IS CREATIONISM SCIENCE?
A Debate Between
Duane Gish & Frank Zindler
Aired during the evening of
January 11, 1990
on “Night Talk”
A program hosted by
WTVN 610-AM Radio, Columbus, Ohio
Transcript prepared by Ann Zindler
Notes & commentary by Frank Zindler
Debate transcript: page one
Appendix A: page twenty-eight (ICR definitions & philosophy)
Appendix B: page thirty-one(T.H. Huxley’s essay, “On the Method of Zadig”)
Copyright © 1990
American Atheists of Central Ohio
P.O. Box 8457
Columbus, OH 43201
By Frank R. Zindler
When Jim Bleikamp called to ask me “Have you ever heard of a guy named Duane Gish?” I was quite pleased. After years of watching Gish in action and after having published several critiques of his modus operandi, at last I would have a chance to spar with him myself. I knew, however, that he almost always has his own way regarding the wording of the proposition to be debated and the mechanics of the debate–even insisting that his opponents not be allowed to bring the Bible into scrutiny. Gish’s debates almost always focus on “Creation vs. Evolution,” allowing him to go on the offensive immediately and to get away without even having to define creationism. Although I would have debated Gish on any subject if worse came to worst, I asked Jim to propose the question “Is creationism science?” to be the question of debate. This would automatically place Gish on the defensive–a real novelty–and I would not have to waste precious time defending science.
To my glee and astonishment, Gish agreed to this unusual topic for debate. I guessed correctly that Gish would be so used to his normal debate routine that he would not be able to adjust to the new topic. As readers will see in the transcript that follows, I was quite correct. Gish never did manage to give any positive evidence for his mythological thesis. He kept falling back into his customary evolution-bashing mode, and I had the luxury (along with Jim Bleikamp our host) of reminding him that he had wandered off into the wrong debate and had not come up with any positive evidence.
Throughout the debate, I tried to keep Gish on the defense, asking for evidence that the creationist scenario had occurred. When he went on the attack against evolution, instead of answering his objections (e.g., problems with the origin of life or fish evolution) I tried to keep pointing out that it was creationism, not evolution, which was the subject of debate. There was, of course, a degree of danger in this strategy, inasmuch as some listeners might have supposed that I couldn’t answer the “scientific” challenges posed by Gish. I can only hope that any such illusion was shattered when I grilled Gish about his Cambrian-Precambrian confusion and when it became clear that he did not know what pseudogenes are.
Due to the exigencies of the broadcast format, it is never possible to deal with any part of a debate in a completely satisfactory manner. To remedy this, I have included copious explanatory and critical footnotes. These should be of interest both to the general reader and to others who may some day have to debate Gish or others of his ilk. In addition to the notes, I have provided Appendix A–containing the official ICR list of “tenets” of scientific and biblical creationism–and Appendix B, which is a reprint of Thomas Henry Huxley’s delightful lecture “On the Method of Zadig.” Appendix A should be of great help to others who debate creationists but can’t manage to pin them down on any definite claims concerning just what it is they suppose to be true. Appendix A should provide lots of easy targets. The Huxley lecture will be found to be a most palatable antidote to the creationists’ poisonous charge that “true science” cannot deal with the past. Huxley’s common-sense ideas are just as useful today as they were when spoken in 1880, since creationist claims have not really improved in the last century.
One final explanation: throughout the transcript, ellipses (…) are used to indicate incomplete thoughts, not material left out. The few places where meaningful sounds could not be extracted from the audiotape of the broadcast are indicated in the text with words such as ‘hubbub,’ etc.