Dinosaur Adventure Land

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Dinosaur Adventure Land entrance with Creation Museum (left) and Science Center, both closed since 2006.

Dinosaur Adventure Land (DAL) is a Young Earth Creationist theme park located at 5800 Old Palafox Road. It was created in 2001 by evangelist Kent Hovind, in whose back yard the park sits, as part of his Creation Science Evangelism ministry. Hailing itself as "the place where dinosaurs and the Bible meet," the park presents a number of science exhibits and activities that depict dinosaurs and men living together and attempt to disprove evolution and other scientific concepts that conflict with a literal interpretation of the Bible.

The park's legal troubles have been tied to those of Hovind himself, who failed to obtain proper permits during construction and was convicted of tax fraud for deliberately circumventing the law regarding the reporting of revenue and payment of employees. The park is still operated by other members of the Hovind family and their ministry, though several of the buildings have been shut down by Escambia County authorities.

Contents

[edit] Creationism & beyond

   
Dinosaur Adventure Land
We believe and teach that the Bible is literally true and scientifically accurate. God made this world in six literal 24-hour days about 6,000 years ago. Dinosaurs were just big reptiles that lived with Adam and Eve. Noah took them on the ark. (Probably babies!) People killed most of them after the flood. (They called them dragons in those days.) There could still be a few small ones still alive today (like Loch Ness).
   
Dinosaur Adventure Land

—Sign at entrance to Dinosaur Adventure Land

[edit] Hovind Theory

Dinosaur Adventure Land promotes a specific version of Young Earth Creationism (YEC) developed by Kent Hovind and known as "the Hovind Theory."[1] The theory includes a literal reading of the Biblical account of Noah: Noah's family and two of every "kind" of animal (including dinosaurs[2]) safely boarded the Ark before the planet was bombarded by icy meterorites. The resulting "super-cold snow" fell near the poles, burying the mammoths standing up. Ice on the North and South pole cracked the crust of the earth releasing the fountains of the deep, which in turn caused certain ice age effects, namely the glacier effects. Also this made "the earth wobble around" and collapsed the canopy that Hovind believes previously surrounded the earth, causing a hyperbaric chamber effect that enabled the long lifespans of men described in Genesis.

[edit] Scientific interpritations

Like other forms of Young Earth Creationism, the "Hovind Theory" is rejected by the vast majority of the scientific community.[3][4] It has also been condemned by fellow Young Earth Creationists.[5][6][7]

The exhibits and tour guides at Dinosaur Adventure Land employ various techniques to advance the Hovind Theory. The phrase "evolution" is used as a catch-all phrase for any scientific knowledge that conflicts with a literal six-day creation, including theories of abiogenesis and disciplines such as geology, chemistry and cosmology. Scientific viewpoints are misrepresented, often by citing a variety of debunked hoaxes and obsolete theories (like Piltdown Man and Haeckel's recapitulation theory) as currently accepted by the scientific community.

[edit] Cryptozoology

Exhibit in DAL's Creation Museum showing photographs and media reports of alleged "modern dinosaurs."

Dinosaur Adventure Land also extends into the realm of cryptozoology. As the name suggests, the park's main emphasis is on dinosaurs. Hovind believes that dinosaurs did not go extinct millions of years ago; that stories of "dragons" in mythology are actually references to dinosaurs; and that reported creatures like the Loch Ness Monster and Mokele-mbembe are in fact relict specimens.

Most of the examples offered as evidence have been debunked for decades, like the photo of a rotted "plesiosaur" carcass caught in 1977 by Japanese trawler Zuiyo Maru, now widely believed to be a basking shark. The Park is unclear, however, on how the discovery of living dinosaurs might undermine the theory of evolution, which does not address the extinction of dinosaurs.

[edit] Conspiracy theories

Controversial books line the shelves in Dinosaur Adventure Land's bookstore.
A wall display links Darwinian thought with eugenics and the murderous regimes of Hitler, Stalin and Mao.

Hovind and Dinosaur Adventure Land promote a number of other concepts and theories that extend beyond creationism.

Hovind has several conspiracy theories about the U.S. government. He believes that the Laetrile actually works as a "cancer cure" being suppressed by the U.S. government.[8] On his radio program he has said that the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 attacks and that a "lot of folks were told not to come to work."[9] He also believes the Oklahoma City bombing was carried out by the government. "Did you know the Federal Government blew up their own building to blame it on the militias and to get rid of some people that weren't cooperating with the system?"[10] He also alleges that "UFOs are apparitions of Satan" and that the US government possesses UFOs.[10] Additionally, Hovind believes that the Federal Reserve, the Council on Foreign Relations, the United Nations, and various other groups are actively planning to create a one world government and that the 1993 World Trade Center attack was staged by the US Government in order to pass "anti-terrorism" legislation that restricts civil liberties. He says, "I love my country, but fear my government. And you should too."[11]

Hovind has been criticized by the Southern Poverty Law Center for selling books like Des Griffin's Fourth Reich of the Rich in the Dinosaur Adventure Land bookstore, and for recommending The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (an established hoax that has been widely used as a justification for anti-Semitism).[12] Hovind responded to this criticism, "I love the Jews. But The Protocols of Zion was written to explain how to control the world, I mean, it lays it all out. But it’s really carefully done so that if it is ever discovered the Jews take the blame for it."[13]

The Center also claimed that Hovind accuses Darwinism of having produced "Communism, Socialism, Nazism, abortion, liberalism and the New Age Movement,"[12] a notion that is reinforced by exhibits at Dinosaur Adventure Land that link Darwin's theory to the regimes of Hitler, Stalin and Mao.

As of August 2007, the Dinosaur Adventure Land bookstore still sells Fourth Reich of the Rich as well as other titles like The Pink Swastika, World Without Cancer: The Story of Vitamin B17, Vaccinations: Deception & Tragedy, and Masonry: Beyond the Light.

[edit] Facilities & attractions

A "Fossil Dig Pit" in the now-closed Science Center
A tyrannosaur sculpture seems to burst through the front of the Creation Museum.

[edit] Science Center

The largest structure on the Dinosaur Adventure Land property is the three-story Science Center. Because of Hovind's failure to obtain a building permit (see below), the Science Center has been closed since April 2006. The bookstore, previously housed in the Science Center, has been moved to the Hovinds' private home.

Before its closure, the building featured a "Fossil Dig Pit" at the bottom of an open-air atrium. The stairways were lined with various other exhibits, most of which either attempted to disprove mainstream scientific thought or applied Biblical analogies to basic scientific concepts. Some of the activities have been moved outdoors and are still included on the DAL tour.

One such exhibit is labeled "That River Didn't Make That Canyon!!!" It attempts to show how the Grand Canyon was not formed by the Colorado River over millions of years, but rather by the Biblical Deluge. Children are invited to fill a metal trough with water from a spigot and observe how, after enough water has built up behind a pile of sand, a rivulet will break through and form a miniature "canyon." Tour guides also note that the point where the Colorado River enters the canyon is higher than where it exits. They assert that "evolutionists" believe that the river must have "flowed uphill for millions of years" to create the canyon, though this is not the accepted scientific explanation of how the Grand Canyon was formed.

[edit] Creation Museum

Dinosaur Adventure Land's "Creation Museum" sits in a warehouse-like structure dominated by a fiberglass tyrannosaur that seems to be bursting through the wall.

Visitors to the museum were greeted by an ornate Bible opened to Genesis, followed by a larger room with rows of benches. Other rooms filled out the back, all lined with various exhibits explaining Young Earth Creationism or criticizing evolution.

Like the Science Center, it has been closed since April 2006 for its lack of a building permit. The collection of artifacts, photos and other exhibits are now on display in the Hovinds' home, adjacent to the bookstore.

[edit] Other attractions

  • "Flingasaurus" - a four-seat swing that Park guides say links Newton's third law — every action has an equal but opposite reaction — with the Biblical teaching that "man reaps what he sows."
  • A fenced-in playground for children under 5 featuring two cement parasaurolophi, a "Noah's Ark" ball pit, a tricycle race track and various swings and other playground equipment.
  • Water balloon launcher where visitors are challenged to hit metal sculptures of a stegosaurus and tyrannosaurus to win "Dino Dollars."
  • The "Raptor Range" of free-play activities.

[edit] Legal troubles

Dinosaur Adventure Land has been plagued by legal troubles almost since its inception, when Hovind built the park in the backyard of his Cummings Road home, then improvised an entrance on Old Palafox Street without the proper permits.

Hovind was charged on September 13, 2002, for failure to observe county zoning regulations with respect to Dinosaur Adventure Land.[8] Despite arguments that the owners did not need a permit due to the nature of the building, the park was found in violation of local regulations. Circuit Judge Michael Allen ruled the Hovinds in contempt of court, and the park's Science Center and Creation Museum buildings were locked up.[14]

On June 5, 2006, Hovind pled nolo contendere as charged to three counts: constructing a building without a permit, refusing to sign a citation,[15] and violating the county building code.[16] Hovind was ordered to pay $225.00 per count. The plea brought to an end the 5-year criminal (misdemeanor) court battle over a $50.00 building permit. In June 2006 Hovind complied with the county law.[17] Hovind estimates he spent $40,000 in legal expenses on this case.[18] On June 19, 2006, the delinquent 2003-2005 property taxes/penalties for Dinosaur Adventure Land were paid in the amount of $10,402.64.[19]

According to the IRS, Hovind's theme park and merchandise sales earned more than $5 million from 1999 to March 2004.[20] About half of that income went to employees who were salaried or were paid hourly wages. The government believes that grew to the point of earning $2 million a year.[21]

Hovind and his wife paid no taxes on the revenue from the park. On July 11, 2006, Hovind was charged in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida with twelve counts of willful failure to collect, account for, and pay over Federal income taxes and FICA taxes under 26 U.S.C. § 7202, forty-five counts of knowingly structuring transactions in Federally-insured financial institutions to evade the reporting requirements of 31 U.S.C. § 5313(a), in violation of 31 U.S.C. § 5324, 18 U.S.C. § 2 and 31 C.F.R. sec. 103.11, and one count of corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede the administration of the internal revenue laws under 26 U.S.C. § 7212.[22][23] Twelve of the charges were for failing to pay employee-related taxes, totaling $473,818, and 45 of the charges were for evading reporting requirements by making multiple cash withdrawals just under the $10,000 reporting requirement (a technique known as "smurfing"). The withdrawals, totaling $430,500, were made in 2001 and 2002.[23] Jo Hovind, his co-defendant wife, faced 44 charges.[24]

At the time of the indictment, Hovind's defense appeared to be that although there were 30 people working for him, all of whom received remuneration in cash, none of them were employees. According to Hovind, "Nobody's an employee, and they all know that when they come. They come, they work ... The laborer is worthy of his hire -- we try to take the purely scriptural approach. We do the best we can with helping people with their family needs. There are no employees here."[25] Hovind had also claimed that he was not liable for taxes that and his ministry did not have to "render unto Caesar" because his workers are "missionaries" not "employees".[26]

The trial concluded on November 1 with the defense deciding not to present a case.[27] After closing arguments were presented on November 2, the jury deliberated three hours before finding the Hovinds guilty on all counts, 58 for Hovind and 44 for his wife.[28]

Kent Hovind was sentenced to ten years in prison on January 19, 2007. On June 29, his wife Jo was sentenced to one year and one day in prison. Dinosaur Adventure Land is currently run by various family members and the Creation Science Evangelism ministry.

[edit] Hours, tours & admission

Dinosaur Adventure Land is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am - 5pm, with guided tours at 10:00 and 1:30. There is no set admission price, but the park requests a "suggested donation" of $7 per person.

The park will also host birthday parties, offering a $105 package for "up to 10 kids" plus $8 per additional child.

[edit] External links

[edit] References

  1. Hovind, Kent, "Part 6, The Hovind Theory", CSE Ministry, 2002.
  2. Kent Hovind's testimony on Chick.com. Chick.com. Retrieved on 2006-10-06.
  3. poll by the Gallup organization
  4. Project Steve - Establishing the Obvious William Dembski, Discovery Institute.
  5. TalkOrigins on Kent Hovind
  6. The Hovind Theory. Kent Hovind.com (2002).
  7. Creation Ministries International criticism of Hovind
  8. 8.0 8.1 Martinez, Greg, "A Journey to Hovind's Dinosaur Adventure Land", Skeptical Inquirer, November 2004. Retrieved on 2006-10-19.
  9. "Kent Hovind: Semitic Semantics", Kent-Hovind.com, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-12-14.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Kent Hovind: Quacky Quotes", 2006. Retrieved on 2006-11-04.
  11. Hovind's New World Order (Google video)
  12. 12.0 12.1 Radical Religion: Creationism gets a dash of anti-Semitism. Southern Poverty Law Center (2001). Retrieved on 2006-04-14.
  13. [1] Australian Carl Marychurch's Kent Hovind website
  14. Rabb, William, "Park could face extinction: Lack of building permits closes dinosaur museum", Pensacola News Journal, 2006-04-07.
  15. (Case # 2001 MM 023489 A) Escambia County Florida Clerk of the Circuit Court Courtviewer Records Search of Kent Hovind Case #2001 MM 023489 A
  16. (Case # 2002 MM 026670 A) Escambia County Florida Clerk of the Circuit Court Courtviewer Records Search of Kent Hovind Case #2002 MM 026670 A
  17. (Case # 2001 MM 023489 A) Escambia County Florida Clerk of the Circuit Court Courtviewer Records Search of Kent Hovind 2001 MM 023489 A
  18. Hovind provides this estimate in a Demand to Dismiss in the case, which was made available through the now defunct website www.richardsayshome.com.
  19. The information was obtained from the Escambia County Tax Collector.
  20. Fail, Angela, "Evangelist's trial begins: Dinosaur Adventure Land owner, wife face 58 counts of tax fraud", Pensacola News Journal, October 18, 2006.
  21. O'Brien, Mark, "Hard to believe a man with a Ph.D didn't know of a basic tax law", Pensacola News Journal, November 3, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-11-03.
  22. Indictment, United States of America v. Kent E. Hovind and Jo D. Hovind, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, Pensacola Division, case no. 3:06CR83/MCR (dated July 11, 2006; filed at 12:55 pm, July 11, 2006) (hereinafter "Indictment").
  23. 23.0 23.1 Stewart, Michael, "Evangelist arrested on federal charges", Pensacola News Journal, 14 July 2006.
  24. Stewart, Michael, "Evangelist's trial postponed", Pensacola News Journal, 1 September 2006.
  25. Brown, Jim, "Tax-Evasion Charges Baseless, Says Ministry Leader", AgapePress, July 21, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-12-18.
  26. "Tax Evasion Charges Baseless Says Ministry Leader", WDC Media News, 7 July 2006. Retrieved on 2006-10-18.
  27. Lozare, Nicole, "Prosecutors rest case against Hovind", Pensacola News Journal, November 1, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-11-01.
  28. Lozare, Nicole, "'Dr. Dino,' wife guilty", Pensacola News Journal, November 2, 2006.
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