Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Does Anyone Actually Believe the Discovery Institute when They say They are not Advocating Teaching Intelligent Design?

For quite a while the Discovery Institute (DI) has been claiming that they do not support teaching Intelligent Design in the public science classroom.  That's a lie of sorts.  Oh I know that a lie is a lie, but like so many things, there are shades of gray.  Officially, it's the truth, unofficially  . . . shall we see?  If you only pay attention to that little tiny piece of data,it seems fairly reasonable, but once you look at the context in which the DI operates, it takes on a new meaning.  Let's take a look at a few things and see if you agree with me.

Wedge Strategy Document

First of all, if you go back to the Wedge Strategy Document, you can see it pretty easily.  The document outlines a series of projects laid out in three phases:
  • Phase I: Scientific Research, Writing & Publication
  • Phase II: Publicity and Opinion-making
  • Phase III: Cultural Confrontation & Renewal
The second phase has seven projects, project number four was 'Teacher Training Program'.  The stated purpose of Phase II was [the underlines are mine]:
"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."
So, as you can see, the academic arena is one of particular importance to the DI in furthering their goals.  If you need a reminder, here are their governing goals, again from the Wedge Strategy Document:
  • 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.
Couldn't have made it clearer myself!  So that is where you can start placing the DI's objectives within an appropriate context.  Their 'official' position of not advocating teaching Intelligent Design (ID) in schools is nothing but another tactic.
Kitsmiller vs Dover School Board 
To continue, remember what happened in Dover Pa?  It's been a decade, but that legal decision has been a thorn in the DI's side and one they truly wish had never happened.  If their true policy, not their 'official one' but if their true policy is not advocating ID in the classroom, why did they come to the assistance of the members of the Dover School Board who wanted exactly that?  Sure, they claim that the Dover Trial wasn't about them, but then . . .
  1. Why did the DI feel it was necessary to submit an Amicus Curiae brief about Intelligent Design if they weren't part of it?
  2. Why did the DI's own Wedge Strategy Document describe tactics similar to those used by the School Board and even by Michael Behe's [a DI Senior Fellow] in his testimony?  The strategy also says:
    "We will also pursue possible legal assistance in response to resistance to the integration of design theory in public school science curricula. (Wedge Strategy Document, Phase III, page 7)"
  3. Why did Seth Cooper, a DI attorney, have several calls with William Buckingham (Chairman of the Dover School Board Curriculum Committee discussing the legality of teaching ID.  (Trial Transcripts)
  4. Why did the DI forward to Buckingham DVDs, videotapes, and books. (Trial Transcripts)
  5. Why did two lawyers from the DI make a legal presentation to the Board in executive session. (Trial Transcripts)
  6. Why was the DI one of only two outside organizations consulted.  (The Thomas More Law Center was the other).  Plus the consult wasn't for scientific material, but legal advice. (Trial Transcripts)
Bottom line, if this is an example of not advocating teaching ID in the classroom, how do you explain all of their 'help' to a local school board?  The reality is you can't!  Their official position doesn't jib with their actions at all.

IDEA Student Clubs
So, moving on, in addition to the Wedge Strategy Document and Dover, how can we forget about the 'IDEA Student Clubs'?  Not sure if any of them still exist, but little casey luskin used to brag about them and his involvement before he left the DI.  Their website is still up and linked from the DI site itself.  It explains that [again, the underlining is mine]:
"The Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Center is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting intelligent design theory and fostering good - spirited discussion and a better understanding over intelligent design theory and the creation - evolution issue among students, educators, churches, and anyone else interested.
Our primary focus is to help students form "IDEA Clubs" on university and high school campuses to expand the dialogue over intelligent design"
Here are the menu options for anyone interested in a ' student club':
They not only have a 'startup packet', but training conferences and other resources.  So once again we see words are not matched with actions.  Officially they claim one thing, but they are encouraging the establishment of 'clubs' on colleges and high schools.  The official line is wearing quite thin!
Let's move on to Texas where two members of the Discovery Institute was asked by the then-head of the Texas State School Board to 'help' them determine science curricula.  Yes, John G. West and Stephen C. Meyer were asked by Don McLeroy, who without a doubt is a hard-core Evangelical Creationist, and tried to impose their so-called 'Academic Freedom' bill on Texas.  Luckily Texas wised up to a certain degree and voted a lot of that 'strengths and weaknesses' crap out and they also dumped Don.  

So . . . if the DI is not advocating Intelligent Design, why were they 'advising' a Creationist on public school curricula and textbooks.  
Ohio had it's own version of Texas' Don McLeroy, her name is Deborah Owens Fink.  Like McLeroy she is a Creationist who jumped on the ID bandwagon in an effort to get her religion into the classroom.  This was in the early 2000's and the DI's own Stephen C. Meyer proposed to the Ohio Board of Education the Institute's Critical Analysis of Evolution that prominently featured intelligent design.  It also included a model lesson plan!   So . . . let's not teach ID, but here is a lesson for . . . teaching ID!

For a while the DI was touting this as a significant victory;  however, also like Texas, Ohio wised up to the tricks and tactics and in 2006 deleted that lesson plan and also rejected a proposed legal challenge.  Luckily, the voters also wised up and Fink was sent packing. (Wikipedia: Intelligent Design in Politics)
The DI's own Website Resources
Least of which, if they are so not interested in teaching ID in schools, why do they have pages and pages of information for people who wish to do just that?

Education Curricula -- They have written educational material for teaching Intelligent Design!  Sure, and they have no interest in having ID taught in schools.  Look at just one of them.
Discovering Intelligent Design: This science curriculum (textbook, workbook, and DVD) presents the best evidence from physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology and related fields that provide evidence that nature is the product of intelligent design rather than blind unguided processes.
They do specifically suggest that this material would be most appropriate for private schools and homeschooling.  But still an entire 'science' curriculum for ID!

Key Resources for Parents and School Board Members  -- They have a ton of material here . . . and all geared to parents and school board members.  Yes, School Board Members!  I know, if they were serious about not advocating ID, why are they again targeting school board members?  Doesn't make any sense, does it?
Here is also where they brag about the failed Santorum Amendment?  Do you remember that?  The DI's own Philip E. Johnson wrote an amendment for a Pennsylvania politician for an education bill that became  known as the 'No Child Left Behind Act'.  The purpose of the bill was the promote the teaching of Intelligent Design.  The amendment failed, but some of the language was left in as part of the language, but it was in the non-binding part of the bill
"The Santorum Amendment was a failed proposed amendment to the 2001 education funding bill (which became known as the No Child Left Behind Act), proposed by Republican Rick Santorum (then the United States Senator for Pennsylvania), which promoted the teaching of intelligent design while questioning the academic standing of evolution in US public schools. " (Wikipedia: Santorum Amendment)
OK, I think this post is long enough.  There are many other examples.  The bottom line should be pretty simple for anyone to see.  Regardless of what they say 'officially', the Discovery Institute is interested in, and pursuing tactics to, replace actual science with their version of Creationism.  Their 'official' party-line is nothing but a tactic because after all of their defeats in court and in places like Texas and Ohio, they know an official push for ID would fail.  Dover hurt them much more than they will ever admit and another major court failure might do what must be unthinkable for them . . . a loss of donations!


  1. I probably shared this with you before. But this is just too classic to not mention here. This video was produced while Kitzmiller v. Dover was tried in front of Judge Jones. Check it out around 1:13:00, where Richard Thompson weighs in. http://www.c-span.org/video/?189479-5/policy-issues-intelligent-design-theory

  2. Great stuff! I hadn't heard it before! Thanks.