Discovery Institute: A Progress Report

AS MOST OF YOU know, the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) are guided by their Wedge Strategy, which outlines their purpose, their short-term and long-term goals, and the means for accomplishing those goals.

So how are they doing? They probably have internal assessments, but it’s unlikely that those will ever be publicly available. So we’ll try to do the job for you. First, let’s see what they want to do. The “Introduction” section of the Wedge Strategy boldly declares:

Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies.

Materialism in the context of science is actually methodological materialism, also known as the scientific method. This is one of the most essential pillars upon which our civilization rests, and it’s one of the greatest intellectual legacies of the Enlightenment. If we lose that we’re back in the Dark Ages.

They’re quite specific as to what their goals are:

Governing Goals:
* To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.
* To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.

Back to Genesis! Here are their Five Year Goals:

* To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory.
* To see the beginning of the influence of design theory in spheres other than natural science.
* To see major new debates in education, life issues, legal and personal responsibility pushed to the front of the national agenda.

They also describe their Twenty Year Goals, including “To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science,” but they’re a long way from that so we won’t bother with listing all of those here.

Elsewhere in the Wedge Strategy they outline three phases of projects to be undertaken for reaching their goals:

Phase I. Scientific Research, Writing & Publicity: Phase I is the essential component of everything that comes afterward. Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade. A lesson we have learned from the history of science is that it is unnecessary to outnumber the opposing establishment. Scientific revolutions are usually staged by an initially small and relatively young group of scientists who are not blinded by the prevailing prejudices and who are able to do creative work at the pressure points, that is, on those critical issues upon which whole systems of thought hinge. So, in Phase I we are supporting vital witting and research at the sites most likely to crack the materialist edifice.

They seem to be skipping that phase entirely. In fact, we’ve earlier reported that Discoveroid Michael Medved, one of their “Senior Fellows,” has admitted that ID isn’t even a theory!

Okay then. No science, no problem! On to the next phase, the one currently being played out:

Phase II. Publicity & Opinion-making: The primary purpose of Phase II is to prepare the popular reception of our ideas. … Because of his long tenure in politics, journalism and public policy, Discovery President Bruce Chapman brings to the project rare knowledge and acquaintance of key op-ed writers, journalists, and political leaders. … Alongside a focus on influential opinion-makers, we also seek to build up a popular base of support among our natural constituency, namely, Christians. We will do this primarily through apologetics seminars. We intend these to encourage and equip believers with new scientific evidence’s that support the faith, as well as to “popularize” our ideas in the broader culture.

This is an odd way for an allegedly “scientific” theory to proceed. In the 20th Century, many new and revolutionary theories overcame initial resistance, but didn’t require public relations activities, and certainly none that were directed at specific religious groups. Relativity, quantum mechanics, plate tectonics, and the big bang come immediately to mind. How very odd that the Discoveroids are bogged down with all these obviously non-scientific operations.

Well, at some point they plan to get to the next phase (emphasis supplied):

Phase III. Cultural Confrontation & Renewal: Once our research and writing have had time to mature, and the public prepared for the reception of design theory, we will move toward direct confrontation with the advocates of materialist science through challenge conferences in significant academic settings. We will also pursue possible legal assistance in response to resistance to the integration of design theory into public school science curricula.

In other words, they can then begin to implement their real goal — destroying science, along with the other civilizing benefits of the Enlightenment, and establishing theocracy.

We end up where we began, asking: How are the Discoveroids doing? Our estimate is that they’re seriously bogged down in achieving their Five Year Goals. Their “science” is widely regarded as a joke, except in the most ignorant segments of society. There was also that silly Ben Stein movie that flopped at the box office and probably lost money. But money was never the goal here. It’s hearts and minds.

In practical terms, all they’ve got to show for the time and money they’ve spent is some absurd legislation in Louisiana, allowing unspecified “supplementary materials” to be used in science class. It’s widely expected that when this “victory” for “academic freedom” bears fruit, and creationism appears in science classes, their efforts will be defeated in court. They previously failed spectacularly in Pennsylvania in the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, and at this point the entire scientific establishment as well as the judiciary is wise to the game.

But they won’t quit. And neither will we.

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One response to “Discovery Institute: A Progress Report

  1. Yes, it looks like they have moved into the second half of Phase III. The various “academic freedom” bills around the country bear their fingerprints and they managed to get the Louisiana version passed.

    Texas is likely to see Warren Chisum or one of his cronies introduce this bill next year.

    The Texas State Board of Education under the leadership of Don McLeroy (well known YEC and DI lemming) is likely to try some shenanigans to “overthrow materialism” with their upcoming dec-annual science curriculum review.