Some Questions for Duane Gish (1998)
[Note: The following questions were written in preparation for a visit by Duane Gish to Rice University. They are meant to be confrontational and asked face-to-face with Gish.]
1. Why does your web page tout “research” that attempts to dispute potassium argon (K-Ar) dating at Mt. St. Helens when professional geologists agreed beforehand that the conditions under which these rocks were formed would tend to trap argon and distort the K-Ar test? Why does your researcher admit and then disregard this in his paper? Why did your “researcher” use for comparison (4 of 5 cases) mostly basaltic low-silica volcanoes (which have K-Ar problems of their own) instead of felsic systems like Mt. St. Helens? And most importantly, why didn’t he try any of the other radiometric tests on these rocks? If he “maybe hasn’t done it yet,” as you stated in October 1997, why would he write a final report and post it on the web if his work was incomplete? Finally, answer this irony: if, in spite of all this, ICR still claims that science proves creationism, why does the ‘researcher’ conclude that the situation, “raises more questions than answers?”
Commentary: This heinous example of ICR’s “research” can be understood by anyone who knows anything about professionalism. Get the report at http://www.icr.org/research/sa.sa-r01.html
2. Several ICR brochures state that, “The creation of all things occurred in six literal days.” Your group held fast to this back in the 1970s and 80s, when you were starting out. Now, however, you’re running away from the time issue in some places, even as you continue to debate for it in others. Could it be because the earliest known animal fossil predates the earliest known human fossil by millions of years? Or is it because the “Noah’s flood geology” just doesn’t add up? Please explain this change of heart and the lack of stress that you placed on the age of the Earth when you spoke at Rice University. If creationist researchers are so divided about basic fundamentals like the age of the earth (i.e. if Gish doesn’t believe what Morris and some of his pamphlets say), then why are creationist organizations like ICR carelessly pressing forward to put it in our schools, if they can’t even get their own story straight?
3. You often use the complexity of life to justify the existence of a Creator. But yet there are many things in science that defy common sense. If people can pull tablecloths out from under china plates and not break them, demonstrate that dry ice sublimes directly to a gas, demonstrate concepts that were previously thought impossible, such as the Bose-Einstein condensation of a gas, or even discover a new compound, as Richard Smalley did with the Carbon-60 buckyball, should we say “whoa, another miracle?” Science has shown us that many things are complex beyond our imaginations- should we deify Mr. Wizard and Nobel Prize winners like Rick Smalley because of it? Should we discount the complexity they discover and deify evolution at the same time?
4. If Noah’s flood occurred, please explain the genetic impossibility of humans descending from a few ark passengers who are often portrayed as members of a single race from a single genetically isolated area.
5. If Noah’s flood occurred, please explain how those coral in that pretty slide you showed, and how tidepool and shallow water organisms in general, would have survived a flood that would have incredibly transformed the temperature, energy level, turbitity, water depth, solar exposure, and availability of food in their environments.
Note: Look for the coral slide in the presentation, Gish loves to use it when he talks about carbonate fossil records and transitional forms.
6. We know from looking at many different organisms that there are many different ways to build a ribonuclease, and we only know the ways that we see now. In addition, we do not know how organisms ever existed without ribonuclease, or without proteins, or perhaps even without carbon, yet it is certain that some had to and some did. Is it not possible that when we consider extinct organisms in the context of a realistic look at the fossil record, that your “billions times billions” probability number would rise to a considerably more likely number?
Note: If you can talk to or get a biologist or geneticist to come back you up on this one, the lies of Gish’s probability mathematics will be exposed.
7. You’ve done a lot tonight to poke holes in evolutionary theory, though much of your argument is pseudo-science and demonstrates a disregard for how certain scientific principles work. Yet, contrary to your argument, you have presented no real evidence for creationism- all you’ve said is, “because this makes evolution false or unlikely, creationism must be true.” This is indeed odd since you claim that evolution is not falsifiable either. Even so, you claim that it is wrong for evolutionists to use their theory to disprove God’s role. By not offering a falsifiable theory of your own, and by not adequately answering your scientific critics, are you not just as wrong to do the opposite, attempting to prove the role of a God?
8. Even though the bulk of your argument rests on the false premise that there are no intermediate forms in the fossil record, you still attempt desperately to force those intermediate forms that we do know of, such as Archaeopteryx, into one category or the other. This clear intermediate has bird feathers, yet reptilian teeth. Why do you claim that it has bird teeth when modern birds lack teeth? Would you be just as willing to claim that it has reptilian feathers? How could it have bird teeth if God specially created birds not to have teeth? Was this some kind of holy exception?
Note: It is a must to consult the Transitional Fossils FAQ before you go in. The bulk of Gish’s presentation concerns transitional fossils and why he thinks there aren’t any, and how he attempts to classify those that clearly are. Familiarize yourself with horse evolution. The FAQs are at http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional.html
9. If all species were created at the beginning, shouldn’t we see fossils for all species clear back to the Cambrian period? Why don’t we? Were they destroyed somehow? If so, how is the creationist interpretation of the fossil record, which doesn’t take into account such processes as tectonics, more accurate than the evolutionist interpretation, which takes into account this, as well as other factors like the limited time span and environment occupied by each species? 10. If all species were created at the beginning, and we don’t see fossils back to the Cambrian for “some reason,” wouldn’t this have to mean that, from a creationist perspective, that multiple creations, one for each individual species, would have to have occurred? Where are these multiple creations in the Bible?
11. Why do you feel the need to censor questions, particularly when you know that you might face a hostile audience? Why do you feel the need to lie about why you censor questions, passing it off as a prevention on questions that are too long or have too much scientific info? This is a scientific discussion, is that not what you claim?
Note: Gish usually censors questions, particularly when he suspects a hostile audience, such as at a university. This should really piss off not only you, but the rest of the audience as well. Get this message through to people- Gish can’t handle the truth, and just because the truth is complicated doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be presented. Censoring questions only gives Gish more room to work with in the realm of soundbites, and shuts off legitimate discussion from the rest of the people.
12. If creation ended “at the end of the six days,” and if on the fourth day God created the sun, the moon, and the stars, then why do stars still form in supernovas today? Why has it been recently published in Astrophysical Journal that we have observed the formation of a star at optical wavelengths?
13. How could there be a 24-hour day in creationist time BEFORE the Earth was revolving around the sun?
14. We’re still not letting you get away on this one- why did you do a radio program with Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson, representing the young-Earth creationist viewpoint? How can you rectify what you believe in that regard with what your more eminent opponent, Dr. Hugh Ross, said, and the obvious astrophysical evidence he presented, all of which is fully in accord with the laws of physics? Why do you claim that Ross’ ideas are just like the atheists’ when God clearly has an active and Biblically consistent role in his interpretation?
Note: Research HEAVILY the transcript of the Dobson/Focus on the Family radio show, where Gish gets whipped by one of his own, Dr. Hugh Ross, fellow fundamentalist but old-Earther, not young-Earther. While Ross does not believe in evolution, he slams Gish hard on questions of universe origins and physics. This is a good opportunity to show that science has been used by some of Gish’s own kind, if you will, to disprove him. Focus intently on how Ross controls the dialog (aided somewhat by impartial observer Dobson) and beats Gish at his own game. The address is http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-debates.html
15. If you are a Christian man, why did ICR circulate materials that labeled your old-Earth Biblical creation counterpart, Dr. Hugh Ross, “an apostate who has no heart for evangelism?” Why did you refer to his views on the air as “heretical?”
16. Why did Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson refer to ICR on the air as a “ministry” and not a scientific research center or scientific enterprise?
17. Why do you attempt to paint this as an issue between those who believe in God and those who don’t, when you know full well that most other Christians, from the Pope to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, have rejected creation “science” entirely?
Note: Be careful with this one, because he likes to say that because these other churches have disagreed with him, evolution is just as much a religion as creationism. He wants to imply some sort of religious “believe this” endorsement on the part of Catholics and Episcopalians. Use this question to defuse the secular humanist argument, but be ready to focus on how evolution rests in the empirical realm, not the spiritual. Tie that into the churches’ rejection of creationism.
18. The abuse of thermodynamics that you perpetuate is indeed astounding. Why must you rely on metaphors instead of mathematics, which is what thermodynamics really is? Where’s your math? Why won’t anyone concur with you?
Note: I’d personally die if Gish ever produced math to back up his absurd physical claims. The bulk of Gish’s reasoning is “If I can’t see it, it didn’t happen.” He also likes to cite the Law of Mass Action to back himself up- even though it does little to help his already false premise, he likes to use it because few other people know what it is.
19. Why do you resort to claiming that 1977 Nobel Prize winner Ilya Prigogene held your beliefs concerning the second law of thermodynamics, when the fact is, you quote from the first pages of his report- where he summarizes the idea that he will be refuting in the coming pages?! Will you please admit, for once, that you do not really know that much about Prigogene’s actual experiment, and have not been presenting what he really believes concerning the thermodynamic views that you advocate? Try quoting from the conclusion of the report this time
Note: Bring Prigogene’s report if you can find a copy, and distribute extras to any helpers you have. Then, CONFRONT, CONFRONT, CONFRONT!
20. Why, for years, did you advocate a thermodynamic view that ignored the fact that biological systems were open systems? Now that you have been disproven so many times regarding that view, why have you retreated to an argument concerning the Big Bang and the entire universe? Are you aware that this view is wrong also, because physicists agree that most laws of physics were absent for the first 10^-43 seconds of the Bang, during the quantum limit of relativity?
Note: Once again, refer to the Dobson radio show. Hit the creationists with their own evidence.
21. Why do you continue to use the Hoyle-Wickramasinghe statistical argument to justify your theory on creationism when Hoyle and his partner have espoused beliefs in, among other things, insect intelligence that is superior to humans and extraterrestrial flu epidemics? Why, in sworn testimony, did Wickramasinghe refer to your views as, “claptrap?” In addition, why have you tried to deny this fact to your audiences by falsely saying that “the evolutionists misquote him”?
Note: If you could find the court document from Arkansas, repeat the procedure outlined in #19, and cook his goose! I think the quote is from the landmark 1982 Overton case, but I have seen it quoted many times on the net and in the media. Research this and find it.
22. In another paper of ICR “research” on the web, ICR confronts the issue of sedimentation in deep ocean basins. Despite the fact that (to meet creationist depictions) this would require an insane bastardization of physical laws, a ridiculously high rate of change in the depositional environment followed by an immediate slowdown, and near complete disregard for the sedimentary record and sedimentary processes, we’d like to focus on something your ‘researcher’ said. In his report, he takes as valid the date of Bishop Ussher for the creation of the Earth and the date of the flood- “according to Ussher (1786) [it’s] assumed to be true approximately 4,500 years have transpired since the Flood (tF = 4,500)” (Vardiman, The Sands of Time). He also quotes scripture (Genesis 7:11) in a “scientific” proof, but back to Ussher. If he’s going to take Ussher’s date as fact, he’d better be taking the rest of the Bible literally too. So, when II Peter 3:8 says that, “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years,” and Revelation 20 says that the completion of these 6000 years would evoke Armageddon (the 7th day), followed by the true Millenium of Jesus, we can assume that these statements are true along with Ussher’s date of October 23, 4004 BC (Jesus’ birth was corrected 4 years by the monk Dionysius in the 6th century, and we have to allow for the concept of the year 1, not 0). Well then, those 6000 years should have ended, oh, on about October 23, 1997, at exactly 12 noon. Apocalypse now, my brother?
Note: Take your Bible and have some fun with this one. Do not let Gish distract the focus of your question by pretending that you refer to creation days with II Peter 3:8- that is his stock response. Make sure you stress that this is time, as the context of II Peter states, after the Earth began; time that, according to Ussher’s calculation and the rest of the Bible, should be over with by now. The web address for the sed report is http://www.icr.org/research/lv.lv-r01.html
23. If you admit, as you did in October 1997 at Rice University, that your goal is to put creationism back in schools, how do you plan to go about this and still not violate Constitutional provisions concerning Church and State, particularly with regard to those that do not believe in God?
24. How do you answer the charges of the Judge William Overton, who overturned the Arkansas law in 1982, and stated that the creation science amounted to “a religious crusade, coupled with a desire to conceal this fact,” and “the evidence is overwhelming that both the purpose and effect of Act 590 is the advancement of religion in the public schools”?
25. Why, if your ideas are so correct, will no one in the scientific community accept them. And don’t give the conspiracy/they’re all a bunch of atheists or pagans who are inherently biased answer. With ‘research’ like that described above, is it any wonder why scientific publications won’t publish ICR, on the few occasions where ICR actually submits papers?
Note: Make this one specific to your location if you are at a university or non-church location, particularly if there are a number of scientific industries in town. It gives people something to think about in the context of the Constitution.