Discovery Institute — The Mind of Walter Myers

Today we’ll examine another post at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog written by their new contributor, Walter Myers III, who teaches philosophy at Biola University, a bible college. This one is titled In Refusing to Identify a “Designer,” ID Proponents Aren’t Being Coy. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Alongside my work as a software architect in Redmond, WA, I have the privilege of serving on the faculty of Biola University, near Los Angeles. My focus there includes preparing students to rebut the falsehoods propagated by academia and the scientific community about the historical relationship between science and religion, to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution, and to defend the careful reasoning underlying a theistic worldview.

Dedicated, committed, hard core. Very hard core. He says:

One of our yearly courses is an advanced seminar on intelligent design. Its purpose is to enable students to appraise the current debate between Darwinian evolution and ID. We have lively discussions based on class texts, and invariably the nagging question comes up from several students every year: “Why don’t ID advocates quit being coy and just come out and say who they think the designer is? We already know most of them think it is the God of the Bible.”

Biola students, like everyone else, instinctively understand what the Discoveroids’ “theory” really is. But as we have always known, the Discoveroids’ purpose is to conceal that understanding. They hope to confuse and mislead everyone — especially the judiciary — thereby slipping through the legal barrier that prevents creationism from being taught in government schools. Walter is at the cutting edge of that effort. He tells us:

I never back down from this question, as it is wholly legitimate. However, as I explain in response, it does not fully factor in the actual project of intelligent design.

Unfortunately for Walter and all of the Discoveroids, we’re well aware of their project. It’s clearly spelled out in their founding manifesto — see What is the “Wedge Document”? So how does Walter handle his students’ question? He explains:

My reply starts by reviewing the notion of metaphysical naturalism (also called ontological naturalism, or philosophical naturalism). Metaphysical naturalism is the view that only physical laws and forces exist, and thus any discussion of supernatural concepts has no place in modern science. Generally, academia and the scientific community doggedly defend this view.

There is another philosophical view, methodological naturalism, that doesn’t specifically commit itself to proscribing supernatural explanations. Methodological naturalism asserts that in doing science, we take no particular attitude toward the supernatural. Rather, this approach is a method of doing science that only considers natural causes. Under methodological naturalism, it doesn’t matter whether a person has religious attitudes or not. Scientists, whether religious, agnostic, or atheist, can work together to solve scientific problems on a day-to-day basis, regardless of their personal views.

We discussed all that in Bring Me An Angel Detector! Walter continues:

While ID proponents would likely not be adherents of metaphysical naturalism [because they strongly believe in supernatural entities and causes], most have little argument with methodological naturalism.

Actually, Discoveroids don’t like methodological naturalism either, because their blog articles always insist that scientists are idiots for not considering supernatural causes, such as the work of the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — in their research. Let’s read on:

ID readily concedes that physical laws and forces can, alone, produce natural phenomena including snowflakes, clouds, lightning, and whirlpools. But no evidence demonstrates that natural laws can produce even single-cell organisms, which require a high degree of specified information [whatever that is], let alone butterflies, hummingbirds, or human beings.

So if something is not yet known, the Discoveroids’ insist that the only answer is the God of the gaps. Oh, wait — Walter isn’t stupid. He’s aware of that response and he’s ready for it. He says:

Metaphysical naturalists accuse ID of offering a “God of the gaps” argument, inserting “God” into the gaps of our knowledge, purely from ignorance. This criticism, however, is false. ID’s argument is hardly one from ignorance, but from the knowledge we have that things requiring high degrees of specified information [Hee hee!] can, as far as we practically know, only be produced by intelligent agents. Human experience, what we know of our own creative endeavors, itself demonstrates this.

Sorry, Walter, but that’s still a “God of the gaps” argument. Nice try, however. Another excerpt:

Returning to the question my students often ask, if ID advocates believe there is a designer, why don’t they specify who the designer is, particularly since many, but not all, are theists themselves? The answer is because 1) ID proponents don’t arrogantly purport to have exhaustive knowledge of who the designer might be, and admit that their particular notion of the designer may be wrong. 2) Harkening back to our discussion about methodological naturalism, ID seeks an approach where scientists and philosophers, regardless of personal views, may pursue the truth wherever the evidence leads. Finally, 3) ID fully allows those who wish to sincerely join the debate to argue for other mechanisms.

That’s cleverly said, but when one thinks about it, it’s solid baloney. Here’s more:

In not specifying a designer, ID leaves science open to pursue plausible explanations of biological complexity without getting tangled up in extraneous theological or philosophical discussions. The everyday practice of the current scientific establishment already curtails and constrains what science is able to discover. ID resists this trend, and instead seeks to democratize scientific investigation.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Yes, why should only scientists do science? Let the people decide! And now we come to the end:

We invite a maximum diversity of researchers [only bigots opposes diversity] to join the hunt for the truth. Discussions of who or what the designer might be would only work against that.

So there you are. Our Curmudgeonly opinion is that Walter is a clever fellow. Very slick. At times, quite subtle. Nevertheless, we understand what exactly what he’s doing. He may persuade his students that there’s meaningful substance to what he’s saying, but to us it’s pure Oogity Boogity!

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

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16 responses to “Discovery Institute — The Mind of Walter Myers

  1. Christine Janis

    “Metaphysical naturalism is the view that only physical laws and forces exist, and thus any discussion of supernatural concepts has no place in modern science. Generally, academia and the scientific community doggedly defend this view.”

    The two parts of the first sentence do not go together. The second sentence is LLPoF.

  2. Is he aware of the fallacies of composition and division? That there is a difference between an individual and a group? But no evidence demonstrates that natural laws can produce even single-cell organisms, which require a high degree of specified information, let alone butterflies, hummingbirds, or human beings.
    Does argue that there is no natural laws that produce individual individual living things, and that because God creates each Fluffy and Rover, we should doubt the scientific study of reproduction?
    Or does he worry about scientists who study species and “kinds”?

  3. Note the bias in Myers’s approach. He intends ” to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution, and to defend the careful reasoning underlying a theistic worldview.” He could hold students’ attention better if he discussed strengths and weaknesses of theistic worldviews.

    Darwinian evolution can’t compete with theism when it comes to the potential for dramatic conflict over strengths and weaknesses. Theists with deep faith in the strength of their reasoning refuse to bake wedding cakes for people whose reasoning they take to be weak. They cane them. They burn them at the stake. They behead them. They detonate themselves to destroy them. They wage war on them.

  4. Michael Fugate

    Can Walter quantify “a high degree of specified information”? Or does he just mean the amount in the simplest living thing?

  5. 1) ID proponents don’t arrogantly purport to have exhaustive knowledge of who the designer might be, and admit that their particular notion of the designer may be wrong.

    IDers feign not to have such knowledge, and I have yet to see any admitting they could be wrong. That is because ID is designed (hah!) with the sole purpose of subverting science and secular society. It has never had any scientific merit, as can be deduced from the fact it was drafted by a religious lawyer.

    2) Harkening back to our discussion about methodological naturalism, ID seeks an approach where scientists and philosophers, regardless of personal views, may pursue the truth wherever the evidence leads.

    Scientists already do that, and I don’t care overly much what philosophers do or don’t. Next.

    3) ID fully allows those who wish to sincerely join the debate to argue for other mechanisms.

    How very kind of you to open up the comments on evolutionnews! But in fact, this is precisely what all of your critics do all the time. I wonder if you would still allow those dissenting voices once you’ve put that theocracy in place you’ve been planning to establish all this time.

  6. “That’s cleverly said”
    Not at all – it’s self-contradictory. Indeed methodological naturalism “only considers natural causes”. And when it proposes a natural cause it’s obliged to do research on it – exactly what Walter doesn’t want to do, because of course his cause of design, information or whatever is a supernatural entity.
    Walter, you fool no one but possibly your demented grandma.

  7. Eddie Janssen

    I assume Myers is a christian who firmly believes in the existence of the christian god. If he does not know whether his god is the Intelligent Designer, he must wonder why the Intelligent Designer created the christian god and why he is worshiping a second rate deity.

  8. So, does the enlightened philosophy teacher use the notorious Dishonesty Institute’s Wedge Document in his classes to support his/their views and rationale for ID?

  9. Michael Fugate

    http://now.biola.edu/experts/terms/intelligent-design/
    http://academics1.biola.edu/online/courses/intelligent-design-seminar/

    I notice that Myers is not the instructor of the seminar above and is not listed as an expert.

  10. Michael Fugate

    For more entertainment from the other DI Meyers go here:
    http://magazine.biola.edu/article/10-summer/can-dna-prove-the-existence-of-an-intelligent-desi/

    People ask me, “Do you really want to say the plague was intelligently designed by God?” And as Christian and a design theorist, of course I don’t want to say that. So there are then three options to respond to this, sometimes called the problem of natural evil. One option is that there really is no evil, natural or otherwise; it’s just that you’ve got random mutations producing things that we like and things that we don’t like. That was essentially the Darwinian view. He was going to let God off the hook by saying essentially that God had nothing to do with it. He didn’t want to make God responsible for evil, so he made God responsible for nothing at all. The other view is that it looks like you’ve got design, but it looks like you’ve got a good designer and a bad designer at the same time. A third view — which I think is more in line with a Christian view of design — is that the world is simply evidence of a good design gone bad.

    Comic.

  11. Thanks for the links, Michael.

    “COURSE OBJECTIVES / LEARNING OUTCOMES
    Upon successful completion of this course students will have:

    Understood and explained the principles of Intelligent Design
    Explained contemporary viewpoints that support theories of ID
    Explained contemporary oppositions to ID”.

    1) Goddidit.
    2)Goddidit
    3)Satandidit.

    Hey, i’m a qualified IDiot now!

  12. First we put up a smoke screen for the bait and switch “Methodological naturalism asserts that in doing science, we take no particular attitude toward the supernatural. Rather, this approach is a method of doing science that only considers natural causes. Under methodological naturalism, it doesn’t matter whether a person has religious attitudes or not.”
    Then we make the switch ” Scientists, whether religious, agnostic, or atheist, can work together to solve scientific problems on a day-to-day basis, regardless of their personal views.”
    In general this is not true, as the abundance of AIGs, Discottutes and
    Hambones indicates.

  13. Remember that ID does not have an alternative mechanism.
    ID doesn’t have an answer to Who. But it doesn’t tell us What. What happens when ID is active?
    Also they make a point of avoiding When, because they don’t want to be seen as Young Earth Creationists, and they don’t want to lose their alliance.
    And there is no answer to Where, nor Why, nor How.
    Which goes to show that that there is nothing for them to say. It is all negative, an advertising campaign – a negative advertising campaign against evolutionary biology. “There is a better alternative than natural evolution” is just bluster with nothing to back it up. If they have in mind an alternative, let them tell us what sort of non-natural mechanism will provide the particular pattern of variety of similarities and differences that we see in the tree of life.

  14. Ross Cameron

    Funny how ID proponents insist on only one designer when their own guidebook tells of multiple gods in Deut 32:8

  15. Then of course there’s Genesis 3:22, in which God explicitly worries that having eaten the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, man has “become as one of us” and must now be kicked out of Eden before he can eat from the tree of eternal life as well.

    Us? Us who?

  16. Dave Luckett

    Oh, there’s an even better example than Genesis 3:22 – which can be passed off as God addressing his heavenly court, the angels, who are presumably also immortal. There is also the first Commandment, which implicitly recognises that there are other gods. And Genesis 6:4, which has “sons of gods”, both plural – funny, I thought there was only one of each.

    But the best one of all, cited by Jesus himself, is Psalm 82, wherein Yahweh speaks in the assembly of the gods and explicitly addresses the other gods by that title. It strains sense and text to insist that Yahweh means “Hebrews” when the text says “gods”, (that is, he’s being ironic) but that was and is the traditional interpretation, and the only means by which monotheism could be preserved.

    These texts are obviously unredacted remnants of an earlier polytheism, which is the only reasonable explanation for them. They place the literalists in one of their many cleft sticks – they find themselves insisting that the Bible is literal, except where it is metaphorical. Sure. Sure it is.