Duane Gish and Creationism
According to Duane Gish, creationism should be taught alongside evolution in public schools to ensure that students can choose which theory to believe. Gish defines the term creation as the belief of a divine Creator, apart from the natural world, that created everything on earth separately, and he defines evolution as “the theory that all living things have arisen by naturalistic, mechanic processes from a single primeval cell” (147). Gish assumes, with some misguided evidence, that neither creationism nor evolution is a science, falsifiable, or able to be tested within the realm of science. Since neither theory is a science, Gish argues that “if creation must be excluded from science texts and discussions, then evolution must likewise be excluded” (150). However, instead of completely excluding both subjects, Gish wants them to be taught side-by-side, which would allow religious beliefs of a Creator to reenter the classroom.
Although Duane Gish’s arguments may seem interesting, his arguments are not based on sound evidence. The validity of Gish’s argument depends on the fact that evolution is not a science and therefore comparably to the creation theory, which is based on belief. Gish’s paper, “Creationist Science and Education”, is meant for readers that already believe in creation and need proof that the theory of evolution is false. For his ideal readers, those who are not likely to find fault in his arguments, his strongest evidence against evolution is the argument that evolution contradicts the Second Law of Thermodynamics. According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, everything goes from a state of order to a state of disorder, which evolution, a process of becoming more specialized and complex over time, should contradict. This is great news for creationists that want to believe that evolution is an impossible cause of life because nothing can contradict the Laws of Thermodynamics.
However, to the more educated reader, it is obvious that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is not violated, and Gish’s most convincing argument is also his most flawed. In his article, he admits that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is only valid in a closed system, and he admits that our solar system is an open system, with the sun being a source of energy. Unfortunately, Gish explains that “an open system and an adequate external source of energy are necessary but not sufficient conditions…” but he does not thoroughly explain why our sun could not sufficiently support evolution.
In addition to misleading his audience with his version of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, Gish also lies to his audience when he says that evolution is not testable and never witnessed. Scientists have recently been testing DNA sequences to support or disprove lines of evolutionary history. Some species of plants and animals, once thought to be related, have been discovered to be unrelated through DNA sequencing, which shows that some evolutionary assumptions can be falsifiable. Evolutionary changes have also been witnessed in science experiments. In the case of bacteria, species of bacteria can reproduce and evolve in a few of hours. Some bacteria have evolved through mutations, and now the remaining mutants are immune to multiple antibiotics that were once effective. The premise that evolution has not been observed or is not falsifiable is an inaccurate argument and blatant lie.
Duane Gish supports his argument for teaching creationism in school dishonestly. His article is written to reassure a naïve audience that evolution is not a science and therefore unreliable. His arguments are targeted for a specific audience and unconvincing to those outside of the audience. Most likely, Gish doesn’t believe his own arguments, but his motivation for misleading the public is unclear. It’s possible that he is trying to rationalize a reason for God to exist or a reason to believe that God exists without a doubt.
Gish, Duane T. “Creationist Science and Education”. Twenty Questions: An Introduction To Philosophy. Fourth Edition. Eds. G. Lee Bowie, Meredith W. Michael, Robert Solomon. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 2000. 146-157.