Closing Statement for the Negative

(Gish, 5 minutes)

Moderator: We will now have a five-minute closing statement from Dr. Gish.

Gish: Ladies and gentlemen on page 353 of this book by Michael Denton, he says this: "Contrary to what is widely assumed by evolutionary biologists today, it has always been the anti-evolutionists, not the evolutionists, in the scientific community, who have stuck rigidly to the facts, and adhered to a more strictly empirical approach." That's true, ladies and gentlemen, the empirical facts of the fossil record is that tremendous array of very complex invertebrates do appear, fully formed, without a trace of any ancestors. It is the empirical evidence, from the fossil record, that all the fishes appear, fully formed, without a trace of ancestors. That is empirical, scientific evidence. Dr. Saladin prefers to believe that fish have evolved from invertebrates. That's not empirical science; that is just wishful thinking. It is the anti-evolutionists who are the empiricists; it is the evolutionists who are the theoreticians, and theoretically, they say this happened and that happened, without any empirical scientific evidence to support it.

Now Dr. Saladin is saying this, after all, I believe he said, that theistic evolution, that's alright. No it's not alright. You can't teach that in the public schools according to Dr. Saladin. Why? Because theistic evolution requires God. Why is creation being excluded? Because it requires God. He said that's religion, you can't teach that in public schools. Well you couldn't teach theistic evolution in public schools either, could you, because that requires God doesn't it? That's excluded {4}. What's the only thing left? Atheistic, naturalistic, mechanistic evolution {2}. That's what's being taught in all our public schools. Not all our public schools but most of them. Certainly in most leading universities. And I dare say that's what's being taught here at Auburn University as well.

Now, a Creator, they say is religious. What about no Creator? Is that religious, of course it is. That's just as religious as postulating a Creator. To absolutely, totally exclude the possibility of Creation. We've got to throw out the Declaration of Independence {3}. In that we read, "We take this to be self-evident, that all men were created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights." We've got to substitute the Creator, we've got to put hydrogen gas in there, and take that out, if God's unconstitutional in our public schools.

Sure there's a lot of liberal theologians on the side of evolutionists. Why wouldn't they be? All these liberal theologians are for ordaining homosexual ministers, for legalized abortion, and many other things. Of course they're for evolution! That doesn't make it right {4}. And the evolutionists say they don't have religion on their side. Then why in this trial in Arkansas did, did they have, uh, theologians from various denominations get on the stand and testify on their side? {5} Because they had religion on their side; they had liberal theologians on their side. But why should that be the only thing that's permitted in our schools?

I am pleading for academic and religious freedom ladies and gentlemen, I am pleading for your academic freedom {10}. You may not like it, you may not agree with me, but you have every right to hear the scientific evidence for creation. You have every right to know the failings, the fallacies, the weaknesses, what we believe to be the insuperable barriers to an evolutionary origin of life, an evolutionary origin of cells. Why shouldn't you hear? What's wrong with that? What's wrong with hearing what Sir Fred Hoyle had to say? What's wrong with hearing what Hubert Yockey has published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology? What's wrong with hearing with Keosian, John Keosian, has to say about the scientific evidence on both sides of this question? {11} Are we a democracy? Or are we not?

In a survey, national survey, in 1981, 76 percent of the American people said teach both creation and evolution in the public schools. Another ten percent said teach creation only. Eight percent said teach evolution only, six percent had no opinion. Eighty-six percent to eight percent want's creation in our public schools. What do we have today? The eight percent. And I say that in order to insure academic freedom, good science, good education, we should have both, evolution---- Only scientific evidence, not the Bible, not the Book of Genesis, not the Navajo Indian, not the Hindu story, but strictly the scientific evidence taught in our schools, so you students can decide for yourselves, what you think is more reasonable and credible?

I thank you very much. [Applause]

Moderator: We want to take one last opportunity to thank Dr. Saladin and Dr. Gish. I think we all learned a great deal from this debate tonight. You've been a very patient audience, and let's give them a warm Auburn welcome and goodbye. [Applause]


Annotations

1. What I said was that theistic evolution is a viewpoint that many or most Christians have found acceptable and with which scarcely any Christian denomination takes issue. I did not claim that theistic evolution should be taught in science classes. I think science courses should the fact and theory (or theories) of evolution, taking neither a theistic nor an atheistic stance, and leave it to the individual to decide whether she or he wishes to believe God plays a role in it. This is the position I take in teaching evolution at Georgia College.

2. Almost any subject in science is and should be taught from a naturalistic, mechanistic perspective. That is not the same as saying it is or should be taught from an atheistic perspective (if atheism is understood to mean a denial of God's existence). We don't teach "atheistic evolution" any more than we teach "atheistic origin chemistry." See the previous note.

3. This is a ridiculous and commonplace fundamentalist ploy to make it appear as if evolution is anti-patriotic. I'm astonished that Gish left out apple pie and motherhood. He has made evolution seem anti-everything else.

4. Compare Gish's statement with Henry Morris's statement quoted at "Question-Answer Period," Note 1. I am very pleased that Gish made this statement on record, as it will go a long way toward documenting his bigotry. By this statement Dr. Gish shows that he rejects the views of the great majority of Christians as being illegitimate. The statement is a bald assertion with nothing to substantiate it. I seriously doubt whether Gish has done the research to show whether Presbyterian, United Methodist, Episcopal, Southern Baptist, and Catholic churches, as well as the Jewish organizations cited, support ordination of gay clergy, abortion on demand, and so forth. And considering that he was actually responding to my overall statement continued in my "Closing Statement," he essentially claimed that Pope John Paul II is a "liberal theologian" who supports abortion and gay clergy! This is the only place in the debate where ad hominem attack occurred.

5. There are several reasons these religious leaders testified against the creationist law in Arkansas. For one thing creationist rhetoric fans the flames of religious intolerance, and as extremist organizations such as the Institute for Creation Research (and the Moral Majority which owns and operates the ICR) gain political influence through laws like these, then all other religious denominations are in danger of increasing persecution. Secondly, creationist had tried in the trial to say that creationism is not religious (Norman Geisler even testified that belief in God is not religious!), and some of these (and other) theologians took issue with this to counteract the ICR's distortions of the meaning of Christian faith. Third,. Most denominations and theologians recognize the factuality of evolution and realize it is no more a threat to Christian faith than the fairly tales of Hans Christian Anderson are a threat to the fundamentalists of Alabama and Tennessee who sought to have them censored from the curriculum.

Dr. Gish distorts the issue also by claiming here that it is only materialistic, "atheistic" evolution that is permitted in our schools. Creationism is permitted in public schools and taught in many of them. There is no law anywhere that prohibits the teaching of creationism. What the ICR and sponsors of the Arkansas and Louisiana laws wanted was not to have creationism permitted, but to have it mandated, to force teachers to cut out half of the science in their courses and replace it with creationism regardless of whether the teachers believe creationism or not.

6. This academic freedom ploy is transparently specious. Academic freedom has never been a principle applicable to students; there has never been a legal which extends the concept to students, and indeed academic freedom logically could not do so. Academic freedom is the principle of permitting professional scholars the freedom to do research and to express their views without fear of unwarranted intrusions or reprisals because of the possible unpopularity of those conclusions. Academic freedom may protect the academician's right to express views in the classroom, but it does not give students any right to demand what will be taught in the classroom. It is logically absurd to think that they should be in a position to do so. If students had a guaranteed right to choose their curriculum, the majority would unquestionably shirk difficult subjects or things which, in their limited perspective on the world, they did not consider "relevant." Academic freedom does not mean that every hare-brained idea from astrology and pyramid power to UFO's and creationism has a right to a place in the curriculum. What the ICR has tried politically to do is the very antithesis of academic freedom (see previous note). Fundamentalist church colleges such as the Christian Heritage College (operator of the ICR) have copiously demonstrated their contempt for academic freedom. If there is any doubt about this, see the catalog for Christian Heritage College or its periodical, the Christian Heritage Courier. See also Creation/Evolution.....

7. As to the comment about "Why shouldn't you have the right" to hear what Hoyle, Yockey, and others have to say is rebutted in my note 14 to "Question-Answer Period." I would be among the first to say students do have every right to hear what these people have to say; otherwise I wouldn't have bought creationist books for the library, I would have mounted a campaign to have them removed. But this is not to say that the authors of these views have any right to have their views forced on students or included in the curriculum. A place in the curriculum has to be earned by the intellectual merit of the idea, not legislatively forced on teachers who do not find the ideas meritorious enough for inclusion. No one has ever legislated the teaching of Darwin.

Top