Gish on Astronomy (Apparent Age) [was: Possible Debate...]
- --- In creationism, Tim Gamble wrote (post #9316):
> --- In creationism, Christopher Sharp wrote:[snip]
>> Subject: Possible debate with Duane Gish
>> I met a pastor of a fundamentalist church in Tucson in the
>> University of Arizona mall today. He is looking for someone to
>> debate Duane Gish of the ICR at the end of March, and he
>> intimated that he may be interested in having me. Being both a
>> Christian and a scientist with a Ph.D., and having studied a bit
>> the so called creation "scientists", this may be an interesting
>> If this debate does take place, I would be interested in having
>> some information on Duane Gish, and in particular his debating
>> style, so that I would know in advance what to expect. This
>> pastor is also hosting, though not for a debate, John Morris, and
>> I may get a chance to meet him.
>> Any advice would be most appreciated.
> I'd be careful about having a debate with Gish. The guy is a total
> sleeze and uses every dirty trick in the boot when debating. His
> distortions on thermodynamics, his lies about the fossil record
> and his fondness for quoting out of context make it difficult to
> correct all the errors in a short period of time.
> If you do have the debate, insist that it has a very narrow focus
> such as the age of the earth or flood geology. Those two topics
> are the least defensible and it doesn't give Gish a chance to
> attack evolution instead of defending his so called science.
> Maybe instead of being on the defensive, you could go for the
> jugular. Point out that evolution is taught at every respectable
> university in the world including Christian ones. Point out
> statements from Christian leaders and scientists accepting
> Then REALLY nail him. Discuss the fossil sequence of reptile to
> mammal and point out how Gish said (says?) such animals couldn't
> exist. Then ask if they aren't transitional, what would be?
> You might want to read the transcript of another debate with Gish
> to see what kind of arguments he's fond of.
If Christopher thinks he can get the proposition adequately focused,
and can get it focused on a subject he feels comfortable discussing,
then I still suggest he do it - especially if it's in the area of
astronomy. The only caveat that I would have to this is that he not
get bogged down in Big Bang cosmology. YECs hammer on Big Bang
cosmology in all kinds of ways, and the fact is that the actual
origin of the universe is totally *beside the point*. All that is
relevant is the fact that *what astronomers observe of the universe
right now* is that the universe has been in existence *far* longer
than just ten thousand years. *Just as one trivial example*, SN1987A
occurred about 168,000 years ago, and that's 158,000 years that
falsifies young earth creationism! Astronomical observation destroys
right from the get-go the YEC canard that "We don't really know that
there was distant past since no one was there to see, scientists only
*conjecture* a distant past based on 'uniformitarian' assumptions."
This idea that non-YECs shouldn't engage YECs is, from my
perspective, quite wrong. I was a young earth creationist, and it was
seeing competent people engage YECs by which I saw that things
weren't quite as YECs had made them out to be and that there were
some critical issues that YECs had simply not addressed. While I
agree with the comments that the majority of such an audience is not
interested in digging into the relevant details, this is not true of
everyone. But what it does mean for any person who is considering
engaging an experienced YEC debater is that he *must* be comfortable
with "thinking on his feet" in the area of discussion; he *must* be
familiar with detailed information that is relevant to the area of
discussion; he *must* be prepared ahead of time with what he's going
to present when he's in the affirmative (or what others have meant
by "going on the offense"), right down to the length of time it
really takes to give this presentation, as well as preparing for
potential rebuttals; and he *must* be prepared with relevant handout
information for those who are interested (he should have a whole
table with such information printed out and ready for the taking,
along with a sign saying as much; charge nickels and dimes to recover
costs if you want). In other words, doing this takes a great deal of
preparation. The thing is that Gish, having done this for decades, is
obviously already prepared. For his opponent, who's almost always
very rarely (if ever) engaging in a debate format, this requires a
great deal of extra time for preparation.
I argue that Gish *should* be debated, but that any person
considering doing it should consider it carefully and should plan and
prepare well. This is not a small investment of time for the
Regarding Gish on astronomy in particular, I noted the following when
I visited the web page with the Gish/Zindler discussion, which was a
transcript of a radio talk show that the two were on (Bleikamp is the
| Jim Bleikamp:
| At this point time is starting to become a factor so I'm going to
| plead with everybody - callers, guests alike - to be as brief as
| possible. And we go to Art in Bexley. You're on WTVN.Art: Yes,
| I'd like to know how old Dr. Gish feels the world and the
| universe are?
| Duane Gish:
| I have an opinion on that. I want to say first of all, that the
| time question is irrelevant to the how question. [54 ] There are
| creation scientists and conservative Christian theologians who
| accept a very old age for the earth. [55 ] There are many who do
| not accept that. Now personally, I believe there is much evidence
| to indicate things are much, much younger than the billions of
| years suggested by... Art: How old do you think they are?
| Duane Gish:
| The evolutionists... and commonly suggested... based upon the
| upper limits established in certain processes is around ten
| thousand years, plus or minus. Now, let me emphasize immediately,
| I would not base my case for creation on that or any other
| particular age for the earth.  What we are pleading is that
| all of the evidence related to the question of the age of the
| earth... the many processes that indicate that things are young,
| the processes that indicate things could be old, that all this
| evidence be objectively and carefully evaluated...
| Jim Bleikamp:
| Okay Duane, caller, caller, Art go ahead.
| Duane Gish:
| Excuse me.Art: And if... How would you care to objectively
| evaluate the fact that we can see light from stars that are more
| than ten thousand light years away from us. Doesn't that kind of
| blow your...
| Duane Gish:
| Well if a star is say a million light years away, and we have a
| pretty good idea that it is, it would obviously, at the rate of
| 186,000 miles per second, take a million years to get here,
| there's no question about that. But if the universe, on the other
| hand, was supernaturally created, you see, that light did not
| necessarily start from the star. Now in our particular model...
| Art: How? How can light not start from a star?
| Duane Gish:
| Because, if god created the earth, and he created the stars, and
| if he, as he said in the scri... in the Bible, [57 ] that he
| created stars to be for signs and seasons on the earth, obviously
| he'd have to make them visible immediately.
| Jim Bleikamp:
| Okay, okay, I want to give Frank a shot. (Gish keeps blathering
| on for several seconds in the background, behind Bleikamp, but
| his words cannot be retrieved from the tape.)
| Jim Bleikamp:
| Art, I'm gonna give Frank a shot... Duane, I'm calling on Frank.
| I said Frank, not Duane. Frank, go ahead.
| Frank Zindler:
| We can see here that Dr. Gish can only make theological
| statements. He's not saying anything that remotely looks like
| science. What he is showing is once again, that creationism is a
| game without rules. What he is just saying is that if anything
| out there, whether it's the stars or the Green River shale with
| six million varves that look like they took six million years to
| form... if you come up with anything like that, it's just because
| god zapped it that way. The universe is here with a false
| appearance of age even though he knows by revelation it was
| zapped here in 4004 B.C. 
| Duane Gish:
| We don't say that at all, no.
So as you can see Gish takes the "apparent age" approach, and thus
anyone who would discuss this area with him would need to be prepared
to discuss the YEC apparent age concept.
First of all, it's easy to point out the fact that such a concept
simply is not a scientific concept at all.
Second, it's damaging to "scientific creationism" to point out that
the concept actually *agrees* that it is true that the relevant
scientific data does indicate antiquity (even while the concept
treats the data itself as being "fake").
Third, in the context of discussing the apparent age concept *and*
astronomy, SN1987A makes a really great focusing example for talking
the audience through some real world implications of the apparent age
concept (and if you had a computer projector, it would be even so
much better to show relevant images downloaded from the internet
while you talk about these aspects of the example): (1) We observed
the explosion of this star, but if the universe didn't even exist
168,000 years ago, then we observed an explosion that never happened.
(Then if you have a picture of SN1987A showing, you can point to it
and say, "See that? We witnessed this explosion. Did that explosion
take place?" Then point to Gish and say, "Despite the fact that we
[astronomers] have observed the explosion of this star, this man
argues that that explosion is not real and never happened!" Note that
the word "witnessed" in this quote is an important word.) You then
continue these aspects with (2) The light energy from the explosion
hit the primary gas ring, and the ring lit up. ("Did the light really
travel from the explosion to the primary gas ring and then get
reflected to the earth? This is what we directly observed to have
taken place. This man [Gish] says it never happened!") (3) The light
never traveled through two dust sheets in the Large Magellanic Cloud
galaxy that happened to be between SN1987A and the earth, and we
observed the refraction circles. ("Did the light really travel
through these dust sheets and get refracted by them? We have directly
observed that this is what happened. This man says that this light
never traveled through the dust sheets, contrary to what we have
directly observed to have taken place.")
It's when you make such a real world application of the apparent age
concept, rather than just discussing it in the abstract, that people
begin to see how silly a notion it really is. (Indeed, I would not be
surprised to see Gish back-pedal real fast about these real world
implications of the apparent age concept, because in my experience
most YECs actually do try to run away from these implications when
they are pointed out. But you simply hold his feet to the fire and
refuse to let him beg off the implications of what is, after all,
*his* concept, not yours!)
Todd S. Greene
- Hi Dave:
Thanks for you rpost on Gish. I've never heard of him but he sounds like the rev. Jim Jones, or Koresh himself. Another nut on the scene was the Rev. Richard G. Butler, founder of the Nazi fomed Aryan Nations. thanks again,
Dave Oldridge <doldridg@...> wrote:On 2 Mar 2003 at 20:38, Don Tipton gizzard2003@yahoo. wrote:
> Hi All:Gish is the extremely glib author of "Evolution: The Fossils Say No,"
> It might be helpful for someone on this site to give a
> profile of Gish, so those of us who aren't familiar with his
> positions or work, aims and background can give our opinion too.
> I have never heard of Gish,and take it he is a creationist of some
> note, or un-note. No process of dialogue can go forward by just
> demonizing, how about some real information, who is this guy and why
> is everyone going ballistic about his abilities to talk? Thanks in
and "Evolution: The Fossils Still Say No!" He is also a principal
leader in the Institute for Creation Research and continually tours
the country speaking from borrowed pulpits to spread his (heretical
by my lights) version of Christianity and peddle his books. He has,
to my knowledge, done NO peer reviewed science since his PhD thesis
(biochemistry many decades ago) but has made his entire living
attacking evolutionary biology. He and Henry Morris have been a team
for a long time.
Of course the theory that the fossils are the only, or even the
primary evidence for evolution in modern times is an incorrect one.
And the fossils not only do NOT say "NO!" as Gish contends, but they
very emphatically say yes. The gaps are no greater than expected
given the way fossils form and the number of them we can actually
expect from any particular period. Not one "fossil" has, for
example, been found of a Passenger Pigeon. These birds used to
darken the skies in eastern North America. There were literally
BILLIONS of them, but they have been extinct now for about a century.
(The last known member of the species died in captivity in 1914).
The cause? They were systematically hunted for meat on an industrial
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