By Duane T. Gish, Ph.D., Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA 92021
Published in the Skeptic, Vol. 5, No. 2, 1997, pages 37-41 (Skeptics Forum)
Copyright © Skeptic Magazine
View the original article to which Gish is responding:
Creationism: Bad Science or Immoral Pseudoscience? by Joyce Arthur
Joyce Arthur’s Response to Gish follows his rebuttal, below.
I first wish to thank the editors of Skeptic for this opportunity to respond to the attack on my scholarship and integrity contained in the article “Creationism: Bad Science or Immoral Pseudoscience?” by Joyce Arthur, (V.4, #4). Arthur claims that the mandate of the modern creationist movement is to introduce the biblical story of creation into public school classrooms by disguising it as science. This is a false accusation that is repeated frequently in science journals and the mass media. Creation scientists have no intention of introducing the Bible or the Book of Genesis into the public schools. Their only intent is to make available to students in the tax-supported public schools the scientific evidence, such as that from the fossil record, the laws of probability, the laws of thermodynamics, the evidence of purpose and design in biology, and evidence from other areas of science that provide evidence that strongly support the creation of living organisms by an intelligent agent external to and independent of the natural universe. In other words, we contrast the evidence expected on the basis of a theistic, supernatural special creation to a mechanistic, naturalistic, non-theistic evolutionary origin. We insist that this should be done without reference to the Bible, the Humanist Manifesto, or any other religious literature of any kind. We believe that this will restore academic freedom to our students and teachers to consider both sides of this controversy.
There were no human observers to the origin of the universe, to the origin of life, or to the origin of a single living thing. These events took place in the unobservable past and are not repeatable in the present. Neither creation nor evolution is a scientific theory. They are theories about history. They do have scientific characteristics and can be discussed in scientific terms but are inferences based on circumstantial evidence. One is no more scientific than the other and they are equally religious. The overwhelming majority of the American people support the teaching of both in our public schools.
Joyce Arthur quotes Tim Berra of Ohio State University who states that the arguments of creationists “… often involve tortured logic, a stubborn denial of the evidence, a shallow understanding, or a reckless disregard for the truth.” Arthur then asks the question, “Do creationists knowingly use deception to promote their cause?” She then tells her readers she will take a close look at me as the leading spokesperson of the Institute for Creation Research. What follows is a series of interviews with various evolutionists describing supposed omissions or distortions of evidence, sloppy scholarship, or outright prevarications I have committed.
In responding to these charges I want to state unequivocally that I have never said anything either in print or by spoken word that I knew to be false. Since we are all humans, it is possible to misinterpret something someone has written or spoken, or to have a faulty memory. This happens not infrequently in scientific matters. If you have any doubt, just read the letters to the editor in scientific journals. To deliberately distort the truth is, however, inexcusable. Arthur accuses me of the latter.
Her attack begins with my treatment of the australopithecines in my debates, particularly Lucy, a fossil of a female Australopithecus afarensis discovered by Donald Johanson in 1973. Arthur says (p. 89), that in a debate I had with Chris McGowan in Lions Head, Ontario in 1982, I had clearly implied that Lord Zuckerman had studied Lucy. She reported that Jay Ingram, one who was present at the debate, asked me in the question/answer period why I had so misled the audience, and that a substantial majority of the audience indicated they assumed from what I had said that Zuckerman had studied Lucy. He reported that I got very upset, lost my temper, and “railed” that I was not responsible for people misinterpreting my remarks. This is an absolutely false charge. I will state categorically I have never in any debate lost my temper or “railed” at an audience. Anyone who does should never appear on a debate platform. Arthur uses the words “implied” and “assumed.” These are nebulous terms from a second-hand source. I do not have a recording of the debate in order to offer proof that these events never happened, but I do have proof of a similar charge which followed. Arthur states,” In a debate with biologist Fred Parrish, Gish stated outright that Zuckerman had examined the Lucy skeleton itself: ‘For 15 years… [Zuckerman] studied fossils of Lucy and fossils 1-2 million years younger than Lucy [sic]’ (Debates: Parrish 1991).” Fortunately I do have an audio tape of that debate with Parrish and thus have proof that this claim is absolutely false.
In my debate with Parrish, I related the fact that it is the consensus of evolutionists that the australopithecines walked upright and that they were intermediate between ape and man. I described Donald Johanson’s discovery of Lucy and I stated that although she (and her fellow afarensis) was essentially ape from the neck up it was claimed that she walked upright in a human manner and was thus intermediate between ape and man. I then went on to say that there are some scientists, however, who disagree with this analysis. I then said, “One of these scientists was Lord Zuckerman, a very famous anatomist, Dr. Solly Zuckerman, for many years the head of the Department of Anatomy of the University of Birmingham in England. He is not a creationist but he has done his homework. He studied the fossils of these creatures with a scientific team that rarely numbered less than four for 15 years, using the most highly sophisticated methods of anatomy available, and he studied fossils of creatures that were supposedly one to two million years younger than Lucy, so if anything they should be more advanced or manlike. Lord Zuckerman declared that these creatures were not intermediate between ape and man and they did not walk upright.” I then go on to discuss the analysis of these creatures by Charles Oxnard who, after many years of research on these creatures, excludes them from human ancestry. It can be seen that the claim that I had stated explicitly that Zuckerman had studied fossils of Lucy is totally false. I have never claimed nor implied such a thing. The fact that Lord Zuckerman had studied fossils of the australopithecines believed to be one to two million years younger than Lucy actually adds considerable support to my position.
Arthur attempts to downgrade the quality and significance of the research carried out in Lord Zuckerman’s laboratory by a team of scientists. I invite readers to consult Lord Zuckerman’s publications. Consult, for example, his paper published in the Journal of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh 11(2):87-114 (1966) and the references he gives in this paper to his publications in such journals as Nature, American Journal of Physical Anthropology and Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. Also, consult Chapter 7, “African Cousins” in Lord Zuckerman’s book Beyond the Ivory Tower, Taplinger Publishing Co., New York, 1970, pp. 75-94. The studies on the australopithecines by Lord Zuckerman and his team were thorough and authoritative.
Arthur then cites claims from C. Loring Brace that I had made many errors and distortions in my debate with him as well as in my then current book Evolution: The Fossils Say No (1979). Brace claims that I falsely accused Eugene Dubois of concealing important evidence. In discussing Dubois’ find of Pithecanthropus erectus in Java in 1890, I stated (p. 125),
|“Dubois concealed the fact that he had also discovered at nearby Wadjak and at approximately the same level two human skulls (known as the Wadjak skulls) with a cranial capacity of about 1550-1650 c.c., somewhat above the present human average. To have revealed this fact at that time would have rendered it difficult, if not impossible, for his Java Man to have been accepted as a “missing link.” It was not until 1922, when a similar discovery was about to be announced, that Dubois revealed the fact that he had possessed the Wadjak skulls for over 30 years.”|
Brace claims that Dubois had already published these previous Wadjak finds and therefore I was either ignorant or less than honest in making such a claim. If this is so, I would like to have the documentation from Brace. William Howells, an evolutionary anthropologist then at the University of Wisconsin, states in his book Mankind So Far (Doubleday, Garden City, NY, 1946) on P. 191,
|“Having left the bountiful caves of Europe, we shall have to be content with very scanty remains from the rest of the world. There is, indeed, only one more general type on the list. For its first representative we turn still again to Java and to Dr. Dubois. When this remarkable man returned in the 1890s he had, along with Pithecanthropus, two other skulls which he kept entirely secret until 1920, for reasons which he never chose to explain. Perhaps, as Keith said, it was good judgment, for they were so different that to hand them out along with the Java Man would have overtaxed the resilience of the anthropologists, like the chameleon who was put on a Scotch plaid. The skulls, male and female, were from Wadjak; they were large of size and large of brain, and entirely sapiens in their features; and with little doubt their date corresponds with the Upper Paleolithic of Europe.”|
Thus, if Dubois had published something about the Wadjak skulls prior to 1920, neither Howells nor Sir Arthur Keith was aware of any such alleged publication. Perhaps Brace could supply a copy of the article and thus inform his fellow anthropologists as well as the rest of us. Howells, by the way, provides the same information in a later book (Mankind in the Making, Doubleday, 1959). Most people would agree that a separation of 100 miles in this context does not qualify as “nearby” and this should be corrected. If, on the other hand, these skulls were not found at approximately the same level, why did Dubois feel compelled to conceal, or at least suppress, this evidence? The claim that the Wadjak site is 10,000 years old is certainly not based on any firm dating system. As far as I can determine the Wadjak skulls were never dated, the alleged age of the Wadjak skulls being based on their morphology.
Much doubt exists concerning the actual date of the Dubois Trinil fossils (Michael Day, Guide to Fossil Man, U. of Chicago Press, 1986, pp. 338-339). Recently Swisher, et al., have reported dates ranging from 27,000 to 53,000 years, using electron spin resonance and mass spectrometric uranium series dating, for Homo erectus fossils at Ngandong, just 20 km from Trinil (C.C. Swisher, et al., Science, 274: 1870-1874, 1996). If verified, this certainly challenges the claim that Homo erectus is an intermediate that was ancestral to modern man. Fossils of Homo erectus in Africa have been dated as far back as 1.6 million years. Furthermore, it is claimed that modern man, Homo sapiens, goes back 100,000 years, and even more. If all this is true, Home erectus and Homo sapiens coexisted for almost 100,000 years. Dates for the australopithecines range from four million years down to one million years. Dates for Homo erectus now range from 1.6 million years down to 50,000 years or less. Dates for Homo sapiens range from at least 100,000 years. There is an incredible amount of overlap here, and where are all the transitional forms showing the australopithecines gradually evolving into Homo erectus, and Homo erectus gradually evolving into Homo sapiens?
Arthur charges me with an effort to impugn the integrity of Marcellin Boule, who reported on the Homo erectus fossils found at Zhoukoudian, near Peking (now Beijing), China, and studied by Davidson Black. She states, “Gish claims that there was a significant difference between Boule’s earlier and later descriptions of the remains. However, Brace noted that the later account was simply a reprint of the first one, with only minor typographical changes.” This is simply not true. In fact, my comments concerned a section entitled “A New Discussion of the Facts” in a book co-authored by Boule and H.M. Vallois and published subsequent to Boule’s death (Fossil Men, The Dreyden Press, New York, 1957. This is the English translation of the 1952 edition of Les Hommes Fossiles). Boule died in 1942, 10 years before publication of the French edition co-authored by Boule and Vallois. My comments were,
|“The account by Boule and Vallois in this section also varies so decidedly from earlier descriptions of Sinanthropus, published elsewhere by Boule, that it is probable that this section was written by Vallois after the death of Boule (the 1952 edition of Les Hommes Fossiles was published after Boule’s death and was a revision by Vallois of an earlier edition of this book authored solely by Boule).|
Please note that I in no way impugned the integrity of Boule. I, in fact, attributed the change to Vallois, not Boule, and I never questioned the right of Vallois to do so.
In the section entitled “Gish Monkeys with His Sources” I am accused by Alex Ritchie as follows: “From 1972-85 Dr. Duane Gish deliberately selected, published, and perpetrated a doctored quotation, plagiarized from [Patrick] O’Connell (1969). He then attributed it to [Marcellin] Boule … well aware that it misrepresented the meaning and intention of Boule’ text.” This statement is largely false. The quotation I used did not misrepresent the meaning and intention of Boule’s text. I quoted a statement published in French by Boule and translated into English by the Roman Catholic priest, Patrick O’Connell, a creationist who was a missionary in China during the excavation of the Peking Man fossils. I found the quote in the book Science of Today and the Problems of Genesis, Book I (Christian Book Club of America, Hawthorne, CA, 1969) published by Fr. O’Connell. My only mistake, and I certainly regret it, was to reference the quote to Boule’s original article rather than to the secondary source, O’Connell’s book. Had I done so, the criticism of the translation would have been directed against O’Connell rather than against me. O’Connell’s translation was what is called a free translation and did in no way change the meaning and intention of Boule’s text. The English translation of the Boule quote, published in 1937 in L’Anthropologie (p. 21), as found in O’Connell’s book, reads as follows,
|“To this fantastic hypothesis that the owners of the monkey-like skulls were the authors of the large-scale industry, I take the liberty of preferring an opinion more in conformity with the conclusions from my studies, which is that the hunter (who battered the skulls) was a real man and that the cut stones, etc., were, his handiwork.”|
Does this free translation by O’Connell in any way change the meaning and intention of Boule’s article? Not at all. Here are two direct quotes from Fossil Man by Boule and Vallois. Following a discussion of Weidenreich’s belief that Sinanthropus (Peking Man) was a cannibal and that the fossils found near Peking were the victims of cannibalism, Boule and Vallois say (p. 145),
|“To this hypothesis, other writers preferred the following which seemed more in conformity with our whole body of knowledge: the hunter was a true Man whose stone industry has been found and who preyed upon Sinanthropus. We may therefore ask ourselves whether it is not overbold to consider Sinanthropus the monarch of Choukoutien, when he appears in the deposit only in the guise of a mere hunter’s prey, on a par with the animals by which he is accompanied.”|
In Boule’s original statement published in L’Anthropologie, he said “To this hypothesis, as fantastic as it is ingenious, I may he permitted to prefer one which seems to me to be just as satisfactory…” (source: American Atheist, March 1985, p. 23). Here Boule is saying that it was true Man who killed and ate the so-called Peking Man, who was thus merely the victim of hunters, who were Homo sapiens. On p. 126, Boule and Vallois state their view that Java Man (Pithecanthropus erectus) may have represented a giant ape, similar to the view strongly held by Dubois during the last years of his life. It can be seen that the free translation of Boule’s statement in no way misrepresented his views.
Arthur’s repetition of the claim by Edwords and others that there are fossil transitional forms leading up to Triceratops and other horned dinosaurs is simply false. Some claim that Protoceratops, a beaked dinosaur, was the ancestor of horned dinosaurs. Protoceratops did not precede the horned dinosaurs, but was a contemporary. All the protoceratopsids listed by Alfred Romer and by Robert Carroll were found in the Upper Cretaceous, exactly where are found all the horned dinosaurs. In fact, Leptoceratops gracilis, said to be one of the most primitive of the Protoceratopsid dinosaurs, is claimed to be one of the last surviving dinosaurs in North America, thus outlasting his supposed evolutionary offspring. A variety of one-horned, three-horned, and multihorned dinosaurs appear abruptly in the Upper Cretaceous rocks, fully-formed.
Arthur accuses me of using an illustration from a book by George Gaylord Simpson linking fishes to a more modern looking amphibian, Eryops, rather than to a more primitive-like amphibian, lchthyostega. This was in one of my very early books and was the illustration I had available at the time. It is found on p. 54 of the 2nd edition (1973) of Evolution? The Fossils Say No! My caption for the illustration reads “Reconstructions of an ichthyostegid amphibian and his supposed crossopterigian ancestor.” It is true that in the original illustration by Simpson the amphibian is identified as Eryops, a labyrinthodont amphibian and the fish is identified as Eusthenopteron, a crossoptelyian fish. Therefore, I was incorrect in calling the amphibian an ichthyostegid amphibian. There was no intention of deliberately misleading anyone, however. In fact, in the 3rd edition of this book, first published in 1977, on p. 79 in Figure 2 is found an illustration taken from Romer’s Vertebrate Paleontology comparing a crossopterygian fish to Ichthyostega. Arthur accuses me of deliberately showing an illustration of Eryops in my 1973 edition because it is less “fishlike” than lchthyostega. If this were my intent then why did I cease using Eryops and switch to Ichthyostega? I did so for the sake of accuracy. This doesn’t hurt my case. Ichthyostega has the feet and legs of an amphibian. The pelvic girdle is very large and firmly attached to the vertebral column. In the rhipidistian fish, the humerus (of the front paired fins) and the femur (of the rear paired fins) were held close to the body, which restricted lateral and rotational movement. Thus their fins pointed in a posterior direction which is typical of fish. The pelvic girdle was very small, loosely embedded in muscle, with no attachment to the vertebral column. The fins could not have supported the weight of the body out of the water. The distal elements of the tetrapod limbs were totally different from those of crossopterygian fish. Thus it must be claimed that hand and feet are new structures, produced by a major developmental change affecting the distal parts of the paired appendages (P.A. Ahlberg and A.R. Milner, Nature 368:509, 1994). If there exists transitional forms between fish and amphibia there would be no controversy among evolutionists concerning this transition. However, Robert L. Carroll, among others, believes the ancestor of amphibians was a rhipidistian crossopterygian (Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution, W H. Freeman, 1988). D.E. Rosen, et al, reject this notion and suggest that a lungfish gave rise to amphibians (Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 167:159-276, 1981). Thomas Gorr and Traute Kleinschmidt reject both of these suggestions and argue that a coelacanth fish gave rise to amphibians (American Scientist, 81(2):72-82,1993). In his book, on p. 4, Carroll explicitly states, “We have no intermediate fossils between rhipidistian fish and early amphibians…”
Arthur states that I made a serious factual error in my public recitations of the bombardier beetle story and “stubbornly refused to correct it for years afterward.” The bombardier beetle does indeed have a fascinating defense mechanism, pointing his rear end at a predator and blasting an aqueous vapor from twin combustion tubes right into the face of his enemy. The vapor is heated to 212° F and contains a noxious chemical. In 1977, I published a book for children about dinosaurs and included the bombardier beetle story. In a few of my debates I also challenged evolutionists to explain how an ordinary beetle could have evolved into a bombardier beetle a little bit at a time via genetic errors (mutations), requiring perhaps hundreds of thousands of years for all of these very rare beneficial mutations to occur, with each intermediate stage not only viable but superior to each prior stage.
My initial source of information was a pamphlet on the bombardier beetle published many years ago by Dr. Robert Kofahl (Ph.D., physical chemistry, Caltech). In his translation of the article in German by Dr. Herman Schildknecht, Kofahl apparently mistranslated the German word for “unstable” to “explosive.” He assumed, and thus so did I, that ordinarily a mixture of 28% hydrogen peroxide and 10% hydroquinone would react explosively, but the mixture is stored in the storage chambers of the bombardier beetle with no reaction taking place (how this reaction is inhibited in the bombardier beetle is still not known). When the mixture is squirted into the combustion tubes the reaction occurs explosively, catalyzed by two enzymes. Drs. Frank Awbrey and William Thwaites of San Diego State University discovered the error. Evolutionists then attempted to use this error to discredit the challenge to evolutionists to explain the origin of the bombardier beetle. As soon as the publisher decided to publish a revised edition of my book, I corrected the error. I have been blamed by evolutionists for not correcting the error earlier, and it is claimed that I continued to use the erroneous version in my public debates. This is simply not true. I did point out that if the two chemicals and two enzymes were mixed together the reaction would be violent (how did the bombardier beetle know enough to carefully keep the chemicals in one chamber and the enzymes in another chamber?) Should I be faulted for not immediately demanding the publisher to publish a revised edition? A number of years ago I had a debate with John Maynard Smith at Sussex University in Brighton, England. Maynard Smith is England’s leading evolutionary biologist. In his book on evolution that I had in my hand, he used a supposed transition among graptolites as an example of evolution. I pointed out to the audience that this was now known to be erroneous. Maynard Smith admitted that this was so, and stated that if he ever got around to revising this book he would take that out. Would evolutionists accuse Maynard Smith of dishonesty for not immediately revising his book and removing this example once he knew it was false? Of course not. Neither would I. After all these years, Arthur continues to regurgitate this story in an attempt to discredit my challenge to evolutionists to explain the origin of the bombardier beetle. I really don’t believe that those little children who read my book cared much which version of this detail about the bombardier beetle appeared in the book, and the correct version doesn’t help evolutionists explain the origin of the bombardier beetle from an ordinary beetle.
Arthur claims that I “pretended ignorance of Prigogine’s basic thesis and instead claimed that Prigogine said the origin of life was virtually impossible because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.” Prigogine won the Nobel Prize in physics for relating his work on thermodynamics to social organizations (as I understand it). He has been working on the problem of the spontaneous origin of biological order leading up to the origin of life. The mistaken notion is often stated that Prigogine has solved the problem of biological order in spite of the Second Law. In the book he co-authored in 1977, the year he won the Nobel Prize, he states:
|“There seems to be no doubt that dissipative structures play an essential role in the function of living systems as we see them today. What was the role of dissipative structures in evolution? It is very tempting to speculate that prebiotic evolution corresponds essentially to a succession of instabilities leading to an increasing level of complexity.” (G. Nicolis and I. Prigogine, Self Organization in Non-equilibrium Systems: From Dissipative Structures to Order Through Fluctuations, John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1977. p.12).|
The temptation to speculate is far removed from providing experimental evidence for his ideas. Arthur cites a single passage from my book Creation Scientists Answer Their Critics (Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA, 1993) in a critical manner but makes no reference to a section of the book (pp. 397-404) in which I give a detailed critique of Prigogine’s ideas. In this critique I point out that Prigogine’s ideas are based on a series of assumptions which cannot survive a critical review by a biochemist.
In her section entitled “Gish’s Amazing Story of Evolution,” Arthur accuses me of making a disturbing omission in my book The Amazing Story of Creation From Science and the Bible (Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA, 1990), and thus seriously misrepresenting the theory of evolution. Arthur says that not once in the book do I mention natural selection. “By ignoring natural selection,” she says, “Gish makes evolution seem absurd.” Now let us see what I really say. On p. 43, I state,
|“Evolutionists say most mutations are bad, but they also believe that once in awhile—maybe one in 10,000—a mutation just happens to be good. Just by accident, they say, once in a great while a mutation produces a change in a plant or animal that is good. That is, the creature that inherits the gene with the good mutation is changed in such a way that it has gained some advantage, compared to the original creature. Perhaps now, they might imagine, it can run faster, fight better, obtain more food, or produce more offspring. According to evolution theory, the creature that inherits the good mutation will reproduce in larger numbers than the original, and so, in the struggle for existence, it will eventually, after hundreds or thousands of years, replace the original. This causes only a slight change, and it takes hundreds, perhaps thousands, of these slight changes to convert a creature into a new species. Thus, the supposed origin of a new species, by evolution, would require tens of thousands of years. To bring about the evolution of an invertebrate into a fish, or a reptile into a bird, would require perhaps 100 million years or more.”|
In this passage I describe mutations and precisely what evolutionists mean by natural selection. Mutations and natural selection, according to evolutionists, provide the driving force for evolution. I specifically mention differential reproduction, which according to evolutionary biologists, such as Richard Lewontin, is natural selection. How then can Arthur make the claim that I had ignored natural selection in order to make evolution look absurd? Her charge is obviously false.
The subject of origins, especially when cast in the context of an evolutionary versus a supernatural creationist origin, is very contentious and obviously encourages an all out effort to destroy the opposition by whatever means available. We creation scientists nevertheless are shocked by the vicious unprincipled attack against our integrity and science. If evolutionists really do have a solid scientific case for evolution and can destroy the arguments of creation scientists based on this scientific evidence why don’t they just state the facts and let the facts speak for themselves? Why must they resort to obviously questionable and untrue charges concerning the personal character of creation scientists if they believe their case is so secure? In my debates with evolutionists, I describe, for example, the major features of the fossil record which I maintain show conclusively that evolution has not taken place on this planet. I never attempt to challenge the integrity or good character of my opponents. But when subjected to this sort of abuse I do point out to the audience that to resort to such tactics is an admission that my opponent’s position is weak.
We creation scientists agree with those skeptics who reject claims of the paranormal such as practiced in seances, so-called contacts with the dead, supposed contacts with non-humans and similar UFO mythology, the mythological notions of such cults as the Heaven’s Gate cult which led to their mass suicide, and other bizarre notions. Attempts to lump creationists with such groups is an effort to discredit anyone supporting our position. We believe there is a mass of evidence, both historical and scientific that supports, even requires, a theistic supernatural origin for the universe and the living organisms it contains. The subject of origins is vital to our eternal destiny. Every individual should carefully study all of the evidence on both sides of this controversial subject.
By Joyce Arthur
Published in the Skeptic, Vol. 5, No. 2, 1997, pages 41-42 (Skeptics Forum)
Copyright © Skeptic Magazine
Gish’s letter confirms the theme of my article, namely that he continues to trot out the same tired arguments after they’ve been clearly refuted. Even in the wake of criticism, he’s unwilling to recheck his claims. By failing to improve his conduct after being called on it—especially on this occasion—Gish shows a serious lack of integrity. I could probably rest my case right now, since Gish has done a pretty good hatchet job on himself in these very pages. Those who have read my article and struggled through Gish’s lengthy reply will understand what I mean. But for others who haven’t been following the story, or who still aren’t convinced, here is an exposé of Gish’s tactics, yet again. I also invite educators to use my article, together with Gish’s response, to teach students about the inherent deceitfulness of creationist rhetoric.
First, I won’t waste the readers’ time responding to Gish’s diehard assertions that evolutionary theory is not scientific, while his public school version of “creation science” supposedly is. I’ll go straight to Gish’s first objection—against the evidence for his misleading treatment of the australopithecine Lucy in his debates. As stated in my article, Gish has implied in many of his debates, not just at the event in Lion’s Head, Ontario, that scientist Lord Zuckerman studied the bones of Lucy herself. My source, Jay Ingram, stands by his story and has re-confirmed to me that Gish became angry when Ingram proved that the audience had misunderstood Gish’s comments. Also, I spoke to two high school teachers from Lion’s Head who attended Gish’s talk and who backed up Ingram’s account. Jay Ingram is a well-known Canadian TV and radio personality who has won numerous awards both as a science journalist and as an author of six science books. Personally, I take this highly credible source more seriously than Gish’s protests. As for the quote from Fred Parrish’s 1991 debate, my source was the written transcript. Whether the transcript is in error or not doesn’t touch my main contention that Gish misleads audiences with his Lord Zuckerman/Lucy story. Also, Gish continues to rely on Zuckerman as an authority, even though Zuckerman’s view that the australopithecines were not hominids was a minority one and has now been rejected.
Next, Gish demands documentation from paleoanthropologist C. Loring Brace that Eugene Dubois had published his previous Wadjak finds. But Gish was told about Dubois’ publications by Karl Fezer in a debate on March 24, 1992. Also, information about Dubois’ publications is readily available in several sources, such as the book Eugene Dubois and the Ape-Man From Java, by Bert Theunissen, and even the creationist book Bones of Contention, by Marvin Lubenow. Contrary to Lubenow’s assertions, Brace has informed me that the publications themselves are part of the scientific record, are available today in most major libraries, and have been regularly cited by scientists studying the Wadjak remains. Gish has no excuse for not checking this out himself, especially after being challenged on it by both Brace and Fezer.
The Wadjak date of 10,000 years is based on associated faunal remains, not morphology, and the information that Gish cites from Michael Day on the age of Homo erectus in Java is badly out of date. Although the Ngandong specimens do have a recent date as per Swisher, et al., they are, according to Brace, not erectus but an archaic form of Homo sapiens, similar to Neanderthals. Finally, overlapping dates for various known transitional hominids are exactly what we would expect if evolution is true. According to Gish’s theory of evolution, a parent species must die as soon as it spawns a daughter species, but this is, of course, sheer nonsense.
Gish claims that even though he misquoted anthropologist Marcellin Boule by inserting the words “monkey-like skulls” into one of his sentences, it didn’t change the meaning of Boule’s article. But in his book Evolution: the Fossils Say No!, Gish used this falsely-inserted phrase as a key point in his argument that Boule believed the Zhoukoudian Homo erectus remains were that of a monkey or an ape. Gish is quick to point out that on p. 126 of the Boule/Vallois article, they state that Java Man (erectus) may have represented a giant ape, but predictably, Gish neglects to mention that on p. 145 of the same article, they conclude that both the Java and Zhoukoudian finds were intermediate between apes and man.
This section of the Boule/Vallois article (A New Discussion of the Facts, pp. 142-146) is the part that Gish claims differs significantly from Boule’s earlier 1937 account. An exasperated Brace told me, “Why Gish continues to harp on the supposed difference between [these accounts] is beyond me.” I challenge Gish to demonstrate exactly what the alleged difference is, and why it even matters, unless he thinks (erroneously) that it would impugn Boule’s integrity.
Regarding the horned dinosaur Triceratops, Gish just repeats the same argument—again. Inexplicably, he ignores my statement that Triceratops had at least 15 million years to evolve from its ancestor Monoclonius. He has also ignored evidence that I sent him in a personal letter dated May 9, 1992, in which I detailed the various ages of the Upper Cretaceous and where each proposed ancestor is found. I also gave him many scientific citations documenting the ancestral sequence of horned dinosaurs.
Gish contends that it doesn’t hurt his case to have switched from his original incorrect figure of Eryops in his first book, to a picture of the correct transitional form Ichthyostega in a later book. However, even if Gish made an honest error out of ignorance, in David Milne’s words, “…it is impossible for any knowledgeable scientist to mistake Eryops for an Ichthyostega.” Anyway, Gish ignores Ichthyostega’s obvious fish-like resemblance, as well as other evidence that Ichthyostega was transitional between fish and amphibians, such as vestigial fins and a fish-like backbone that was ill-suited to walking on land.
Regarding the Bombardier beetle, Gish just repeats the same argument—again (and I’m beginning to sound like a broken record myself). Inexplicably, he ignores my documented evidence that he continued to spout the same story about this beetle in debates after he had admitted in 1978 that his argument was in error. Again, he claims that his children’s book was corrected at the next reprinting, even though the 1980 edition was most definitely not corrected. Again, Gish complains that evolutionists refuse to explain how the Bombardier beetle could have evolved, even though I mentioned that Gish himself had sent me a copy of a 1981 article by Christopher Weber that did explain it. As far as I know, Gish has never even acknowledged Weber’s evolutionary explanation.
Gish says nothing against my evidence on the continued publication of his error-filled booklet Have You Been Brainwashed?, or on the repetition of his admitted false claim that the geological column is based on the assumption of evolution, or on his pretense that scientist Ilya Prigogine said the origin of life was impossible because of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. I take this to means he concedes on those points.
As for Gish’s total dismissal of Prigogine’s Nobel prize-winning work in chemistry, Gish begins his critique of it by saying that few biochemists and molecular biologists can understand Prigogine’s ideas. So Gish can?
Granted, the quote that Gish offers from his book does describe natural selection, but only in this one place, not by name, and in effect, he does ignore it. He immediately goes on to say: “Mutation is the commonly accepted mechanism required, by evolution, to change the first form of life into all other living creatures. … The question is, how could harmful mutations ever produce stronger, new species? Evolutionists continue to believe, however, that we are here today as a result of millions of such DNA accidents, or mistakes.” He goes to such great lengths to shut out natural selection that he contradicts himself—how did good mutations suddenly become harmful mutations only one paragraph later? He ignores the pivotal nature of natural selection by failing to explain that it is the essential mechanism of evolution, and by omitting key points necessary for understanding it. Further, Gish falsely states that it takes hundreds or thousands of slight changes to effect evolution, ignoring the fact that slight changes to genes often result in large, coordinated changes to organisms. The net result is that Gish presents a simplified straw man of “evolution by mutation” that is extremely improbable, while in reality, evolution by natural selection is not only probable, but inevitable.
Gish characterizes my attack on his integrity as vicious and unprincipled. He asks why evolutionists don’t just state the facts instead of resorting to personal attacks. As I explained in my article, many scientists have ably refuted creationist arguments on a scientific level, but to no avail. Creationists like Gish are not impressed by facts and evidence. That’s because they’re motivated not by a respect for science or objective truth, but by their strong religious beliefs. But whatever the excuses for Gish’s proven behavior of distortion, misquotes, and sloppy scholarship, it is inexcusable in a scientific context, whether deliberate or not. I believe my exposure of Gish’s tactics is a perfectly fair and necessary step to counter not only the damaging lies of “creation science” but the insult to religion that it entails.