Karl Fezer, biologist, anticreationist, and former NCSE board member, dies at 92

Karl Fezer.

Karl Fezer, a professor emeritus of biology at Concord University, a veteran critic of creationism, and a long-time supporter of NCSE, died on January 19, 2023, at the age of 92, according to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph (January 27, 2023). Fezer served on NCSE's board of directors from 1983 to 1988 and also as the editor of Creation/Evolution Newsletter from 1984 to 1988. Keenly interested in the history and philosophy of science, he presented his thoughts on these topics in his book Scholarly World, Private Worlds: Thinking Critically About Science, Religion, and Your Private Beliefs (Xlibris, 2001).

In the about-the-author information in Scholarly World, Private Worlds, Fezer explained, "Visits to the college [i.e., Concord University] in the late 1960s by Henry M. Morris — pioneer and leader of 'scientific creationism' — induced the author, thenceforward, to become an observer and critic of this movement. ... He remains involved in the creation/evolutionism controversy as it continues to simmer in West Virginia. That controversy provides a wonderful focus for bringing together the findings from diverse disciplines." Part of Fezer's involvement with the controversy involved participation in debates with creationists. He told the Washington Post (November 23, 1984) that at first scientists were naive about such debates, assuming that "it would be easy to beat somebody who was just quoting the Bible." After scientists began to prepare appropriately, he added, "The creationists aren't so interested in debating anymore." Among Fezer's own debate opponents was the Institute for Creation Research's star debater Duane Gish, whose behavior he decried in Creation/Evolution in 1993: "Gish disqualifies himself by his indifference to truth," he wrote (PDF, p. 5).

Fezer was born in Englewood or Tenafly (sources differ), New Jersey, on March 2, 1930. He earned his B.S. in botany and chemistry from Cornell University in 1951, his M.A. in Social and Technical Assistance from Haverford College in 1953, and his Ph.D. in plant pathology from Cornell University in 1957. After stints at the University of Minnesota at St. Paul, St. John's College, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, he spent the bulk of his career, from 1966 to 1998, at Concord University in Athens, West Virginia. While there, he served a term as president of the West Virginia Academy of Sciences.

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.