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Olson: Stay out of ditches, creation debates

Published: Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

It’s supposed to snow again this weekend, and Michael Fitzgerald expects to be busy. Again.

Fitzgerald, of DeKalb, owns Northern Illinois Towing and Roadside Assistance. He’s been in the business of towing cars since 1978, after he graduated from Sycamore High School.

Fitzgerald said he pulled between 10 and 15 cars out of ditches around the area after the snowfall Wednesday, all the while keeping an eye out for oncoming traffic that could hit him or his truck. Often, the pull-out jobs come in bunches, as drivers will hit a slick area and find their own cars in the ditch.

“By the time you get done, you’re usually hauling two or three or four of them out,” Fitzgerald said. “The worst sound there is when you’re out doing that is the sound of locked-up tires on ice. Then you book.”

Once Fitzgerald or one of his part-time employees reaches a vehicle that’s left the road, he usually has them out within 10 minutes or so. He charges from $80 to as much as $150 for the service.

The trouble spots haven’t changed much since he started, he says. They pull a lot of cars out of ditches on Route 38, of course. The S-curve where Route 64 intersects with Esmond Road is notoriously bad.

“There’s always people in the ditch out there because it drifts bad,” Fitzgerald said. “When you’re pulling a car out, somebody else stops, eventually someone else can’t stop so they hit the ditch.”

Then there’s Plank Road.

“Plank Road’s been a moneymaker for years,” Fitzgerald said. “There’s just open road, so the road just always gets snow-packed, you’ve got drifting and everything else out there.”

A lot of the mishaps could probably be avoided if people just slowed down, or avoided driving outside of town, Fitzgerald says.

“The difference between staying in town and out of town is like night and day,” he said. “It’s just phenomenal. In town when it’s windy, it’s OK … but out of town, they’re whiteouts.”

Fitzgerald said he’s noticed a lack of snow fencing put up along county roads this season – something that’s definitely missed considering the extraordinarily high snowfall totals this year.

Keeping yourself from being Fitzgerald’s next customer is really about defensive driving, he says.

“If you would just slow down and pay more attention to [your] speed and distance in between cars,” he said.  “… There are just so many times that you see a car in the ditch and within 80-100 feet you see other cars in the ditch, because everyone hits the ditch instead of other cars.”

Here’s hoping everyone stays out of the ditch this weekend.

Why the “debate”?: TV scientist Bill Nye “The Science Guy” traveled to Petersburg, Ky., on Tuesday to debate Ken Ham, the founder of the Creation Museum.

Both of them won in the sense that they benefitted from tremendous publicity, and the creation “museum” no doubt had a banner week for website traffic. Beyond that, it was hard to see the point.

The Associated Press story from that night said: “Over the course of the two-and-a-half hour debate at Kentucky’s Creation Museum, both men had plenty to say, but neither left convinced of the other’s argument.”

No kidding?

Look, anyone who thinks the Earth was created 6,000 years ago holds that belief based on their faith that the Bible is the literal word of God. (Of course, most modern people don’t hold to every bit of arcane Old Testament law, but I digress.)

You cannot debate or reason with faith, and generally speaking, you shouldn’t try. The very definition of faith is “unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence.”

People who hold strict creationist beliefs keep them in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. That’s not just me or the scientific community talking. The venerable televangelist Pat Robertson said this week that it’s “nonsense” to believe the Earth is only 6,000 years old. Since 1950, even the Catholic Church has recognized that evolution – which occurred over millions of years – is a valid theory.

Science is about reaching intellectually honest conclusions based on observable evidence.

Hypotheses are formulated and tested. Theories, including Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory and Albert Einstein’s relativity theory, have continued to evolve as scientists have learned more about the natural world.

While science texts are continually revised and updated, the Bible still starts with “In the beginning …”.

As was clear from the “debate” between Nye and Ham, there is room for the unknown in science – scientists can say, “I don’t know.” Many people have come to the conclusion that people of faith also can accept the things that scientists can tell us about our world, our galaxy, our universe, without renouncing their belief in God.

Some might say that science tells us why things are, while religion reassures us that there’s a higher power behind it all.

But if you choose to believe the biblical creation story is how we all got here, I understand there’s nothing I can do to talk you out of it. God gave us all free will, right?

• Eric Olson is editor of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841 ext. 2257, email eolson@shawmedia.com, or follow him on Twitter @DC_Editor.

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