Science in Christian Perspective
Letter to the Editor
Corrective Surgery or An Autopsy?
W. Anthony Gerard, MD
140 Woodbine Drive
Hershey, PA 17033
From: PSCF 47 (December 1995): 288-289.
As an avid but amateur follower of the creation science debate, I was intrigued by both The Creation Hypothesis and by Dr. Van Till's response. I must confess that my reading of the book was far less insightful than his, and I appreciate his careful dissection.
The distinction between naturalistic (narrow) and Naturalistic (broad) is a helpful concept. I have always appreciated this view and agree with his emphasis on a "gapless economy" of creation. However, I wondered why Dr. Van Till did not address one of the major premises of the bookˇnamely that the entire Darwinian theory, at least as currently applied by Naturalistic (broad) scientists is a "theory in crisis" (to use M. Denton's words).
I would appreciate it if Dr. Van Till or someone else would address this question, ie. should those of us who have previously believed God used a naturalisticly explainable method of creation (theistic evolution?) be more willing to accept the possibility that he did not, since there are so many flaws in the current paradigms? The appendix to The Creation Hypothesis provides a long list of secular scientists who seem to have concluded that current origin and evolutionary theories are bankrupt. Wouldn't it be appropriate to conclude that acts of special creation are possible explanations? If not, what alternatives are there? Can we honestly say that current theories, either of origins or evolution (S. J. Gould's Punctuated Equilibria) are plausible for those of us who believe in naturalism (narrow) but not Naturalism (broad)?
Finally, I wondered whether Dr. Van Till's dissection, although skillful and thorough, was intended to be corrective surgery or an autopsy. He cut the book apart; did he intend to kill it? I ask this because I found it to be carefully written, respectful of many views, and in an area of neglected discussion. (For example, I did not know that Kurt Wise was a "young earth" paleontologist, but this strengthens my impression that we need more discussion on issues such as this among evangelical scientists from all views.) The book's major theme, at least from my perspective as an annotated amateur, was to emphasize that theories of design, whether "special creation" or "gapless economy" are rejected by most of the scientific community because of a commitment to Naturalism (broad). I agree that we need to distinguish naturalism (narrow) from this pervasive view, but isn't Johnson largely correct in his assessment, at least of the secular academic world? Isn't this an important area where we can agree with our "young earth" colleagues?
I enjoyed reading these articles. Perhaps many of ASA's members already have clear opinions about the questions I raised, but I suspect that many of us who are not researching these areas would benefit from Van Till clarifying what he agrees with in The Creation Hypothesis, and whether his intent was palliative or funerary.