It’s the beginning of the end for Eric Hovind’s Creation Ministries, as the poster child for anti-science Christian apologetics posts a video begging his supporters for cash

Finances are running low at Eric Hovind’s creationist ministry. The writing has been on the wall for Hovind’s particular brand of anti-science for some time; his methods having been branded as ‘extremist’ even by other creationists, such as Ken Ham.

But the cracks really began to show in his tired routine, when Eric’s sidekick Sye ten Bruggencate was angrily ejected recently from The Place video podcast for using, once again, his trademark bullying tactics, while pointblank refusing to answer basic questions; leaving Eric to essentially admit their argument is based upon a string of easily identifiable logical fallacies.

Now, in a desperate attempt at damage control, since the video of his on-air confession went viral, Eric, who inherited the Dr. Dino ministry in 2009, after its founder and Eric’s father Kent was convicted on multiple counts of defrauding the US tax system, has posted a video to Facebook literally begging the few hundred supporters he has left to donate $10 a month for 1 year, to keep the business going.

Download the video here, if you don’t have a Facebook account, or watch it on Eric’s page here: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10200217130250031

Whilst it may well be the case that the current economic climate is, as Eric says, the main cause of his woes, it’s also true to say that Eric has alienated himself in as many Christian debating forums as he has those which focus on debunking his and other brands of Christian extremism. Last year, users of the Premier Christian Radio forum, in the UK, were appalled to discover that a debate hosted by Christian radio host Justin Brierly, between Eric Hovind and atheist activist Paul Baird, which was made available for free on the PCR website, had been transferred to DVD without the permission of those involved, and made available for sale on Eric’s Creation Today website at $24.99 per-copy. This was before Eric attempted to pull a similar stunt with the hosts of the Fundamentally Flawed podcast; only later reversing his decision to publish material he edited without permission.

It would now appear that staff at Creation Today and other Hovind ministries have been asked to take a 10% pay cut, after Hovind received multiple DMCA take-down notices for similar schemes, which see him dupe people into taking part in a one sided conversation about the certainty of knowledge, which is based upon the widely discredited ideas of Immanuel Kant, and a type of presuppositional apologetics known as the Transcendental Argument for the existence of God, or TAG.

Hovind won’t go down without a fight. The pressures of running a scam which borrows the language of Christianity, to take money from the vulnerable and poorly educated; which at one time bagged Hovind millions of dollars per-year, have hardened Eric’s resolve over the years. But where he once knew how to gently persuade his ready-made audience of home-schoolers and rightwing evangelicals into parting with their money, in a new less subtle development, Eric is now directly begging his followers for cold hard cash simply to stay afloat.

An open letter to non-crazy Christians

I wrote this as a forum posting for Justin Brierley’s Premier Christian Radio discussion forum, but there is a waiting time for membership approval, so I’m making it available here as well. Please pass it on. I realise it’s quite long winded, but it’s important we set the record straight regards an important matter and I’d like to think that this is something which those of us who are both non-religious and those who are not on the extremes of Christianity can help each other raise awareness of, in the interest of clarity and an open exchange of information.

I welcome your feedback in the comments section below, but can I also ask that if you are a member of http://www.premiercommunity.org.uk/forum/ that you post replies there as well, so as many people as possible can read and respond. Thanks!

EDIT: I’ve been asked to summarise this, since it is quite long. I normally try to keep things as short as possible, but I didn’t want to be accused of leaving anything out. But if you are tempted to skip, the final four paragraphs pretty much sum things up.

——–

Hello! I wanted to start by saying that I admire Justin’s evenhandedness on the podcast, and his willingness to engage with people who fundamentally disagree with him on issues which are clearly very important to him. I hope, as I learn more about other Christian contributors here, that he is not alone in this regard, and that we can have a civil and polite debate on a range of topics. Some internet forums, open to debate between atheists and the religious, tend to fall apart pretty quickly, but I hope to discover that this one stands in-line with the general theme of the radio show, and treats all points of view with respect, and intellectual honesty.

With that said, I hope what I’m about to say doesn’t cause any unnecessary ructions, because I would like to issue something of a warning about a scam which myself and some friends of mine, who produce the Fundamentally Flawed podcast together, have unearthed recently, which we worry might affect some Christians who aren’t aware of the backstory, which I’ll attempt to flesh-out here, as best I can.

The main reason I want to make it absolutely clear, before going any further, that my being non-religious has nothing whatsoever to do with my genuine concerns, is that the scam does involve some of the religious terminology used in Christian apologetics, which it is necessary for me to use in my analysis of the scam, and in order to explain the problem. This might be seen by some as rude, or disrespectful, given that I am an atheist and proud of it. But this is not my intention. I simply want to help honestly motivated, ordinary people who just so happen to be Christian, avoid being ripped off — and my views on Christianity, as a whole, are neither here nor there — at least for the time being.

Being that it is my main worry, that the vast majority of honest Christians might be victim to this scam, there is a lot of misinformation being put “out there” on my true position with regard certain types of apologetics, which the people who are responsible for this scam would dearly love for the wider Christian community to think me and my friends are “running scared from”, presumably out of some sort of worry that their argument (or lack thereof) might hold a degree of intellectual merit which we are incapable of exceeding to. To be clear, it doesn’t, and we aren’t. But with your kind indulgence, I would like to explain exactly why this is the case, as well as explain some of the possible reasons as to why some of these individuals are bearing false witness about us.

Chief among the possible explanations for this campaign of misinformation, is that the particular brand of presuppositional apologetics we believe people are being duped into accepting, rises and falls on a provable falsehood, which they would prefer ordinary Christians like you didn’t know about — least of all in the words of a “dirty atheist”.

I would like to think that the fact we refuse to go away quietly, having uncovered this scam, has begun to have an affect on the profit margins of those who propagate this lie. What’s rather more likely to be true, is that we have begun to affect the tone of emails which these scammers are starting to receive from other Christians — which might also go some way towards explaining the amount of lies and historical revisionism, which some of you might have seen in the blog-o-sphere and beyond, in relation to our involvement in this story, which these people are largely responsible for producing.

To clarify this once again, I can assure you, it is not the case that we disrespect, or “hate” anyone with genuine religious convictions. We are simply concerned that these people appear to be targeting emotionally vulnerable people in their recruiting program, and are clearly drawing them into a distinctly un-Christian type of cult, for which only other Christians can help their fellow believers avoid — hence this bipartisan appeal.

So, cut to the chase:

Several month ago now, when our little podcast was still finding its feet, we received an offer from a certain Eric Hovind, to debate him in a joint broadcast between our podcast and his ‘Creation Today’ radio show — which is a part of his multimillion dollar, tax free ‘ministry’, based in Pensacola, Florida. Some of you might be familiar with Eric’s father Kent Hovind, who was convicted on several counts of tax evasion in 2007, after leading a ministry which encouraged adherents of the predominantly rightwing homeschooling community to teach anti-science and young earth creationism to children, under the brand-name of ‘Dr. Dino’. It would later transpire that “Dr.” Hovind’s credentials as a dinosaur expert were purchased from a diploma mill, after the Wikileaks website published a copy of his doctoral dissertation, which was written in the first person, contained numerous spelling mistakes, and listed zero evidence-based citations.

Tentatively we agreed to debate Eric on the explicit understanding that none of our comments would be used out of context, or edited in such a way that we appeared to say something which we hadn’t said. This was stipulated after several bad experiences with Christian radio hosts far less honest than Justin, in the past, who had literally removed large sections of audio, from appearances I had made on their shows, so as to doctor what I had said to make is seem as if I was rather less well informed than I am on certain arguments.

It’s at this point I should clarify that for the first 17 years of my life, I was a born-again Christian, whose journey towards atheism began one day in church, when the sermon was given on Jesus throwing the money lenders from the temple, before the collection plate was passed around. I would later learn that this money was used to launder Mafia drug money through the Vatican bank. But I digress.

We were aware that Eric had attempted to distance himself from some of the things his father became infamous for preaching, and fully intended to take him on face value. But we were also aware that if we hadn’t made the stipulation that we would not mute anyone’s microphone, or edit their comments in post-production, he might seek to profit from our comments in a way which ran counter to our beliefs about open information, and a free exchange of ideas. In that vein, we also made it clear that we would be giving away a free complete audio recording of the debate, via our website, and did not seek to make any money from it in any other way, such as by placing Google adverts or other co-branding on our website. Eric seemed happy to go along with this at the time, as an off-air pre-show recording we have of him, which we did not (yet) publish, fully confirms.

When it came time to record the podcast, Eric introduced us to a friend of his named Sye ten Bruggencate. It turned out that Sye knew rather more about me than I knew about him, and that he had previously posted comments to numerous religious articles on my website. At the time I didn’t immediately connect his name to the same Sye who had used my blog, and it wasn’t until what unfolded next that I began to recall the particular type of aggressive tactics which he had used, when posting blog comments under the username SyeTenB.

The conversation quickly took a very bizarre turn, when Sye started asking a series of questions for which there were no right or wrong, affirmative or negative answers, while insisting that, in-fact, we must answer them with definite ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ replies. This was made doubly confusing when he also refused to acknowledge that, for this very reason, he was just as incapable of answering his own questions as we were, if these black or white criteria were imposed upon him as strictly as he insisted they were upon us.

Even stranger still, Sye seemed to believe that this constituted some kind of strength to his position, when to any dispassionate observer it was clear the opposite was true, and that all he had succeeded in doing was to confirm many of the “crazy Christian” stereotypes, which so many of the well intentioned religious have fought so hard to dispel over the years — which we have always fully acknowledged, and welcomed.

It’s was at this point in the recording, when their true modus operandi became apparent. Far from having any legitimate interest in knowing what we, as atheists, felt about “life, the universe and everything”, it became clear that all they were actually interested in doing, was capturing as much audio as they could, so as to do to others what they would not have done to themselves.

They began pressing us even further on meaningless psychobabble, such as “is it possible that everything you think you know could be wrong?”, and “how do you know that?”, whenever we made any statement which requires longer to explain than the 10 second window which was opened to us, before one or the other would close it again by interrupting us with the next line of their pre-rehearsed script — which seldom bore any relationship to what we had just said.

To these specific questions, I lost count of how many times I explained why answering ‘yes’ wouldn’t encompass my true position, anymore than answering ‘no’, but Sye pressed on regardless, seemingly oblivious to the fact that if I were to ask him the self-same questions he was asking me, his answering either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ would paint no truer picture of his faith-based position, than it would of my evidence-based worldview — another of those awful “in-speak” phrases which Sye seems to believe means “assumption without evidence” when spoken by others, but “unquestionably true” when spoken by him.

Sye’s one and only response to this, was to repeatedly assert that his position is valid, regardless of his ability to adhere to his own arbitrary rules of engagement, because, as is it claimed, he has had it privately revealed to him that the bible is word-for-word true in a way which cannot be objectively demonstrated, but which he knows for certain to be unquestionably valid. When he was reminded that this “claim to know” is extrinsic and unfalsifiable, we were told that in our basic unwillingness to lower our standards of proof, merely to encompass his fundamentally self-contradictory worldview, that we risked being tortured in the fires of hell for all eternity. So much for peace, love and forgiveness.

No-one, dear friends, expects the Spanish Inquisition — least of all in what was fast becoming a distinctly one-sided conversation, in which he seemed to feel entitled to throw out every appeal to authority fallacy in the book, while we were mysteriously limited to his distorted view of what atheists (all of them, mind you) do and don’t “believe”. But the deception, and dark hilarity, didn’t end there.

Once the recording was published, we began to take feedback from our listeners, and discovered that the essential core of the method they had been using, was first proposed by Cornelius Van Til in his “doctrine of the ontological Trinity” — which was almost immediately rejected as meaningless by contemporary theologians and philosophers of the time, as being no more that a conclusion drawn from its own proposition. This was later clarified by the first Vienna Circle of Logical Positivists, in the early 1920’s, and the father of scientific falsification Karl Popper, who asserted that all metaphysical truth-claims are “essentially meaningless”, when they contradict the validity of that which is immediately observable — or, ‘The Logic of Scientific Discovery’ to you and me.

Because of this syllogism at the heart of what is known as the Transcendental Argument for the existence of God, it is a method of apologetics which has been largely abandoned by theologians of all persuasions for many decades — save for a very narrow band of Americanised evangelicals, renowned the world over for their particularly belligerent insistence that TAG is a rather more substantial argument than it actually is. If we had known this prior to “debating” Sye and Eric, the conversation might have turned out differently. But because we were completely unprepared to encounter someone so ready, willing and able to stoop to new lows in an already strong field of intellectual dishonesty, we had no choice but to notch it up as a “win” for them, and a much needed visit to the library for us.

What we would uncover, in that learning process, is that a band of anti-science activists, who are loosely affiliated with everything from supermodel-endorsed anti-vaccination, which has resulted in a ten-fold increase in cases of measles, mumps and rubella in some of the most developed nations in the world, to a type of global warming denial which is largely backed by the same oil and gas giants who fund the Republican party, are attempting to revive this type of presuppositional Christian apologetics, as part of their “war on atheism”.

But don’t let the ‘A’ word fool you. This is an all-out, politically motivated attack on rationalism, science, intellectual honesty, and everything which most ordinary people, Christian and non-Christian alike, would consider to be basic common sense. Moreover, Christians who see the problem with this type of non-reasoning, are just as much of a target for misinformation and ad hominem attack, as we non-religious are all too used to experiencing on a daily basis.

We had, in other words, inadvertently found ourselves on the receiving end of an elaborate set-up, architected by two of a small but vocal minority in American evangelicalism, who specialise in producing misinformation and propaganda against anyone who just so happens to hold themselves to higher standard of proof than belief for belief’s sake.

A few weeks after this first encounter, my podcast co-host Alex Botten, invited Sye back onto the show, to talk about what we had learned about the TAG argument in the intervening time. What followed was a piece by piece dismantling of Sye’s entire position. He simply couldn’t account for any of the things he had previously attempted to bully us into believing he could in-fact account for. At one point, in response to the fact that TAG is syllogistic and logically fallacious — precisely because it assumes the existence of Yahweh according to the same criteria which could be used to postulate the existence of myriad other gods (the existence of which Sye is as atheistic towards as we are towards Yahweh) — Sye simply began babbling even more incoherently than he had before.

The pace with which he went from being absolutely certain that he can “prove God exists”, to churning out every logical and informal fallacy in the book, was astounding. Here, before our very ears, was the man who runs a website called proofthatgodexists.org, falling apart like a Taiwanese Rolex on Boxing Day; literally tripping over his own tongue, and in relation to some of the most basic problems inherent to the very nature of his own truth-claim. He simply had nothing left. The mask had been removed.

This clearly irked Sye — for what happened next stands as clear an example as any I can think of, as to why legitimately motivated Christians such as you, the sexually attractive and might I say rather dashing reader, should be as cautious of, as we on the opposite benches had to find out the hard way, for ourselves.

We began to hear rumours that Sye and Hovind intended to break our agreement not to commercially exploit the audio recordings, of our conversations, and that they were planning to release a DVD of our “debate”. Sadly, we found out too late that there was a precedent for this, as they had also done a similar thing to another blogger / podcaster, who would later become a friend of mine, named Paul Baird.

When asked directly about this, both Sye and Eric simply remained silent. Days passed and no emails or twitter messages were replied to, or even acknowledged. This, against the backdrop of the story of what happened to Paul Baird, began to paint a very disconcerting picture, which we then had no choice but to respond to, in the absence of any contact from Sye and Eric, to either confirm or deny that these rumours were true.

Paul had found that a debate he recorded with Sye was being sold on Sye’s website for $19.95 a pop, and was disappointed to find that Sye had told Justin Brierley, who made this recording, that Paul had given his full permission for it to be made available as a commercial publication. In reality, Paul had made no such concession — he simply hadn’t been asked, and so Sye simply lied when Justin asked him if Paul had given his permission for the recording to be used.

Then an edit of our conversation with Eric and Sye appeared on YouTube. Bearing in mind that we had specifically said our comments were not to be edited or used out of context, alarm bells began to ring that Sye and Hovind might be planning on doing to us what they had done to Paul Baird. There’s some considerable disagreement at this point, as to why Eric posted this edited video to YouTube — with Eric claiming that it was simply to demonstrate that Alex Botten had said something which he later contradicted, despite that Alex was later able to show that Eric had indeed used these comments out of context.

Eric, in a later Skype conversation, was told in no uncertain terms, that if he planned on releasing any further edited recordings, featuring our comments out-of-context, we would take legal action. To date, and to the best of our knowledge, Hovind has not released any recordings which breach our verbal agreement to this affect.

Fast-forward several weeks. Sye had been told in a series of email exchanges that he would be welcome back onto the podcast, as and when he felt ready to explain the basic contradiction inherent to his own position — i.e., that he claims to have proof that Yahweh exists, while refusing to accept that this is either a fundamental contradiction of his insistence that he holds a faith-based position, or he simply doesn’t understand the basic definition of words like ‘evidence’ and ‘proof’.

Sye’s explanation for this basic contradiction, is to insist that he holds both positions in a way which is “virtuously circular” — an unintentionally amusing punchline to a bad joke first mooted by Greg Bahnsen, an influential Calvinist philosopher, and apologist, who wasn’t unaware of the logical inconsistency in claiming to hold two completely contradictory positions on Yahweh’s basic existence at the same time.

Sye now appeared ready to confront this problem head-on. From the very moment Sye’s Skype call to record his third appearance on the podcast began, he was reminded that we did not give our permission for any of the audio to be used in a commercial setting, or used in any other way, including in YouTube video clips which might accrue a share of Google’s Ad Revenue, or as part of any third party religious ministry. He was then asked directly if he was finally ready to present evidence of Yahweh’s basic existence — to which he replied, “I already have”.

Aware that this was more of the same “cart before the horse, abracadabra, proof of the bible is in the bible” playground nonsense which, remember, we had already told Sye we would not stand for, he was once again invited to present his claimed proof that Yahweh exists. Now, faced with the fact that he did not have our permission to commercially exploit the recording for his own financial gain, and that he had finally been held down to a very specific question with regard to his own basic truth-claim, he simply ran away — literally quitting Skype in a hissy fit, befitting a spoiled child.

Crown Rights Media

No-one has ever said that Christian organisations shouldn’t be entitled to produce media which presents their case for God. Indeed, some of the high production values in editing, computer animation and sound design, which many of these productions employ, is a clear indication that there is a great deal of money to be made from releasing these type of instructional videos and lecture series presentations.

What we do take great objection to, is when these videos are promoted on the back of comments which the producers have been specifically told they do not have permission to use for commercial purposes. So when a promotional video, for an upcoming DVD from Crown Rights Media appeared on YouTube, and posted to Sye ten Bruggencate’s channel, featured an edited portion of the very same recording in which he was specifically told he did not have our permission to use our comments for commercial purposes, you can imagine that we were distinctly unimpressed.

Sye appears to believe, that a recording in which he was held down to a very specific question relating to his own worldview, which he refused to answer and stormed off the recording session when pressed, somehow represents us “running scared” from his particularly nasty brand of pseudo-apologetics. Such is the down is up, up is down, through the looking glass nature of Sye’s entire worldview, one can only presume that by that same internal logic, a recording of us refusing to answer any of his questions, and storming off in a fit of anti-Christian hate speech, would constitute a “win” for the Richard Dawkins brigade — who think that “atheism” is best served by being as offensive towards people who don’t deserve it as possible.

This, dear reader, is not the type of non-believer we represent. Yes, we crack the occasional joke about priests and altar boys, and yes we make clear our disgust at the crystal danglers and homeopaths, but the “something out there” openminded religious, who don’t think that religious belief starts and stops at believing in things which are not true, and insisting that other people believe in this kind of nonsense too, simply aren’t on our radar — indeed we regularly complain about that narrow-minded type of atheist, who behave with disrespect towards the religious in this way, and knacker-up the whole deal for the rest of us.

Since being asked, repeatedly, to remove media which he does not have the right to use, from YouTube, Sye ten Bruggencate has consistently lied to Crown Rights, and their supporters, about the nature of our involvement in the promotional video which he produced against our specific permission to do so — to the point that, at one stage, he even appeared to deny that he had edited out the parts of the albeit very brief conversation, in which he was specifically told he could not edit our comments, or use them on YouTube, or use them in promotion of a commercial product.

Then, when the full unedited recording of him being told exactly this, was posted to Crown Rights Facebook page, a certain Marcus Pittman, of Crown Rights, removed the 70 plus-long comment thread which followed this unambiguous evidence that Sye ten Bruggencate had simply lied, exactly as he had with Paul Baird and the host of Premier Christian Radio’s ‘Unbelievable’, Justin Brierley — saying, as a justification for this clear attempt to silence the facts, that I was “being annoying”.

Think about it. “Annoying” for proving that someone is lying to your face, but “virtuously circular” for claiming to have proof that Yahweh exists, while refusing to present any evidence of it.

These people, dear readers, are not your friends. They are not even your fellow Christian. They are scam artists, who for $20 a go, promise you everything and tell you nothing. Do not be deceived. Please do not do make the same mistake we did, and have anything at all to do with these provable liars. They will rip you off, they will lie to you, and they will lie about you if you have the simple temerity to question their motives. Please, be warned. They are far more of a threat to your image, true beliefs, and motives, than anything the vast majority of atheists like me would, or could seek to impose upon you.

Thank you for your time. Jim.

A reply to Sye’s latest blog

I’m providing an exact copy of my comments on Sye’s latest blog here, so there can be no doubt as to what was said and who said it, in case he decides to edit it at a later date, or just not approve the comments to begin with. It’s not a full reply to each of his “points” because he repeats himself a fair bit and I cover most of his general grievances in the bottom half of the reply.

Readers should note that Sye himself is banned from posting comments here, because of the threats and lies he repeatedly posted here several months ago. And no, I’m not struck by the irony of banning someone who hasn’t banned me. When I start issuing threats on his blog, he’s free to ban me too. Just thought I’d mention that before Dan Marvin’s pussy starts dripping like a fucked fridge.

You can read the original blog here: http://offenseofthefaith.com/blog/because-you-asked-so-nicely-jim/

UPDATE: There appears to be either a software bug with Sye’s comments, where the ‘post’ or ‘send’ buttons don’t appear properly (tried Firefox and Safari) or I’m banned. I’ve emailed the comments to Sye and made him aware that they’re also available here.

UPDATE 2: Sye has posted another reply here: http://offenseofthefaith.com/blog/mostly-crickets/
He still hasn’t enabled comments on his blog / fixed the bug which prevents anyone from replying.

My comments start from his reply…

False. Apparently Jim has a very convenient memory as to how he and Alex said(1) said the podcasts went. Jim admitting to “ridiculous mistakes, and Alex to “flailing hopelessly.” Is there any wonder why Jim and Alex are so angry with me?

You’re referring to the first podcast, in which I have already repeatedly said both on my blog and on the podcast we didn’t perform well. But this isn’t about that podcast (even though you threatened to profit from the sale of that one as well, despite our disclaimer), it’s about the latest podcast, in which you also verbally agreed to two specific stipulations not to edit or post it to YouTube, which you immediately went ahead and did anyway.

False. Jim keeps saying this, but has yet to produce evidence that this was ever communicated to me.

If you were left in any doubt as to why you were invited back onto the podcast, other than to finally present the evidence you repeatedly claim to have but constantly refuse to present — especially given the email exchanges we had in-between podcasts number two and three — you’re even more deluded than I first thought.

False. Nothing mentioned about editing.

You are a pathological liar. I said, “I do not give my consent for ANY PART of this debate to be used…” http://fundamentally-flawed.com/pods/?p=episode&name=2012-04-03_minicast__insta-bail_aka_bye_bye_sye.mp3

False. Jim did not say that the RECORDING could not be used, but that the DEBATE could not be used for commercial purposes, and as the recording shows, the debate never happened. In Jim’s own words it was “over before it’s begun.”

BWAAAA HAA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAAAAAA!!!!!!

False. I was not asked to present evidence.

Your own website is called Proof That God Exists, Sye. Do you not think maybe there’s a clue in the title, that you claim to have evidential proof of Yahweh’s basic existence? Oh wait, I forgot. You have to believe it first, right? Gee, how scientific.

False. I did not say that I had already presented evidence.

In your own words, when asked if you had any objectively verifiable evidence for the basic existence of Yahweh, you said “I’ve had it from the beginning”. http://fundamentally-flawed.com/pods/?p=episode&name=2012-04-03_minicast__insta-bail_aka_bye_bye_sye.mp3

At which point Alex explained to you and the listeners that the disclaimer made for a good intro to the debate, completely cancelling out your phantasmagorically stupid excuse that the disclaimer portion of the recording did not count as being part of the actual conversation.

As for the rest of your reply, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and concede there seems to be some genuine confusion here, and you’re not just being belligerent for the sake of it. This is partly due to the fact you’ve allowed your minions to speak for you, and instead of correcting them you’ve allowed them to lie on your behalf.

I was just as keen as you were to have a heated debate, but you seem to think that in my stipulation that you weren’t going to use the same arguments you had used before, that I was telling you what you could and could not say — when that was not my intention, and I don’t think any right minded person would assume otherwise.

It’s very important, when debating with people who adopt your tactics, that we hold you down to specifics, otherwise you start a thousand tiny fires under a thousand bad ideas, leaving us to stamp out the flames using your pre-approved firefighting methods, while you run around accusing us of arson.

I’m simply not interested in playing semantic word games; seeing who can dish out the highest number of technical terms and quote-mined received opinions in one sentence. It was either going to be a genuine conversation on the facts and nothing but, or it wasn’t going to happen at all. You opted for the latter, because you have NOTHING to say beyond falsely asserting that your faith-based position is in fact objectively valid.

By way of a perfect example of this kind of word-play, you’ve demonstrated amply in your above article, that your perceived entitlement to ignore the terms of our disclaimer, rises and falls on the intended meaning of words like ‘recording’, ‘debate’, and ‘edit’, when no dispassionate observer could be in any doubt whatsoever as to what was meant by the disclaimer, why it was read out, and why you were asked to agree to it before we could go any further. And if you don’t know by now how much your reputation for lies, deceit and sheer pig headedness proceeds you, you need to hire a new PA.

That is why you left prematurely and everyone knows it. The only person who is apparently in the dark as to this fact, is you and small clique of easily confused parrots, who wouldn’t know the meaning of intellectual honesty if it kicked them in the gentleman sausage with such velocity, even Eric Hovind would have to admit Isaac Newton might have a point.

False, I get zero financial gain for having that video on YouTube.

Are you one of Eric’s employees? Do you get paid to appear in his productions? Do you file tax returns on earnings accrued from your “ministry”? Have you ever received an invitation from Google / YouTube to opt one of your videos into their ad revenue sharing scheme? Do you quote-mine people as a matter of course, in your unintelligible screeds against reality, and then delete / ignore their comments when they ask for an apology? Do you disable comments altogether on videos you know for a fact are utter bullshit?

Do you think I’m trying to change the subject by asking this? Why do you think questions pertaining to your financially gaining from content which isn’t yours to exploit are off-topic? At which point did you think we were talking to you for any reason, other than to highlight the fact you’re a money grabbing scumbag with the morals of a stoat? How do you not realise, even at this point, that you have proven this fact for us with such efficiency, we couldn’t have asked for a better outcome?

http://dynamodata.fdncenter.org/990_pdf_archive/260/260479444/260479444_201007_990.pdf

http://foundationcenter.org/findfunders/990finder/

What are the odds Sye won’t include the above links to Eric Hovind’s tax returns when / if he approves this reply on his blog?

An off-air audio recording of Eric Hovind and Sye TenB agreeing not to edit the audio of a conversation they then edited

Note to self: Always record everything a creationist says. They have such selective memories it can come in handy if at some point down the line they try to put words in your mouth.

What was that loud slapping noise? I.. ..I think Sye Ten Quid just face palmed himself to death. How sad.

Eric Hovind: Lies, damn lies and the almighty dollar

Matthew 19:24

Proof, as if it were needed this week, that the one thing more important to Christian fundamentalists than lying for Jesus is cash and plenty of it, comes in the form of confirmation that Eric Hovind and Sye Ten Bruggencate’s plan to sell a DVD of the conversation they had with myself and Alex Botten is in fact going ahead.

“I realize [sic] that you despise Eric and I, but your understanding of the DVD sale is misinformed. Obviously we are not selling the exchanges as is, but are planning to sell commentary on the exchanges, with OUR copy of the exchanges included for free.

The full exchanges are offered for free on both our sites, so selling them alone would make absolutely no sense. If you think that you have cause for action against us selling DVDs of our commentary on the exchanges, and including the exchanges for free, then lawyer up.”

– Sye Ten Bruggencate

We did not agree for God Quest, inc. to edit the conversation we had with Sye and Eric. We did not agree for God Quest, inc. to use our comments for any commercial purpose of any kind. We were not asked if God Quest, inc. could use our comments in this way. We specifically said the whole point of our having the conversation was that it would not be used in this way.

In a second conversation, held between myself, Alex, Eric and Dustin Segers, we specifically told Eric that the single most offensive thing he does, in the name of his religion, is make money from wilfully misrepresenting the facts and what other people have said about those facts to his face.

We also told Eric and Sye, in a recent Fundamentally Flawed podcast, that the quickest and most honest way for them to put right any ill feelings which have been caused by their decision to go back on their promise not to financially gain from our involvement in their ministry, would be to donate the proceeds from sales of the DVD to UNICEF. So far they have declined, even though we also promised, if they did this, we would help them sell as many copies of it as possible, despite that we did not perform particularly well.

Anyone who buys this DVD is going to hear Alex and myself make some giant, huge, ridiculously obvious mistakes. We went into the recording fully prepared to admit that we did not know the intricacies of their argument. In the spirit of intellectual honesty, we asked them — and expected them — to be honest with us in return and simply explain what their beliefs actually are. What we discovered, over the following weeks, was a staggering degree of misinformation and blatant lies, pumped into the literature they produce, about “what atheists believe”.

Here is a sample of quotes from emails I have received following that conversation, from Christians who don’t lie for a living and are ashamed of those who do:

“They make us all sound nuts. I lost count of the times Eric dodged a question but made it sound like it was you guys who didn’t get it. He’s good, but not in a good way.”

“How did Sye manage to avoid Emmanuel Kant for this long? For someone who claims to be interested in logic his lack of knowledge in everything which happened in the last 150 years is embarrassing.”

“Please don’t have that annoying liar on the podcast ever again.”

I do not “despise” anyone. Least of all do I despise Eric Hovind or Sye Ten Bruggencate. I pity them. I pity their lack of humanity and honesty. I pity their need to turn everything that moves into money. I pity their small minded word games and holier than thou attitude to anyone who points out the phantasmagorically obvious flaws in their fear theology.

You would think, then, that I would welcome their decision to pump out more of this stuff. After all, how could it do any harm to let them prove with their own actions everything which we have ever said about them is right? On the face of it, that would be true. This would be further demonstrated by their complete unwillingness to give myself and Alex the right to reply. It’s telling that the conversation they chose to highlight is the one which came before we had a chance to go away and read up on some of the subjects they themselves advised us to research.

For example, if they had instead chosen to look at what was said in our second conversation, they would now be attempting to sell a DVD of a conversation which involved Eric insisting that there is “plenty of scientific data” to support Intelligent Design, but point blank refusing to name any of them.

If the intellectual honesty they frequently refer to had been exercised, in the production of this DVD, towards what myself and Alex actually said, about the fallaciousness of drawing a conclusion from ones own proposition, they would be peddling a debate in which we repeatedly answered their questions to the best of our ability, only to be told we hadn’t given them the right sort of answer.

Eric and Sye have a very simple proposal to consider. They can either go ahead and sell what they do not have the permission of its participants to sell; lining their own pockets with something they know full well presents an incomplete picture of the facts. Or they can give the proceeds of this DVD away to UNICEF and enjoy my 100% endorsement of it. I will give them a quote for the artwork. I will place a banner linking directly to the on-line store selling it at the top of this blog and leave it there for 6 months. I will encourage as many people as possible to buy it. All they have to do is sell it as pay-what-you-want and publish the receipts, so we know for certain that every last penny is going to a worthy cause.

UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation focusing on children and child rights, with a presence in more than 190 countries and territories. We work with local communities, partners and governments to ensure every child’s rights to survive and thrive are upheld. – http://www.unicef.org.uk/UNICEFs-Work/

Current estimates show [God Quest, inc.] has an annual revenue of $78,000 and employs a staff of approximately 2. – http://www.manta.com/c/mtmqspz/god-quest-inc

I think Jim is getting closer to becoming a Christian

It’s been mentioned to me a few times now, since a resurgence of activity on this blog and from the kinds of questions and answers I give on the Fundamentally Flawed podcasts, that I sound like I might be coming around to the idea of Christianity — or more specifically — that I am beginning to learn what it means to stop denying what I already know to be true, and “allow Jesus to enter my life”.

Myself and Alex have just finished recording a great conversation with David Smart, a.k.a. Ryft. David is an Old Earth Creationist. He’s a nice guy and he explained himself very well. He’s also a far more articulate advocate of TAG apologetics than Sye, Dustin and Eric combined.

But before any of the above get too excited, I should say, it is precisely David’s ability to explain things, sans the smoke and mirrors we were given in the previous three podcasts, which has given me the best and most damning insight so far, into what it is about the TAG which gave it such a bad smell from the start. At first, like a stray sports-sock which somehow found its way under the bed, I struggled to identify the source of the odour. But now, given David’s clear and calm explanation of how he understands the TAG, the flashlight of reason has been shone under the divan, and I’ve plucked the sticking little blighter out to give it a good wash.

David’s understanding and obvious awe and respect for scientific evidence is perfectly clear. What isn’t so clear, is how he gets from understanding what the scientific evidence says about the nature of nature, to asserting that Yahweh not only exists, but that the proof of His existence is contained in the bible — although he is more than welcome to elucidate on that at another time.

Incidentally, as a rather happy side-effect of this conversation, David was able to very succinctly explain what I’ve been trying to say about the basic problem of the word atheism (as opposed to positive agnosticism) for many years, but have, until now, never quite managed to put into the right words. You’ll have to check out the podcast here, to see how that came about:

http://fundamentally-flawed.com/pods/

I have always maintained that the reason I do all of this, and the reason I am interested in understanding the many nuances of the debate between the religious and the non-religious, is because I simply love learning about new things. There is no greater motivation behind it than that. I’m not “searching for God” any more than I am looking for reasons to deny God. There is no God to deny or accept. God, to me, is no more than a three letter word, which presents as many excuses for idiots to behave like idiots, as it gives good people an excuse to be good. But to me, personally, God is an entirely neutral concept.

So, I hate to break it to those who nevertheless say, that the more I struggle against it the quicker I find myself inexorably headed towards accepting Jesus Christ as my personal saviour, but it is precisely the act of talking to people like David, Eric, Sye and Dustin, which makes me all the more convinced there are no gods — least of all the capitalised ‘G’ God, Yahweh — with which to struggle against. In fact, if anything, the only real struggle I have, is in understanding why people who are so clearly capable of researching and understanding all of this for themselves, still somehow manage to come to such obviously flawed assumptions about the validity, much less the intellectual honesty, of their own position.

The only time the word God becomes non-neutral, is when you claim to have proof a particular God of a particular religion exists. As soon as you do that, you’re making a truth claim which, by definition, cannot be falsified. Presuppositional apologetics neatly sidesteps this fact, by saying that everything which stems from God (including Christianity and the bible) is a statement about the real world, but not a statement about God — or, indeed, the methods by which He chooses to interact with mere humans.

The reason Christian apologetics has no choice but to say this, is two fold: Firstly, it neatly erects the edifice of having solved the paradox of its own proposition. Secondly, it distracts attention away from this fact, by further asserting that it is, in fact, the atheistic “worldview” which is viciously circular; because a belief that the entire universe is merely “molecules in motion” doesn’t account for where those molecules came from in the first place, much less explain how they gained self-awareness. Moreover, the atheistic “worldview” self-demonstrates this, by virtue of its own denial of that which is self-evident; that we exist, therefore we were created.

Did you spot the bait and switch? It’s fast and it’s subtle, but once you know how to spot it, you’ll see it throughout many of the debates we’ve already podcast and, no doubt, within many more still to come. Now, you’ll have to forgive me if I use non-technical terminology here, but it basically breaks down like this:

Presuppositionalists define the problem of atheism thus:
Atheists assert that there is a scientific (non-supernatural) explanation for existence. Yet science says that everything came from nothing, which is impossible. Therefore, everything must have come from something. Atheists wilfully deny that the character and nature of this "something" as being proof of God, despite that they cannot account for their own basic existence, without acknowledging the existence of 'something'; because to assert they exist, they must also assert that they came from something and not nothing.

The problem for this statement is that, in physics, the word nothing doesn’t actually mean not-a-thing as-in zero. Now, bear with me, because this isn’t a thesis on particle physics – partly because, as I write it’s 1am and mostly because, as you might not be surprised to learn, I am not a physicist. Luckily, however, I know of quite a few people who are. And what their work reveals is truly incredible — and I don’t mean a talking snake and a burning bush incredible, I mean truly, madly and deeply mind blowing. What’s even more incredible, is you can conduct the following experiment yourself, using nothing more than a couple hundred million dollars worth of massively complicated apparatus.

Take one common-or-garden steel tube and seal it tight at both ends. Extract all the air and molecules inside the tube, until you have a total vacuum. Now, lower the temperature in the tube down to near absolute zero. Shine a laser beam from the top of the tube onto a detector at the bottom of the tube. The output of that detector should be flat; zero. Nothing, in a vacuum, should interrupt the flow of photons exiting the laser at the top, on their way to the detector at the bottom. Exactly the same amount of energy you put in, should come out the other end.

If ‘nothing’ really is not-a-thing, there shouldn’t be anything to interrupt the beam of laser light in the vacuum, and the use of the word ‘nothing’ in the above statement ‘Presuppositionalists define the problem of atheism thus’, is indeed using the correct definition of what we mean by the word ‘nothing’. But what the detector actually shows, is a slight but hugely significant ‘wobble’ in the direction of the laser light. This wobble can only be accounted for, in Quantum electrodynamics, as the interference effect of virtual particles. In other words, in the ‘nothingness’ there is always ‘something’, and we call that something the Quantum Field.

Virtual particles come into and go out of existence, in the Quantum Field, all the time. It is the appearance and almost instantaneous disappearance of these particles which causes the laser light, in a vacuum, to ‘wobble’ — because the individual photons in the laser beam are being interrupted by their interaction with the Quantum Field.

Sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it? Unfortunately for those who might be tempted to say this, Quantum Field Theory is corroborated by more evidence than Darwinian Evolution by Natural Selection. It is the most accurately constructed description of the way in which nature works, at a fundamental level, that humans have ever — and possibly will ever devise. One day, perhaps even within my lifetime, it will provide us with a grand unified theory of everything. Moreover (and more worryingly, if you happen to be a presuppositional Christian apologist), it already perfectly accounts for all of the observations we currently have of the cosmic microwave background radiation, left over from the big bang itself.

The big bang, was the inevitable consequence of fluctuations in the Quantum Foam. And, make no mistake, apologists who have encountered this fact are not unaware of the devastating impact this has upon their completely erroneous notions of what ‘nothing’ is actually “made” of. And, much though I do like him, I’m sorry to say that the argument put forth by David, in the podcast, that presuppositional apologetics doesn’t wilfully ignore any of the scientific evidence which demonstrates just how wrong some of its own ideas are, simply isn’t borne out by the facts.

Indeed, the very fact that the Old Earth Creationist in chief, William Lane Craig himself, feels the need to address this very problem, while simultaneously (and wilfully) misrepresenting its importance, speaks volumes as to the mental acrobatics he has had to perform, in order to deny the increasingly obvious flaws in his own ‘Kalam Cosmological Argument‘.

Finally, might I ask apologists wanting to post comments, to resist the urge to retort, “Ah, but where did the Quantum Field come from?” for one very important reason. It has been argued, not just in the previous podcasts with Dustin Segers and Eric Hovind (http://fundamentally-flawed.com/pods/) but by many presuppositional apologists of their particular stripe, that God was the first cause from which all following effects stem. But, as has been repeatedly explained to them — and by far more capable writers than myself — the very premise of this statement relies upon a glaringly obvious syllogism; a conclusion drawn from its own proposition.

The only reason there is a need to define a (singular) God as being the first cause in the first place, is because it is written as such in the bible — which is, by their own internal-logic, an effect of His causation. Further, a singular God is no better an explanation for “everything” than might be proposed by postulating multiple gods — which are specifically ruled out by Christian apologetics, by the very nature of Christianity being a monotheistic religion.

So you cannot draw any other conclusion from this. Presuppositionalists assert that the atheistic “worldview” is unreliable, by simultaneously claiming that atheists are an effect of God’s causation, and therefore proof of His existence. But, if you take this kind of reasoning to it’s own logical conclusion, the bible – being that it was written by men, and not God, is also an effect of God’s causation and so it too must be just as much of an unreliable source for accurate information about the nature and character of that which caused it. You cannot have one without the other. You either accept that you’re essentially asking for special treatment of your ideas, on the grounds you claim they were divinely revealed to you — in which case you are making truth-claims which are unfalsifiable — or you accept that your own argument begs its own question, and is therefore circular.

So, which is it to be? And please note, that this is a corner into which you have yourself painted. I didn’t lead you here with “atheistic tricks” and loaded questioning. I merely asked you to tell me more about what you believe and why you believe it. This is not “a typical atheist” looking for reasons to continue “denying God”. I got here by following, as closely as possible, your own set of arguments, made over a considerable period of time, in both verbal and written communication, wherein you were specifically asked to make the best of your arguments as clearly and coherently as possible.

Should it come as a surprise, that what we also learned along the way, is that to be “true Christian” you have to deny the validity of everything which proves your opinion wrong; including, but by no means limited to, the fact of Darwinian evolution by natural selection, the entire field of cosmology, particle physics, geology, logical (as opposed to non-logical) mathematical axioms, archeology, radiometric dating and plate tectonics? I think not.