Discoveroids Reveal Their Mystical Roots

The Discovery Institute, like all mystics with intellectual pretentions, trace their ideas back to Plato — see Discoveroids: The Universe is Platonic.

Today they’re at it again with this new post: Platonic Forms and Aristotelian Teleology: Let’s Explore the Philosophical Roots of Intelligent Design. It was written by Walter Myers III, whom they introduce with this:

We are delighted to welcome Walter Myers III as a new contributor. He has had a long career as an architect and project lead for one of the world’s largest software companies, located in Redmond, WA. He studied philosophy at Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology under J.P. Moreland, Gary DeWeese, as well as John Bloom, Paul Nelson, and Cornelius Hunter. After receiving an MA in philosophy, he joined the program as an adjunct.

Walter is a bible college philosopher. We’re impressed. He’s also an example of the Salem hypothesis, that engineering types — which often includes computer scientists — have a tendency toward the creationist viewpoint. Here are some excerpts from Walter’s essay, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

I would like to think that my background in mathematics and computer science, along with the study of history, philosophy of science and religion, origins of life, human origins, Darwinism, and intelligent design, have prepared me to look at evolution deeply, critically, and thoughtfully. [Hee hee!] In the course of this work and study, I came to the conclusion that a design theoretic best describes the origins and diversity we see in the natural world.

In other words, Walter is a creationist. We’re not surprised. Then he says:

As to my philosophical approach to ID, I take an Aristotelian-Thomist approach, also incorporating elements of Platonism. In making a case for ID, I do not necessarily include Thomistic arguments, since that would place us firmly in theistic territory.

We can’t have that! Nevertheless, he says:

[W]e have to ask why the natural world is so orderly, and what precisely are those final causes that drive nature towards order. That is precisely what the Thomistic view attempts to reconcile: how we came to “ends” or “purposes” in the natural world that argue for design rather than being the result simply of fortuitous and undirected events, as the Darwinian paradigm contends.

Cutting through the blather, Walter is like the puddle in the Douglas Adams story that wakes up one morning and thinks, “This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, [it] may have been made to have me in it!” The Discoveroids think it’s a good argument for intelligent design, and they’ve used it before — see Discovery Institute: What Are They Thinking? After that, Walter tells us:

The Platonic element in my thinking focuses on non-physical forms (or ideas). For Plato, intelligible forms constituted ultimate reality, with the physical world being but a dim reflection. He saw the world as the work of a craftsman. That craftsman (the Demiurge) could only work within the order of nature using pre-existing materials, thus accounting for the world’s imperfections. In this view we see the roots of intelligent design.

[*Groan*] The notion that everything is based on Platonic forms is the bedrock of all mystical thought. If you’re not familiar with the idea, take a look at the Wikipedia article on the Theory of Forms. Also, check out Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, which is pure, raw Oogity Boogity! It’s the first thing mystics point to when they want to explain that you — you blind, materialist Darwinist — are misled by the mere appearances of this world, while your philosophical betters know the hidden reality that lies beyond. But the Discoveroids are all about science, right? Walter continues:

Similarly, I think of biological organisms as having non-material structural configurations that are translated into a physical substrate through coded information. Thus, we have a non-physical structural “form” that represents a particular biological organism. This structure is then coded in physical DNA.

Thrilling, huh? Let’s read on:

Both Platonic forms and Aristotelian teleological concepts lay a firm groundwork for intelligent design, even though in their pure forms, both are based on immanent constructs as opposed to a transcendent designer outside of space and time. That distinction is immaterial from an ID perspective since ID makes no claims about the designer, but simply seeks the hallmarks of design.

Yes, intelligent design “theory” has no theological agenda — unless you read the Discoveroids’ Wedge Document. And now we come to the end:

I look forward to exploring these and other issues in future posts.

We’re not looking forward to it, because we have a limited tolerance for nonsense, but it’s good to see that the Discoveroids aren’t even trying to hide their reliance on mysticism.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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19 responses to “Discoveroids Reveal Their Mystical Roots

  1. michaelfugate

    Similarly, I think of biological organisms as having non-material structural configurations that are translated into a physical substrate through coded information. Thus, we have a non-physical structural “form” that represents a particular biological organism. This structure is then coded in physical DNA.

    Too funny – DNA without a material environment will give one nothing other than DNA. If I just look at it sideways and squint I can see an okapi in the double helix – can’t you? A fine addition to the intellectual lightweights in the DI stable.

  2. For with what eyes of the mind was your Plato able to see that workhouse of such stupendous toil, in which he makes the world to be modelled and built by God? What materials, what bars, what machines, what servants, were employed in so vast a work? How could the air, fire, water, and earth, pay obedience and submit to the will of the architect? From whence arose those five forms, of which the rest were composed, so aptly contributing to frame the mind and produce the senses? It is tedious to go through all, as they are of such a sort that they look more like things to be desired than to be discovered.
    Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods, Book I, section 19

  3. Similarly, I think of biological organisms as having non-material structural configurations that are translated into a physical substrate through coded information.

    He’s talking about vitalism as his non-material substrate, right?

    …ID makes no claims about the designer, but simply seeks the hallmarks of design.

    Hell, we can all describe things we think are designed or simply say “nice design,” but other than our engineering constructs, none of it implies a designer save for the ID’er’s who’s “mystery” designer (i.e., god) is in the back 40.

  4. I’m sure that the thoughtful Triceratops also reflected on how the world was made for Triceratops-kind, so perfectly did it fit, that T-kind must have been the very purpose of all creation.

  5. How about today’s world, what are the most numerous?

    I think that it is often said that the bacterium Pelagibacter ubique Is the most numerous species.

    Recently I’ve heard of some virus – if we count them among the living.

    If we ask, not about species, but “kinds”, then bacterium-kind, or, if they form a separate kind, maybe archaea-kind. Not only today, but from the first life on Earth, everywhere.

    Even if we restrict it to the mammals, my guess is that some species of rodent would be the most numerous.

  6. Indeed, TomS, to paraphrase J.B.S.Haldane, the Creator must have a special fondness for bacteria, because he made so many of them. And you’re right about viruses, too, since I think every creature, including all those bacteria and archaea, hosts several types of virus. Hard to see why anyone would think we’re the dearly beloved of the creator, other than narcissism.

  7. Ceteris Paribus

    We must look with pity on poor “Walter Myers III”. It really isn’t his fault that his lot in life was to be Walter Myers III. Likely the blame should be placed on Walter Myers I, who then begat Walter Myers II. Apparently, a Walter Myers III was inevitable, given the family gene pool.
    But at least he now has honest employment at the DI. Still, it fairly makes me weep with pity so see an otherwise robust fellow human, reduced to merely repeating and repeating the same question every day, and getting the same answers. At least until old age frees him from the “Department of Redundancy Department”, somewhere in the dark moldy basement caves of the DI.
    This brings to mind something that Ralph Waldo Emerson mentioned:

    “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.”

    (from his essay: “Self Reliance”)

  8. There have been advances in chemistry and biology since Plato and Aristotle. Perhaps these are not taught at Biola.

  9. “I take an Aristotelian-Thomist approach, also incorporating elements of Platonism”
    In short: scholastic, ie medieval. Empirical data not necessary. According to Plato what we observe is not real anyway.

    Of course all you fools are wrong. It’s ants who rule the world.

    http://www.livescience.com/747-ants-rule-world.html

    Especially

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argentine_ant

    Obviously the Earth is specifically designed for them.

  10. Pete Moulton

    Ants? I thought it was the mice.

  11. I wonder if with ‘Thomist’ he refers to Aquinas, or to de Torquemada. Given the tortured logic coming from the DI, I suspect the latter.

  12. Pete Moulton is puzzled:

    Ants? I thought it was the mice.

    In the beginning was The Mouse.

    …But then Disney bought up Pixar, creators of A Bug’s Life, and ants were admitted to the pantheon.

  13. @Pete Moulton
    From a Biblical perspective, we would expect that the most favored form of life would be found in the oceans. After all, they were spared the judgement of Noah’s Flood.

  14. Pete Moulton

    Well, I dunno. IMO, there’s a lot more truth in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” than in any biblical perspective.

  15. “[W]e have to ask why the natural world is so orderly, and what precisely are those final causes that drive nature towards order.”

    An orderly natural world? I suppose on some levels, e.g., periodic table of elements or a snowflake, it is. But it doesn’t impress me as orderly if we don’t know where an electron is at a given moment or when the next solar flare will occur. Better examples are found in the biological world where enzymes depend on random collision with substrates, genomes are full of DNA not necessary for development and reproduction (i.e., the junk is real), introns interrupt genes, biochemical pathways are cobbled together, geological or astronomical catastrophes cause mass extinctions, and rubisco, the enzyme which fixes carbon dioxide in photosynthesis, ironically is perhaps the most abundant enzyme and one of the most inefficient. And, not to mention the high rate of death among human conceptuses and the high rate of human birth defects compared to other mammals. But, like Darwin, “there is a grandeur in this view of life” and I marvel at its diversity, for which, of course there is no semblance of order. I can hug a tree and be astonished that it can raise water hundreds of feet into the air without a pump, but it’s a relatively simple matter of hydrogen bonding and evaporation. As always creationists and IDiots ignore the evidence, twist logic, concoct fantasies and see patterns where none exist, which of course they accuse scientists of doing. Myers needs to stop reading the ancients and hug a tree and think how the designer kept changing the structure of the water conducting vessels (xylem). Thanks again SC for your dedication.

  16. Hello? “That distinction is immaterial from an ID perspective since ID makes no claims about the designer, but simply seeks the hallmarks of design.” If you promote a theory, there must be a mechanism by which the actions claimed can be effect. If one makes up a theory that things are as they are because they were designed that way by a “Designer” you are obligated to push on and say who or what this “Designer” is and how the “designs” were effected (Magic!)

    It is a disgusting lie to claim that they make “no claims about the designer” when they have indicated time and again that the source of their information is the Bible. Why is “lying in a good cause acceptable”? Apparently because the Bible told them so!

  17. In the beginning it was Muad’Dib.

  18. Poor old Aquinas! Obviously a brilliant thinker, yet we cannot know today what conclusions he reached, only what he dared to publish. He was well aware of the fate of anyone whose views offended the Church.

  19. I find it interesting that a Bible-pounding fundamentalist should be so fond of a pagan philosopher.