Duane Tolbert Gish
February 17, 1921
White City, Kansas, U.S.
|Died||5 March 2013 (aged 92)|
San Diego, California, U.S.
|Education||B.S. Chemistry, UCLA - 1949; Ph.D. Biochemistry, University of California, Berkeley - 1953|
|Employer||Institute for Creation Research|
|Known for||Prominent public speaker on Creationism|
Duane Tolbert Gish (February 17, 1921 - March 5, 2013) was an American biochemist and a prominent member of the creationist movement. A young Earth creationist, Gish was a former vice-president of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) and the author of numerous publications about creation science. Gish was called "creationism's T. H. Huxley" for the way he "relished the confrontations" of formal debates with prominent evolutionary biologists, usually held on university campuses, while abandoning formal debating principles. A creationist publication noted in his obituary that "it was perhaps his personal presentation that carried the day. In short, the audiences liked him."
Gish, a twin, was born in White City, Kansas, the youngest of nine children. He served in World War II, attaining the rank of captain, and was awarded the Bronze Star. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from University of California, Los Angeles 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 as an 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.
A Methodist from age ten, and later a fundamentalist Baptist, Gish believed that the Genesis creation narrative was historical fact. After reading the booklet 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 the Genesis creation narrative. He joined the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA), an association of Christian scientists, mistakenly assuming the group supported creationism. Through his affiliation at the ASA, Gish met geneticist and creationist William J. Tinkle, who in 1961 invited Gish to join a newly formed anti-evolution caucus within the ASA.
In 1971, Gish became a member of the faculty at San Diego Christian College, working in its research division before accepting a position at the Institute for Creation Research (independent since 1981). He was the author of several books and articles espousing creationism. His best-known work, Evolution: The Fossils Say No!, published in 1972, has been widely accepted by antievolutionists as an authoritative reference. Gish initially "assigned low priority to the question of [the] age [of the Earth]".
Gish's debating opponents said that he used a rapid-fire approach during a debate, presenting arguments and changing topics quickly. Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, dubbed this approach the Gish gallop, describing it as "where the creationist is allowed to run on for 45 minutes or an hour, spewing forth torrents of error that the evolutionist hasn't a prayer of refuting in the format of a debate". She also criticized Gish for failing to answer objections raised by his opponents. The phrase has also come to be used as a pejorative to describe similar debate styles employed by proponents of other, usually fringe, beliefs, such as homeopathy or the moon landing hoax.
Gish was also criticised for using a standardized presentation during debates. While undertaking research for a debate with Gish, Michael Shermer noted that Gish used similar openings, assumptions about his opponent, slides, and even jokes. For example, during the debate, Gish attempted to prove that Shermer was indeed an atheist and therefore immoral, even though Shermer said he was not an atheist and was willing to accept the existence of a divine creator.Massimo Pigliucci, who debated Gish five times, said that Gish ignored evidence contrary to his religious beliefs.Robert Schadewald accused Gish of stonewalling arguments with fabricated data.