Discovery Institute

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The Discovery Institute (often DI) is a conservative think-tank based in Seattle, best known for promoting intelligent design (ID), widely considered a pseudoscience. Founded by Bruce Chapman, a former Reagan appointee in a variety of positions, the think-tank covers a variety of issues including bioethics and transport issues in the Seattle area, but is best known for being the institutional home of many promoters of intelligent design. It receives significant sums from a variety of conservative foundations including that of Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr., as well as the Maclellan Foundation and others.

The Centre for Science and Culture, formerly the Centre for the Renewal of Science and Culture, is most involved in promoting ID. "The Wedge Document" is a Discovery Institute document that was leaked online containing detailed description of the Institute's ambitions and strategy regarding ID, which is split into three components. The intention is to "defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies" and to "replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God". The strategy to achieve these goals is split into three phases: the first is a program of scientific research, writing and publicity, split into individual research fellowships and the funding of research by Paul Chien in paleontology and Douglas Axe in molecular biology. The second stage is publicity and opinion-making, where they describe how they wish to "prepare for the popular reception of our ideas" by promoting books about ID, running "Opinion-Maker Conferences", "Apologetics Seminars" and a "Teacher Training Program", as well as possibly producing a television program. In phase three - "Cultural Confrontation & Renewal":

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.[1]

The Discovery Institute did not manufacture intelligent design so much as adopt it. Dean H. Kenyon and Percival Davis had written Of Pandas and People in 1989, replacing mentions of creationism with "design theory" and "creationists" with "design proponents"[2]. The Discovery Institute fellows responsible for Intelligent Design advocacy include Phillip E. Johnson, Stephen C. Meyer, Jonathan Wells, William A. Dembski, Michael J. Behe and John G. West.


  1. The Wedge Strategy
  2. Exposed in the Dover Area School Board trial when one of the intermediary drafts of the book contained a substitution error, with the string "ccreationists" being replaced with "cdesign proponentsists".