Dr Paul Nelson is the grandson of the creationist author and Lutheran minister Byron Christopher Nelson (1894–1972) and edited a book of his grandfather’s writings.He is married to Suzanne Nelson, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University and they have two daughters.
Paul Nelson: education and career
In 1998, Paul Nelson gained a PhD in philosophy from the University of Chicago. The Discovery Institute’s Wedge Document, and other sources have said that Nelson was publishing a work derived from his thesis, “Common Descent, Generative Entrenchment, and the Epistemology in Evolutionary Inference”, criticizing the principle of common descent, as part of the Evolutionary Monographs series. The Evolutionary Monographs series is edited by evolutionary biologist Leigh van Valen.
Paul Nelson is a fellow of the Discovery Institute‘s Center for Science and Culture and of the International Society for Complexity, Information and Design. He is often cited by opponents of intelligent design as an example of ID’s “big tent” strategy in action. He has written about “Life in the Big Tent” in the Christian Research Journal. In an interview for Touchstone Magazine Nelson said that the main challenge facing the ID community was to “develop a full-fledged theory of biological design”, and that the lack of such a theory was a “real problem”.
Paul Nelson Espouses Young Earth Views
Paul Nelson was a contributor to the book Three Views on Creation and Evolution, edited by J. P. Moreland and John Mark Reynolds, in which he, along with Reynolds, represented the young Earth creationist position. In their discussion in that book he and Reynolds acknowledged that “natural science at the moment seems to overwhelmingly point to an old cosmos.” Young Earth creationism was abandoned as a mainstream scientific concept around the start of the 19th century,and it is viewed as a religious viewpoint, by the scientific community and the courts.
In a discussion with historian of science Ronald Numbers, Paul Nelson made a distinction between his theological understanding of Earth history, which is informed by the biblical account as presented in the book of Genesis, and his advocacy for intelligent design. Nelson acknowledged that his young-Earth views are unpopular with many other intelligent design advocates.