Bill Morgan versus Phil Summerfeld, 07 March 2009, Garden Grove, California


Video of the debate is posted in eleven (11) parts on YouTube

Part 1 of 11 Part 5 of 11 Part 9 of 11
Part 2 of 11 Part 6 of 11 Part 10 of 11
Part 3 of 11 Part 7 of 11 Part 11 of 11
Part 4 of 11 Part 8 of 11

So Who is Bill Morgan?

Bill Morgan is a creation science activist who has been active here in Orange County, California, since the early 1990's. Our primary email correspondence lasted for two years starting in May 1996. For more information about him, read the 2012 OC Weekly article, Bill Morgan Is Captain Creationist: The activist is waging a war against evolution, one lecture at a time by Adam O'Neal (OC Weekly, 30 August 2012). Appropriately, that article starts by exposing Bill Morgan in a lie.

I have been studying "creation science" since 1981 and discussing it on-line since the late 1980's. One of the first things that impressed me about creationists was their enormous capacity for dishonesty and deception, including self-deception. And, even though it can be very difficult to determine whether creationists were actually lying (which requires that they know that what they are saying is false), I have found a few examples of what could be nothing other than deliberate lies.

So Bill Morgan shocked even me. In that correspondence, I have caught him in one deliberate lie after another. I have truly never encountered anyone in my life who was as thoroughly dishonest as Bill Morgan has proven to be. Add to that a streak of sadistic bullying and you end up with a very nasty character. And that he justifies all his misdeeds with "because I love Jesus!" only serves to condemn his fundamentalist Christian theology as being false (as per Jesus' own teachings, Matthew 7:13-20); verily he is the "wicked fruit" which reveals his religion to be a "corrupt tree" that must be hewn down and cast into the fire (again, as per Jesus' own teachings).

One over-riding characteristic of Bill Morgan is that he will do anything possible to avoid discussing any of his claims. No, that's not completely correct. If he's dealing with someone who doesn't understand the science and doesn't know about "creation science", then you cannot make him shut up because he knows that he has found someone weak whom he can bully. But the moment he realizes that his opponent is knowledgeable, then he completely clams up and starts fawning over that person in an effort to effect his escape. It is with the knowledgeable person that he will do anything possible to avoid discussing any of his claims, let alone ever try to support them or even explain them.

Instead of allowing an actual honest discussion to take place, he insists on pressuring every opponent into engaging in a public creationist debate with him. That is very fitting and advantageous for him, because creationist debates are designed to allow the creationist to spread his false claims freely and unchallenged while placing his "evolutionist" opponent at the greatest disadvantage. Thus Bill Morgan knows that his claims are very weak and vulnerable and would not survive an actual honest discussion.

I anticipate that a reader of this page might contact Bill Morgan ( ) and that that reader would mention this page to Bill. I do know that Bill will lie to that reader that I refused to debate him. I know that Bill will tell that lie, because he has tried to use it on me too.

Well, I did indeed agree to a debate with Bill Morgan. He had kept pestering me for one and offered that I could choose both the format and the location. So I chose a written format and that it be conducted on-line. Bill's response was to run away. And every time I point out our agreement with him, Bill will always run away yet again.

Yes, I do realize that Bill had blundered into that one, but I fully intend to hold him to his offer and to his agreement. I insist that he do the honest thing and that he keep his promise. Knowing how incredibly dishonest Bill is, I am also watching for frost reports from Hades.

Creationist Debates

I plan to write a web page discussing creationist debates in full. In the meantime, here is a little information so that you can understand what they are and how they serve as a tool for "creation science" deception. When I write that other web page, I can move most of this material over to it and only refer to it from here. But in the meantime, ... .

The creationist debate is a long standing staple of the "Creation/Evolution Controversy". In the 70's and 80's, two decades before the Internet, they were the creationists' primary tool for getting the word out. They proved quite effective until around 1980 when their opponents learned how to deal with them effectively. Even though their use by major creationist organizations has diminished, they are still popular with local creationist groups and creationists, such as Bill Morgan.


Much has been written on the matter of creationist debates. Here are some links you should read:

  • Creation-Evolution Debates: Who's Winning Them Now? (1982)
  • Presents and discusses reasons pro-and-con regarding debating. Also lists and discusses several debates.

  • Debating Creationists
  • Opening remarks at a debate discussing his reasons for being there.

  • Debating Creationists: Some Pointers
  • This is an index page on which links to two other pages:
  • Debates and the Globetrotters
  • Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, argues that public debates with creationists do little to further the cause of quality science education. Among her reasons are that (1) creationists usually fill the audience with their supporters, who are unlikely to have the educational grounding necessary to understand the arguments presented in favor of evolution, (2) evolution is a complex set of ideas that are not amenable to simple explanation in a short debate format, and (3) creationists make many simplistic but convincing-sounding arguments against evolution that take a significant amount of time to refute.

  • Debating the ICR's Duane Gish
  • Richard Trott gives some advice to people who are considering debating the Institute for Creation Research's most prominent debater, Dr. Duane Gish. Among Trott's recommendations are that you know your audience, know Gish's standard presentation, be prepared for his charisma and standard evasions, and avoid being a dull or arrogant lecturer.

  • I Was Suckered into a Debate and Survived!
  • Describes a biology professor's experience with the organizing of a creationist debate and how the organizers (creationists) had incrementally deceived him into debating a national-level professional creationist.

  • Winning the Creation Debate (2004)
  • Describes a set of creationist-debate training tapes from a workshop presented by Dr. Duane Gish, the ICR's "master debater". From that article:

    But more than that, these tapes show that the debate format is not about presenting and evaluating scientific evidence for (or even against) evolution, but rather to present evolution in the most unfavorable light possible without making any affirmative claims for creationism. He expects — and his audiences accept — that creationism wins by default.

    This is why trying to have a scientific debate with a creationist — or more recently with "intelligent design" proponents — is a fool's errand. However, those that insist on embarking on this journey could learn a lot from this set of tapes — both about the opposition they will face and about rhetorical tactics that win the hearts of the general public. Of course, scientists are constrained by a respect for the evidence and complete, accurate descriptions of scientific laws, theories, research, and interpretation. Our opponents face no such strictures.

    In the Summerfeld/Morgan debate, the truth of that last paragraph came shining through. Summerfeld is a physicist and yet was required to be expert in all fields of science and have detailed knowledge of all scientific findings outside his own expertise (eg, "list all hominid fossils"). And he did try his best to be as truthful and accurate as he could be, having to rely on a reference book to accomplish that (not a good debate technique). On the other hand, Bill Morgan didn't have to be expert at anything nor was he restricted to being honest or truthful. All he had to do was to spew forth his false claims and misinformation.

  • ADVICE: The Debate of Young Earth Creationists
  • Here is some very good, detailed advice for anyone who is considering debating Creationists or Young Earth Creationists. David Rice has made an exhaustive examination of Creationists tacticts and provides these important points to consider.

  • Debates
  • Another analysis of creationist debates and the tricks they use, plus suggestions for how to organize real debates where the truth can come out; eg:

    Debates on TV or radio, however, are another matter entirely. Here, where the creationists cannot set the forum, it is possible to narrow the debate down to a single topic--the age of the earth, or the fossil record--and then debate it through to its logical conclusion. This defeats the Gish Gallop, and also prevents the common creationist tactic of suddenly changing the subject whenever he gets uncomfortable. It also allows the debater to jump in immediately whenever the creationist makes one of his many unsupported assertions or false statements. Not surprisingly, most creationist debaters will refuse to debate under these conditions.

  • An Account of a Debate with a Creationist
  • Yet another personal account of a debate participant who had been lied to and deceived by the debate orgainzers.

    From my email description of it to Bill Morgan:

    You might want to take a look at that report by Rob Day, "An Account of a Debate with a Creationist", at Towards the end, he describes how the group organizing the debate had paniced when they discovered that he was already familiar with his creationist opponent's claims and arguments and how his opponent had avoided saying anything about creation science. He also tells of two creationists speaking at another event who quickly changed their presentation and avoided saying anything about creation science claims when they learned that two individuals familiar with the subject were in the audience. Sounds rather familiar to me, you know?
    Of course, my last line was a direct reference to Bill Morgan's behavior.

    The General Format

    While the details will vary, the general format is as follows:

    1. A 45-minute presentation by each side. Who goes first is usually determined randomly; eg, by a coin toss.
    2. A 30-minute rebuttal to the opponent's presentation.
    3. A 10-minute response to the rebuttal.
    4. A question-and-answer session with the audience with the moderator (usually a creationist) picking which questions to present. The audience member indicates to whom the question is directed and in most cases the other side is not allowed to respond.

    In addition, the debate topic, always set by the creationists organizing the debate, is always kept very general, like "Resolved: Creation is a better explanation that Evolution". That allows the creationist free rein to jump around from topic to topic, most commonly engaging in a "Gish Gallop" (see discussion below). Many of the links given above include recommendations for more meaningful debate formats which require that the debate topic be very specific; eg, the evidence for the age of the earth. That has been tried, but every time a specific topic was proposed the creationists would refuse to debate. Not only would a specific topic allow their opponent to remain within his area of expertise (eg, a debate specifically about the geological evidence would work well for a geologist), but it would restrict the creationist from "galloping" off into other topics.

    How Creationists Exploit The General Format

    The problem with the general format is that it allows creationists to lie freely while hampering their opponents' efforts to get at the truth.

    From Wikipedia,

    Debating opponents said that Gish 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."

    And from the link above, Debates:

    The subject of biological evolution is so huge and so complex that people spend their whole professional lives investigating just tiny portions of it. It is simply impossible to give an adequate overview of such a complex subject in the space of a forty-five minute presentation, particularly when one understands the often abysmal level of science education among the audience. The creationists, on the other hand, are helped greatly by these time limits. Since they have no scientific model of their own to present, they will spend all of their time in what is known affectionately as the "Gish Gallop", in which they skip around from topic to topic spewing out an unceasing blizzard of baloney and unsupported assertions about evolutionary theory, leaving the poor evolutionist to attempt to catch up and correct them all. It is an impossible task.

    Let's do the math. Let's assume that a creationist can make a false claim in 30 seconds on average (that is actually a very conservative estimate, since I've heard them do it at a rate of 1 every 10 seconds). That would mean that in a 45-minute presentation he could spew forth 90 false claims. Then let's say that it takes 10 minutes to respond to one of those false claims (a very generous estimate, since 20 to 30 minutes would be more realistic). So in the 30 minutes alloted to the creationist's opponent to respond, all he can only respond to three of those ninty false claims. Clearly an impossible task.

    But it's even worse. In order to respond to many creationist claims, you have to already know that claim, what it's based on, and how to respond to it. As Fred Edwords said in a 1985 speech, "It's not enough to know your evolution! You need to know your creationism better!" Creationists love to quote-mine "scientists denying evolution". In order to respond to one of those mined quotes, you need to have read the original source. Creationists will claim to have a scientific source for a claim, so you need to know what source they are talking about and how they are misrepresenting it.

    For example, in 1985 I attended a debate (ICR's Henry Morris and Duane Gish vs Frank Awbrey and William Thwaites on 28 September 1985 in Long Beach, CA) in which Henry Morris "countered" the usual criticism that they use out-dated quotes (which they do) by claiming that a "1976" NASA document, "written well into the space age", showed that if the moon were really 4 billion years old then it should be covered in more than 200 feet of meteoric dust. How do you respond to that? Well, after the debate I wrote to the ICR asking about that claim. I tell that story on my MOON DUST page. It turns out that Morris' actual source, another creationist (who most likely had gotten it from yet another unnamed creationist) had switch the digits around: that "1976" NASA document was actually a 1967 printing of papers presented in 1965. I know that, because I pulled that NASA document down from the library shelf, held it in my hands, and looked at it, something that Dr. Henry Morris had obviously never done. And even though the ICR had "officially" dropped that moondust claim, it's still in their books that they sell to this very day.

    I had to research that after the debate. So how could their opponent have responded to it during the debate?

    Another example would be what Dr. Duane Gish did on national television (PBS counts as national TV, doesn't it?). In Creation vs Evolution: Battle in the Classroom (KPBS-TV, aired 7 July 1982), Dr. Russell Doolittle's told of how his early research in human/chimpanzee protein comparisons had sparked his interest in evolution. Every they did showed the human and chimpanzee proteins to be identical; the rumor/joke started circulating that the differences between humans and chimpanzees were merely cultural, until they finally found a protein that was different (whew!). Gish's response was to repeat their false claim that some proteins show humans to be more closely related to chickens, or even to bullfrogs. IOW, Gish lied on national TV. As in a debate, there was no time to respond immediately to his preposterous claim, so the rest the affair unfolded behind the scenes. Gish repeatedly claimed to have documentation of that bullfrog protein and repeatedly promised to provide it, but never did. The truth was that Gish had no such documentation, since his bullfrog protein claim was based on a joke he had once overheard. I present the full story and much more on my The Bullfrog Affair page.

    The Summerfeld/Morgan debate contains many examples. For example, Morgan argued that life (including tissue, organs, and systems) is highly complex and that something that highly complex had to have been designed. Summerfeld countered that such a high degree of complexity is indicative of poor design, that the better designs are much simpler. Morgan's "response" was to divert attention away from that problem by declaring that the real criterion of good design is whether it works. That should go without saying, but the format of the debate did not allow Summerfeld to respond. A more honest format, such as in a TV or radio interview or panel format, would have allowed them to pursue that issue and to arrive at the truth, but the creationist debate format prevented the truth from being uncovered.

    BTW, what Summerfeld was apparently not aware of is that through experiments applying evolutionary processes to design show that the products of evolutionary processes exhibit a very high degree of complexity. So the high degree of complexity in life does not indicate design, but rather evolution. Bill Morgan may not have been aware of that at the time of the debate, but I have made him aware of it now. His response? Yet again, he ran away from it.

    Another example happened twice in the Summerfeld/Morgan debate. Both times, Morgan "rebutted" Summerfeld by quoting a scientist saying the opposite of what Summerfeld had said. Both times, Morgan explicitly pointed out that scientist's doctorate degree in the pertinent field. But viewing that at home, I had an advantage that Summerfeld did not have. I paused the video and went to Wikipedia to look up that scientist. Both of them were creationists: Dr. Georgia Purdom, PhD Molecular Genetics, is a professional creationist who works as a spokeswoman for Answers in Genesis and Dr. John C. Sanford with a PhD in plant genetics is part of the "Intelligent Design" crowd and also a young-earth creationist. Clearly, in those quotes Morgan gave, they were speaking as creationists and not as scientists. And by over-emphasizing their PhDs and completely neglecting to mention that they are creationists, Bill Morgan was deliberately seeking to deceive the audience.

    That question-and-answer period can make matters far worse, since it gives the creationist the opportunity to present any claim he wants to, no matter how wild and blatantly false, knowing that his opponent is held powerless to refute to the arbitrary rules of the debate format. And in the Summerfeld/Morgan debate we certainly do see Bill Morgan taking advantage of that as he presents his argument about the probability of a modern protein falling together by chance (which is his misrepresentation of evolution; there are several things wrong with this claim, including the fact that he knows that it is false, which I covered in my email to him given below) and what appears to be one of his favorites, "The Chicken or the Egg?", in which he appears to argue that the newly evolved chickens, male and female, would have had to have completely re-evolved their reproductive organs. That last one speaks of a really wild misunderstanding of evolution which I have yet to have explained to me; I have asked Bill Morgan and he refuses to respond.

    Another way in which creationists exploit their debate format is expressed by Dr. Francisco Ayala in that OC Weekly article (Bill Morgan Is Captain Creationist: The activist is waging a war against evolution, one lecture at a time by Adam O'Neal, OC Weekly, 30 August 2012):

    [Preceded by the issue of Bill Morgan having falsely accused Dr. Ayala of being very rude in his response to to his daughter's letter. Examination of the actual letters (which Bill refused to produce, claiming he didn't save it, but which Dr. Ayala's office did keep as any honest person would have) clearly show that Bill Morgan had lied.]

    In an interview with the Weekly, Ayala calls Morgan a "liar" and says that he was "sad to see someone distort the facts in the name of religion," particularly given that science and religion should not be seen as mutually exclusive. Ayala added that it was "difficult to comprehend people who make false accusations and lie for the sake of God."

    Before the letter confusion, I tried to arrange a meeting between Ayala and Morgan so the two could discuss their philosophical and scientific differences, with the hopes of finding some common ground. The history between them—along with Ayala's stellar reputation for respecting the religious and reaching out to the public—made the professor seem the perfect candidate to partake in a healthy, casual discussion about the state of the debate with his ideological opposite.

    Ayala thanked me, but he declined; he doesn't think "such debates or discussions are worthwhile."

    Pressed for an explanation, he says that the circumstances of debates or an interview are such that people can't explore in depth any of the scientific evidence. Instead, they just turn into rhetorical exchanges that don't accomplish anything. "Look, the evidence for biological evolution is stronger and more abundant than the evidence for other scientific theories, such as the atomic theory, the heliocentric theory or the expansion of the galaxies," Ayala says. "What is needed is better scientific education, not debate."

    After unearthing the exchange between him and Morgan's daughter, he wrote, "You may understand why I do not want to have public discussions . . . with the likes of Mr. Morgan."

    Having corresponded with Bill Morgan, I know far too well what Dr. Ayala is talking about.

    But I brought that up for the other point, which is that "such debates or discussions are [not] worthwhile." What would be worthwhile would be debates or discussions on specific well-defined topics, in which the evidence would be presented and discussed, and in which the participants would be able to discuss each point raised as far as possible until both parties can agree to move on to the next issue. However, every time that the format of a worthwhile debate or discussion is presented to a creationist, he refuses to participate. Still, some worthwhile discussions have taken place, mostly on TV where the creationists cannot control the format -- that is discussed more fully in the links above.

    The big problem is inherent in most debates, but especially in creationist debates: winning the debate depends almost entirely on presentation and not on the truth. The one who is truthful and presents the facts but is a poor speaker will always lose to the one who lies about everything but has a polished delivery.

    That has been the secret to the creationists' success on the debate circuit from the start. The creationist organizations (with the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) being the pioneer, having created Flood Geology and "creation science") trained their debaters led by the stars of the debate circuit, ICR President and Vice President Dr. Henry Morris (PhD Hydraulic Engineering) and Dr. Duane Gish (PhD Biochemistry). They offered their services to local churches, Christian groups, and creationist groups. Those local groups would invite a creationist debater and then organize the debate, which included finding an opponent for the creationist debater -- we see that process described personally and up close in two of the links above. The creationist with the highly polished and well rehearsed presentation would almost invariably make mince-meat of the inexperienced local opponent. There was no contest at all! The creationist press (eg, the ICR's Acts & Facts newsletter) would report those creationist debate victories, building up the ICR's reputation. And if a local opponent were to get the best of the creationist, then the creationist press would ignore that fact and either not report it or else report it as yet another creationist victory (eg, the 1981/82 Tampa debates which the ICR reported as victories even though they had been beaten so badly that the local schools shelved the creationist curriculum they had been planning on implementing -- see description in Creation-Evolution Debates: Who's Winning Them Now?).

    Especially in the beginning (ie, in the 1970's), the local opponent would enter the debate not knowing what was about to happen. He would think that they were going to talk about the science, but instead he would be exposed to "creation science" false claims for the first time and wouldn't know how to respond, especially since he was constrained by the creationist debate format. In her article, Debates and the Globetrotters, Dr. Eugenie Scott used the analogy of the Harlem Globetrotters who would come to town and be matched against a local team, the result of which would always be that the local team would lose spectacularly while the Globetrotters would be running circles around them. And the audience would come expressly to watch the local team get beat. But out of those defeats grew the state-level Committees of Correspondence and their national-level clearing house of information, the National Center for Science Education.

    We also see that in the Summerfeld/Morgan debate. Bill Morgan has been doing this since about 1990, starting with presentations. He started out doing poorly, but improved his speaking abilities with experience and learned to augment them with visual aids, starting with an overhead projector which has evolved into a 500-slide PowerPoint presentation. His presentation in the debate was well-polished and supported with visuals and he knew how to keep the audience entertained, even though virtually nothing in his presentation was the slightest bit true.

    In contrast, this was Phil Summerfeld's first time at the rodeo. He was uncomfortable as a speaker, but still did his best. He didn't have any visuals. He was able to talk about things he was expert in, namely physics, but apparently not that experienced with presenting that information to members of the general public, which is a definite skill. For answering questions about things outside his expertise, such as hominid fossils, he had to rely on a book which he would read from, though stumbling over the pronounciation of some of the words.

    Since the winner of a creationist debate is decided by how they perform in their presentation and not by the contents of their presentation, the well practiced presentation of Bill Morgan clearly won. Evil triumphed over Good. Of course, Bill Morgan was helped greatly by the debate format, which is rigged to work in his favor. Indeed, reviewing this debate made me realize how much the format allows the creationist to lie without any constraints while his opponent is restricted from presenting the truth to the audience. The opponent is constrained to be truthful, whereas the creationist is not.

    Of course, Bill Morgan's debate "victory" doesn't prove that his "creation science" is superior to evolution. Nor does it disprove evolution in any way or manner. For that matter, Bill Morgan never did actually address evolution, but rather his "evolution model" which is a misrepresentation of misconceptions about evolution.

    All the debate proved was that Bill Morgan -- and creationists in general -- is good at bullshit lies.

    How to Deal with Creationist Debates

    As you can plainly see, creationist debates are rigged for their opponents to lose. Because of that fact, prospective opponents are generally advised to not participate in a creationist debate. As Dr. Eugenie Scott advised in her Debates and the Globetrotters:

    Sure, there are examples of "good" debates where a well-prepared evolution supporter got the best of a creationist, but I can tell you after many years in this business that they are few and far between. Most of the time a well-meaning evolutionist accepts a debate challenge (usually "to defend good science" or for some other worthy goal), reads a bunch of creationist literature, makes up a lecture explaining Darwinian gradualism, and can't figure out why at the end of the debate so many individuals are clustered around his opponent, congratulating him on having done such a good job of routing evolution -- and why his friends are too busy to go out for a beer after the debate.

    . . .

    And however well the evolutionist thinks he may have done, the probability is that he was just fodder to inspire the local fans. I have been invited on many occasions to debate, and have always turned them down. The purpose of a debate is to rouse the local troops, to stir them to action, and inspire them to go forth and support the teaching of creationism.

    Why should we help?

    Before you accept a debate, consider if what you are about to do will harm the cause more than promote it. Many scientists justify the debate by saying, "creationists will claim that scientists are afraid to debate them." So what? Who are they going to make the claim to? Their own supporters? A letter in the local newspaper that will be read by how many people, and remembered for how long?

    If the alternative is to show that scientists are not afraid of creationists by having some poor scientist get beat up on the debating stage, are we better off?

    And let's face it -- some scientists do it out of a sense of ego. Gee, I'm really going to make mincemeat out of that creationist, they think. Well, are you such a big shot debater that you can guarantee that people in the audience aren't going to go off after your debate and make life miserable for the local science teacher? "Gee, Mrs. Brown, I went to this neat debate the other day. You'd be surprised at how weak evolution is. Are you going to teach it this year?" Want to lay odds on Mrs. Brown teaching evolution again? Is your ego more important than students learning evolution? Think about it.

    My recommendation: above all else, do no harm

    I have no objection, by the way, to appearing on radio and TV with creationists, and have done so many times. In this format, it is possible to have some sort of point-counterpoint which is (though it seems odd to say it) not possible in a formal debate format. On the radio, I have been able to stop Gish, et al, and say, "Wait a minute, if X is so, then wouldn't you expect Y?" or something similar, and show that their "model" is faulty. But in a debate, the evolutionist has to shut up while the creationist gallops along, spewing out nonsense with every paragraph.

    It is possible to defeat a creationist in a debate, but you really have to know what you are doing. As Dr. McCoy said about Good defeating Evil, in order to do so Good has to be very careful.

    Dr. Eugenie Scott was Executive Director of National Center for Science Education (NCSE). The NCSE grew out of state-level "Committees of Correspondence" whose members were mainly scientists and educators, many of whom had participated in a creationist debate in the 1970's and had been turned into mincemeat. They went into those debates thinking that they'd be talking about science and instead got hit by "creation science" claims that they had never heard before. They immediately knew that those claims were ridiculous, but you can't just say, "But that's ridiculous!" You need to be able to explain to the audience why those claims are ridiculous, something that they were not prepared to do on the spur of the moment in the middle of a debate. Especially since they would have needed to research the scientific sources that the creationist had misrepresented or misquoted in order to have made that claim.

    When AHA President Fred Edwords said in a 1985 speech, "It's not enough to know your evolution! You need to know your creationism better!", he was speaking from the experiences of those debate opponents. After having been chewed up and spat out, they did what any academic would, they hit the books! They researched the problem! They learned everything they could about "creation science". They researched the claims and wrote rebuttals to them. And they communicated the results of their studies with each other, hence their name, the Committees of Correspondence, after the pre-Revolutionary War Committees of Correspondence. They also shared strategies for winning debates and presentation materials (eg, a slide detailing the evolution of triceratops which followed the creationists from city to city). And they also shared news of the new debates with each other, publishing them in their newsletter, the Creation/Evolution Newsletter, and their findings in their technical journal, Creation/Evolution. By around 1980, the tide had turned as described in Creation-Evolution Debates: Who's Winning Them Now?, which also describes several individual debates.

    Fred Edwords described his winning approach when debating Duane Gish. One of the disadvantages of the creationists' well polished presentations was that they would give the same presentation each time. Gish had his presentation that he would give and was determined to give come hell or high water. By knowing Gish's presentation in advance, Edwords prepared a well worded rebuttal to each of the points that Gish would raise. He wrote each rebuttal on a loose-leaf sheet of paper and as Gish presented each claim Edwords would take that sheet out of his folder. Then in his rebuttal, Edwords just went through each sheet of paper and rebutted every one of Gish's claims. Then Gish demanded the format be changed to allow him more time to respond to Edwords' rebuttal.

    In another debate, the opponent had prepared overhead slides with a quotation made by Gish on one side and the orginal source on the other so that he could point out how Gish had misquoted and misrepresented his sources. The audience was appalled at how Gish had lied.

    The other creationist vulnerability is creationism itself. They never present it, they never talk about it except to say that they've proven it by disproving evolution. All they ever do is to attack evolution -- actually, their "evolution model" which has practically nothing to do with evolution. Their opponents have found that in order to discuss creationism they have to introduce it into the debate themselves, which the creationists object to because "that's bringing religion into a scientific discussion!"

    The links above contain much more information about successful approaches to debates.

    Even in my attempts to discuss "creation science" with Bill Morgan, he has steadfastly refused. We know that he is a staunch young-earth creationist (as he is identified as being in that OC Weekly article), but in all the nineteen years I've been trying to have a discussion with him about young-earth claims, he has steadfastly refused to talk about it (by ignoring my requests) and he has never once admitted to being a young-earther. The closest he had ever come was to challenge my to provide evidence that the earth is old, but then he ignored what I had presented him. So then Bill Morgan is also well aware of how weak and vulnerable his position and his claims are.

    Even though creationists are no longer as formidible in debates as they used to be, on the local level we still have the situation described by Dr. Scott in which an ill-prepared local opponent will sally forth and get chopped off at the ankles. And the local level appears to be where most of the debates still go on.

    An Email to Bill Morgan about Creationist Debates

    Early on in our correspondence, Bill Morgan had started pestering me to debate him. He invited me to a debate, but it was on my drill weekend. I did pass the word on about it and asked that he tell me how it went. Then I described to him my experience with debates. His "response" was to "rabbit trail"; ie, ask one of his "unanswerable questions" in order to change the subject, a very dishonest trick that he officially condemns and yet practices all the time.

    In the following text, I am "DWise1" and Bill Morgan is "BillyJack6." The only changes have been to update old broken links and to correct one typo (one "if" should have been "it").

    Subj:	This Saturday's Debate
    Date:	97-12-05 10:18:27 EST
    From:	DWise1
    To:	BillyJack6
    CC:	DWise1
    Bill, just letting you know that I have passed your announcement of
    Saturday's debate on to some friends and some fellow NCSE members.  My
    message to them is as follows:
    The Orange County Creation Science Association has announced a "Creation vs.
    Evolution Debate!" this Saturday.  In case you are not on their mailing list,
    the announcement reads:             
    Creation vs. Evolution Debate!
    When: Saturday, Decmeber 6, 1997 from 2 to 5 PM
    Where: Cypress College; 9200 Valley View St
    3 miles South of the 91 FWY
    Library Lecture Hall Room 216
    (Park in Parking Lot 1, parking is free)
    Debaters: Arlen Penner and John Peloza (Creation)
      vs. Brian Myres and Paul Ricci (Evolutionists)
    Topic:  Is Evolution or Intelligent Design the Best Explanation for
    Make sure you come early to ensure a good seat!
    Questions?  Call Bill Morgan at 714-898-8331
    #End Announcement#
    Bill Morgan can also be reached at
    I have duty that day and will not be able to attend.  I would appreciate
    hearing how it goes.  In particular, I would appreciate an e-mail address for
    John Peloza; I have a couple questions to ask him.
    Share and enjoy.
    As I said, I have duty that weekend in San Diego and will be unable to
    If you plan on writing a report of the debate, could you please send a copy
    my way?
    Also, if you have a chance to talk with John Peloza, I need to find out from
    him what his source was on his earlier claim that a UCLA study said that the
    way that evolution is currently being taught is detrimental to the quality of
    science education.
    I still have no idea what you were talking about in your 10 Oct 97 message to
    Subj: Re: Where'd ya go?
    Date: 97-10-10 01:07:56 EDT
    From: BillyJack6
    To:   DWise1
    Its not!
    Re: Where'd ya go?
    What's "not"?  Please, explain what you meant.
    BTW, by YAHOO'ing with your name, I found a couple pages with your
    AOLCREAT.DOC annotated by the posters.  The URLs are:
    [NOTE: both links are broken.  
    The second link is now at ]
    Both posters expressed about the same opinion as mine about your hormone
    story, that you were atypical and did not display much moral fiber.  Though I
    still think that you were predisposed to your hedonistic decline by your
    religious training.
    Oops.  For some reason I had you figured for being much older, about
    retirement age.  
    Sorry about that.
    Yes, I know that I misspelled "December"; I just spotted it.  But still,
    that's not too
    bad for having hurriedly touch-typed it in this morning.
    Subj:   Re: This Saturday's Debate
    Date:   97-12-07 22:49:44 EST
    From:   BillyJack6
    To: DWise1
    I do not have Mr Peloza's e mail address.
    The debate was in my opinion disappointing.  All four seemed unorganized and
    Have you ever heard my lesson?
    Re: Subj:   Re: This Saturday's Debate
    Date:   97-12-14 12:15:28 EST
    From:   DWise1
    To: BillyJack6
    CC: DWise1
    > The debate was in my opinion disappointing.  All four seemed unorganized
    and > skittish.
    The weather that day in San Diego was relatively benign.  How do you think
    the weather had affected attendence?
    But first, a quick question so that it won't get lost:  did John Peloza
    present a young-earth position?  I remember that earlier, while his
    litigation was on-going, he was very careful to steer clear of any
    age-of-the-earth discussion.  I'm just wondering whether he is still sticking
    with the stealthy "intelligent design / abrupt appearance" buzz-word or
    whether he has rejoined the young-earth creation science mainstream.
    As for the debate, not having been able to be there myself (again, I had Navy
    duty in San Diego that weekend), I cannot compare it with other debates I
    have seen or been in.
    I had attended my first debate with Charles Lang (refer to my "WARUM" file
    explaining how I got started and arrived at my opinion of creation science),
    the first live creationist I had ever had a chance to discuss these matters
    with.  It was Henry Morris and Duane Gish vs Frank Awbrey and William
    Thwaites on 28 September 1985 in Long Beach.  This is described in my "How I
    got started and why I oppose 'creation science'" page at (soon to be moved to 
    [NOTE: that was my old site.  It's now at]
    This was also Charles' first debate and he was very disappointed with it.  He
    was especially
    disappointed by Morris and Gish's performances (before that debate, Charles
    called Gish his "hero", now he wants nothing at all to do with the ICR) and,
    believing the party line that there is overwhelming evidence supporting
    creation science, he was bewildered that neither Morris nor Gish had tried to
    present any of that evidence.  What Charles did not know at the time is that
    Morris and Gish are far better at claiming to have overwhelming evidence than
    at presenting any of it.  They will freely make their claims to the converted
    and to the unknowing, but will clam up and be much more guarded when in the
    presence of those who are familiar with their claims and with what the facts
    really are.
    Awbrey and Thwaites are two such people.  They had been following the issue
    for many years and had created and taught a two-models class at San Diego
    State University in which they gave half of the lectures while guest
    creationists, including Duane Gish, gave the other half.  In one of those
    classes, after Gish had given his standard presentation about how the
    bombadier beetle could not have evolved because the chemicals it uses for
    defense explode spontaneously when mixed unless an inhibitor enzyme is
    present.  Awbrey and Thwaites then took the chemicals in question and mixed
    them together.  Sure enough, the mixture spontaneously ... turned brown.  No
    explosion.  Gish's response was to admit that his claim was wrong and that he
    had been misled by his source, Kofahl, who had mistranslated the original
    German.  However, Gish and the ICR continued making their bombadier beetle
    claims.  The second thing at the debate that greatly troubled Charles was the
    large number of books on sale presenting the bombadier beetle claim, SIX
    YEARS after Duane Gish had publicly admitted that this claim was false.
    FWIW, there was a prominently displayed bombadier beetle exhibit in the ICR's
    museum when I visited there around 1989.
    When I saw Charles again six years later, he was still a fundamentalist
    Christian, but he had long since dropped all his support for the ICR and for
    creation science.  He had seen the light and had realized that he could not
    rest his faith on such quicksand.
    That debate in 1985, the first one I had ever attended myself, although I had
    read some accounts and transcripts of other debates, also served to launch a
    little of my own research.  That is where I heard Morris tell of a recent
    NASA document, written "well into the space age," which shows that if the
    moon were really as old as we think (about 4.5 billion years), then there
    should have been much more meteoric dust on it than we had actually found.  I
    wrote to the ICR asking about this claim and Gish answered my letter with a
    copy of a letter written by the originator of the NASA-document claim, Harold
    Slusher, in which he cited and quoted from his source, the "1976" NASA
    document "Meteor Orbits and Dust" (NASA SP-135, Smithsonian Contributions to
    Astrophysics Vol. 2), and used it to support his calculations of the annual
    influx of meteoric dust onto the earth (214 million tons).  After rescaling
    his figures for the moon, he concluded that a 4.5-billion-year-old moon would
    have to be covered by a layer of dust 284 feet thick.
    While browsing through the NASA documents at the Cal-State Fullerton
    University library (praise be to libraries with open stacks!), I spotted
    "Meteor Orbits and Dust", pulled it off the shelf, and immediately saw that
    it was dated 1965!  Slusher had misrepresented the date by 11 years!  Upon
    examination of the referenced text within the document, I found that his
    single direct quote was a gross misquotation (on the basis of which he had
    included one factor), that he had badly misused the basic mathematical
    procedures for handling that included factor, and that he had included
    another factor which his referenced text clearly stated did not apply.  In
    all, he had inflated his figures for the earth by a factor of one million
    (which when corrected for yields an infall of a measly 214 tons -- far too
    little) and for the moon by a factor of 10,000 (which when corrected yields a
    layer of dust 1/3 inch thick -- far thinner than we found).
    Even more important was that when I informed Gish of my findings, first he
    tried to bluff his way through and then he completely ignored it.  Slusher
    skipped the first step and completely ignored my letters; I later learned
    that Slusher never answers his mail, at least mail that questions his
    findings or methods.  
    Another researcher, Thomas Wheeler, reported having made the same discovery
    and others.  I have not yet had time to do a proper write-up of my findings,
    but will do so soon for inclusion on my web page.  In the meantime, you can
    read about Wheeler's findings embedded in a rather lengthy exposition at, "How Good Are 
    Those Young-Earth Arguments?  A Close Look at Dr. Hovind's List of
    Young-Earth Arguments and Other Claims" by Dave E. Matson.  There is another
    web page which covers the moon-dust
    claims rather thoroughly, but I forget where it is; I'll have to Yahoo for it
    when I have
    the time.
    The only other debates I had been to were "amateur night" affairs run by
    Scott Alexander (or Alexander Scott ?) who had a creationist fossil shop, In
    the Beginning, in The City 
    Mall back around 1990.  He also owned the kiosk shop there, Oingo Boingo (or
    something like that).  Of course, both businesses closed long ago, even
    before that City became a ghost town.  I heard a rumor that he had re-opened
    "In the Beginning" in Lake Elsinore or Temecula.  It was at that shop that a
    customer had tried to use an "after-life insurance" re-dressing of Pascal's
    Wager on me, whose fallacies I was easily able to expose since I was already
    familiar with the Wager's problems.  I think I already told you that story.
    [NOTE: see]
    I think he ended up having three or four of these "debates", in which anybody
    could get up and make a presentation, at about one or two month intervals.  I
    spoke at most of them, mainly addressing false claims of creation science.  I
    remember one young (about 19 or 20) creationist who got up filled with
    confidence that what he was about to say would completely blow the
    "evolutionists" away and started off by announcing that that was exactly what
    he was about to do.  But when he  announced that it had been discovered that
    the speed of light was slowing down, the target half of the audience burst
    into laughter.  We had heard it long before that and already knew why it was
    wrong, which members of the audience immediately started to explain to the
    speaker, much to the dismay and bewilderment of the poor guy (I do not
    condone the audience's behavior, but it did have a quite an effect).  Claims
    like that sound impressive to the novice, but not to veterans.
    Unfortunately, I had not completed my analysis of MONKEY until shortly after
    he discontinued these events, or else I would have presented it there.
    Somehow, I got the impression that the debates were not going as Alexander
    had hoped, but that impression is very subjective.
    [NOTE: see
    There is even a big debate going on as to whether we should engage in these
    debates at all.  Remember that they started off in the 1970's as a purely
    creationist show.  The ICR's travelling show would rope some unsuspecting
    local teacher or scientist into debating them.  The victim would go in
    expecting to engage in a debate, but would instead get cut to pieces by being
    hit with outlandish claims that the poor guy had never heard before and was
    unprepared to respond to on the spur of the moment.  As I heard Fred Edwords
    describe it, you know those claims to be wrong, but how do you explain to the
    audience why they are wrong within the format and time constraints of a
    debate?  Duane Gish became reknowned for a technique called the "Gish
    Gallop", in which he would start hitting his opponent with one "insoluable
    problem" after another in rapid succession.  It isn't that his "challenges"
    are unanswerable, it's that many of the answers are non-trivial and would
    take considerable time and preparation to answer, far
    more so than is available in a debate or, for that matter, in any real-time
    spoken medium (like a phone conversation).
    Through such chicanery, the ICR built up a reputation of never losing a
    debate.  Sure, some of their opponents may have come out ahead, but that news
    remained local and nobody else would ever hear about it, especially not the
    next town the ICR's show would stop in.  The ICR's newsletter, Acts & Facts,
    would always proclaim creationist victories even when they were defeated, as
    in the 19 Sep 1981 Morris/Miller debate in Tampa Bay.  Although Acts & Facts
    reported that Morris "seemed to materially strengthen the creationist
    position in the Tampa area", reality was otherwise.  Even the choir (eg, a
    clerk in a religious store) said that the creationist got beat.  Even though
    before the debate the local school board had mandated teaching creationism,
    after the debate they put the planned creationist curriculum on permanent
    hold. "Materially strengthen[ed]"?  ("Creation-Evolution Debates:  Who's
    Winning Them Now?" by Fred Edwords, Creation/Evolution, Issue VIII, Spring
    1982, pp 30-42)
    But, as Leo Buscaglia had once described, out of a dung heap there grows a
    beautiful flower (from a story of how he as a boy always hated having to
    clean up the dog poop, until he discovered a beautiful rose growing where he
    would deposit the droppings).  Those victims, still smarting from their
    experiences, started studying creation science.  They learned what the claims
    were along with their purported sources.  They then verified those sources
    and very quickly learned how they had been misrepresented.  Through their
    regular professional contacts, they started sharing their experiences and
    research findings with each other.  Those contacts developed into informal
    groups.  Then the groups started communicating with each other.  Soon, there
    were groups in almost every state in the nation and in many Canadian
    provinces.  After the revolutionary groups in the Revolutionary War, they
    started calling themselves Committees of Correspondence (CCs).  When they
    found that they needed a more centralized coordinating body and a
    clearinghouse for information, they formed the National Center for Science
    Education (NCSE).  
    And along the way, the sharing of their experiences, information, and
    research caused a turn-around in the debates.  The creationists started
    losing debates, even though their own publications still claimed victories
    (at one, the audience started at about 90% creationist, but dropped to 66% at
    the end of the debate, which prompted the creationists to declare a victory
    -- so go figure).  In addition, teachers and school boards beleaguered by
    creation science activists found the NCSE to be a source of information,
    advice, and support.  It has made a big difference.
    Earlier this year on CompuServe, I had provided someone with an informal
    synopsis of the history of creation science.  I'll pull it out and pass it on
    to you.
    Anyway, in the debate on whether to debate, some of the pros and cons are, as
    I recall them off-hand:
    1. debates are inherently win-lose affairs, which is inappropriate for
    2. engaging in debate with creationists implies validity to their claims and
    raises the status of creationism in the public eye.
    3. a well-intentioned yet ill-prepared debater losing to a creationist can
    strengthen the creationist position and weaken science education.  This can
    also happen if the debater is well-prepared, but lacks the skills for
    communicating effectively to a non-scientific audience (ie, if he speaks over
    the audience's heads, then it doesn't matter that he had just totally
    demolished a creationist claim if the audience is unable to realize that
    fact).  Or if he exhibits an attitude that alienates or antagonizes the
    audience (eg, a clip on PBS showing a well-known biochemist with an Italian
    name which I cannot remember right now, in a debate telling the audience,
    which looked Amish, that they had already lost the war between science and
    4. These debates are part of the creationist game and a debater gets sucked
    into having to play by their rules, ie, a very general debate subject (eg,
    "Resolved:  Creation is a better explanation that Evolution") which allows
    the creationist a lot of room to maneuver out of the way of specific
    questions, an audience stacked with creationist sympathizers, having
    scientific questions decided by rhetoric rather than by analysis of the
    evidence.  Many debaters have repeatedly tried to get the leading
    creationists to debate on specific scientific questions (eg, the age of the
    earth) without success.  In one case, Gish was scheduled for a debate but he
    immediately cancelled out when he learned that the subject had been changed
    to a specific scientific question.  In another case, a debater agreed to
    debate a local creationist on a specific question, only to find the
    sponsoring group substituting Gish and a general subject shortly before the
    debate; the debater went on anyway rather than allow Gish to preach
    5. The audience is already creationist and nothing you say will change their
    1. The creationist is going to give his presentation anyway, so why allow his
    claims to be promulgated with no one to inform the audience of the gross
    contained within.
    2. By debating, you let the public know that science does have answers to the
    questions raised by creation science, whereas refusing to enter into debate
    gives the impression that the creationists are right in claiming that you
    have no answers (as you have been witnessing to me through your own silence).
    3. Not all the audience has bought into creation science completely, so you
    do have a chance to inform the undecided and perhaps even some of the
    "faithful" (eg, that Redlands debate where a a 90% creationist audience
    became 66% creationist).
    4. A debate is also an opportunity to educate the audience; for many in the
    audience, this is their only chance to learn something about the science
    involved.  Indeed, one professor said that he looked forward to these affairs
    since, compared with his usual students who just sit there looking bored, the
    debate audiences show great interest and attentiveness when he speaks.
    As I tried to convey, this list is incomplete, but it should at least give
    you some idea of the debate on debates.                                 
    An account of the organization and running of one particular debate which
    demonstrates Con#4 is to be found at
    An Account of a Debate with a Creationist 
    Rob P. J. Day 
    On Friday, October 19, I debated the merits of creation science
    with Ian Taylor of the Creation Science Assoc. of Ontario (CSAO) at the
    University of Winnipeg, an event sponsored 
    by Christian Education Consultants (CEC) of Manitoba. This event was notable
    not only for what 
    transpired at the debate itself, but for the underhanded tactics used by the
    organizers before, 
    during and after the debate in order to discredit me in any way possible. In
    a sense, this article could be subtitled, "I Was Set Up For a Creationism
    Debate -- and Survived," and what follows is a personal account that I hope
    will alert others who, like me, are naive enough to expect fair treatment
    from the creationist lobby and their supporters. 
    For that matter, you have avoided answering every question put to you.  Why?
    If you really believe that the truth, the facts, and the evidence is on your
    side, then why do you avoid any and all discussion of it? 
    You might want to take a look at that report by Rob Day, "An Account of a
    Debate with a Creationist", at  Towards the end, he
    describes how the group organizing the debate had paniced when they
    discovered that he was already familiar with his creationist opponent's
    claims and arguments and how his opponent had avoided saying anything about
    creation science.  He also tells of two creationists speaking at another
    event who quickly changed their presentation and avoided saying anything
    about creation science claims when they learned that two individuals familiar
    with the subject were in the audience.  Sounds rather familiar to me, you
    Subj:	Re: This Saturday's Debate
    Date:	97-12-15 00:59:15 EST
    From:	BillyJack6
    To:	DWise1
    Please give me the strongest piece of scientific evidence that teh blue whale
    is realted to bacteria.
    Subj:	Re: This Saturday's Debate
    Date:	97-12-23 01:19:51 EST
    From:	DWise1
    To:	BillyJack6
    CC:	DWise1
    >Please give me the strongest piece of scientific evidence that teh blue
    whale is realted to bacteria.
    DNA and biochemistry for starters.
    So you're still playing games.  The "Gish Gallop" doesn't work so well
    on-line, does it?  But then the "Gish Gallop" is only a cheap rhetorical
    trick, not a technique employed by someone who seriously seeks discussion and
    I've always tried to be up-front and straight-forward with you.  In return,
    you have been extremely evasive and have avoided all serious discussion and
    answering any of the questions that I have put to you:
    Eg, you asked me "Do you think the earth is 4.6 billion years old?  Why?"
    (97-08-10 21:54:42 EDT)  I answered your question and then reversed your
    question:  "Do you think the earth is less than 10,000 years old?  Why?"  You
    never responded.  Why not?  You have certainly made your young-earth beliefs
    well known.
    Eg, you claimed that "not one evolutionist has yet [found a single error in
    Weird Science]", yet when I found it to be full of errors in practically
    every single frame on every single page and responded to each of those
    errors, your only response was to say that I had misspelled a name.  If your
    claims were true and defensible, then why would you make absolutely no
    attempt to defend them?
    Eg, every month you present claims, such as the recent protein comparison
    claims à la Denton.  Yet when I informed you of the error in that claim and
    explained it to you, you did nothing more than to pay me a vague compliment,
    as if you were trying to "smile me out the door".  Does that mean that you
    yourself realize that your claims have no basis?  Then why do you continue to
    make them?
    I still have no idea what you were talking about in your 10 Oct 97 message to
    Subj: Re: Where'd ya go?
    Date: 97-10-10 01:07:56 EDT
    From: BillyJack6
    To:   DWise1
    Its not!
    Re: Where'd ya go?
    What's "not"?  Please, explain what you meant.  Do I need to start posting a
    count of how many times I have asked you this question?
    You asked me:
    > Have you ever heard my lesson?
    Well, do you have a lesson to present?  Then please, go right ahead and
    present it.  Nothing is stopping you, nor has anything ever been stopping

    I had acted in good faith and to promote discussion. Bill Morgan's "response" was to "rabbit trail" in order to try to change the subject. So disgustingly typical of him.

    The Critique:

    I am preparing to perform a complete critique of the debate, but that will take some time -- please ignore Bill having just whipped out his limp magic wand yet again.

    Until I can complete that critique, in the meantime I will post my email to Bill with my comments about some of what he had presented in that debate.

    In my comments on the "bird-lizard" claim, I mention "Natalie" and an exchange she had had with Bill (as billyjack7) in the comments section of Part 2 of 11. This is the text of that exchange:

    Natalicious0 6 years ago
    The creationist says that "birds have lizard-like reptiles"....I think he meant that they have lizard-like ancestors. That view has not been taken seriously since the 1900's. He asks where the half-lizard/birds are. Obviously they don't exist. But half bird/half dinosaurs? Ummm, helloooo Microraptor? It's a little dinosaur with feathers. There are lots of feathery dinosaurs known now. Some with proto-wings.

    BillyJack7 6 years ago in reply to Natalicious0
    hello Natalie. I did an extensive study on bird/dinosaurs. Would you like me to send you the DVD? The evidence is not there. Thank you.

    Natalicious0 6 years ago
    No, I would prefer that you argue your side. If you you really did "an extensive study", you should be able to counter my points clearly and succinctly, with a reference or two (like I did). I don't think you can....

    Natalicious0 6 years ago in reply to BillyJack7
    Yes, that's what I'm saying. I'm saying to the world it had feathers. Simply do a google image search for "Microraptor gui" and you will see numerous photos of the specimen, with lots of feathers trailing the arms and legs, with smaller feathers on the body and tail. Strange that you don't know this, if you claim to be interested in Microraptor. Haven't you SEEN the fossil? lol

    BillyJack7 6 years ago in reply to Natalicious0
    Hello Natalie. You are absolutley right that micoraptor had had true pennaceous feathers essentially identical to those of modern birds...they are not "proto feathers at all. Why do you think it was not a bird and an ancestor to dinosaurs? Several birds have been found in the Cretaceous in China. Thank you.

    In the following text, I am "BillyJack6" and Bill Morgan is "BillyJack1." When Bill abruptly abandoned his AOL screen name over a decade ago, I appropriated it. I hope that that does not cause any confusion.

    Subj:A Few Comments on your Debate with Phil
    Date:21-Aug-15 23:58:40 Pacific Daylight Time
    Sent from the Internet (Details)
    Do you remember your debate against Phil Summerfeld on 07 March 2009?  I
    watched it on YouTube and I'd like to discuss a few points about it with you.
    I already asked you about your "refutation" of the evolution of birds, which
    you have chosen to ignore.
    I couldn't believe how much you got wrong and how deceptive you were.  We
    have already gone over many of your claims and yet you continue to make the
    same false claims.  You should have known better, so the only explanation is
    that you were deliberately trying to deceive your audience.  Again, why do
    you believe so strongly that your beliefs are so weak and false that the only
    way you can support or promote them is through lies and deception?  An honest
    person would have sought either a better way or truer beliefs several years
    As I said, just a few points.  I'm planning on doing a more complete critique
    of it, but just a few points for now.
    In Part 2 of 11 ( )
    at 1:20, you claim that birds were supposed to have evolved from lizards
    (from memory: "I've seen birds and I've seen lizards, but I've never seen any
    'blizards'.")  And then you use that to argue that the forelimbs of bird
    ancestors could not have started changing into wings because then they
    wouldn't have been able to run to either catch food or escape predators.
    Bill, nobody thinks that birds evolved from lizards, except for you.  Or
    maybe the author of that DVD you told Natalie about.  You told Natalie that
    you "did an extensive study on bird/dinosaurs." (direct quote)  If that were
    true, then how could you have come up with that completely false idea that
    birds evolved from lizards?  What resources did you use in that "extensive
    study"?  Either your resources had lied to you about that, or you know full
    well that birds did not evolve from lizards but you chose to deliberately lie
    to your audience.  Which is it, Bill?  I have seen you lie to your audience
    even though you knew better (ie, your deliberate misrepresentation of of
    PuncEq as Goldschmidt's "hopeful monster" with a snake laying an egg only to
    have a bird hatch out, contrary to your having demonstrated to me that you
    had a rather good and accurate understanding of PuncEq -- and birds did not
    evolve from snakes either).
    If you had done any amount of research outside of creationist sources
    (creationist sources should be avoided as much as possible, because they are
    lying to you -- they should only be studied to discover and analyze their
    lies), you would know that the class Reptilia is divided into infraclasses,
    two of which are of interest in this discussion:  Lepidosauromorpha and
    Under Lepidosauromorpha we find the order Squamata, which includes both
    lizards and snakes (who are fairly closely related to each other), with the
    suborder Lacertilia containing all the lizards.  As far as I know, all
    lizards are quadrapedal; they walk on all four limbs.
    Under Archosauromorpha, we find the superorder Dinosauria, under which we
    find the order Saurischia ("lizard hip").  Under Saurischia we find Theropoda
    ("beast feet"), and it is under Theropoda that we find Coelurosauria, the
    ancestors of birds.  You should have learned that in your "extensive study on
    In your "extensive study on bird/dinosaurs", you should have also learned
    that practically all theropods are bipedal, which means that they walked on
    their hind legs.  That left their forelimbs free and as a result we see a
    wide variation of forms and usage of those forelimbs.
    So then, Bill, as birds' coelurosaur ancestors' forelimbs were becoming
    wings, that had absolutely no effect on their ability to run.  Your claim is
    completely false and totally without any merit whatsoever.
    But if you disagree and insist that they needed to be able to place those
    forelimbs on the ground in order to run, then I would like to suggest a race.
    We're both bipedal, so we have that in common with coelurosaurs.  I suggest
    that we race each other.  I will only use my feet, keeping my hands off the
    ground.  You will use your preferred stance and run using both your feet and
    your hands on the ground -- I will insist on impartial witnesses who will
    observe that you do apply part of your weight to your hands at all times so
    that you will not be able to cheat.  Who do you think will win that race?
    In Part 6 of 11 ( )
    at 5:41 you cite Dr Georgia Purdom, PhD Molecular Genetics, in order to
    "refute" retroviruses.  You made sure to explicitly point out her PhD in
    Molecular Genetics.  However, you completely avoided mentioning that she is a
    professional creationist who works with Answers in Genesis.  You misled the
    audience into thinking that she was speaking as a scientist, when in reality
    she was speaking as a creationist.
    Clearly your intent was to deceive the audience.
    In Part 9 of 11 ( )
    at 6:31 you trot out that old false claim about the odds of a complete modern
    protein forming out by pure chance.  Bill, we've been through this before.
    You even responded, albeit with drivelling nonsensense, so you know full well
    how completely and utterly false your claim is.
    Please review that discussion at .  Since I am certain that
    you will not do so for fear of learning the truth, I will repeat it in brief
    First, you over-specify the protein sequence by requiring that each and every
    single position in that protein could be occupied and one and only one very
    specific amino acid.  As Drs. Thwaites and Awbrey demonstrated in the notes
    for their two-model class (the only true "balanced treatment" class that I
    have heard of even to the point of having professional creationists from the
    ICR give half the lectures; the campus Christian clubs absolutely hated it),
    only a very few positions require a single specific amino acid and that's
    primarily restricted to active sites on the protein.  Some other positions,
    again mainly in active sites, may have any of a particular type of amino acid
    (eg, hydrophyllic, hydrophobic, charged, uncharged).  And many positions can
    be filled by any amino acid.  
    I'm sure you are familiar with another class of creationist argument, that
    protein comparisons show humans to be more closely related to unrelated
    species (eg, donkeys, rattlesnakes, bullfrogs, chickens -- see my "Bullfrog
    Affair" page at ) than to chimpanzees.
    Of course, those claims are ludicrously wrong; I'm not even sure how much
    they're still being used.  But if a protein had to have a very highly
    specific amino-acid sequence in order to be functional, then there could be
    no variance between species and such protein comparisons would simply not
    You cannot have it both ways.  Clearly, there can be a lot of variance in the
    sequence of a protein and it will continue to be functional.  Therefore, the
    actual probability that you would get would be far higher than you falsely
    claim.  In Thwaite and Awbrey's example of a 29-position active site, the
    actual probability would have been 1.64 x 10^26 times greater than your bogus
    approach would have yielded.  Since that example left out the much higher
    percentage of positions in an entire protein that would accept any amino acid
    (and hence the probability for each such position would be 1.0), a proper
    probability calculation for your sample protein would be greater by a much
    greater factor.
    Second, fully functional modern proteins do not come into existence by
    randomly falling together.  Nor is that the way that they originated.  In
    your presentation, you repeatedly misrepresented evolution as things falling
    together by chance.  No, that is not how evolution works, but rather it is
    how creation ex nihilo works.  Nobody would seriously maintain that modern
    proteins just fell together at random by blind chance, but rather we would
    say that they evolved.  You are lying about what evolution is in order to
    create a strawman caricature that you can defeat easily.  Your purpose in do
    that is to deceive your audience ... and likely yourself as well.
    On that page, review my discussion of my experiments with MONKEY 
    ( ) and my analysis of the probabilities
    involved ( ).  Again, since you will
    continue to be an idiot and ignore the facts, here's a very brief re-cap:
    The probability model of creation ex nihilo is what you describe:  have
    everything fall together at random and, if you don't get what you wanted,
    scrap the whole thing and start all over completely from scratch.  This is
    called "single-step selection".  My test involved producing a string which is
    the alphabet in alphabetical order.  The probability of succeeding using
    single-step selection is so small that I cannot calculate it directly -- both
    my calculator and computer would under-flow.  I had to use some math magic
    (described in mprobs.html), after which I wrote in mprobs.html:
    Now we can determine how many trials are necessary to ensure us of a given
    probability of success. For various values of P3, they are:
         P3 (%)        m 
         1 E -9      6.156 E 27
           1         6.187 E 34
          10         6.486 E 35
          25         1.771 E 36
          50         4.267 E 36
          75         8.534 E 36
          85         1.168 E 37
          90         1.417 E 37
          95         1.844 E 37
          99         2.835 E 37
          99.99      5.670 E 37
    So even for just one chance in a million of succeeding, we have to make
    something to the order of 10^27 attempts! To put this into some perspective,
    assume we have a computer that can make one million attempts per second (a
    very generous assumption, since mine can only make about 200 per second).
    That translates to 31,556,926 million attempts per year. At this rate, it
    would take about 195 trillion years to earn that one-in-a-million chance --
    nearly 10,000 times longer than the universe's estimated age of 20 billion
    To be blunt, the performance of single-step selection is abysmal. But then it
    also does not come close to describing evolution. For that, we will now
    examine a model based on the cumulative-selection method.
    When I wrote that in 1989, I was using an XT clone running at Norton Index 2.
    I've since estimated that my current computer runs about 500 to 1000 times
    faster.  Too fast to see MONKEY work, but still nowhere near that
    hypothetical super-computer making a million attempts per second.
    As I said, evolution does not use single-step selection as you misrepresent
    it doing, but rather uses cumulative selection in which it makes copies of
    what it has, some of which are imperfect copies, and the best of the copies
    is/are used to make the next generation of copies.  Cumulative selection
    converges on the solution very quickly.  Instead of having to grind away for
    trillions of years, MONKEY would produce the string in less than 30 seconds
    back in the day on my XT -- nowadays, it appears to succeed instantaneously.
    Repeatedly, consistently, never fails.  Even though the probability of an
    individual copy being closer to the solution was rather low and got even
    lower as it approached the solution (and, indeed, while it's running I would
    often observe it to back-slide towards failure).  After having analyzed the
    probabilities (again, read mprobs.html), I found that in order for MONKEY to
    fail, all the copies produced in each and every generation would have to
    fail.  I calculated that probability and found it to be vanishingly small,
    making failure virtually impossible.
    That gives us a small taste of how powerful cumulative selection is.  And of
    how powerful evolutionary processes, which use cumulative selection, can be.
    And the only way you can argue against it is to lie about evolution and
    deceive your audience into thinking that evolution instead uses the creation
    model, puny single-step selection.
    In Part 10 of 11 (
    ) at 6:23 you repeat the deceptive trick you pulled using Dr Georgia Purdom,
    only this time you cite Dr. John C. Sanford who is an anti-evolutionist of
    the "Intelligent Design" variety and is also a young-earth creationist. Yet
    again you made sure to explicitly point out his PhD while completely avoiding
    any mention that he's a creationist.  Again you misled the audience into
    thinking that he was speaking as a scientist, when in reality he was speaking
    as a creationist.
    Clearly your intent was to deceive the audience yet again.
    In Part 11 of 11 (
    at 1:20 you use what has to be one of your absolutely stupidest arguments.
    Even after I had to explain the facts of life to you (review it at , but you can skip through my
    long struggle with getting you to actually ask a question that wasn't
    gibberish, a task that you never did succeed at).
    Here, you were arguing that when the ancestors of chickens evolved into
    chickens, then for no discernable reason they suddenly had to evolve their
    reproductive organs all over again from scratch.  That is incredibly stupid,
    even for you!
    Since you've been able to reproduce, please explain to me how you had to have
    re-evolved your own reproductive organs from scratch.  Of course such a thing
    never did happen, because you inherited that trait from your parents, just as
    evolution would predict.  And they inherited theirs from their parents, and
    so one back in time.  And when humans evolved from our hominid ancestors, we
    as a species also inherited our reproductive organs.  The reproductive
    systems for mammals got established fairly early on and then were inherited
    by the descendent species in each clade with some variations on the themes
    showing up here and there.  At no point in all that did any species of mammal
    have to completely re-evolve their reproductive systems from scratch.
    Similarly, the dinosaurs inherited their reproductive systems from their
    reptilian ancestors, all of whom are in the clade Amniota (along with mammals
    and birds), the coelurosaurs inherited theirs through Dinosauria and birds
    inherited theirs from coelurosaurs, with variations on a common theme.  Come
    to think of it, physically for birds it's basically two holes that they need
    to line up.  Nothing fancy.  Or so I've heard.
    So what's this idiotic nonsense about chickens having had to re-evolve their
    reproductive systems from scratch?  Your followers must really be gullible to
    fall for that one!

    And as Bill Morgan does virtually all the time, he refused to respond. Instead of actually discussing his claims, he insists on a public forum where he can spread his lies and not have to support them nor discuss them.

    Such as in a creationist debate.

    Bill's "The Chicken or The Egg" Claim Revisited

    In another forum, I discussed Bill's chicken claim more fully:

    Now for a weird creationist claim. Bill Morgan delivered this in a debate video and his audience loved it even though it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Here's a written form of it::
    Q: Which came first? The Chicken or The Egg?
    A: It wasn’t a chicken or an egg…it was two chickens! A male and a female. Sexual reproduction requires a male and a female. The first male chicken needed to have 100% functional male stuff and the first female chicken needed 100% functional female stuff. They need to be at the same place at the same time. They can’t wait for millions of years for the opposite sex to evolve. They need a muscular, circulatory, respiratory, skeletal system and many others as well. Before the chickens can make an egg, they need an environment with the right temperature, the right food, the right amount of oxygen the right amount of gravity etc. The answer to the chicken and the egg is someone with incredible intelligence instantly designed an adult male and an adult female at the same time, at the same place, and the place had the right temperature, gravity, food etc. The Garden of Eden story answers the chicken and the egg question.

    So then what's evolution, chopped liver? (apologies to the two chickens)

    On the face of it, it appears that he's claiming that for the chicken to have evolved, it had to have re-evolved everything, that it didn't inherit anything from its parents -- as I recall the verbal form, he made a really big deal about them having to have evolved compatible business ends. I do not understand what his underlying assumptions and misunderstanding of evolution could possibly be to support that claim.

    According to evolution, it takes many generations for one species to evolve into another, though that can be sped up by human intervention during domestication. Chickens evolved from jungle fowl (NOTE: the red junglefowl). For this thought experiment, let's assume 100 generations for that jungle fowl to become a yardbird. So what were the parents for the first 100% chicken? They were 99% chicken, which is damned close. What's the difference between 99% chicken and 100% chicken? Hardly any at all. I doubt that anyone could look at a 99% chicken and a 100% chicken and be able to tell the difference. So what if there's only one 100% chicken (since women keep telling us that they're more advanced than men, let's assume it's female). There she is, the only 100% chicken in existence. With whom does she mate? With a 99% chicken male, of course. Why not? There's practically no difference between them so they're plenty interfertile. What about their sex organs, where did they get them from, did they have to re-evolve them? Of course not! They got those from their parents, of course, where else? And where did their parents get theirs from? From their parents, who got theirs from their parents, and so forth and so back all the way back to whatever original ancestral species of theirs it was that had first come up with the idea of sex organs. Same thing with their muscular, circulatory, respiratory, skeletal, etc systems.

    When we have a basic knowledge of how evolution works, we find such creationist claims as that to be incomprehensible.

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    First uploaded on 1998 December 07.
    Updated on 2015 November 03.

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