By Harry Welty
Like the bullet that first passed through JFK and
then through Texas Governor Connolly I shot two victims with my last column. My
intended target was Jim Fetzer. My
Governor Connolly was an innocent bystander, Bill Wells.
Ironically, my target, Dr. Fetzer, called me up after
reading my column and heartily laughed it off. Jim loved it. Like all sensible
attention seekers (and I say this as one of them) Jim understands that critical
press is much better than no press.
Bill Wells, however, didn’t enjoy being Jim
Fetzer’s collateral damage. Although unnamed in the column Bill strongly
disagreed with my characterization of the evolution vs. creationism debate. If
the Debate was tilted in favor of creationism, as I implied, it was not Mr.
Bill Wells contacted teachers at UMD looking for the
best possible spokesman to defend evolution. Jim Fetzer came highly recommended.
Next Bill arranged for Dr, Walt Brown, an expert on “creation science,” to
speak for “Creationism.” (Website: www.creationscience.com)
A neutral location was found and advertisements went
out to the general public. Bill wasn’t interested in sacrificing an
evolutionist to Christian lions. He
simply had faith that his side would prevail.
While I suspect that most of the audience was
composed of Creation leaning folks I have no reason to believe they weren’t
open minded at the outset of the debate. If Jim Fetzer performance bolstered
some people’s creationist preconceptions then Bill Wells’ faith was
My quarrel was not with Bill but with Drs. Brown and
Fetzer. Brown wrote the rules of the debate and Fetzer agreed to them. The rules
seemed innocuous but rules are only as good as their application. The rules
stripped away Jim Fetzer’s rebuttal time. My recollection is that Fetzer was
docked because he said the word “God.” This was not only stupid, it was
unnecessary. Dr. Brown’s rule made the debate seem rigged and by taking away
Fetzer’s rebuttal time elevated him from a foil to a martyr.
Bill is a creationist. He wants a level playing field
in public funded science classes. He says that this should not be a religious
question. He believes that a six day creation has been verified scientifically.
He feels the evidence underpinning evolution is bad science. He believes that
people who believe in evolution are in effect practitioners of a new religious
“faith” and that by teaching evolution the government has taken sides
favoring one religious view point over another. If, as Bill maintains, evolution
has been debunked then he has a serious point. I think Bill has a very tough
argument to make.
Creationism has lost a lot of its punch. I can’t
recall a single parent complaint about the teaching of evolution in the Duluth
Schools in my two terms on the School Board. There are several reasons for this.
First, home schooling has taken a lot of religious conservatives out of the
public schools. Second, the
has marched on relentlessly in the eight years since his debate.
Bill Wells is annoyed with this retreat from Genesis
because he agrees with Bishop Usher (1581-1656) who toted up all the lifetimes of
all the Biblical characters and calculated that creation took place in the year
Bill has faith that science backs this date up. I
suspect, however, that behind Bill’s faith lies the doctrine of “biblical
inerrancy.” Believers in this doctrine hold that the Bible, as the word of
God, is absolutely true. A single error undermines the entire document. If
creationists can’t trust that the world was built in six days then nothing in
the Bible can be trusted. This is faith at its most vulnerable. No wonder
science is viewed with such ardent skepticism.
I tend to agree with Bill that a belief in evolution
is a faith of sorts. For my part I have faith that the scientific community has
worked very hard to find the truth. Charles Darwin himself was drawn to his
study of nature by a deep faith and love of God’s creation. He set out to
document everything he could about God’s handiwork. How ironic that his good
faith should be so demonized.
Although he is clearly an honorable man, in my
estimation, Bill Wells has bent over backward to explain away scientific
evidence that he finds disagreeable. Ironically, I think the same thing could be
said about Professor Fetzer.
My last column was meant to show how evidence can, by
careful manipulation, be bent to make almost anything seem possible. In my
estimation Professor Fetzer has used Bill Wells’ scientific analysis to
demonstrate that half a dozen men representing as many agencies killed JFK.
Yeah, and the world was created in six days.
Welty is a lame duck politician who lets it all hang out at: www.snowbizz.com