In 1998, the Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, created a document that was something of a manifesto, plan of action, and rally cry all rolled into one. It was written under the supervision of DI Co-founder and Vice President of the CRSC, Stephen Meyer (whom we’ve discussed before). It’s called The Wedge Document (PDF).
The document opens with this
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.
Which shows that the people of the Discovery Institute have no knowledge of reality or their own preferred religion.
Later in the opening, they say
The Center seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies…
I have previously taken Meyer (and other creationists) to task for using ellipses incorrectly. So before you get the pitchforks and boiling oil after me, I’d like to point out that this phrase, as I have posted here, is also centered in the page in larger text (as magazines do sometimes.
I mention this just to show you what we’re dealing with. I am reminded of the Artilleryman from War of the Worlds. The gulf between his dreams and his ability was vast. Just as the difference between the ID’s goals and accomplishments are vast, as we shall see.
The governing goals are as follows
- 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.
Anyone who thinks that Intelligent Design isn’t about religion just needs to read this. To be fair, there is another document by the DI called, The Wedge Document – So What (PDF). That document was published about 7 yeas after the Wedge Document (and about a year after the Wedge Document was used against ID in the Kitzmiller trial).
It’s a spin job. But feel free to read it. The supporting documents and statements, even in recent publications, support the original statements of the Wedge Document.
OK, let’s talk about the 3 five-year goals of the DI.
To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory. [ed. italics in original]
Well, it’s been 14 years and Intelligent Design is deader that last week’s meatloaf. It’s not only not accepted as an alternative, it’s a laughing stock. I know of two minor blogs and one major blog that only still exist because real scientists like to go and tweak the noses of the creationists.
There have been a few books published that have been soundly decimated by everyone. Just read the Amazon comments for the books. You can easily see after a few posts who both supports the ID notions and has no idea about science at all.
I will freely admit that some people seem to be doing something in ID sponsored labs. Of course, none of their work seems to make in peer-reviewed journals and none of it comes out and says, “This supports intelligent design.” It’s mainly attempts to show that evolution can’t do something. Usually something that there is already evidence that evolution can and does do.
The Sensuous Curmudgeon regularly reviews the tax documents of the Discovery Institute (2010, 2011, 2012, for example). They continue to spend less than 10% of their revenue in scientific research and more than 75% on “Production of public service reports, legislative testimony, articles, public conferences and debates, plus media coverage and the Institute’s own publications in the field of Science and Culture.” and “Production of public service reports, legislative testimony, articles, public conferences and debates, plus media coverage and the Institute’s own publications in the field of Technology.”
So, that one is a complete fail.
To see the beginning of the influence of design theory in spheres other than natural sciences.
I will admit to not understanding this one. Design theory is a well understood concept in many fields of human endeavor. Every field has a design theory. Architects always put the sink, stove, and fridge in an easily accessible triangle pattern. That’s a design theory.
But this is special. This, I suppose, means “Intelligent Design Theory”. Which, as we see in the goals means “To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.”
I admit to being curious about what a theistically designed house would look like. I thought about this for a while, then I realized that Feng Shui actually is a design theory for architecture. It’s meaningless and certainly doesn’t have any evidential support. on the other hand it still has more adherents than Intelligent Design and it actually has schools, an actual theory, and a much longer history than ID.
Before any of that second bullet can happen, there actually has to be a design theory. “God did it” is not a theory.
So that’s a fail.
To see major new debates in education, life issues, legal and personal responsibility pushed to the front of the national agenda.
The “goals” are utterly ridiculous. If I wrote goals like this for work, I’d be fired.
There are major debates in life issues (health care, abortion, women’s rights, etc) and there are major debates in education (funding, place of assessments, common core). There is a fair bit of talk about personal responsibility.
And none of it has anything to do with the Discovery Institute.
There are, however, plenty of legal issues. The DI promotes various bills in state legislature that are intelligently designed to get around the idea of creationism and instead “Teach the Controversy” (which doesn’t exist) or “think critically about evolution” (which science teachers should do anyway).
These bills are called, in my circles, Dover Traps. Named after the town of Dover, Pennsylvania were Intelligent Design lost huge. Judge Jones, a conservative Republican nominated by George Bush himself, ruled that ID was religious in nature and therefore unable to be taught or promoted by schools.
These are called Dover traps, because the bills may eve be passed into law (as in Louisiana), but there is no possible way that they will survive a legal battle. While the bills, give “permission” to teachers to teach creationism, they open the door to the school being sued. Note that the Discovery Institute will not be sued. Nor will the state legislature who passed the bill into law, but the school district itself will be sued. And it will lose, costing the school millions of dollars that could be spent actually teaching children.
The Kitzmiller trial cost the small school district just over one million dollars in legal fees and damages. Though the lawyers for the plaintiffs said that was accepted, but the actual judgement should have been over two million dollars.
In every case, and there have been several since Dover, Intelligent Design has lost.
Finally, there are some five year objectives in the Wedge document. Very quickly…
1. A major public debate between design theorists and Darwinists (by 2003)
First of all, science is not settled on the debate floor. No one would care if there was a debate, except for a few days entertainment pointing out all the mistakes made by the creationist.
2. Thirty published books on design and its cultural implications (sex, gender issues, medicine, law, and religion)
As far as I can tell, this is a big zero. There have been several books published by creationists since 1998, but not 30. And none of them, of which I am aware, talk about any of those issues. Although, some do mention religion and some mention law, but only in the context of making laws.
3. One hundred scientific, academic, and technical articles by our fellows
Well, I guess if you count blog and forum posts, then that counts. Peer-reviewed scientific/academic articles, there have been less than five in 14 years. If one is generous, then we could count the various “conferences” that are sponsored by the Discovery Institute, attended by DI fellows, and have only DI fellows as speakers. Of course, a bunch of those have been at churches. Two, IIRC, have been at hotels run by major universities, so that the DI can claim the event was held at “Cornell University” for example. Of course, they don’t mention that it was in the ballroom of a hotel that they had to pay for and Cornell University couldn’t have cared less who was there as long as they paid the bill.
In trying to find a list of the “peer-reviewed” papers the DI claims to have published, I found this article posted on the CSC (renamed to the Center for Science and Culture) website
In 2011, the ID movement counted its 50th peer-reviewed scientific paper and new publications continue to appear.
So, even using their own (probably overly generous) estimates, they are almost half way to their five-year goal after only 13 years.
They list all 50 papers in the article. Of those that are “peer-reviewed”, they include 7 that are published in their in-house “journal”. Although, if you are publishing about ID, who better to review the articles that other ID supporters.
The list includes good old A.C. McIntosh, whose work I reviewed here. An amazing case of an energy engineer who publishes about biology in a journal dedicated to “Ecodynamics in particular aims to relate ecosystems to evolutionary thermodynamics in order to arrive at satisfactory solutions for sustainable development.”
It’s also amusing to look at some of the journals that have accepted their work. I think my personal favorite is this one: Floriculture and Ornamental Biotechnology.
Another interesting point is that the list says things that don’t actually appear in the article. For example this article: Michael Sherman, “Universal Genome in the Origin of Metazoa: Thoughts About Evolution,” Cell Cycle, Vol. 6(15):1873-1877 (August 1, 2007).
The claim in the CSC website is
The article suggests that microevolution is at work, but that Darwinian macroevolution cannot be credited with major innovations: “Furthermore, genetic evolution in combination with natural selection could define microevolution, however, within this model it is not responsible for the emergence of the major developmental programs.” This is an evolutionary model, but it challenges the sort of unguided and random evolution inherent to neo-Darwinism, and supports an intelligent design model.
But if one actually looks at the paper…
The success of this or analogous experiments would provide strong support for the hypothesis of Universal Genome.
This isn’t a paper that comes to a conclusion. It’s actually describing an experiment that would attempt to show that front-loading is correct. Of course, the experiment hasn’t actually been done yet.
I’ll note that in looking up these papers, I found at least one (usually more than one) response to the article from actual scientists.
Continuing with the list…
4. Significant coverage in national media
This is followed by a couple of bullet points, all of which are complete fails. “PBS show such as Nova treating design theory fairly.” for example.
Let me explain. We all treat design theory fairly. We say exactly what it is and what value it has. The fact that it is crap with zero value isn’t our fault. It’s the DI’s problem. Just look at the litany of failures in their own goals.
5. Spiritual and cultural renewal:
And four more bullet points, none of which have to do with science, but do have to do with religion. “Major Christian denomination(s) defend(s) traditional doctrine of creation & repudiate(s) Darwinism” for example.
1. [sic]Ten states begin to rectify ideological imbalance in their science curricula & include design theory
As soon as you can show it’s science, then you can teach it in my classes. And yes, the list starts over at “1” here. I don’t know why.
Louisiana is the only state to pass such a bill, though many, many states try every year.
2. Scientific Achievements
This is where they go completely off the wall and this is only one where I will list the “scientific achievements” they hope to make in five years (14 years ago).
- … [ed note; unreadable] 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
Which of those are scientific?
As of today, August 2014, the ID movement has ONE professor at a major university. It’s only because he, Michael Behe, got tenure before coming out as an ID proponent.
He doesn’t actually teach classes (A commenter says that he does teach classes and my memory of the arrangment of the Discovery Institute and Behe appears to be faulty) and his entire department has signed a statement saying they disagree with him.
The only universities which might teach design theory are religious universities.
If design had anything useful to provide any science, then it would be used. No one has found anything at all.
And, who could forget, all the laws to promote creationism.
ALL SCIENCE SO FAR!
So, in fourteen years, the Discovery Institute has managed to meet none of it’s five year goals and objectives.
I wonder why…