Duane Tolbert Gish
(born February 17 1921
) is an American
biochemist who is one of the most prominent and outspoken members of the creationist movement
. Gish was formerly vice-president of the Institute for Creation Research
and the author of numerous publications on the subject of creation science
. A strong critic of Darwinian evolution
and proponent for the teaching of creation science in schools
, he has been a peripatetic
advocate, touring throughout the United States and other countries, to deliver lectures and participate in public debates with supporters of biological evolution
Gish, a twin, was born in White City
, the youngest of nine children. He received a B.S. degree from UCLA
in 1949 and a Ph.D. in biochemistry
from the University of California, Berkeley
in 1953. He worked as an Assistant Research Associate at Berkeley, and Assistant Professor at Cornell University Medical College
performing biomedical and biochemical research for eighteen years, joining the Upjohn Company
as a Research Associate in 1960.
In 1971 Gish became a member of the faculty at San Diego Christian College working in their research division, before accepting a position at the Institute for Creation Research (independent since 1981). He is the author of several books and articles espousing the tenets of creationism. His best known work, Evolution: The Fossils Say No!, published in 1978, has been widely accepted by antievolutionists as an authoritative reference for creationist concepts.
Gish has been called "the T.H. Huxley of creationism" for the influence he holds spreading creationism and for his sometimes abrasive style with supporters of evolution. Gish has been a frequent debator with prominent scientists working in evolution, and is active promoting creationism through seminars and lectures. Gish currently holds the position of Senior Vice-President Emeritus at the ICR.
Beliefs regarding creationism and evolution
First a practicing Methodist
at age ten, and later becoming a fundamentalist in the Baptist
church, Gish has long held that Biblical creation story was an historical fact. After reading Evolution: Science Falsely So-Called
in the late 1950s, Gish became persuaded that science had produced falsifying evidence against biological evolutionary theory, and that various fields of science offered corroborating evidence in support of Biblical creation
. He then joined the American Scientific Affiliation
(ASA), an association of Christian scientists, mistakenly assuming the group to be aligned with creationism. Through his affiliation at the ASA, Gish met geneticist
and creationist, William J. Tinkle, who in 1961 invited Gish to join his newly formed anti-evolution caucus within the ASA.
Gish has extensively discussed his belief that chemical evolution fails to address the question of abiogenesis and the origins of life. Gish initially regarded the Earth's age as irrelevant to creationism, but later became convinced of a Young Earth, in line with other ICR members.
Gish uses a rapid-fire approach during a debate, presenting arguments and changing topics very quickly. The approach has been dubbed the "Gish Gallop" by Eugenie Scott
and criticized for failing to answer objections raised by his opponents.
Gish uses a standardized presentation during debates. While undertaking research for a debate with Gish, Michael Shermer noted that for several debates Gish's opening, assumptions about his opponent, slides and even jokes remained identical. In the debate itself, Shermer stated he was not an atheist and willing to accept the existence of a divine creator, but Gish's rebuttal concerned itself primarily with proving that Shermer was an atheist and therefore immoral.
Massimo Pigliucci, who has debated Gish five times, noted that Gish ignores evidence contrary to his religious beliefs. Others have accused Gish of stonewalling arguments with fabricated facts or figures.
In a debate with Gish, Ian Plimer, head of the Geology department at the University of Newcastle, Australia, who considered it a political rather than scientific debate and thus refused to argue genteelly about scientific minutiae, instead debated Gish in a street-fighting style which a Sydney Morning Herald reporter described as going in "boots and all, aiming for the opponents kneecaps" in which: "Professor Plimer mocked, ridiculed and challenged every tenet that the movement holds dear, and made a string of blunt personal accusations about some of its more prominent members.
Disputed claims made by Gish
Gish's arguments against evolution have been criticized by various members of the scientific community
as being incorrect. Examples include:
- Claiming there are no fossil precursors to the dinosaur Triceratops, a claim Gish has made since 1987. Examples of Triceratops precursors include Monoclonius and Protoceratops with changes in bony frill, size and number of horns predicted by the theory of evolution. Gish has made other similarly incorrect statements about the fossil record, including claims about transitional forms, the fossil record for birds and the status of the Archaeopteryx as a reptile or bird. Gish's rebuttal of this criticism has been rebutted in turn.
- Claiming that Solly Zuckerman had access to modern knowledge of Australopithecus yet still stated they were not ancestors of Homo sapiens; Zuckerman's original conclusions were based on evidence available before Lucy was discovered, a fossil which revolutionized the field of physical anthropology.
- Claiming that Neanderthals were modern humans of 'fully human Homo sapiens just like you and me', which Richard Trott pointed out was false given the morphological difference between modern humans and Neanderthals.
- Claiming that evolution by natural selection is rendered impossible by the second law of thermodynamics. The overwhelming scientific consensus is that Gish's claim is false.
- Claiming that Parasaurolophus used its distinctive crest as a mixing chamber for breathing fire. This hypothesis is regarded as a folkloric myth which should not be taken literally, and there is no evidence of the other features that would be needed. The scientific consensus at the time Gish made the claim was that the crest was used as a resonating chamber to produce vocalisations.
Gish appeared on Penn and Teller's Showtime television show Bullshit! in 2004, stating that creation and evolution were equally scientific, that both were in fact non-scientific, offering as proof his belief that the Grand Canyon was created by the rupture of a natural dam, cutting through layers deposited during the Biblical flood. In the same episode, Eugenie Scott noted that Gish had not kept up with the relevant literature and had not done any professional research in his field since his work at Upjohn, instead producing only creationism-related work for a popular audience.
Scientist John Cole reviewed Gish's revised edition of Evolution, the fossils say no! saying "it is daunting to try to review a book which is rife with error and misunderstanding on every page. Cole noted, "Gish misconstrues statements by Gould, Simpson, Stanley, Raup, and many others - even though by the time this 'new' edition was published he had been corrected in person and in print, so ignorance is no excuse (if it ever was).
- Bonnie Snellenberger; Gish, Duane T.; D Dish; Earl Snellenberger The Amazing Story of Creation: From Science and the Bible. Green forest, AR: Master Books.
- Hillestad, George M.; Morris, Henry; Gish, Duane T. (1974). Creation: acts, facts, impacts. [San Diego, Calif: ICR Pub. Co.
- D. Gish Creation Scientists Answer Their Critics. El Cajon, Calif: Institute for Creation Research.
- Gish, Duane T. Creationist Research 1964-1988. Creation Research Society.
- Gish, Duane T. Dinosaurs: Those Terrible Lizards. Green forest, AR: Master Books.
- Gloria Clanin; Gish, Duane T.; Earl Snellenberger; Bonita Snellenberger Dinosaurs by Design. Green forest, AR: Master Books.
- Gish, Duane T. (1972). Evidence against evolution. Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers.
- Gish, Duane T. (1979, 1986). Evolution, the fossils say no!. San Diego, Calif: Creation-Life Publishers.
- Gish, Duane T. (1985). Evolution: the challenge of the fossil record. San Diego, Calif: Creation-Life Publishers.
- Gish, Duane T. Manipulating life, where does it stop?: Genetic engineering. Green forest, AR: Master Books.
- Gish, Duane T. Speculations and Experiments on the Origins of Life. New Leaf Pr.
- Gish, Duane T. Teaching Creation Science in Public Schools. El Cajon, Calif: Institute for Creation Research.
- Rohrer, Donald H.; Gish, Duane T. (1978). Up with creation!: ICR acts/facts/impacts, 1976-1977. San Diego, Calif: Creation-Life Publishers.
- Gish, Duane T. (1995). Evolution: The Fossils Still Say No!. Master Books.