The Gish Gallop Technique–what you should know

The Gish Gallop Technique–what you should know February 28, 2023

Duane Gish

Last week, I read an article in The New York Times written by Medhi Hasan in which he approved of branding the creationist Duane Gish (1921-2013) with the supposed Gish Gallop technique. Hassan explained that it refers to Duane Gish publicly debating academics by purposely overwhelming them with a flurry of supposed facts resulting in his opponents not even knowing where to begin in contesting Gish’s many statements. Media reporter Medhi Hasan hosts his own “The Medhi Hasan Show” on MSNBC.

Then last Sunday night, I watched Lawrence O’Donnell’s “The Last Word” TV program on MSNBC in which he interviewed his colleague Medhi Hassan about his new book, Win Every Argument: The Art of Debating, Persuading, and Public Speaking. Hasan mentioned again and explained the Gish Gallop technique. I have never heard of the so-called Gish Gallop until these past few days.

Duane Gish was a friend of mine. Back in the 1970s, I got interested in the Institute for Creation Research located in San Diego, California. And I was a small donor of it for some years. It was headed up by creationist Henry Morris. He wrote some books advocating creationism, meaning the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible created the universe. I still believe wholeheartedly in creationism today and write books about it.

In 1970, Henry M. Morris and others founded the Creation Science Research Center which in 1972 was renamed the Institute for Creation Research at Christian Heritage College (now San Diego Christian College). Morris was president of ICR, and Gish was its vice president. Both did a good amount of public speaking on behalf of the Institute, and both wrote several books on creationism. (Morris’ main book is The Genesis Record.) Henry Morris is regarded by many as “the father of modern creation science.”

For several years, ICR was associated with Scott Memorial Baptist Church (now Shadow Mountain Community Church), pastored by Tim LaHaye (1926-2016) for 25 years. ICR moved to Dallas, Texas, in 2008.

LaHaye, now deceased, may be most known for the mega-selling “Left Behind” series of Christian novels, actually written by Jerry Jenkins, about end times Bible prophecy. (My nonfiction “Still Here” series is named in reaction to that series name.) LaHaye was a very prominent leader in the evangelical movement.

(BTW, I live in Scottsdale, Arizona. This city was named after Chaplain Winfield Scott. He used to minister here, and Scott Memorial Baptist Church in San Diego was named in his memory at its founding in 1912.)

I co-founded the PGA Tour Bible Study with my dear friend and fellow competitor on the PGA Tour, Babe Hiskey, in August, 1965, my first full year on the Tour. In January, 1966, at the PGA Tour’s San Diego Open golf tournament, the PGA Tour Bible Study group met and had its first guest speaker–Tim LaHaye. That’s where I first met Tim. I don’t recall when I first met Duane Gish. But I invited Duane to speak at our PGA Tour Bible Study meeting on two different occasions, which he did to our delight. Maybe both of those meetings were in San Diego. I liked Duane and thought he was a very nice man.

Back in those days, I also believed in another tenant advocated by the Institute for Creation Research–a young Earth. It means that Earth is only about 7,000-10,000 year old. But in time I gradually abandoned belief in a young Earth as I continued to learn more about science and read more Bible commentaries about the first chapter of the Bible’s book of Genesis. For decades, now, I have accepted the Big Bang Theory in science and believe it coincides quite well with belief in creationism. I have a chapter about this entitled “Cosmology” in my book Warrior from Heaven. However, I still do not subscribe to Darwinian evolution.

I am hesitant to accept that the allegation of a Gish Gallop rhetoric fairly characterizes Duane Gish. I had seen videos of some of his debates, but I’m no expert on it. I think is deciding whether or not that is true of him, we should consider its source. First of all, I like what I’ve seen of Medhi Hasan as a TV reporter. He is a Muslim, Gish was a Christian, and there has always been this tension between these two religions even though both are monotheistic.

But the person who invented the Gish Gallop was an atheistic academic who was active in promoting atheism–Dr. Eugenie Carol Scott (1945-), a biological anthropologist. She has served in various positions, including as member of the Board of Trustees of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. One of her books is Evolution Vs. Creationism: An Introduction (2004), wherein she argues against creationism and intelligent design. So, I suspect a person like this of being biased against creationist Duane Gish in charging him with Gish Gallop. Rather, Duane Gish just had a lot of information to give out, and I don’t think he was purposely trying to overwhelm his debate opponent with what the Gish Gallop accuses him of doing.

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