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

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