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Your Visit with Gish

By Tommy Huxley
Posted on: 4/24/2002

All correspondence received by Skeptic Friends Network or its staff becomes the property of Skeptic Friends Network, and may be printed without the consent of the author.

Tommy explains why Kil shouldn't kick himself too much over not confronting Duane Gish at the ICR.


Re: SFN Article “The Skeptic Friends’ Visit to the ICR

To:   David Glück (Kil)
From: Tommy Huxley
Date: Unknown

I just read your report about your trip to the ICR's Museum of
Creation Science and Earth History.

First, I have to say that I'm jealous. I wish that Dawn and I could've
joined your tour. It would've been a hoot!

Of course, we might've gotten everybody in trouble, too. There's no
way my sister and I could've toured the place and kept a straight
face. I mean... if you've ever read a significant amount of ICR
literature, you have to laugh your ass off at their bizarre mythology.

For instance, I would've loved to inspect their mock-up of the Tower
of Babel, where, according to Henry Morris, Lucifer and Nimrod
concocted their evolutionary worldview to deceive mankind!

And then God magically confused the language of the whole world so
that:

A. Mankind had to wait 3,000 more years until Charles Darwin
accomplished what God had miraculously thwarted Lucifer and Nimrod
from doing and...

B. Everybody working on the tower construction project had to abandon
their skyscraper before it physically reached Heaven, where God
"dwelt."

Also, I HAD to respond to what you said here: "I have to admit there
is a part of me that thinks we failed. We had the chance [to confront
Duane Gish in person] and we said nothing. It's not as though our
little rag tag group of skeptics would have brought Gish over to our
way of thinking, or he to ours. But I do wish we had at least told
him... that we were not fans of his in the usual sense."

Actually, you did the right thing by staying silent. Duane Gish is a
very polished and experienced debater with three decades of experience,
and if you had started to argue with him, Gish would've overwhelmed
you with an onslaught of mind-boggling technicalities.

I encountered a similar experience six years ago when I met Dr. John
C. Whitcomb, Jr. at a church in St. Petersburg, Florida. Dr. Whitcomb
is not a scientist but a renowned Bible scholar, yet he has written
many young-Earth creationist books, and he's most famous for
co-authoring The Genesis Flood with Henry Morris in 1961, the book
that single-handedly ushered Flood Geology into the religious
mainstream.

Anyway, I'd bought a book by Dr. Whitcomb called Bible and
Astronomy, and I waited in line for him to autograph it. Although I'm
not a professional scientist, I'm passionate about amateur astronomy.
And I thought I could confront Whitcomb with his obvious distortions
and fallacies.

But I'm not a shrewd orator like he is. When it was my turn for Dr.
Whitcomb to autograph my book, I tentatively asked, "Dr. Whitcomb. How
can you claim that the universe is only 6,000 years old when our
telescopes detect stars and galaxies four and a half billion
light-years away?"

Dr. Whitcomb didn't act a bit surprised by my question.

"That's easy," he said smiling. "God created the universe with the
appearance of age. But that wasn't intended as a deception.

"Every element of God's marvelous creation was intended to fulfill a
specific purpose. And in Genesis 1:14, God's sole purpose for the
heavenly bodies was to manifest signs, seasons, days and years, so
that mankind would know when to harvest crops, plan for famine, and
have a timetable to follow the prophetic signs communicated to him
through his prophets."

"But if Adam and his immediate descendants had to wait for the
starlight to manifest itself, then God would've undermined the very
purpose he created the starry firmament to begin with, wouldn't he?"
Whitcomb asked, smiling confidently.

That struck me as a rather odd scientific justification, but I could
only mutter, "Well... I don't know."

"But the universe cannot be as old as most cosmologists claim, because
the large-scale structure of the universe could never support such
long-term arrangements."

I thought I knew a lot about astronomy, but I could only mutter,
"Huh?"

Again smiling, Dr. Whitcomb said, "You realize that galaxies are
catalogued by their intrinsic shapes?"

"Yes?" I muttered.

"Yet most astronomers regularly admit that they can't explain what
holds these large-scale structures together, because there is not
enough stellar mass to bind them into a tight orbit around their
centers. So cosmologists have invented terms like 'dark matter' and
'exotic matter' to account for the nonexistent adhesive that would
preserve their large-scale structures.

"But exotic matter is an invention of the non-rationalist mind to
reject God. If the universe were truly billions of years old, these
structures would no longer exist. Instead, there would be an open,
non-binding distribution of stars everywhere in the universe without
galaxies.

"Uh-huh?"

"But we don't see that. Instead, we see that galaxies are held
together in a process that could only occur now... in the present, not
the past.

"And therefore, it doesn't take a leap of faith to believe that God
created a fully mature universe. In fact, that's the only sensible
assumption a rational person can make."

"Uh-huh?"

"Yet evolutionists appeal to the metaphysical to reject what's already
evident. That God created the universe, exactly as we see it today --
complete, sufficient, and fully mature."

Before I could respond, Dr. Whitcomb firmly grasped my hand and said,
"God bless you, Tom. I enjoyed our conversation, immensely. Here, let
me sign your book."

And with that, he wrote, "To Tom. Remember Hebrews 11:3 -- 'Through
faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so
that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.'"

I'd been outwitted, despite the fact that I was very familiar with the
"dark matter" mystery.

Astronomers have always expressed wonder that stars orbit their
galactic cores at the same speed in their spokes that they do in their
hubs. Many honestly admit they're surprised that spiral galaxies don't
fly apart, but the conventional explanation is that the universe's
mass is mostly made of non-luminous objects that hold the galaxies
together.

For example, in our own solar system, nine planets, an asteroid belt,
a Kuiper belt, and a possible Oort cloud orbit the sun. So besides our
Sun, the remainder of solar system is composed entirely of
non-luminous material, gravitationally held in orbit.

And since we've discovered that planets orbit other stars with masses
two, three, to five times more massive than Jupiter, a conventional
explanation for dark matter can't be far-fetched. Especially since we
can only detect the most massive of these planets. These stars could
be orbited by dozens of smaller, yet darker colossal objects.

Yet Dr. Whitcomb took a trite scientific mystery and turned it upside
down. He also had the advantage of disarming me with bizarre,
fantastic story straight out of the Twilight Zone that left me
temporarily speechless. But before I could recover, he banished me
with a polite, gracious, but firm dismissal.

In fact, one biology teacher claimed that "Creationists spout more
lies in an hour than scientists can respond to in a month." They often
shoot from the hip and damn the science. Real evidence is a vague
postscript, to be sought only when the challenger is persistent.

And since Dr. Whitcomb is not a scientist, he probably just parroted
what somebody at the ICR told him, most likely Henry Morris. And then
he blind-sided me with a tortuous justification that he couldn't
explain himself if he wanted to.

The point I'm trying to make is -- don't feel bad about not
challenging Gish. He's the best-equipped double-talker on the planet,
and you'll never outmaneuver him. If I had been there with you, I
would've sought his autograph, smiled, posed with him in a snapshot,
and then laughed about it later with Dawn.

I mean... what else can you do?


To:   Tommy Huxley
From: David Glück (Kil)
Date: Unknown
Sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your letter. I do appreciate the support. I too am sorry you and Dawn weren’t with us on our ICR trip. Maybe next time!

Naturally, as I mentioned in the report, there was no way I was going to get into a debate with Duan Gish. As you said in your letter, “He’s the best-equipped double-talker on the planet, and you’ll never outmaneuver him. If I had been there with you, I would’ve sought his autograph, smiled, posed with him in a snapshot, and then laughed about it later with Dawn.”

Really, I would have loved to have arm wrestled Dr. Gish — winner take all. I’m quite sure I have it all over him in upper body strength. Perhaps an arm wrestling match with Dr. Whitcomb might have also produced a more satisfying result for you. Just a thought…

What I regret (and I’m not losing any sleep over this) is that we didn’t tell the ICR or Gish that we are skeptics. That’s all. I do consider this a small failure on our part. I don’t know if that information about us would have changed anything about our visit, but then, I wouldn’t have to wonder if it would hav


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