Dr. Duane Gish, of the Institute for Creation Research, has lectured on the young-earth creationist position for many years. In the 1980s, a number of books critical of these views were published, particularly:
Kitcher -- Abusing Science, 1982
Futuyma -- Science on Trial, 1983
Ruse -- Darwinism Defended, 1982
Eldredge -- The Monkey Business, 1982
Godfrey -- Scientists Confront Creationism, 1983
Dr. Gish began a book of his own in the middle 80s; it was published in 1993 as "Creation Scientists Answer their Critics." For the most part, it appears to have considered only publications through 1985, although there are a few 1987 citations, and one 1989 citation in the bibliography. The five books cited above are the ones treated in depth.
Two reviews of the Gish book appeared in PERSPECTIVES, the quarterly journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, in the 9/94 issue. These two reviews are reprinted below, by permission of the authors and the ASA PERSPECTIVES editor, Dr. Jack Haas, of Gordon College.
The first review is critical; the second is more forgiving. Both reviews agree that Dr. Gish "scored some points" in the book. The book itself is available from ICR at Box 2667, El Cajon, CA 92021.
Subject: Re: Gish
Date: 09-Jan-95 at 01:00
From: "James J. Lippard" (lippard@PrimeNet.Com)
To: "John W. (Burgy) Burgeson" (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Review of Creation Scientists Answer Their Critics
The following appeared in "Perspectives in Science and Christian Faith", the journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, in the September 1994 issue (vol. 46, no. 3, pp. 193-195), and is reprinted here with the permission of the editor. (The title is mine and did not appear with the published version.) I thank Chris Stassen, Richard Trott, Andrew MacRae, and Chris Nedin for their helpful comments on earlier drafts.
Duane Gish Replies to a Few of His Critics
By Jim Lippard
Last year, the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) published Duane Gish's "Creation Scientists Answer Their Critics", a 451-page book which, according to its back cover, "evaluates the major arguments for and against special creation and evolution and defends creation scientists against the distorted, inaccurate, and often vicious attacks of evolutionists." The book is, in effect, the creationist counterpart to Arthur N. Strahler's 1987 book, "Science and Earth History: The Evolution/Creation Controversy". A comparison of the two books is instructive. Strahler's 552 pages provide an introduction to mainstream views of the sciences involved in the creation/evolution controversy while also describing and rebutting numerous creationist objections to those views. But while Strahler's book is sober and scholarly in style and generally allows creationists to speak for themselves, Gish uses inflammatory language and is usually highly selective in his quotations from critics. Strahler sampled a wide variety of creationist works, drawing from about 100 creationist books and articles, including numerous articles in the ICR's "Impact" series and Technical Monographs, the "Ex Nihilo Technical Journal", the "Creation Research Society Quarterly", and "Origins Research". Gish, on the other hand, selects only a tiny sample of anti-creationist works. While Strahler took great pains to make his book up-to-date, with 328 (45%) of the 722 entries in his bibliography less than eight years old, Gish ignores recent work-- only 26 (6%) of his 428 references are from the eight years preceding his book's publication. In short, while Strahler's book is fair, balanced, and up-to-date (as of 1987, at least), Gish's book is neither fair, balanced, nor up-to-date.
According to Gish, evolutionists are "smug" (pp. 12, 16), "gripped ... firmly [by] dogma" (p. 13), "arrogant" (pp. 16, 295, 306), "vicious" (pp. 19, 71, 162, 194, 205, 334, 343, etc.), "slanderous" (pp. 88, 96, 193), "virulent" (pp. 98, 141, 275, 334), and "bitter" (pp. 343, 357). Creationists, on the other hand, are "the voices of scientific reason" (p. 13), taking part in a "renaissance" (p. 15), and are promoting "an open, free, and thorough scientific challenge to evolutionary theory" (p. 18). It is impossible to read more than a few pages of Gish's book without encountering emotion-laden adjectives. And if Gish can describe an evolutionist as an "atheist," a "humanist," or a "Marxist," he rarely hesitates to do so (pp. 21, 22, 29, 72, 145, 253, etc.). It is ironic, then, that Gish advises evolutionists to avoid "vicious, ad hominem attacks" (pp. 71, 107).
Gish maintains his picture of evolutionists as atheists, agnostics, humanists, and Marxists by ignoring Christian critics of creationism. The reader of Gish's book is left in the dark not only about Christians who advocate some form of theistic evolution, but about old-earth and progressive creationists as well. The ASA, the Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute, and the Reasons to Believe Institute are all absent from the book--only young-earthers are mentioned. In part this maneuver is made possible by Gish's refusal to defend a young earth or flood geology, despite the fact that these tenets of creationism are a central focus of ICR literature. Christian critics of creationism are hardly the only critics ignored. Gish refers to only a few anti-creationist works: only three books in any detail, all published prior to 1984. He responds (p. 103) to only a single article from the thirty issues of the National Center for Science Education's "Creation/Evolution" ("C/E") journal published prior to his book: a 1981 article about Gish's bombardier beetle claims by Christopher Gregory Weber. Even here, Gish lets Robert Kofahl's reply (also published in "C/E") do the work of responding, and ignores Weber's rebuttal in the same issue. And 100 pages later (p. 204), Gish falsely claims that "evolutionists made no attempt to answer my challenge to explain how an ordinary beetle could have evolved into a bombardier by any mode of evolution"--contradicting his mention of "Weber's attempt to explain the evolution of the bombardier beetle from an ordinary beetle" on the previously cited page. One other article from "C/E" is mentioned by Gish (pp. 88-89), Kenneth Miller's "Answers to the Standard Creationist Arguments" from 1982. Gish writes (p. 89) that "In a critique later in this book, we will return to a discussion of Miller's attempt to provide answers," but he never does. Instead, he attacks Miller for falsely charging him with quoting E. J. H. Corner out of context, ignoring the fact that Miller corrected and apologized for his mistake in "C/E" (IX:41-43). Had Gish made use of "C/E", he would have had to correct his erroneous statements about Karl Popper (pp. 35-36; "C/E" XVIII:9-14), been unable to claim that Richard Lewontin "neither names the culprit nor provides any documentation" for his charge of being quoted out of context by creationists (pp. 252-253; "C/E" VI:34-36; the culprit was Gary Parker of the ICR), been forced to deal with the pseudogene evidence for common ancestry ("C/E" XIX:34-46; XXVII:45-49), needed to respond to Edward Max's thermodynamics challenge ("C/E" XXVII:53-55), and been unable to repeat his misleading defense of his false claim that there are chicken and bullfrog proteins that more closely resemble human proteins than the corresponding chimpanzee proteins (pp. 96-101; "C/E" XVII:1-9). On top of all this, Gish incorrectly identifies the editor, publisher, and address of "C/E" by using information that was about two years out-of-date at the time. It is also apparent from Gish's book that he has not read one of the most significant popular works arguing for evolution in recent years, Richard Dawkins' "The Blind Watchmaker" (1985). If he had, he would not have made the mistake of claiming (p. 54) that "The white coat color of the polar bear cannot be adaptive, however, since he has no predator"--an argument rightly ridiculed by Dawkins on pp. 38-39 of his book.
When Gish does cite anti-creationist sources, it is often in an odd way. Chris McGowan's 1984 book, "In the Beginning... A Scientist Shows Why the Creationists Are Wrong", is almost entirely about the fossil record, and much of it criticizes Gish. Gish cites McGowan's book only once, on p. 163, regarding thermodynamics. On the other hand, Gish cites (p. 62, via secondary source) E. O. Wiley and Daniel Brooks' "Evolution as Entropy", regarding the significance of natural selection, but ignores their work in his thermodynamics chapter. Finally, Gish sometimes seems to go out of his way to miss a critic's point. He discusses David Raup's statement that the geologic column was established by creationists prior to Darwin, and not based on the assumption of evolution (pp. 303-304). Gish quotes Raup saying that "Geochronology depends upon the existence of a virtually exceptionless sequence of distinctive objects in rocks." Gish suggests that this is contradicted by Raup's later statement that "Not uncommonly, however, demonstrably young rocks are found "beneath" older rocks," but only by ignoring what Raup says immediately thereafter about the geological evidence for thrust faulting. Raup explicitly states that when there is such evidence, "the reversal of the order is not a meaningful exception to the Law of Superposition." Such structural deformations can be detected and the original order of rock sequences restored using geometric principles which are taught in any good introductory geology text, and not, as Gish goes on to claim, "by the fossils they contain." This is demonstrated by their routine application to rocks without fossils. Further, Gish describes Raup as criticizing "some creationists." He doesn't mention that he himself wrote that the geologic column "is based on the assumption of evolution" ("Evolution: The Challenge of the Fossil Record", 1985, p. 47)--three years after having admitted when shown a 1795 geologic map that this was a mistake (McGowan, "In the Beginning...", p. 100).
Gish's book is not entirely without value. He does demonstrate that critics of creationism have made mistakes--sometimes sloppy ones-- in their arguments against creationism and creationists. He has made some objections against evolution which show the need for continued research. But this is entirely overshadowed by the fact that his book suffers from the same flaws he finds in the work of evolutionists, and to a much greater degree. To have accomplished the goal of the book's title, he should have begun with "C/E", some old-earth creationist works such as Daniel Wonderly's "Neglect of Geologic Data: Sedimentary Strata Compared with Young-Earth Creationist Writings", and a copy of Strahler's book--to which Gish makes not a single reference.
Jim Lippard is a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy at the University of Arizona. He is a regular contributor to "Creation/Evolution" and "Skeptic" magazine.
A second review of Dr. Gish's book appeared in the same issue of PERSPECTIVES. Here it is:
CREATION SCIENTISTS ANSWER THEIR CRITICS, by Duane T. Gish. El Cajon, California: Institute for Creation Research, 1993. 451 pages, bibliography, two indexes, footnotes. Softcover; $16.95.
The appearance in recent years of a plethora of publications attacking creation-science has led many people to wonder if the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), and in particular, its most prominent proponent, Dr. Duane Gish, has been both refuted and discredited. Many readers of ABUSING SCIENCE (Kitcher, 1982), THE MONKEY BUSINESS (Eldredge, 1982), EVOLUTION VERSUS CREATIONISM (Zetterberg, 1983), SCIENTISTS CONFRONT CREATIONISM (Godfrey, 1983), SCIENCE ON TRIAL (Futuyma, 1893) or any of the many other fourteen anti-creation books published between 1976 and 1985 may have concluded as much. If this is your experience, this book is for you. Dr. Gish rebuts several of these authors on selected portions of their work, doing an excellent job of refutation.
The first chapters set the stage. Following a short historical overview, there is a well written discussion of terminology and the theme of "scientific integrity." Next follow two topical chapters, one on the fossil record, in which Dr. Gish responds to the arguments of Eldredge, Godfrey, Gould, Kitcher and Futuyma, the other on thermodynamics, where the arguments of Huxley, Asimov and Patterson, among others, are rebutted. Three chapters then address specific anti-creationist books; Gish's tongue-in-cheek chapter headings "Kitcher Abuses Science," "Eldredge and His Monkey Business," and "Science Confronts Evolutionists" make them easy to identify! The last chapter, which ought to be an appendix, is a compendium of many of the quotations which ICR loves to use and which cause so much unhappiness in the ranks of the scientific-naturalist community.
Espousal of a minority viewpoint is difficult; when this viewpoint is unpopular, doubly so. Creation Science, as defined and proclaimed by ICR, goes beyond this level, attacking, as it does, the intellectual foundations of whole areas of inquiry. As scientists have a long history of name-calling on much less volatile issues, it is hardly unexpected that many bitter anti-creation works appeared. What is surprising, however, as Dr. Gish documents, is their apparent lack of responsible scholarship, "errors of fact," as opposed to "differences in opinion," in many places.
Those committed to the "evolution is fact" position will do well to avoid this book. It will not do nice things to your blood pressure and it will give you uneasy feelings about some rather well known scientists. Those committed to the "evolution is myth" position can also ignore the book. Unless you are willing to read the opposition -- in detail and carefully -- it is simply a sermon you've heard before.
Those who have read -- carefully -- one or more of the books cited above, and also have given prior publications by ICR a fair hearing, will benefit from Dr. Gish's work. For such, I recommend it as a permanent library acquisition. The footnotes are copious, the quotations meticulously documented, the bibliography extensive, the index comprehensive.
Their are weaknesses in this book. Dr. Gish frequently repeats himself and sometimes sermonizes (not Biblically). His critics are usually described as "virulent" (Dr. Raup is an exception); the book would have benefitted from a little more Thesaurus activity. Section headings are needed. The Chatterjee find in Texas is described as if no controversy existed about it, which weakens the argument around it substantially. Finally, Creation Scientists are frequently referred to as if they constituted a significant minority of all scientists -- it is high time ICR made an attempt to quantify that minority. My estimate, from 30 years of study of the issues, is that such scientists are well under 1% of the whole. Your milage may differ.
Did Dr. Gish answer his critics? Absolutely. The ball is in their court.
Were the central issues get discussed? Incompletely. Both Dr. Gish, and his naturalistic critics, appear to focus on science as a "search for truth," rather than a "search for models." In popular writings on both sides, the tenuous line between science and philosophy is often blurred. This book continues the confusion. Yet, it is a worthwhile contribution to the continuing debate, certainly belonging in any library that welcomes the anti-creation publications.
Does this end the controversy? Surely you jest!
Reviewed July 31, 1993 by John W. Burgeson Senior Staff, Market Research, IBM Corporation Compuserve 73531,1501
This book review was published in PERSPECTIVES, the journal of the American Scientific Affiliation.
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