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Gish's Assessment of the Debate

[Assessment of the debate from Acts & Facts (Institute for Creation Research), 17(8):2,4 (August 1988).]

Auburn University Debate

Dr. Duane Gish's opponent for the debate on the campus of Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, on the evening of May 10, was Dr. Kenneth Saladin, Professor of Biology at Georgia College, Millidgeville, Georgia. The moderator was Dr. Cathy Hennen, Director of Debate and Communications at Auburn University. The debate was jointly sponsored by the Horizons Committee and the Religious Affairs Committee of the Auburn University Program Council. Each debater had 45 minutes for his initial arguments, followed by 15-minute and 5-minute rebuttals. Almost all of the 800 seats in the auditorium were filled.

Saladin, who was the first speaker, listed seven criteria of science, and declared that creation theory failed to meet these criteria. He stated that belief in a deity is unscientific because it is non-falsifiable. He then listed about ten false items he claimed were taught in the Bible. He outlined a series of transitions involved in the origin of life, and claimed that much of this has already been demonstrated by evolutionists. He made a caricature of the creationist explanation of the distribution of fossils in sedimentary strata, projecting a slide showing trees walking uphill. He showed a slide which portrayed a series of mammal-like reptiles with no gaps in the series, claiming this proved that reptiles has evolved into mammals.

In his initial argument, Gish began by asserting that the subject of the debate was how the universe and the living things on earth had come into existence (not when). He defined the general theory of evolution, quoting Julian Huxley, and the general theory of creation. Based on these definitions, he then presented the scientific evidence from thermodynamics, probability, and the fossil record. Using a series of slides, he illustrated the metamorphosis of the Monarch butterfly, and challenged Saladin to explain how this process could have evolved by any process of evolution.

In his rebuttal, Saladin claimed that the formation of snowflakes and crystals proves the Second Law of Thermodynamics is no barrier to evolution. He argued that Dr. Charles Oxnard did not deny that the australopithecines were intermediate between apes and humans.

In his rebuttal, Gish, displaying of the article from which Saladin had obtained his illustration of the series of mammal-like reptiles, pointed out that two of the creatures were totally hypothetical, others had hypothetical structures drawn on them, they were not arranged in a true time sequence, and they were not drawn to scale.

In refuting Saladin's claim that success had been accomplished in origin-of-life experiments, Gish quoted from an article by John Keosian, an evolutionist who has been working in this field for 30 years, in which he asserted that claims of origin-of-life evolutionists are simply unreal, and that experiments in this field are either irrelevant or lead to a dead end. He pointed out that the formation of snowflakes has no relevance to evolution, since the processes involved go in exactly the opposite direction to that required for the origin of life.