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The Talk.Origins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy

Duane Gish and Creationism

Richard Trott Rebuts Gish's Response

by Richard Trott
Copyright © 1994-1997
[Last Update: March 29, 1994]

[The following article is a point-by-point rebuttal of the response by Duane Gish to Richard Trott's critique of him. A heavily edited version of this rebuttal appeared in the Rutgers Review under a disappointingly inflammatory title chosen by the editors.]

Did Gish Contradict Himself?

GISH: I have been sent a copy of the article "Lying for Jesus: Duane Gish and Creationism at Rutgers" by Richard Trott. The very title of the article was inflammatory and reveals the extreme bias of the author.

Gish does not consider the possibility that the title was inspired by the demonstrably deceptive nature of his presentation.

GISH: I wish to respond to a few of Trott's assertions. He stated that I had contradicted myself "numerous times." He then proceeded to give one alleged example, . . .

I gave two examples, not one. Specifically:

1) Gish claimed that evolution was unfalsifiable, but he also claimed to have falsified evolution.

2) Gish first stated that creationism was not scientific, but he also claimed that it was scientific.

Gish claims that the second of these is an inaccurate paraphrase of what he said. However, the correction that he insists upon does nothing to remove the contradiction, as we shall see.

GISH: . . . misquoting me in doing so.

I did not quote Gish in the passage to which he is referring, so I could not have possibly misquoted him. I will choose to be charitable, however, and assume that Gish really meant to say that I misrepresented him, rather than misquoted him. More on this next.

GISH: He states, "Gish stated that neither evolution nor creationism is scientific since, among other things, neither is falsifiable. Gish proceeded to spend the remainder of his lecture attempting to falsify evolution." What I actually said was that neither evolution nor creation is a *scientific* *theory*, that no theory on origins can be a scientific theory, since there were no human witnesses to the origin of the universe, life or even a single living thing.

Gish says that he did not say that evolution is not scientific, but that it is not a scientific theory. I say that if Gish's claim that evolution is untestable and unfalsifiable is true, then evolution is not scientific. However, I will accept, as a matter of courtesy, Gish's minor correction to his statements since he is correct that he never concluded that evolution was not scientific.

But wait a minute! What about the original point? Does this mean that Gish was not self-contradictory? No. Neither contradiction has been successfully addressed by Gish, even with the minor correction in the second one of changing "scientific" to "scientific theory."

1) Early on in his lecture, Gish said, ". . . ultimately, there is no way to falsify evolution theory." Later, he said, ". . . this fact alone disproves the idea of evolution" and, "Well, I think this is one of the examples that totally falsifies Darwinian evolution, or any kind of evolution! I don't care what kind of evolution you're talking about." Well, which is it, Dr. Gish? Is evolution unfalsifiable or totally falsified? Gish fails to address this in his response.

2) In his lecture, Gish said: "And so neither creationism nor evolution is a testable scientific theory. They are theories about history. They are historical sciences." So, in the first sentence, creationism (and evolution) is not a scientific theory. But in the second sentence, it is a theory. And in the third, it is a science. ("Testable" is a redundancy in the first sentence, used by Gish for emphasis. One of the reasons creationism and evolution are not scientific theories according to Gish, is because they are not testable. Its presence in the first sentence does nothing to escape the contradiction.)

In other words, Gish has done an excellent job at distracting the reader from the actual issue, but he has done nothing to resolve the two contradictions in his lecture that I pointed out in my article.

GISH: These events took place in the unobservable past and are not repeatable today. I documented that claim by quoting an article by evolutionary biologists Paul Ehrlich and L.C. Birch (Nature 214: 352, 1967) who stated explicitly that the theory of evolution is outside of empirical science because no one can think of ways to test it.

None of this has anything to do with what I wrote in my article. I merely pointed out, in the article, that Gish cannot claim that evolution is both unfalsifiable and falsified. Furthermore, Gish cannot claim that creationism is not a scientific theory, but then call it a science and refer to it as a theory. These are contradictions.

GISH: I did state that evolution and creation have scientific characteristics, and can be discussed in scientific terms. Evolution and creation are theories about history, inferences based upon circumstantial evidence.

That's all very nice, but Gish also said other things that night and he contradicted himself as noted above.

GISH: I then proceeded to describe the circumstantial evidence from biology, the fossil record, thermodynamics, and probability laws which I maintain provides powerful positive support for creation.

The only reason Gish says he was able to provide any "positive support for creation" is because, as far as he is concerned, evidence against evolution is evidence for creation. In truth, virtually no positive evidence for creationism was presented the entire evening. Instead, Gish presented alleged problems with evolution.

In any event, it should be clear to anyone who has not allowed creationist dogma to completely obliterate any traces of their logical thinking skills that Gish contradicted himself.

The Fossil Record

GISH: Trott states that "Gish preached falsehoods about the fossil record." I notice that Trott fails completely to respond to the evidence I presented that no one has found any evidence whatsoever of ancestors for the vast array of complex invertebrates that abruptly appear fully formed in Cambrian rocks. . .

Gish has apparently mistaken my short examination of the low quality of his scholarship for a defense of evolution. It would have been impossible to enumerate each of Gish's fallacious points in such a small space, much less respond to them and then present a convincing case for evolution on top of it all. Nevertheless, let's examine Gish's above claim.

Gish claims that my article "fails completely to respond" to his claim about the Cambrian above. This is false. I wrote that Arthur N. Strahler's book Science and Earth History--The Evolution/Creation Controversy contained a section on possible precursors to Cambrian metazoans, refuting Gish's above claim that "no one has found any evidence whatsoever." Gish's ability to ignore the evidence does not mean that the evidence does not exist. Gish clearly wants the reader to believe that "complex invertebrates. . . abruptly appear" for the first time in Cambrian rocks. This is false. There are many fossils in Precambrian rocks and many of them are evidence of plausible candidates for ancestors of those found in Cambrian rocks. See "Proterozoic Metazoan Body Fossils" by Bruce N. Runnegar and Mikhail A. Fedonkin on pages 369-388 of The Proterozoic Biosphere edited by J. William Schoff and Cornelius Klein for a recent overview.

GISH: . . . and that, in spite of the billions times billions of fossil invertebrates and untold billions of fossil fishes, no one has found a single one of the billions times billions of fossil transitional forms between invertebrates and fishes that must exist if evolution is true.

Again, Gish's assertion that "Trott fails completely to respond" to this claim is false. (I directed the reader to pp. 404-406 of Strahler's above-cited book.) And again, my article was short and its purpose was not to prove the case for evolution. Nonetheless, I will point out that Gish himself stated in his talk that hundreds of thousands of fish killed in a "red tide" will not leave fossils. If fish only fossilize under specialized circumstances, does it surprise anyone (besides Gish) that the fossil record for aquatic invertebrates with no hard parts is even more sparse and erratic?

GISH: Every one of the major kinds of fishes appear in the fossil record fully formed, without a trace of an ancestor.

Gish's statement is simply false. For example, it was reported last year that a newly discovered fossil "fork-tailed 'thelodont'" of Silurian and Devonian age appears to be an excellent candidate for a close relative of jawed vertebrates (Wilson and Caldwell, Nature 361:442-444, "New Silurian and Devonian fork-tailed 'thelodonts' are jawless vertebrates with stomachs and deep bodies").

GISH: These facts alone establish that evolution has not taken place on the earth.

So Gish has again falsified an unfalsifiable proposition. How many times can he contradict himself? Besides, Gish's facts are wrong (see above).

GISH: Trott claims that Monoclonuis [sic] and Protoceratops were evolutionary precursors of Triceratops, three-horned dinosaur. Well, which is it Trott, Monoclonuis [sic] or Protoceratops? They both cannot be the ancestor.

It does not take an exceptional command of English to realize that "precursor" and "ancestor" do not necessarily mean "immediate precursor" and "immediate ancestor." (To expect to find the immediate ancestors of all species, one would need to have a perfect or near-perfect fossil record. Clearly, we do not have this.) It is possible, of course, to have more than one ancestor species (although only one immediate ancestor species). I suspect that my point was obvious to every reader except Gish.

GISH: As a matter of fact, neither was. Monoclonuis [sic] was a one-horned dinosaur, . . .

Gish has conveniently failed to mention the very relevant fact that Monoclonius also has two incipient horns above the eyes where full horns show up on Triceratops later.

GISH: . . . complete at its first appearance, . . .

What in the world would an incomplete specimen look like? Gish is being ridiculous.

GISH: . . . and no evolutionary paleontologist that I know of suggests that it was ancestral to Triceratops.

Actually, later in the letter, Gish quotes a passage from a book that suggests precisely this. Gish should look at page 429 of the Strahler book already cited (and from which Gish eventually quotes a passage). There, he will find a diagram, adapted from Edwin H. Colbert's The Age of Reptiles, indicating that Monoclonius is proposed as a possible ancestor of Triceratops.

GISH: Protoceratops had no horns at all, and is really misnamed. Romer (Vertebrate Paleontology, 3rd ed., p 163) states, "Protoceratops belies its name, for horns are not present."

Gish has misleadingly removed the context of Romer's statement. Romer's complete statement reads, "Protoceratops belies its name, for horns are not present; the nasal region, however, is elevated as a potential horn-cone area, and rugosities are present in some individuals in the areas in which the paired horns later developed." In other words, we find in Protoceratops exactly what we would expect to find in a precursor of Monoclonius and Triceratops: precursors of horns.

GISH: Weishampel, Dodson, and Osmolska (The Dinosauria, University of California Press, 1990, p. 610) concerning the protoceratopsids, writes [sic] of the "presumed ancestry for ceratopsids."

Actually, Weishampel, Dodson, and Osmolska are not the authors; they are the editors. The section of the book that Gish is quoting from is by Dodson and Currie. Gish's failure to spell "Monoclonius" correctly even once seems to indicate unfamiliarity with the ceratopsian fossil record. His miscitation of editors as authors seems to indicate unfamiliarity with the book and, by extension, the material it contains.

GISH: How could the protoceratopsids be ancestral to Triceratops when they were contemporaneous with Triceratops?

Wrong, Dr. Gish. The genus I cited, Protoceratops, precedes Triceratops in the fossil record. They are both Upper Cretaceous, but Upper Cretaceous spans around 20 million years. Obviously, just because two species date from the Upper Cretaceous does not necessarily mean that they were "contemporaneous" or that they arose at the same time.

Gish, incidentally, has executed a remarkable feat of selective reading. He quotes page 610 of The Dinosauria quite a bit in this passage. Pages 611-612 are taken up by a table that refutes Gish's claim here. The table lists Protoceratops as being "late Santonian or early Campanian." It lists Monoclonius as "late Campanian" and it lists Triceratops as "late Maastrichthian." In other words, these creatures were not contemporaneous as Gish claims. They appear in a sequence in the fossil record.

GISH: In fact, Weishampel and co-authors state (p.610) "Late Maastrichtian Leptoceratops gracilis, one of the most primitive protoceratopsids, was one of the last dinosaurs in North America."

Again, it is not Weishampel, et al. It is Dodson and Currie. In any event, Leptoceratops is not proposed as a possible ancestor of Triceratops. Protoceratops is. They are different genera. The fact that Leptoceratops hung on until later than almost any other dinosaur in North America is an utterly irrelevant point.

GISH: On that same page they state that "There is a sharp discontinuity in size and correlative allometric features between protoceratopsids and ceratopsids, and there is never confusion between members of one family and members of the other."

There is a temporal gap between Protoceratops and Monoclonius in the fossil record. Protoceratops is found only before the middle Campanian and Monoclonius is found only after the middle Campanian. A discontinuity is to be expected. This hardly demonstrates that Protoceratops could not have been an ancestor of ceratopsids. Protoceratops is in the right place in the fossil record. It has primitive forms of ceratopsian horns and frill. It is a perfectly plausible ancestor. Gish's claim that there is not a trace of ancestry for Triceratops in the fossil record is, therefore, false.

GISH: Thus, the horned dinosaurs, just as is the case with duckbilled dinosaurs, stegosaurids, and all other dinosaurs, appear fully formed, with no transitional forms.

Gish has failed to prove his case for Triceratops and the fossil record is even more complete for the long-crested horned dinosaur Torosaurus. Although I have no idea what a fossil that wasn't "fully formed" would look like, there are certainly intermediates among the duck-billed dinosaurs and many other dinosaurs, but I will not pursue this for several reasons. First, as can be seen above, Gish can make claims of missing transitional forms for many groups in one sentence. However, as can also be seen above, to show that he is wrong about a single one of these groups takes much space. Second, Gish is incapable of defending his claim regarding Triceratops and there is no reason to think that he would fare better (or engage in more honest argumentation) with other examples. Perhaps if Gish can assemble a competent defense of his claim regarding Triceratops or admit that he is simply wrong, then it would be worthwhile to discuss other genera as well. Third, space and readers' patience are limited. Gish has not demonstrated any interest in fair discussion or honest assessment of all the facts. There is no need to belabor this point.

Does Gish Omit Critical Information?

GISH: Trott, as do most evolutionists, touts Archaeopteryx as a transitional form between reptiles and birds.

Gish is implying that I "tout" Archaeopteryx to prove the case of evolution. I brought up Archaeopteryx to demonstrate the way Gish conceals pertinent information from his audience. Gish merely proves my point after his next sentence.

GISH: If evolution were true, evolutionists should be able to display thousands of undoubted transitional forms, but they usually mention only one possibility, Archaeopteryx.

Gish, perhaps unintentionally, implies that I only cited one transitional form. As we have already seen, this is false.

GISH: Archaeopteryx had feathers identical to those of modern birds. It had the basic form and pattern of the avian wing, perching feet, a skull totally birdlike, a furcula, or wishbone, and other features of a bird.

In my article, I wrote, "To make the absurd assertion that Archaeopteryx does not show features of a reptile, Gish must conceal from his audience facts about Archaeopteryx . . ." Gish proves my point above. He asserts that Archaeopteryx is a bird and lists only the bird-like characteristics of Archaeopteryx. If Gish were honest, he would mention reptilian characteristics of Archaeopteryx that are never found in modern birds such as teeth, a long bony tail, and a pubic peduncle. Thank you, Dr. Gish, for verifying my observation that you cannot be trusted to present information in an honest fashion.

Actually, Gish has exceeded my accusation. I merely accused him of omitting information when it came to Archaeopteryx. In the above, he indeed omits information, but he also gives information that is simply false. Archaeopteryx's skull is not "totally birdlike" as Gish states; on the contrary, it is quite reptilian (although "somewhat birdlike" might be accurate -- of course, this is what one would expect of a transitional form). No modern bird skulls have teeth. Archaeopteryx did not have a beak; modern birds do, of course. Archaeopteryx had a nasal opening separated from the eye by a preorbital fenestra; this is typical in dinosaurs but is not found in modern birds. In fact, I doubt that Gish could name a single quality of the skull of Archaeopteryx that is found in modern birds but never in dinosaurs. Gish will apparently say anything, no matter how unsupported by fact, if it will make him appear to win the argument. He seems to have no interest in presenting truthful information when it does not arrive at the conclusion he wants.

Another example: Gish says that the wings of Archaeopteryx were basically avian, but he neglects to mention that the wing bones were primitive reptilian. It is inconceivable that this is not pertinent to the discussion, but Gish omits it because the obvious interpretation of this fact does not conform with his preconceived notions. This is dishonest (or demonstrates that Gish possesses a level of ignorance and incompetence that I find difficult to believe).

Gish also appears to be applying a double standard. His usual retort to the point that Archaeopteryx had claws (a feature usually associated with reptiles and not with modern birds) is to point out that there are two species of modern birds that have claws. However, he has no problem pointing to the furcula (wishbone) of Archaeopteryx and saying that it means that Archaeopteryx was a bird and not a dinosaur. If Gish wanted to perform an honest assessment of the data, he would note that there were Cretaceous dinosaurs that possessed wishbones. Apparently, however, Gish is not interested in an honest assessment of the data, at least when the data is powerful evidence for evolution as it is in this case.

Lastly, Gish says that Archaeopteryx had "other features of a bird" but I don't think he can name a single "other" feature of Archaeopteryx that is found in modern birds and not in reptiles. In fact, for Gish's statement to be both true and relevant, he would need to name at least two (since "features" is plural). I challenge him to do so. Gish's writing all bears a strong resemblance to carefully worked-out obfuscation. In fact, I can not find anything inconsistent with this interpretation.

GISH: Furthermore, Chatterjee and others report that they found fossils of a bird in Texas, which they claim was 75 million years older than Archaeopteryx, but which, they say, in some respects, is even more birdlike than Archaeopteryx.

Chatterjee's interpretation of his fossil find is highly controversial. (One important point to be made is that no feathers have been found in association with Chatterjee's find.) He may simply be wrong, which settles the problem. But is there really a problem if Chatterjee is correct?

No. Many paleontologists have argued that Archaeopteryx was not directly ancestral to modern birds but was a "side-branch" that shared a common ancestor with the lineage that eventually produced modern birds. Certainly, if Chatterjee's find was a fully modern bird, there would be problems. But this is not Chatterjee's (or anyone else's) interpretation of his find.

GISH: Finally, not a trace of transitional forms can be found for any of the other flying creatures -- flying reptiles, bats (flying mammals), and flying insects, all of which appear fully formed.

Flying creatures are not good candidates for fossilization. Their remains are generally light and fragile and they usually do not inhabit environments conducive to fossilization. Their sparse fossil record should hardly be surprising.

But this is beside the point. I thank Dr. Gish for demonstrating beyond any doubt that I was correct to write that he deals with reptilian characteristics of Archaeopteryx by pretending they don't exist and not telling his audiences about them.

The Evidence Available To Zuckerman

GISH: Trott claims that I am either incredibly ignorant or showed "a stunning lack of integrity" when I stated that when Lord Zuckerman wrote in 1970 that Australopithecus was not ancestral to Homo sapiens, he had most of the evidence that we have today. Trott states that many new discoveries have been made since then. My remarks were specifically referring to Australopithecus.

My remarks were also referring specifically to Australopithecus.

GISH: Lord Zuckerman and his scientific team spent 15 years studying fossils of Australopithecus supposedly one to two million years younger, or more recent in time, than Johanson's "Lucy" (Australopithecus afarensis).

Nonetheless, in 1970, Zuckerman did not have much of the important evidence that we have today. He had none of Johanson's discoveries, for instance, which were downright revolutionary.

GISH: If anything, they should be more advanced, or manlike than "Lucy."

It is difficult to interpret this statement as anything less than a deliberate distortion of evolutionary theory. No working paleontologist today believes that all species of Australopithecus were ancestral to Homo. A simplified tree might be drawn as follows:

              Australopithecus afarensis (e.g., "Lucy")
                               /    \
                              /      \
                             /        \
                  later extinct        \
                 australopithecines     \
                analyzed by Zuckerman    \
           (e.g., Australopithecus        \
                  boisei)                  \
                                       early Homo
                                         modern man

It is also possible that Australopithecus afarensis shared a common ancestor with the later species of Australopithecus, rather than actually being ancestral to these species.

In either case, why should the australopithecines studied by Zuckerman be more man-like than "Lucy"? Looking at the above tree, one can see that there is no reason to expect this.

Anyway, Gish has yet to either admit that his statement (that Zuckerman had all the evidence, more or less, that we have today) was, in fact, absurdly false or to demonstrate that it is true.

GISH: Their research convinced Lord Zuckerman and his research team that these creatures did not walk upright and were not intermediate between ape and man.

Zuckerman's conclusions are entirely beside the point. He did not have much of the important data that we have today and Gish either lied or demonstrated monstrous incompetence when he said that Zuckerman did. That was my point and Gish simply ignores it.

GISH: Furthermore, Trott fails to mention entirely that I stated that Charles Oxnard had studied these fossils during the two decades since publication of Lord Zuckerman's book, and Oxnard states emphatically that his research, utilizing the most sophisticated methods of anatomical research, reveals that the australopithecines did not walk upright in a human manner, . . .

I didn't mention it because it was irrelevant to my point (that Gish either lied about the data pool that Zuckerman had or is abysmally ignorant and therefore completely unqualified to make any judgments in matters concerning physical anthropology). I could not have possibly mentioned every assertion in Gish's talk in my short article.

Anyway, Oxnard concluded that australopithecines walked upright, but that they did not walk upright in a human manner. So which is it, Dr. Gish? Did at least some australopithecines walk upright, as Oxnard concluded, or did they not walk upright, as Zuckerman concluded? They can't both be right!

GISH: . . . were not intermediate between ape and man, and definitely were not human ancestors. He includes Johanson's fossils in his analysis. (The Order of Man, Yale University Press, 1984, p.332).

Again, note that nothing Gish has said changes the fact that he either lied or was appallingly ignorant when he said that Zuckerman had all the information we have today. He is huffing and puffing about unrelated things and only pretending to answer the actual objection that I raised.

Anyway, Gish needs a serious lesson in reading comprehension. Oxnard does not include Johanson's fossils in the analysis cited by Gish. There is nothing in the passage that Gish cites to indicate that Oxnard had done any analysis of Johanson's fossils. In fact, on the previous page (p. 331), Oxnard writes: "The claim (e.g. Johanson and White 1979) that these new australopithecines are ancestral to both humans and later australopithecines may turn out to be correct. But the Afar fossils are new and have not yet been studied by independent laboratories to allow it to be corroborated. It is just as possible that the claim will turn out to be wrong." In other words, at the time of Oxnard's writing, Johanson's fossils were too new to have been included in Oxnard's analysis and he finds it completely plausible that they are human ancestors, although he also finds it plausible that they are not. (Incidentally, Oxnard does briefly discuss studies performed by others on the Afar fossils a few pages after the page cited by Gish, but this hardly constitutes Oxnard "utilizing the most sophisticated methods of anatomical research" as Gish would apparently have us believe.)

But more to the original point, Zuckerman did not include Australopithecus afarensis in his analyses. It would have been impossible because the seminal discovery of this species had not yet occurred. But Gish nonetheless informed his audience, falsely, that Zuckerman basically had all the evidence we have today.

Does Evolution Require Life On Mars?

GISH: Trott labeled my remark about evolutionists predicting that organisms would be found on Mars as laughable. Evolutionists were not laughing when they made these predictions, and they certainly were not laughing when tests failed to produce evidence of life on Mars. In fact, not a single molecule of any kind related to life was found.

Did evolutionists predict that there had to be life on Mars, or did they predict that there might be life on Mars? Did the scientists who made these predictions have adequate data to know conditions, past and present, on Mars? Did all, or even most, evolutionists predict life on Mars? Gish presents the information as if there was nearly universal assent among evolutionists that life would certainly be found on Mars; this was simply not the case and is dishonest of Gish. Gish also presents the information as if the fact that Mars is lifeless somehow presents a challenge to evolutionary theory; this is laughable.

If Duane Gish wishes to present a rigorous explanation as to why evolutionary theory predicts that there must be life on Mars (thus, explaining why a lifeless Mars is a problem for evolutionary theory), I will be happy to discuss this further. I predict that he will not do this but will nonetheless continue making his preposterous (and quite funny) statements on the matter.

Does The Second Law Of Thermodynamics Prohibit Organic Evolution?

GISH: Trott certainly knows nothing about the problems the Second Law of Thermodynamics poses for evolution. This fundamental law of science tells us that an isolated or closed system will never increase in order and complexity -- it will never become more highly organized.

This is false in subtle, but critical, ways. The Second Law only tells us that total entropy cannot decrease in an isolated or closed system. The system can, however, become more "organized" as long as entropy increases in total. A very simple example would be a closed and isolated universe consisting of nothing but a planet on which is a container with a homogeneous mixture of oil and water. Over the course of time, the water and oil will separate, spontaneously becoming more organized. However, entropy will increase and the system will continuously operate in full accord with the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

In short, Gish apparently doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to thermodynamics and appears to make it up as he goes along.

GISH: The Second Law tells us that an isolated or closed system will always deteriorate, becoming less organized, less complex, going from order to disorder, from complex to simple.

This is not what the Second Law says. The Second Law merely says that total entropy will not decrease. The example above shows that even closed and isolated systems can spontaneously become more "organized" and go from "disorder" to "order" fully in accord with the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Gish's claims are nonsense.

GISH: Yet Trott and evolutionists believe that the universe is an isolated system that began in a state of chaos and disorder and the simplicity of hydrogen gas (produced by a hypothetical Big Bang of a hypothetical Cosmic egg), . . .

It is the height of arrogance for Gish to assume that he knows what I believe. Unsurprisingly, he is wrong. I do not "believe that the universe is an isolated system that began in a state of chaos and disorder."

Furthermore, Gish demonstrates that he is oblivious to what the Second Law of Thermodynamics actually states. He seems to indicate that the Second Law prohibits a mass of hydrogen from being transformed by thermonuclear reactions into helium (since helium atoms are more "complex" than "simple" hydrogen). However, this transformation would actually increase the entropy of the system and would thus be perfectly in accord with the Second Law of Thermodynamics. (The other way around, that is an isolated system containing nothing but a mass of helium transforming itself into hydrogen, is forbidden by the Second Law; it appears that this would not be forbidden by Gish's caricature.)

GISH: . . . and transformed itself into the incredibly complex universe that we have today, including people with 30 trillion cells, and including 12 billion brain cells with 120 trillion connections. That is a clear violation of the Second Law.

It is not. It is only a violation of Gish's caricature of the Second Law. I think I can confidently state that evolutionists tend to believe that the universe began in a state that had much less total entropy than the universe currently has. This means that the universe has been operating fully in accord with the Second Law of Thermodynamics. All of Gish's distortions of the Second Law won't change this.

GISH: Trott talks about living things as open systems, but makes no pretense of explaining the origin of the universe or the origin of life in spite of the universal tendency of all systems to deteriorate and run down.

I was responding specifically to an argument from a pamphlet distributed at Gish's talk. I was demonstrating that the Second Law of Thermodynamics does not prohibit organic evolution. I am pleased to see that Gish apparently agrees.

As for Gish's claims concerning the origin of the universe and the origin of life, he is correct that I make "no pretense of explaining" them. Maybe God did it. Fortunately, neither the Big Bang nor evolution rules out this possibility.

GISH: I challenged evolutionists to explain how the natural laws and processes that are now leading inevitably to the death and destruction of the universe (if there is no God), also could have been responsible for its origins. Trott does not respond to this challenge.

What an incredible non sequitur! Evolution is not a theory of cosmogony and asking it to answer questions of cosmogony is silly. Moreover, my article did not purport to defend evolution from Gish's attacks. It purported to sample some of Gish's statements and demonstrate how he freely twists facts to support his position. Judging from his false and misleading statements about Archaeopteryx's skull, the ceratopsian fossil sequence, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and so on, this response that he offers cements the case.

In a nutshell, Gish has provided his audience and readers with large doses of misinformation. The groups responsible for funding his visit to Rutgers owe the Rutgers community an apology and should demand their money back.

Do Anti-creationist Works Ignore The Origin Of Fishes?

GISH: Trott claims to have found in Science and Earth History -- The Evolution/Creation Controversy (Prometheus Books, 1987), by Arthur Strahler, some evidence for fossil transitional forms between invertebrates and vertebrates.

I did not claim that the evidence was fossil evidence.

Also, I directed the reader to the chapter and section of Strahler's book that I was referring to. Gish chose to simply ignore that and look at a different part of the book. Of course, this comes as no surprise; Gish must expend a lot of energy ignoring relevant evidence.

GISH: Well, let's see what Strahler has to say. On p. 316, Strahler states "Origin of the vertebrates is obscure -- there is no fossil record preceding the occurrence of fishes in the Ordovician time."

On the same page, in the same paragraph, Strahler writes, "Inferred evolution of the vertebrates, a subphylum of the phylum Chordata, from more primitive chordates is discussed in Chapter 42." This is the chapter that I referred to in my article. I did not claim the evidence was fossil evidence. I didn't even claim that it was good evidence. I merely brought it up to point out that Gish's claim that anti-creationist books "don't say a word" about the subject was false. The fact that Gish quotes them on the subject is enough to demonstrate that the claim was false. (Perhaps it seems like a minor point in print. Allow me to explain that Gish's statement seemed to imply that scientists were dishonestly concealing a lack of evidence. Using Strahler as an example, one finds that gaps in the evidence are freely admitted while evidence that is presented is apparently ignored by Gish.)

GISH: On p. 408, Strahler writes, "In a series of quotations from Romer (1966), Gish finds all the confessions he needs from the evolutionists that each of these classes appears suddenly and with no trace of ancestors. The absence of the transitional fossils in the gaps between each group of fishes and its ancestor is repeated in standard treatises on vertebrate evolution. Even Chris McGowan's anticreationist work, purporting to show 'why the creationists are wrong,' makes no mention of Gish's four pages of text on the origin of the fish classes. Knowing that McGowan is an authority on vertebrate paleontology, keen on faulting the creationists at every opportunity, I must assume that I haven't missed anything important in this area. This is one count in the creationists' charge that can only evoke in unison from the paleontologists a plea of nolo contendere."

In other words, with the exception of McGowan's book, the lack of fossil ancestors for primitive fishes is freely admitted, contradicting Gish's assertion that anti-creationists like Strahler "don't say a word" about it.

GISH: There you have it! Strahler completely confirms my assertions that there is not a trace of fossilized ancestors for each of the major kinds of fishes, or transitional forms between these major classes.

Gish's smug gloating aside, I was not contradicting his assertion that fish appear in the fossil record abruptly. I merely contradicted his assertions that anti-creationists "don't say a word" about the origin of fishes and I pointed out that there was evidence for the evolution from invertebrate to primitive fish.

"Slanderous And Contrary To Scientific Evidence"?

GISH: All that can be said about Trott's article is that it was slanderous and contrary to scientific evidence.

There is nothing "slanderous" in my article since slanderous material must be false. As far as "contrary to scientific evidence" goes, Gish has utterly failed to point out a single scientific falsehood in my article. On the other hand, Gish freely promulgates scientific falsehoods as evidenced, for example, by his claim that the skull of Archaeopteryx is "totally birdlike."

GISH: In his zeal to defend his evolutionary religion, he makes it clear that his position is based on evangelistic dogma, not science.

I did not know that demanding a fair presentation of all information was considered part of an "evolutionary religion." I also was unaware that not tolerating falsehoods constituted "evangelistic dogma." Gish should at least have the decency to sling mud in addition to real arguments, rather than in lieu of them. One is struck by the virulence of Gish's concluding sentences, especially when one considers that he has failed to honestly address any of my points. In his zeal to defend his creationist pseudoscience, Gish makes it clear that his position is based on evangelistic dogma, not empirical science.


In late June of 1994, an early draft of this article was mailed to Gish, Chinese Christian Intervarsity Fellowship (who sponsored Gish's lecture at Rutgers), Pastor Lloyd Pulley of Calvary Church in Old Bridge (which apparently also had some involvement in bringing Gish to Rutgers), and Robert LaForge (who, according to an Institute for Creation Research pamphlet, was instrumental in arranging Gish's visit to New Jersey). Robert LaForge's copy was returned to me because the address I had was insufficient. In mid-August, I received a form letter from Gish's secretary explaining that Gish had undergone surgery in early August and that this would "cause a delay in his correspondence." (Apparently she is unaware that Gish has never responded to any of my letters.) According to the letter, "Dr. Gish is doing extremely well, for which we are indeed grateful."

Both Chinese Christian Intervarsity Fellowship and Pastor Pulley did not respond in any way to my letters.

In December 1994, I was informed that the ICR BBS was distributing Gish's response without a single correction of the factual errors and misleading statements documented above. In late January 1995, the BBS operator responded to repeated mailings concerning this issue. He said that he would forward a copy to Dr. Gish and try to get his comments. In the meantime, Dr. Gish's response has been removed from the BBS.

The author wishes to thank the following persons for their valuable assistance in the formulation of this rebuttal: Marianne Cotugno, Peter Dodson, Alon Drory, Wesley Elsberry, Phillip Johnson, James J. Lippard, Chris Nedin, Paul A. Nelson, Phil A. Nicholls, Andrew Macrae, Eugenie Scott, Robert Schadewald, David Schwimmer, Burch Seymour, and Drew Talley.

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