Monday, December 19, 2005

The mission statement of the Discovery Institute has been posted online. This organization has, as its members, William Dembski and Michael Behe, as well as Jonathan Wells, the author of Icons of Evolution. In many ways, these three men define the current movement of Intelligent Design. This statement, which is self-identified as "The Wedge Strategy," states, among other things:

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 idea, of course, is to find the weakest point in the opposition's argument and drive a wedge through it. To its credit, the DI has, as the first phase of its strategy, "...solid scholarship, research and argument."

The second "Governing Goal" lays it out pretty clearly, though:

To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.

All other things being equal, this would be a laudible goal. All other things are not equal, however. This perspective is little different from that of its predecessor, recent earth creationism, in that it presupposes an endpoint to research being done at the DI in that it must find that there is evidence for the existence of God and His interaction with the cosmos. Genuine scientific inquiry may or may not arrive at this conclusion. To state a priori that this is the goal of the research being carried out by the DI is biasing it in that direction.

It further gives those who are filing lawsuits against the introduction of Intelligent Design in the classroom the same kind of ammunition that was given to the defendants in the Arkansas evolution/recent-earth creation case in 1982. Namely, that the goals of the DI are religious in nature and that science education will be subjugated to those goals.

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