What is the “Wedge Document”?

None of this will be new to our regular readers. Big chunks of it come from our earlier posts, but we’re putting it all into one convenient place — this post — so we’ll be able to link to it from now on. Besides, creationists are always recycling their oldies, so they shouldn’t mind if we do it too.

The Wedge Document (sometimes called the Wedge Strategy) was drafted in 1998. It’s the founding manifesto of the Discovery Institute — they’re described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page. Here’s a link to the Wikipedia article which describes it: Wedge strategy. You can read the actual document at the NCSE website: The Wedge Document. Here’s a scan of the original: The Wedge. It’s a pdf document which begins with a graphic of Michelangelo’s God creating Adam.

The Wedge Document played a key role in the Kitzmiller case of 2005, and we wrote about that with extensive quotes from the court’s opinion here: Kitzmiller v. Dover: What’s the Wedge Document?

The Wedge Document was never intended to be seen by the public, but it had been leaked and posted on the internet even before that catastrophic courtroom exposé. At some point the Discoveroids brazenly posted a 19-page pdf file at their website: The “Wedge Document”: “So What?” It’s difficult reading — quite painful, actually. They selectively go through the Wedge Document and attempt to spin it so that it doesn’t say what it clearly says. We wrote about that here: Discovery Institute: The Wedge Document, So What?, in which we described their defense as a primitive attempt at new-age apologetics.

In its original glory the Wedge Document is ten pages long, small print, so the best we can do here is summarize some of the main points. It starts with a long Introduction:

The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. … Yet a little over a century ago, this cardinal idea came under wholesale attack by intellectuals drawing on the discoveries of modern science.


Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. … Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature.

“A broadly theistic understanding of nature.” Not very subtle, is it? Then the strategy is divided into three phases, with “Wedge Projects” listed for each phase, as follows:

Phase I. Scientific Research, Writing & Publicity:
• Individual Research Fellowship Program
• Paleontology Research program (Dr. Paul Chien et al.)
• Molecular Biology Research Program (Dr. Douglas Axe et al.)

Phase II. Publicity & Opinion-making
• Book Publicity
• Opinion-Maker Conferences
• Apologetics Seminars
• Teacher Training Program
• Op-ed Fellow
• PBS (or other TV) Co-production
• Publicity Materials / Publications

Phase III. Cultural Confrontation & Renewal
• Academic and Scientific Challenge Conferences
• Potential Legal Action for Teacher Training
• Research Fellowship Program: shift to social sciences and humanities

After that the Wedge Document sets forth its “Five Year Strategic Plan Summary” which says:

The social consequences of materialism have been devastating. As symptoms, those consequences are certainly worth treating. However, we are convinced that in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source. That source is scientific materialism. This is precisely our strategy. … [The theory of intelligent design (ID)] promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.

You read that right. The Discoveroids constantly deny it, but their plan is to replace genuine science with creation science. It’s as simple as that. Then the Wedge Document describes their “Goals.” This is important enough that we’ll quote it all. Be sure to note that the second of their two “Governing Goals” contradicts all of their claims about the identity of their unnamed intelligent designer:

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.

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.

Twenty Year Goals
• To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.
• To see design theory application in specific fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics and cosmology in the natural sciences, psychology, ethics, politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; to see its influence in the fine arts.
• To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.

The Wedge Document goes on to list numerous “Five Year Objectives.” Number 6 in that list is this: “Ten states begin to rectify ideological imbalance in their science curricula & include design theory.” You know what that’s all about. So far they’ve captured two states — Louisiana and Tennessee, which have both enacted so-called Academic Freedom bills.

Number 7 on their list of Five Year Objectives, titled “Scientific achievements,” is interesting enough that we’ll give it to you in full:

• An active design movement in Israel, the UK and other influential countries outside the US
• Ten CRSC Fellows teaching at major universities
• Two universities where design theory has become the dominant view
• Design becomes a key concept in the social sciences
• Legal reform movements base legislative proposals on design theory

None of those so-called scientific achievements involves any actual science, by the way. But you surely noticed that. You also noticed that the last item strongly suggests the implementation of a theocratic regime. Then they have a list of ten “Activities.” Take a look at number 6 on that list:

Alliance-building, recruitment of future scientists and leaders, and strategic partnerships with think tanks, social advocacy groups, educational organizations and institutions, churches, religious groups, foundations and media outlets

Ask yourself, dear reader: In the past century, what new and ultimately successful scientific theory, for example relativity, quantum mechanics, plate tectonics, and the Big Bang, despite initial resistance, went around alliance-building, recruiting social advocacy groups, and seeking the support of churches and media outlets?

There’s more to the Wedge Document. As we said at the beginning, we can only hit the highlights here. If you really want to understand this insidious movement you need to read it for yourself. Carefully. Then you’ll understand why the Discoveroids are potentially far more dangerous to our civilization than the typical, family-run creationist outfit that operates a bible-themed creationism museum along the side of a road in the middle of nowhere. And you’ll also understand why, when we began this blog, one of our first posts was Discovery Institute: Enemies of the Enlightenment.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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16 responses to “What is the “Wedge Document”?

  1. docbill1351

    The delusional part of the Wedge Document, besides the whole thing, is the notion that these IDiots can change society.

    Imagine a university system where all the professors are like Behe, Dembski, Meyer and Luskin! We’d collapse in a year.

    The DI wrote a counter-argument to criticism, that is, exposure of the Wedge Document called something like “Wedge Document, Oh That Old Thing” where they try to ridicule the critics but actually never disavow the strategy. The only way they could distance themselves from the Wedge would be to keep all fundraising strictly word-of-mouth and private. But, you know, loose lips sink ships and the word would leak out.

    The Tute lives on donations. Cut off the money and they’re done for.

  2. docbill1351

    Not exactly a dismissal of That Old Thing, Bobby the Crow confirms rather than denies that this is the actual strategy used by the Tooters since 1998. If you read through it you will see that they are behind, but still following the plan.

    The really delusional part was Johnson actually believing he could poof into existence a research program and do real science when the whole thing was made up.

  3. Richard Olson

    One wonders if these implacable enemies of godless communism notice they adapt the 5 Year Plan goal implementation strategy.

  4. They took a hit at Ball State last week, despite Gonzalez being hired there. I wonder how many of them have infiltrated universities under the radar as Hedin did? I wonder if Hedin’s bibliography and perhaps course syllabus came from the -roids of which you speak! Have you seen others like it?


  5. The whole truth

    That stinking no good for nothing ‘strategy’ and the dominionist god-wannabes that are pushing it make my blood boil.

    “Bringing together leading scholars…”

    Leading scholars? That’ll be the day.

    “…the Center explores…”

    Yeah, the IDiots at the “Center” (and elsewhere) spend most of their time ‘exploring’ legitimate scientific publications in the hope of finding something that they can distort, quote mine, and lie and whine about for imaginary jesus.

  6. Read the preamble. Materialism is responsible for all the ills of modern society, including the fact that people dare to bring law suits against corporations: “The results can be seen in modern approaches to criminal justice, product liability, and welfare. In the materialist scheme of things, everyone is a victim and no one can be held accountable for his or her actions.”

    For the direct DI link to the US Rabid Right, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Ahmanson,_Jr.

  7. Arguably more interesting than the leaked Wedge document is the old 1996-era home page of the Discovery Institute/CRSC, which was an early version of page 1 of the Wedge. The early draft is important because, among other things, it uses the word “supernatural” to describe Intelligent Design. Later, of course, Meyer and Luskin would swear up and down that ID had never been about the supernatural. The Wedge Doc replaces the word “supernatural” with “theistic understanding.”

    I feel we must all link to this earlier document to refute the claims of IDers that ID is not about the supernatural. It’s a dead link but is archived at the Wayback Machine here. Check it out, and everyone save this URL: http://web.archive.org/web/19961103063546/http://www.discovery.org/crsc.html. Throw it in their faces at every opportunity.

    That homepage uses as a banner the God touching Adam picture– the same as page 1 of the Wedge– nothing religious about that.

    Here’s a comparison of “Life After Materialism” vs. “The Wedge of ID.” You can skip ahead to the part in bold about the supernatural.

    [LAM]: For more than a century, science attempted to explain all human behaviour as the subrational product of unbending chemical, genetic, or environmental forces.

    [Wedge]: Debunking the traditional conceptions of both God and man, thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very thoughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry. and environment.

    [LAM]: The spiritual side of human nature was ignored, if not denied outright. This rigid scientific materialism infected all other areas of human knowledge, laying the foundations for much of modern psychology, sociology, economics, and political science.

    [Wedge]: This materialistic conception of reality eventually infected virtually every area of our culture, from politics and economics to literature and art.

    [LAM]: Yet today new developments in biology, physics, and artificial intelligence are raising serious doubts about scientific materialism and re-opening the case for the supernatural.

    [Wedge]: …the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature.

    [LAM]: What do these exciting developments mean for the social sciences that were built upon the foundation of materialism? This project brings together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences in order to explore what the demise of materialism means for reviving the various disciplines.

    [Wedge]: Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores…

    [“Life After Materialism”, Discovery Institute homepage, Archive dated 03 Nov 1996, gone by 29 Apr 1999, gave 404 error thereafter. ]

  8. Diogenes links to “the old 1996-era home page of the Discovery Institute”

    Nice pink background. Very tasteful.

  9. I believe Curm is in error when he says that the DI put out their damage control doc, “The Wedge Document– So What?” after the Dover defeat. SFAIK it preceded the start of the Dover trial.

    I recall this because, prior to the trial, the Thomas More Legal Center [lawyers of evil] attempted to squelch the expert testimony of Prof. Barbara Forrest, who wrote the book Creationism’s Trojan Horse. The ID proponents hate hearing both sides of the controversy, and can’t stand the facts, so the ID Thought Police filed a

    disgusting official document
    with the court trying to squelch her testimony.

    The whole document is a disgusting, fascinating amalgam of name-calling and ad hominem attacks –they call Forrest a “cyber-stalker” who wrote a “conspiracy novel”– backed up by no evidence, except one document: they cite the DI’s article “The Wedge Document– So What?” as proof she is a liar, conspiracist and “cyber-stalker.” So that article had to be pre-Dover.

    Here are some highlights. They don’t just want to squelch Forrest, they insist on squelching all the evidence amassed by Forrest– which were excerpts from ID proponents’ books and articles! They wanted to eliminate the entire history of ID, to squelch every book or article THEY THEMSELVES had ever published in which they themselves defined ID as a subset of creationism motivated by religion.

    “Defendants Dover Area School District…hereby move this Court to exclude the testimony and expert reports, including the data upon which thay are based, of Barbara Forrest, Ph.D

    …Defendants respectfully asks this Court to grant their motion and preclude Plaintiffs from using or introducing into evidence at trial the testimony and expert reports of Barbara Forrest, Ph.D., and the data upon which the testimony and reports are based. [Cover Letter from TMLC]

    Again: they’re requiring the judge to squelch their own pro-ID books and writings, cited by Forrest, because their own words defined ID as a subset of creationism.

    “Dr. Barbara Forrest (“Forrest”) has no scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge… she is little more than a conspiracy theorist and a web-surfing, “cyber-stalker” of the Discovery Institute (DI) and its supporters… Through her testimony, Plaintiffs seek to introduce immaterial and impertinent matter masquerading as expert opinion…

    The next paragraph copies a passage nearly identical to Rob Crowther’s “So What?” article “How Darwinist Paranoia Fueled an Urban Legend.”

    [TMLC writes]: …In response to the many misrepresentations made regarding the so-called “Wedge Document” and strategy, DI released an article entitled, The “Wedge Document”: “So What?”. In this article, DI stated, inter alia, the following: “We fail to see any scandal in [articulating a strategy for influencing science and culture with ideas through research, reasoned argument and open debate.].” …At one point Forrest claimed that the ‘Wedge Document”’s ‘authenticity… has neither been affirmed or denied by [DI].’ Yet if Professor Forrest wanted to know whether the document was authentic, all she had to do was ask. But she didn’t.”

    …Forrest is a member of the ACLU, a member of the National Advisory Council of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and a member of the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association, which is affiliated with the Council of Secular Humanists.2
    [Footnote 2: …This, more than any particular “expertise”, most likely accounts for Forrest’s participation in this case. For people like Forrest, this case is not about preserving science– it’s about preserving her worldview and censoring any ideas that might challenge it.]

    Besides the obvious ad hominem attack (she is an atheist– do not let atheists testify!), they’re accusing Forrest of trying to censor ideas, when they’re the ones trying to squelch not just her testimony, but also all the books and articles and speeches from ID proponents and leaders themselves, in which they themselves define ID as a subset of creationism motivated by religion.

    They repeatedly call her a liar without proving it with any evidence, except that the DI hates it when she quotes their words.

    …Forrest is not qualified to provide any relevant expert testimony in this case, her testimony is unreliable

    …her apparent expertise is the collecting of statements… and then drawing subjective conclusions to serve her personal agenda. …her subjective conclusions are often contrary to what the speaker actually meant—as the speakers themselves have noted.4 [Footnote 4: See, e.g., The “Wedge Document” : “So What?” at 3-4 Ex. 13] In fact, her testimony is simply biased journalism—and bad journalism at that

    …Forrest is not an objective “expert” concerned with science or education—rather, she is a biased critic on a crusade to promote a personal agenda, shaped by her secular humanist worldview.

    They endlessly repeat that she is an atheist, and atheists must be squelched and cannot be allowed to testify.

    [Footnote 6: In fact, Plaintiffs intend to use Forrest to admit over 200 irrelevant, hearsay documents… It is little wonder that Plaintiffs believe that the trial will take 15 to 20 days.]

    The 200 “irrelevant” documents are all books and articles written by ID leaders and “experts” themselves, which decided the case.

    …Upon application of these factors, as discussed in Section I-B-3 below, Forrest’s testimony proves unreliable…it is evident that her testimony is unreliable and should be excluded.

    They also call her book Creationism’s Trojan Horse a “conspiracy novel.”

    Forrest’s personal agenda, as demonstrated by her background, accounts more for her biased and subjective conclusions than any particular “qualification,” further undermining the reliability of her testimony. Finally, the only “non-judicial” use of her work is its apparent utility for producing conspiracy novels such as Creationism’s Trojan Horse.

    It goes on at great length, insults, ad hominems, “don’t let the atheists testify”, squelch the books and articles written by ID leaders, and repeatedly citing “The Wedge Document: So What?” as their ONLY evidence that Forrest is unreliable. They do not, of course, prove that the DI authors of “The Wedge Document” are reliable. They’re not atheists– they must be trustworthy.

  10. Diogenes says:

    I believe Curm is in error when he says that the DI put out their damage control doc, “The Wedge Document– So What?” after the Dover defeat. SFAIK it preceded the start of the Dover trial.

    You may be right. Their “So What?” document isn’t dated. I’ll diddle with my post so that I can be ambiguous about the publication date.

  11. Your links only take me to the official notice of service of request to disallow. I would find the full text very helpful for my own work on DI

  12. Paul Braterman, whose links? I just checked my links to the Wedge Document and they all work for me.

  13. No problem with yours, Curmudgeon. I meant Diogenes 4:03’s links, both of which give me the formal notice of service, but not the text stating their reasons; and although he quotes extensively I make it a rule (I am sure both you and he would approve) not to quote stuff second hand from the web without checking back to the source.

    O Diogenes, come out of your barrel and help me!

  14. I will try again. I think my first link was incorrect as it linked to the cover letter from the TMLC to the judge:

    http://ncse.com/files/pub/legal/kitzmiller/2005-09_pretrial_in_limine_motions/Forrest/2005-09-06_Ds_motion_in_limine_exclude_Forrest.pdf .

    What should have been the first link, “disgusting document”, is supposed to point to the main body of TMLC’s motion to squelch Forrest:


    I trust the links to “Life After Materialism” work because Curm accessed it.

  15. I’m sorry to quote this disgusting document at such length, but every time I hear the Discovernaughts saying “That’s an ad hominem attack!” or “You’re censoring our thoughts!” I think of their bizarre attempt to silence critics like Barbara Forrest at Dover by endless insults, ad homs and insinuations. It makes me grrrr.

  16. Got it now; either 5:36 2nd link, or 5:39 link. Good stuff to be able to refer to. thanks.