, extreme degradation of genetic material due to mutations and selection of desired (already present) traits and loss of others (not necessary for survival) presents barriers within these kinds which eventually limits the ability for kinds to interbreed, which is known as speciation. This however, does not negate the original “kinds” that were created, nor does it count as evidence that all organisms had a common ancestor or that changes in gene frequency are limitless. Finally, as expected, all of these changes caused by natural selection that result in speciation are represented by an inherent loss of genetic information, never a gain. In fact, there has never in recorded human history been an observable instance of DNA gaining complex functional information, only copying, scrambling, and losing of it. Unfortunately for evolutionists, a functional information gain is imperative in order for their theory to work.

Kevin R. Henke called to inquire about the terms that would be necessary to win the award. Hovind told him that the award could be collected by recreating the Big Bang. One of Hovind's staff members agreed that the conditions were technically unfeasible and financially impossible. Hovind was willing to offer $2,000 for proof that a dog and a banana have a common ancestor, but he backed out of this when it was required that the judges be unbiased (Kolosick n.d.).

Recreating the Big Bang would mean that it had already occurred at one point, which there is no evidence of to begin with. Recreating God or the 6 day creation would also be impossible though, and so technically such conditions are indeed unfeasible, which is why such things are of a religious nature. It is highly doubtful however, that Hovind backed out because he thought that truly unbiased judges would confirm evidence that dogs descended from bananas and he would be out two grand because of it.

Dr. Barend Vlaardingerbroek corresponded with Hovind concerning clarification of conditions and matters of fairness and got a runaround. He learned, however, that Hovind reserves the right to throw out any evidence he does not like before the judges see it (Vlaardingerbroke n.d.).

Thomas, trying to meet the challenge, sent Hovind a list of evidences. He heard nothing back ("Thomas" n.d.).

Ian Wood sent Hovind some evidence for evolution and found that Hovind lied about submitting evidence to a panel of judges (Wood n.d.). Adam Kisby met Hovind's challenge on Hovind's own terms, logically disproving the alternatives Hovind listed. Hovind tersely dismissed the result without giving any valid objections (Kisby 2005). Though Kisby's proof may be flawed, neither Hovind nor his committee have looked at it enough to see any flaws themselves.

In short, the challenge is a fraud.

The challenge is not a fraud as much as it is simply impossible to win. In this case the argument is over belief of origins, which nobody can prove beyond a reasonable doubt on either side of the issue, and which both sides will never agree upon. Evolutionists think they have evidence in the form of speciation and natural selection, but most creationists will agree that such things are better explained as a design element, and do not prove anything; certainly not our trip from a fish to a philosopher.