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Can You Say Hidden Agenda?

Can You Say Hidden Agenda?

by Jason Miller

"In 1998, members of a Seattle nonprofit think tank drafted a secret five-year plan with an ambitious goal: to "defeat scientific materialism" and "replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God."

Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank which champions socially conservative causes, has become heavily invested in the "debate" between Darwinists and those who wish to introduce Intelligent Design into public school classrooms.

According to their Website, Discovery's stated mission is:

... to make a positive vision of the future practical. The Institute discovers and promotes ideas in the common sense tradition of representative government, the free market and individual liberty.

Finding a handful of academics willing to act as its shills, Discovery's ultimate goal is to subvert the prevailing paradigm of modern science (which they refer to as "materialism") and replace it "with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions".

In an internal document called the Wedge (click the link or continue reading this piece to view the Wedge Strategy in its entirety) which was uncovered in 1999, Discovery was highly specific in stating its goals and plans to accomplish them. The institute clearly indicates that Intelligent Design will be their principal weapon and Evolution their primary target in its onslaught against "materialism".

Yet Discovery has higher aspirations than simply "debunking" Evolution and bringing God back into the public schools.

Consider this excerpt from Nina Shapiro's The New Creationists:

(Note: When Nina mentions Chapman, she is referring to Bruce Chapman, the co-founder of Discovery Institute and a participant in the Reagan Regime that ushered in the Neocon movement and the Second Gilded Age)

"Yet the Discovery Institute as an organization didn't get involved in the issue in order to solve the mysteries of the universe. Chapman is up front about having a social and political agenda. He sees design intelligence as a way to combat the growing reliance on genetic explanations for human behavior and what he sees as an undermining of personal responsibility. As an example of this phenomenon, Chapman cites the infamous "Twinkie defense" used by a murder defendant claiming his sugar high made him do it.

Others associated with the institute take a bigger leap of logic to argue that welfare, as currently dispensed, is a misguided consequence of the Darwinian outlook. "If you see human beings as nothing but matter and motion, than all you do is treat them like mouths to feed," says Jay Richards, program director for the institute's Center for Science and Culture. "If they're more than that, you treat the whole person," he argues, which would mean looking at such things as family structure and the role of moral and religious values in their lives.

Do you really have to attack a whole branch of science in order to counter liberal views on welfare? The Discovery Institute folk think they do. "Unless you get the science right," Chapman says, "it's very hard to contend with the other arguments."

Ironically, Discovery is not even welcome in its "home town" of Seattle.Consider Dan Gonsiorowski's characterization on his Website, Seattlest:

"Something's gotta be done. We can't throw them out. We're looking into it, but it appears you can't excommunicate a think tank from the city. Our usual weapon of choice, shame, won't work on the minds behind Intelligent Design because you can't shame the shameless (see the State of the Union, see also Fox News, see also the rest of the country, see also everyone but Seattlest). Simply asking them to reconsider would be like trying to reason with a monkey's eyeball. Marching around their compound with big Darwin posters on sticks and shouting stuff would be cathartic, but probably have little result other than getting them more air time on Fox, again with the Fox banner "Seattle-based think tank." Sometimes it's even "The Seattle-based think tank," like they're the only ones thinking up in here. There are plenty of other Seattle think tanks with more intelligent design in their little pinky ring than the Discovery Institute has in its whole body. There's... Well, there probably is. Maybe that's our solution. We need some other thinkers to elevate the thinking. Tank up and start thinking, Seattle, for the sake of our national image. Think so far outside the box that you wouldn't even consider saying something as lame as "think outside the box" and steer clear of any thinking that leads you to believe that there's scientific evidence for Intelligent Design.

In 1998, members of a Seattle nonprofit think tank drafted a secret five-year plan with an ambitious goal: to "defeat scientific materialism" and "replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God."

For a glimpse into the "soul" of the Discovery Institute, here is its Wedge Strategy:

{As you peruse the Wedge, bear in mind that the Center for Renewal of Science and Culture is a part of the Discovery Institute, Intelligent Design truly is a theory despite the fact that it is merely an assertion with no supporting evidence, and that Discovery has no religious agenda whatsoever.}

NOTE FROM LENNY FLANK, author of Creation "Science" Debunked: The Wedge Document is an internal memorandum from the Discovery Institute (the leading proponent of Intelligent Designer "Theory") that was leaked to the Internet in 1999. The Discovery Institute later admitted to its authenticity. Since then, Discovery Institute hasn't talked very much about the document, or the strategy it outlines. The reason is crushingly obvious, since the Wedge Document makes it readily apparent that the Discovery Institute is flat-out lying to us when it claims that its Intelligent Designer campaign is concerned only with science and does not have any religious aims, purpose or effect.





The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. Its influence can be detected in most, if not all, of the West's greatest achievements, including representative democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in the arts and sciences.

Yet a little over a century ago, this cardinal idea came under wholesale attack by intellectuals drawing on the discoveries of modern science. 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. This materialistic conception of reality eventually infected virtually every area of our culture, from politics and economics to literature and art.

The cultural consequences of this triumph of materialism were devastating. Materialists denied the existence of objective moral standards, claiming that environment dictates our behavior and beliefs. Such moral relativism was uncritically adopted by much of the social sciences, and it still undergirds much of modern economics, political science, psychology and sociology.

Materialists also undermined personal responsibility by asserting that human thoughts and behaviors are dictated by our biology and environment. 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.

Finally, materialism spawned a virulent strain of utopianism. Thinking they could engineer the perfect society through the application of scientific knowledge, materialist reformers advocated coercive government programs that falsely promised to create heaven on earth.

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. The Center awards fellowships for original research, holds conferences, and briefs policymakers about the opportunities for life after materialism.

The Center is directed by Discovery Senior Fellow Dr. Stephen Meyer. An Associate Professor of Philosophy at Whitworth College, Dr. Meyer holds a Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University. He formerly worked as a geophysicist for the Atlantic Richfield Company.


Phase I.
Scientific Research, Writing & PublicityPhase

II.Publicity & Opinion-making

Phase III.Cultural Confrontation & Renewal


Phase I. Scientific Research, Writing & PublicationIndividual Research Fellowship ProgramPaleontology Research program (Dr. Paul Chien et al.)Molecular Biology Research Program (Dr. Douglas Axe et al.)

Phase II. Publicity & Opinion-makingBook PublicityOpinion-Maker ConferencesApologetics SeminarsTeacher Training ProgramOp-ed FellowPBS (or other TV) Co-productionPublicity Materials / Publications

Phase III. Cultural Confrontation & RenewalAcademic and Scientific Challenge ConferencesPotential Legal Action for Teacher TrainingResearch Fellowship Program: shift to social sciences and humanities


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. If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a "wedge" that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points. The very beginning of this strategy, the "thin edge of the wedge," was Phillip ]ohnson's critique of Darwinism begun in 1991 in Darwinism on Trial, and continued in Reason in the Balance and Defeatng Darwinism by Opening Minds. Michael Behe's highly successful Darwin's Black Box followed Johnson's work. We are building on this momentum, broadening the wedge with a positive scientific alternative to materialistic scientific theories, which has come to be called the theory of intelligent design (ID). Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.

The Wedge strategy can be divided into three distinct but interdependent phases, which are roughly but not strictly chronological. We believe that, with adequate support, we can accomplish many of the objectives of Phases I and II in the next five years (1999-2003), and begin Phase III (See "Goals/ Five Year Objectives/Activities").

Phase I: Research, Writing and Publication

Phase II: Publicity and Opinion-making

Phase III: Cultural Confrontation and Renewal

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.

Phase II. The primary purpose of Phase II is to prepare the popular reception of our ideas. The best and truest research can languish unread and unused unless it is properly publicized. For this reason we seek to cultivate and convince influential individuals in print and broadcast media, as well as think tank leaders, scientists and academics, congressional staff, talk show hosts, college and seminary presidents and faculty, future talent and potential academic allies. 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. This combination of scientific and scholarly expertise and media and political connections makes the Wedge unique, and also prevents it from being "merely academic." Other activities include production of a PBS documentary on intelligent design and its implications, and popular op-ed publishing. 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.

Phase III. 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. The attention, publicity, and influence of design theory should draw scientific materialists into open debate with design theorists, and we will be ready. With an added emphasis to the social sciences and humanities, we will begin to address the specific social consequences of materialism and the Darwinist theory that supports it in the sciences.


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.


1. A major public debate between design theorists and Darwinists (by 2003)

2. Thirty published books on design and its cultural implications (sex, gender issues, medicine, law, and religion)

3. One hundred scientific, academic and technical articles by our fellows

4. Significant coverage in national media:

Cover story on major news magazine such as Time or NewsweekPBS show such as Nova treating design theory fairlyRegular press coverage on developments in design theoryFavorable op-ed pieces and columns on the design movement by 3rd party media

5. Spiritual & cultural renewal:

Mainline renewal movements begin to appropriate insights from design theory, and to repudiate theologies influenced by materialism

Major Christian denomination(s) defend(s) traditional doctrine of creation & repudiate(s)Darwinism Seminaries increasingly recognize & repudiate naturalistic presuppositionsPositive uptake in public opinion polls on issues such as sexuality, abortion and belief in God

6. Ten states begin to rectify ideological imbalance in their science curricula & include design theory

7. Scientific achievements:

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


(1) Research Fellowship Program (for writing and publishing)

(2) Front line research funding at the "pressure points" (e.g., Daul Chien's Chengjiang Cambrian Fossil Find in paleontology, and Doug Axe's research laboratory in molecular biology)

(3) Teacher training

(4) Academic Conferences

(5) Opinion-maker Events & Conferences

(6) 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

(7) Apologetics seminars and public speaking

(8) Op-ed and popular writing

(9) Documentaries and other media productions

(10) Academic debates

(11) Fund Raising and Development

(12) General Administrative support



William Dembski and Paul Nelson, two CRSC Fellows, will very soon have books published by major secular university publishers, Cambridge University Press and The University of Chicago Press, respectively. (One critiques Darwinian materialism; the other offers a powerful alternative.)

Nelson's book, On Common Descent, is the seventeenth book in the prestigious University of Chicago "Evolutionary Monographs" series and the first to critique neo-Darwinism. Dembski's book, The Design Inference, was back-ordered in June, two months prior to its release date.

These books follow hard on the heals of Michael Behe's Darwin's Black Box (The Free Press) which is now in paperback after nine print runs in hard cover. So far it has been translated into six foreign languages. The success of his book has led to other secular publishers such as McGraw Hill requesting future titles from us. This is a breakthrough.

InterVarsity will publish our large anthology, Mere Creation (based upon the Mere Creation conference) this fall, and Zondervan is publishing Maker of Heaven and Earth: Three Views of the Creation-Evolution Controversy, edited by fellows John Mark Reynolds and J.P. Moreland.

McGraw Hill solicited an expedited proposal from Meyer, Dembski and Nelson on their book Uncommon Descent. Finally, Discovery Fellow Ed Larson has won the Pulitzer Prize for Summer for the Gods, his retelling of the Scopes Trial, and InterVarsity has just published his co-authored attack on assisted suicide, A Different Death.

Academic Articles

Our fellows recently have been featured or published articles in major scientific and academic journals in The Proceedings to the National Academy of Sciences, Nature, The Scientist, The American Biology Teacher, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Biochemistry, Philosophy and Biology, Faith & Philosophy, American Philosophical Quarterly, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Analysis, Book & Culture, Ethics & Medicine, Zygon, Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith, Religious Studies, Christian Scholars' Review, The Southern Journal of Philosophy, and the Journal of Psychology and Theology. Many more such articles are now in press or awaiting review at major secular journals as a result of our first round of research fellowships. Our own journal, Origins & Design, continues to feature scholarly contributions from CRSC Fellows and other scientists.

Television and Radio Appearances

During 1997 our fellows appeared on numerous radio programs (both Christian and secular) and five nationally televised programs, Techno Politics, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Inside the Law, Freedom Speaks, and Firing Line. The special edition of Techno Politics that we produced with PBS in November elicited such an unprecedented audience response that the producer Neil Freeman decided to air a second episode from the "out takes." His enthusiasm for our intellectual agenda helped stimulate a special edition of William F. Buckley's Firing Line, featuring Phillip Johnson and two of our fellows, Michael Behe and David Berlinski. At Ed Atsinger's invitation, Phil Johnson and Steve Meyer addressed Salem Communications' Talk Show Host conference in Dallas last November. As a result, Phil and Steve have been interviewed several times on Salem talk shows across the country. For example, in July Steve Meyer and Mike Behe were interviewed for two hours on the nationally broadcast radio show Janet Parshall's America. Canadian Public Radio (CBC) recently featured Steve Meyer on their Tapestry program. The episode, "God & the Scientists," has aired all across Canada. And in April, William Craig debated Oxford atheist Peter Atkins in Atlanta before a large audience (moderated by William F. Buckley), which was broadcast live via satellite link, local radio, and internet "webcast."

Newspaper and Magazine Articles

The Firing Line debate generated positive press coverage for our movement in, of all places, The New York Times, as well as a column by Bill Buckley. In addition, our fellows have published recent articles & op-eds in both the secular and Christian press, including, for example, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Times, National Review, Commentary, Touchstone, The Detroit News, The Boston Review, The Seattle Post-lntelligence, Christianity Today, Cosmic Pursuits and World. An op-ed piece by Jonathan Wells and Steve Meyer is awaiting publication in the Washington Post. Their article criticizes the National Academy of Science book Teaching about Evolution for its selective and ideological presentation of scientific evidence. Similar articles are in the works.

Well-connected, well-funded, and frighteningly determined to impose their beliefs on society as a whole, it is little wonder that the Discovery Institute and Fundamentalist Christians are proving to be a match made in their Christian God's heaven as they wage their intellectual war against the "evils" of "materialism".


Proponents of Intelligent Design often charge those of us who support Evolution as being dogmatic. Yet as a critical thinking person who is almost constantly seeking to expand my knowledge base, I find myself consistently examining and shaping my worldview and beliefs. I recognize that there are limitations to the Theory of Evolution, and I see no problem with teaching our children that Evolution is a theory rather than dogmatic fact. And if valid scientific theories arise to rival Evolution, by all means, our children need to learn them too.

However, I strenuously object to intellectually dishonest groups of people employing Intelligent Design as their Trojan Horse to put their God back into public schools.

Evolution is the "wedge". Theocracy is the goal.

Freedom of conscience is one of humanity's most precious liberties. Which is precisely why many of the founders of the United States found themselves fleeing to the "New World".

Is it such a surprise that those of us opposing the agenda of the likes of Discovery "dogmatically" assert for our freedoms to think critically and define our own spirituality?


Jason Miller is a 39 year old activist writer with a degree in liberal arts. When he is not spending time with his wife and three sons, researching, or writing, he is working as a loan counselor. He is a member of Amnesty International and an avid supporter of Oxfam International and Human Rights Watch. He welcomes responses at or comments on his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at

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