Over 20 years ago, my dad gave me Science Held Hostage: What’s Wrong with Creation Science and Evolutionism, written by Howard J. Van Till, Davis A. Young, and Clarence Menninga. (In retrospect, I’m pretty sure my dad wouldn’t have agreed with the authors; I think he just wanted to give me a book that fit my interests.) Sadly, I didn’t crack it open for two decades. But after having adopted Walton’s ANE perspective, something urged me to unpack that box, dig out the book, and “pick up and read.” Within a few short chapters, I was convinced of the book’s core message: both creationists (of the young- and old-earth sort) and evolutionists (of the rabid atheistic sort—hence, the “-ism” in evolutionism) had presented us with a false dichotomy. As such, both atheistic evolutionism and special creationism victimized the public by demanding we choose one of two options: either (1) science can settle infallibly (or legitimately discard) questions of a philosophico-religious nature, or (2) religion can infallibly answer questions of a scientific nature.
Because both groups colluded (albeit unintentionally) to form this false dichotomy, Van Till, et al, considered both groups to be “folk science.” In “FROM CALVINISM TO FREETHOUGHT: The Road Less Traveled”, Van Till writes:
. . . a ‘folk-science’ is a set of beliefs about the natural world—beliefs that need not be derived from, or even consistent with, the natural sciences—beliefs whose primary function is to provide comfort and reassurance that the rest of one’s worldview is OK.
The illusionof “irreducible complexity” isn’t as unassailable as ID proponents would want the public to believe. As much as I sympathized with the ID movement in its quest to prove the existence of an Intelligent Designer via the scientific method, thus explaining “knowledge gaps” as evidence of divine creative activity and supernatural tampering, the core of my being didn’t want any part of that. Did I really want to be caught holding the ID bag when scientists declared that something previously thought “irreducibly complex” by ID proponents was, in fact, “reducibly complex”? Of course not. Van Till’s aforementioned essay “FROM CALVINISM TO FREETHOUGHT” essentially updates the core of Science Held Hostage‘s message to take ID into account:
Similarly, the concept of Intelligent Design functions today as the folk-science of a large portion of the broader Evangelical Protestant population in North America. A fundamental tenet of ID’s folk-science is that the system of natural causes fails to include the formational capabilities needed for assembling certain complex biotic structures, such as the bacterial flagellum. If natural causes are inadequate, then the form-imposing intervention of some non-natural Intelligent Designer must have been essential (wink, wink, we don’t say who the Designer is, but you know who we mean). And if supernatural (power over nature) intervention was necessary for the formation of rotary motors on E. coli bacteria, then there is nothing standing in the way of Evangelicals maintaining their conviction that God could have performed all of the other supernatural acts portrayed in the Bible.