Second Rebuttal for the Negative

(Gish, 5 minutes)

Moderator: Five-minute rebuttal with Dr. Gish.

Gish: Ladies and gentlemen, again you have heard this charges. Dr. Saladin said that you can do this and you can do that. Why didn't he do it here tonight? He made these charges, why didn't he document it? Because nobody's ever been able to document these charges {1}.

Furthermore, I will refer again, to Dr. Michael Denton. He's not a creationist, not a Christian. I noticed, that Dr. Saladin did not attack him. Why not? He says exactly the same thing that we are saying, and he has a whole book full of it; why didn't Dr. Saladin accuse him of quoting out of context? Why didn't he accuse him of distorting science and so forth and so on? {2} 'Cause he's not a Christian, and he's not a creationist, but he certainly is an anti-evolutionist {3}.

Now, Dr. Saladin, let's get back to science. Dr. Saladin referred to the origin of life, how just, it just, just, happened so spontaneously, naturally, there's nothing to it. Well many years ago, about 30 years ago, I read a book by John Keosian, a man who was doing research in this origin of life field. At that time he was very optimistic, he cited various possibilities and all of that sort of thing. Here's an article, published by that same John Keosian, Origin of Life, 1978, page 569-574, that journal. This is what this man says now about 30 years later. Twenty-five years later, thirty years later. He says the claims of chemical evolution are unreal. We are asked to believe that biochemical compounds, biochemical reactions and mechanisms, energy metabolism, and storage, specific polymerizations, codes, transcription and translation apparatus, and more, appeared in probiotic [inaudible word], with a function they would have, in a living thing, before there were living things. He said that's unreal to believe such a thing {4}. And then, in one of his concluding statements, he says this: "All present approaches to the solution of the problem of the origin of life are either irrelevant or lead into a blind alley. Therein lies the crisis." That is by an expert in the field, that by an evolutionist, and Dr. Saladin gets up there and pretends it's just easy, there's nothing to it, and here's the man who's been in the field for 30 years, who says all of these claims are absolutely unreal to believe such mythology.

Now, he referred to my probability arguments. Ladies and gentlemen it's a simple thing, mathematically, to do this. Not only did Hoyle and Wickramasinghe did it [sic], Hubert Yockey published this is one of the leading journals several years ago. He calculated the probability of a gene coming into existence by chance. And, he said the best you could get in one billion years would be a single gene, one single gene, coding for a protein of only 49 amino acids. One, single gene, coding for one, single protein, of only 49 amino acids. Yockey, Hubert Yockey, is not a creationist {5}. He just did good science.

Ladies and gentlemen if there's 20 different amino acids, and of course there'd be many more than 20 amino acids on primitive earth, and you had to pick them out blindly, the probability of getting each one in order is only one out of 20. By the time you've multiplied ten or 20, take one over 20 and multiply it times itself 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 or 100 times, you're beyond probability. It would never happen. And if it did happen, what would you have? One single molecule of one single protein {6}. That's all. But ladies and gentleman in order to get life started, you'd have to billions of tons of hundreds of different kinds of protein molecules, and hundreds of different kinds of DNA and RNA molecules, even more complex than that {7}. And still you'd not have a living cell.

Why, if I asked 17 people to line up here in front of the auditorium, do you know that 17 people can line up with more than three hundred and fifty-five trillion different ways? Three hundred and fifty-five trillion. In other words, if I wrote their names down on a piece of paper, and they lined up they'd have only one chance out of three hundred and fifty-five trillion of lining up the way I'd wrote their names down on a piece of paper {8}. But, proteins have hundreds of amino acids that must be arranged in order. It's never going to happen, not by any evolutionary process. Thank you. [Applause]


Annotations

1. Dr. Gish says he has lately developed a hearing problem, and I believe it. I documented these charges amply during and following this debate. Furthermore, in Gish's presence, Stephen Jay Gould read examples of Gish's misquotations into the court record of the McLean trial, so Gish's deceptions are a matter of public, legal record. See also "Misquoted scientists respond," Creation/Evolution VI:34-44.

2. For one thing I had not read Denton's book, and I have learned not to take Gish's word for what another has written until I read that author for myself. Furthermore, when I debate Gish I focus on the writings of Gish. If I ever debate Michael Denton then I'll concentrate on Denton's writings.

3. This is a curious and damaging admission for Gish to make. He bases his debate tactic on the premise that there are only two logical possibilities, evolution and creationism, so if you disprove evolution you have proven creationism. (This is called the "fallacy of bifurcation." See Creation/Evolution XIV, p. 29-30.) By saying Denton is an anti-evolutionist but not a creationist, Gish admits to some third possibility and thus gives the lie to his strategy. I wish I had thought to mention this in my closing statement!

4. I have not read Keosian's paper, but until I do I am skeptical of Gish's contention on two grounds: (1) his proven unreliability in quoting his sources, and (2) the fact that Keosian's paper is already ten years old, and so much has happened in that decade one wonders whether the data now at hand would support Keosian's view that this research has lead only into blind alleys. If Gish represents Keosian's argument accurately, then Keosian also would apparently be attacking a straw man, because one need not assume such complexity for the first living organisms. Undoubtedly the first cells were very primitive and possessed the characteristics of life in rudimentary form. And whatever Keosian did say, there are hundreds of published papers contradicting Gish's assertion that this is "unreal" and "blind alley" research. It has on the contrary been a very exciting and fruitful endeavor and has produced structures so like life in so many respects as to challenge our conception of what "life" is. Notice that Gish, as he so often does, fails to state the substance of Keosian's argument. He merely says, as usual, we ought to believe it because so-and-so says it (appeal to authority), and never presents sufficient evidence to allow an audience to judge the argument on its own merits.

5. While Gish says that Yockey is not a creationist, Fox ("Affirmative Opening Statement," note 16, reference 1) says that his "numerous quotations of scripture in his critique of self-organization raises a question of the purity of his scientific premises." And if Gish is right that Yockey is not a creationist, yet Yockey argues that evolution is statistically impossible, then we are back to note 5 and yet another demonstration of the fallacy of bifurcation. Yockey would join ranks with Denton as someone neither creationist nor evolutionist.

6. This assumes, of course, that the experiment is only being done once, whereas (even dismissing the other fallacious assumptions of the argument) the experiment would be simultaneously occurring in innumerable natural "laboratories." A mere 85 grams of the average amino acid, for example, would amount to 602,300,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules (Avogradro's number). On a global scale the number of chances for polymerization of peptides to occur would be staggering. "To get life started" would not require anywhere near the number Gish proposes of different kinds of nucleic acids and proteins. DNA, for example, would not be required at all.

7. Again this assumes an unrealistic complexity for the first cells, so a fallacious statistical conclusion stems from a fallacious assumption. Creationists may wear out a hundred calculators computing the impossibility of primitive cells forming without Fiat Creation, while all the time dozens of investigators in a score of laboratories are observing these "impossible" events.

8. It is obvious from Gish's calculation that one could easily "prove," statistically, that the audience at this debate was nonexistent. Gish is satisfied to consider only 17 people. What are the odds against the particular seating arrangement taken by the 800 people who witnessed this event? I think members of the audience might be dismayed at this proof of their nonexistence, but the substance of the argument is precisely identical to the substance of Gish's "proof" that proteins cannot form abiotically.

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