Editor’s note: In last month’s Answers Update, a brief article announced the breaking news that Dr. Duane Gish, prominent scientist, creation/evolution debater, and author had passed away. We indicated that a longer tribute would appear in this newsletter. Here are two reflections on Dr. Gish’s profound impact in the battle for biblical inerrancy, presented by two of the founders of Answers in Genesis.
Dr. Gish was a tireless defender of the Bible for several decades. He boldly presented the case for creation in more than 300 debates and thousands of lectures around the world. As he debated many prominent evolutionists, he sometimes faced a hostile, jeering audience.
He became affectionately known as “Creation’s Bulldog” because of his vigorous defense of the Genesis account of creation. He was without a doubt the world’s foremost creation/evolution debater.
In the 1970s while living in Australia, I obtained a copy of his book Evolution: The Fossils Say “No.” I also remember the joy of seeing the first major creationist children’s book on dinosaurs: Dr. Gish’s Dinosaurs: Those Terrible Lizards. The creationist group I co-founded imported his two books, and thousands were distributed throughout my homeland.
Soon, Dr. Gish was to visit Australia to speak for our ministry. Then when our family moved to the USA and I worked with Dr. Gish and Dr. Henry Morris at ICR, Dr. Gish became something of an American grandfather to our children. Over time, Dr. Gish and the late Dr. Morris became heroes of the faith to me.
What a special time it was for me to spend time with Dr. Gish last June. He kept telling me how thrilled he was with our Creation Museum and what a blessing it was for him to have visited AiG to see it—and to know that others are carrying on the creation ministry he and Dr. Morris were so integral in starting.
Yes, it is the end of an era. These two great men of God have moved on to their eternal homes. It’s our task to build on their tremendous legacy. Many AiG staff members can attest to the impact that Dr. Gish’s life had on them. Here is one of them …
Dr. Gish was an untiring, well-traveled “creation evangelist.” Privately, we called him the creationist “Energizer Bunny.” Dr. Gish only retired from full-time ministry at age 84, but he remained available to speak and write when called upon.
I often told people that Dr. Gish was my “spiritual godfather.” You see, God used Dr. Gish to rescue me from my evolution-caused doubt about my new Christian faith.
As a 17-year-old who had made a profession of faith a few years earlier, I was facing something of a “crisis of faith.” Even though I was attending a Christian high school, I was abundantly “evolutionized,” for I was constantly exposed to evolution-promoting museums, TV documentaries, and my earlier public school education. I was silently asking: can I really trust the Bible from its very first chapters?
I was intrigued to learn that Dr. Gish, with the newly formed Institute for Creation Research in San Diego, was coming to our Christian school to conduct a workshop on creation vs. evolution. His bio caught my eye. He had an earned science doctorate from one of the most prestigious universities in the world, U.C. Berkeley. I noticed, too, that Dr. Gish’s talk was on how the fossil record supported creation and refuted evolution.
As someone who accepted the belief that Neanderthals were a link between modern humans and an ape-like ancestor (yes, I was a theistic evolutionist), I wanted to hear what this scientist and Christian said about the supposed fossil evidence for evolution, which was causing me to doubt my fledgling faith. Looking back, I was on the verge of becoming another sad statistic in the large youth exodus from the church (as was to be described by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer over 35 years later in their book Already Gone).
Dr. Gish’s one-hour talk was mesmerizing. He discussed the supposed evolutionary transitions among creatures, and then went on to humans. He examined the evidence for Neanderthals and showed that they were actually fully human, not primitive.
That lecture by Dr. Gish—peppered with his trademark good humor—revolutionized my thinking. The Bible I had been doubting suddenly became trustworthy, all in the matter of just an hour!
In a few years, I would be joining Dr. Gish to produce ICR’s radio program. For the past 25 years I have been involved in full-time creation ministry with ICR and AiG.
At the opening of our Creation Museum in 2007, I declared that the AiG ministry stood on the shoulders of giants like Dr. Gish and his colleague Dr. Morris, two scientists and men of God who boldly stood on the authority of the Bible beginning in Genesis.
Biblical Christianity has lost a giant, and I have lost a dear friend—whom the Creator used to rescue me from doubt. Appropriately, our ministry theme this year is “Standing Our Ground, Rescuing Our Kids,” and so we praise God for Christian scholars like Dr. Gish who reach young people (and adults) with life-changing truths starting from the Bible’s very first verse.