Skepticism Abandons Logic

By Wayne Jackson

Several years ago I was invited to participate in a public debate with Professor Paul Ricci, a philosopher associated with Cypress College in the Los Angeles area of California. In that discussion I affirmed this proposition: “Resolved: The Universe, and all within it, is best explained as the result of creation by a Supreme Being.” Mr. Ricci took upon himself the ambitious project of denying that affirmation.

In my preparation for this exchange, I discovered that my opponent had authored a book, Fundamentals of Critical Thinking (Lexington, MA: Ginn Press, 1986). I obtained the book and carefully read it. In that process, I could not but reflect upon the language of a passage in the book of Job. “Oh that my adversary had written a book” (31:35).

One of the arguments that I pressed was the phenomenon of design. It is a fundamental principle of logic that — “where there is design, there must have been a designer.” Further, I contended that the Universe is characterized by design. For example, the precise, orchestrated movements of the heavenly bodies eloquently testify to this (cf. Psa. 19:1). If, then, it is the case that “design demands a designer,” and if it is likewise a fact that the Universe reflects design, then it logically follows that the Universe had a Designer. Thus, the Cosmos is not the result of an accidental “explosion” (commonly called “the Big Bang”). The material Universe is not just here; it was created by an intelligent Mind.

In buttressing my argument, I was gratified to be able to introduce a quotation from Professor Ricci’s book. The gentleman had penned these words: “…[I]t is true that everything designed has a designer. ‘Everything designed has a designer’ is an analytically true statement’” (p. 190).

But here was Ricci’s loophole; he denied that the Universe reveals “design.” He conceded that it has “order”; but he repudiated the proposition that it exhibits design. That semantic word game suggested a less-than-noble approach to evidence. File that episode away for the moment.

Over the past twenty years or so, an increasing chorus of voices from the scientific community has been voicing its views about such matters as “the anthropic principle,” [from anthropos, the Greek word meaning mankind]. This is the idea that Earth’s environment appears to have been designed purposefully for human habitation. Increasingly, others began to use the phrase “intelligent design.”

In 1984, an amazing book, The Intellectuals Speak Out About God (Chicago: Regnery Gateway) came from the press. It contained the collective views of a number of prominent scientists, philosophers, etc., who acknowledged that the Universe evinces design. Later, Michael Behe published his book, Darwin’s Black Box, in which he consumed considerable space arguing the case for “intelligent design” (1996, New York: The Free Press).

In 1998, Dr. Lee Spetner came out with Not By Chance (New York: The Judica Press), a book which shattered the notion that biological life evolved randomly. Then came the volume by William Dembski, Intelligent Design (Downers Grove, IL, 1999). Last year Neil Broom’s, How Blind Is the Watchmaker? (Downers Grove, IL) appeared in its revised second edition, arguing for “nature’s design” against the atheism of England’s Richard Dawkins. And these are but a sampling of the works being produced.

As a result, the skeptical community appears to be lathered into a frenzy, hardly knowing which way to turn. The “design” of nature seems so compelling. The more one learns about how things have been “put together,” the more difficult it becomes to deny the logic of intelligent design.

What, therefore, is skepticism to do? Where can unbelievers turn in the face of this mounting case? In a moment of panic it appears that the humanistic conclave will now deny the fundamental premise that “design demands a designer.” Note the following concession that was published in the infamous journal, Skeptical Inquirer, last summer.

“The statement ‘Design implies a designer’ demands just as big a leap of faith as [the biblical affirmation] ‘I know that my Redeemer lives’” (August, 2001, p. 74).

There it stands with bold recklessness — an abandonment of one of the most fundamental principles of logic — flight from that previously acknowledged. To borrow the language of Paul, they have become “vain in their reasonings,” and their “senseless” hearts have become darkened — even more (Rom. 1:21).

Atheism is an intellectual “black hole.”

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.