Till-Hovind Debate: The Debate That Wasn'tPosted by Farrell Till, on his alt.bible.errancy list, September 12, 1999. Farrell Till is the editor of the Skeptical Review, the leading authority in biblical errancy.
By Farrell Till
James N Bragge >The comment below appeared at "The Other Side of the News" web site >about a scheduled debate in Galesburg Illinois on Sept. 4, 1999. I >know at least some of the information in this article is inaccurate, >i.e., Farrel Till doesn't own the www.infidels.org domain. > >http://www.otherside.net/debate.htm
Creation VS Evolution: The Debate That Wasn't Dr. Hovind stated that it has become harder and harder to find any professors willing to debate the issue. The only other man who seemed remotely interested in standing up for what they believe and teach was a retired English professor from Canton, Illinois, named Farrell Till. He had debated Dr. Hovind in the past. He has an Internet domain www.infidels.org and publishes a newsletter The Skeptical Review (www.infidels.org/library/magazines/tsr). He brags in the local coffee shops that he will debate anyone, any time, any place and on any subject related to God or the Bible. I guess now he'll have to say he will debate anyone but Dr. Kent Hovind, anywhere but Galesburg, Illinois, and on any subject but creation because he wouldn't come debate either.>Is Dr Hovind grand standing when he states he couldn't find someone >willing to debate in support of the theory of evolution?
If Hovind wrote this, he is a liar. For starters, the challenge was not to debate him in Galesburg, Illinois, but in Lincoln, Illinois. This is a minor point, however, because Galesburg and Lincoln are both in the general area. I live about midway between both of them.
John Rushton, who identified himself as pastor of Park Meadow Baptist Church in Lincoln, Illinois, contacted me on July 28th of this year about debating Hovind. I am cutting and pasting below his e-mail message and my reply to it.
At 10:40 PM 7/28/99 -0500, you wrote: >Mr. Till, >Would you consider another debate with Dr. Kent Hovind of Creation >Science Evangelism? I believe that you've debated him before. If so, >I'd like to see another "lively" exchange (if I'm correct, you debated >him on the Genesis flood). If not, I'd like to set up a debate since >the info on your web site states that debate often. Thank you for >your time and consideration. I eagerly anticipate your reply.
I have proposed a return debate with Hovind, and he has refused it. His creationist position is rooted in a belief that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God, and so I have challenged him to debate the subject of biblical inerrancy. He won't do it. As for whether I would debate him again, that would depend on where the debate is. My publishing enterprise and internet activities take up all of my time now, so I wouldn't be able to go to a place that would require me to be away from my office very long.
Two days later, I received the following answer from Rushton, which I replied to as shown.
>Mr. Till, >Thank you for your prompt reply to my e-mail! >I believe another debate can be arranged, but can you be more >specific than "Bible inerrancy?" I believe there's over 33,000 >verses in the Bible and that take more time than any of us have >to properly cover all of them. In the last debate, you centered >the debate around "Noah and the Flood," can we backtrack further >and look at Genesis Chap 1 and the literal 6 day creation. Dr. >Hovind will be speaking in Illinois in September and we may be >able to work something out during that trip. The itinerary is >as follows: > > Sept. 5 > Park Meadows Baptist Church> Lincoln, IL > 217-732-6900> > >Let me know how your schedule is and I can start working out some >details. Thank you for your time and assistance
I live in Canton, Illinois, so I would be able to have a debate in Lincoln with no difficulty. I agree with you that "biblical inerrancy" is too broad a topic, so I will be willing to negotiate specific propositions when Hovind has agreed to debate biblical inerrancy. I can assure you that he is not going to do this, but on the off chance that he will, I propose some specific propositions like the following.
- RESOLVED: Ezekiel's prophecy against Tyre (Egypt) was fulfilled in all of its details.
- RESOLVED: The fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in the person and deeds of Jesus of Nazareth proves that he was the son of God.
- RESOLVED: The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is a verifiable historical fact.
As you can see, I certainly want to limit the debate to specific issues that concern biblical inerrancy, so I would have no objections to considering counterproposals that relate to the inerrancy issue. I am insisting on a focus on biblical inerrancy, because Hovind's creationist views are rooted in his belief that the Bible is inerrant, so I will insist that he demonstrate to an audience that this position is defensible.
You suggested September 5th as a date, but I doubt if arrangements could be completed by them, because I will insist that Hovind and I negotiate a signed agreement. Prior to our last debate, he had verbally agreed in a phone conversation that he would affirm that the Genesis flood account was scientifically accurate in all of its details. Rather than doing this, he put on his usual slide show, and when I insisted in my speeches that he was not affirming what he agreed to affirm, he dismissed the complaint with the excuse that he didn't understand that he was supposed to affirm the scientific accuracy of the flood account. This, by the way, is something that you can verify by checking the debate tapes. This time around, I would want an agreement in writing so that he cannot claim misunderstanding.
I will also insist on a two-night debate. I would prefer even a four-night format, but I will settle for nothing less than two sessions. One night is simply not enough time to cover a debate proposition as thoroughly as it should be debated.
Send this message to Mr. Hovind and let me know what his decision is.
I never received a reply from Rushton and never expected to, because I knew that Hovind would never agree to defend biblical inerrancy, which, as I said in my reply to Rushton, is the exact reason why he rejects the overwhelming scientific evidence that supports evolution and preaches his creationist nonsense. On 9/3/99, I posted the following reply to a message from Jack Chick publications. My reply addressed Kent Hovind and his refusal to debate biblical inerrancy.
At 08:16 AM 09/02/1999 -0700, you wrote: JACK CRICK >Announcing: THE GREAT ONE, a new tract by Jack T. Chick. >Read it online in English at >www.chick.com/reading/tracts/1002/1002_01.asp Or, read it in >Spanish at www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0582/0582_01.asp >That's not all that's new today. Don't miss these three new items: >1. Soul-Winner's Handy Guide > When you're trying to tell someone about the Lord, it's common >to be asked all sort of questions that try to change the subject. >Some will ask, "Why does God allow evil?" or "How could a loving God >send anyone to hell?" In this new book, you'll find ready answers to >many of these questions, along with practical ideas to help you >witness for Jesus! http://www.chick.com/catalog/books/0253.asp
I think I will pass on this.
CHICKY >2. Creation/Evolution Seminar on video > Dr. Kent Hovind, popular Creation Seminar speaker, is so sure >of his facts about Creation that he offers $250,000 on his website >to anyone who can provide empirical evidence of evolution. So far >there are no takers. Read about his seminar on video. > http://www.chick.com/catalog/videos/creationseminar.asp
I'm curious about how Kent Hovind would be able to pay $250,000 to anyone since he has filed for bankruptcy as the following information taken from http://www.teleport.com/~mrbswb/casemonth.html will show.>In Re Hovind, 197 B.R. 157 (Bankr. N.D. Fla. 1996) > >Debtor Kent E. Hovind was a tax protester who filed a Chapter >13 Bankruptcy Petition after the IRS had seized three vehicles, >a homemade trailer, and $54 in cash. Mr. Hovind had never filed >a tax return (the IRS had filed them on his behalf), did not >acknowledge that he was a citizen of the U.S. nor subject to its >tax laws, and claimed that he was "an evangelist employed by God". >On his bankruptcy schedules, he declared that he had no property, >received no income, had no expenses, and had no creditors (except >for the IRS, which filed a claim for $10,690 in unpaid taxes). >In finding that Mr. Hovind had filed false schedules, the Court >noted that he had a home with recently installed central air >conditioning, and sent all three children to a private Christian >school at a cost of $4,800 per year. Under these facts, the Court >had no difficulty in holding that the petition was filed in bad >faith, and that he was ineligible for Chapter 13 relief under >11 U.S.C. Section 109(e) because he had no income. "The evidence >presented at the hearing paints a clear portrait of a tax protester >whose sole purpose in seeking relief under Chapter 13 was to obtain >the release of property seized by the IRS." His petition was >therefore dismissed.
What guarantees can you give me that if I take the time to send you empirical evidence of evolution, I will receive the $250,000 that Hovind has offered? By the way, I am questioning Hovind's honesty on the basis of my own personal experience with him, because I once had a debate with him in which I was convinced that the man's honesty leaves much to be desired. For one thing, he orally agreed to affirm that the Genesis account of the worldwide flood in Noah's time was scientifically accurate in all of its details, but rather than assuming this obligation, he put on his standard creationist slide-show instead. When I pressed him in my rebuttal speeches to stick to the proposition he had agreed to affirm, he pleaded that he didn't understand that this was what he was supposed to affirm. That was a bit hard for me to believe, especially after he finally got around to the flood story and produced a model of the ark to illustrate how that it was structurally sound enough to have survived the flood. If he didn't know that he was supposed to affirm the scientific accuracy of the flood story, why did he just happen to have with him a model of the ark? In my reply to him, I told him that I would be more impressed with his claims of structural soundness if he and his creationist cohorts would build an ark to those specifications, launch it into the Atlantic, wait for the next hurricane to blow in, and see if the sucker could withstand the stresses it would encounter. Since the debate was videotaped, these are matters of record that can easily be verified. During the debate, Hovind claimed that archaeologists had discovered the skeletons of giant humans and that this proves the biblical claim that giants once lived on the earth. I wrote a letter to Hovind after the debate asking him to tell me where I could go to see these fossils of human giants, but he never answered.
On Friday, October 2, 1998, I did a phone debate with Hovind over a radio station in Bloomington, Illinois. During that debate, I proposed a second debate in which the issue would be biblical inerrancy. I explained that Hovind's very unscientific creationist views are rooted in his belief that the Bible is inerrant, so it would be appropriate for him to defend the belief that has caused him to reject overwhelming scientific information in order to maintain his belief in the inerrancy of ancient superstitions. Hovind rejected this challenge, and I have an audio tape of the broadcast to prove that he did.
In July of this summer I received an e-mail message from John Rushton of the Park Meadows Baptist Church in Lincoln, Illinois, in which he asked me to debate Hovind at his church on September 3rd. I summarized my experience with Hovind and predicted that he would not agree to debate me, because I would insist that he affirm first the inerrancy of the Bible, after which we could debate his slide-show again. As predicted, Hovind must have refused, because I never heard from Rushton again.
I have taken the time to summarize for you my experiences with Hovind so that you will know that I am not just someone bad-mouthing a preacher whom I don't know. I'm very familiar with Hovind, and I know that he would never pay the $250,000 reward that he has offered no matter how much empirical evidence may be produced. Anyway, I thank you for reminding me of this offer. I knew about it but had forgotten it. I think I will send notification to IRS that Kent Hovind, who is trying to evade the payment of taxes by filing a bankruptcy petition, apparently has enough money to offer a $250,000 reward.
By publishing the notice of Hovind's reward, you implied your belief that Hovind's gesture shows that evolution cannot be proven, so I wonder if you would publish a notice of my counter offer. I will offer a $500,000 reward to anyone who can provide empirical evidence that special creation as claimed in Genesis 1-2 ever happened.
I will also propose to you the same challenge that Hovind has suggested. If you will affirm in a public forum that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God, I will gladly oppose you. I am posting this on my internet list and also a newsgroup that I post to, so perhaps some of the members of these groups would like to e-mail you assurance that they would be very interested in hearing a debate on this subject. So what do you say, Jack?
So the records will show that Kent Hovind is the one who refuses to debate. He wants to put on his slide show, call that a debate, and then be quickly on his way, so whoever posted the claim that I will not debate Hovind has received some very incorrect information. To remove any doubt that I will debate Hovind, I hereby issue to him a challenge to defend the inerrancy of the book on which he bases his creationist views. This would be the proper place to begin the defense of his position, because he obviously goes about the country pocketing money to present his pseudoscience, because he believes that when science contradicts the Bible, science has to be rejected. It is only reasonable then to demand that he attempt to defend his belief that the Bible is inerrant.
The challenge that I am issuing to Hovind is as I presented it above, i.e., at least a two-night format so that we will have adequate time to cover the issues properly. I would prefer even a four-night format. I am willing to oppose him in any of the propositions I proposed above in my correspondence with Pastor Rushton. If he doesn't like these propositions, he can present counterproposals from which we will select a proposition for debate. I will even agree to debate again the same proposition that he didn't affirm before even though he had verbally agreed to. This time, however, I will insist that regardless of what proposition we agree on, we will put it in writing, and both of us will sign the agreement. Pastor Rushton may be willing to make his facilities available in Lincoln, Illinois, as a site for the debate. I will be glad to pay myself a reasonable fee to cover the cost of the utilities and fair rental on the auditorium. Since Hovind is originally from this area and returns now and then to visit his mother and at least one brother who live in an adjoining county, I can see no reason why he wouldn't be able to work a two- or four-night debate into his schedule.
Now does this sound as if I am afraid to debate Kent Hovind. Please send this to the author of the web site, where this misinformation was originally posted.
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