The "The Wedge Document
" is an outline of the agenda
of the Discovery Institute
, and, in effect, the entire Intelligent Design movement
. In this article, I document the origins of the document and examine its implementation
by the Institute thus far.
The document's history can be found in the history of the intelligent design movement
itself. In fact, it can be traced even more accurately than this: the true origin
of the Wedge Document is the mind of Phillip Johnson
, widely considered the patriarch
of the American
intelligent design movement. A lawyer
by profession, Johnson's epiphany
came to him after reading The Blind Watchmaker
and Evolution: A Theory in Crisis
in 1987. He reports that "I read these books, and I guess almost immediately I thought, This is it. This is where it all comes down to, the understanding of creation
He went into a flurry of activity, reading literature on the controversy
books and articles, and forming a close-knit group of supportive scientists who shared similar beliefs. A hallmark
of Johnson's writing is his emphasis on the differences between "methodological
naturalism", and "theistic realism". He explains this so well in a 1995 article that, rather than try to summarize his beliefs, I will allow Mr. Johnson to speak for himself:
1. A methodological naturalist defines science as the search for the best naturalistic theories. A theory would not be naturalistic if it left something... to be explained by a supernatural cause. Hence all events in evolution... are assumed to be attributable to unintelligent causes. The question is not whether life... arose by some combination of chance and chemical laws... but merely how it did so...
2. A theistic realist assumes that the universe and all its creatures were brought into existence for a purpose by God. Theistic realists expect this "fact" of creation to have empirical, observable consequences that are different from consequences one would observe if ther universe were the product of nonrational consequences... God always has the option of working through regular secondary mechanisms, and we observe such mechanisms frequently. On the other hand, many important questions... may not be explained in terms of unintelligent causes, just as a computer or a book cannot be explained in that way.2
(All italics, numbering, and quotation marks his.)
This passage may be thought of as the Document
form. The passage
's central idea (implicitly closeminded "naturalists
" vs. "theistic realist
s") remains intact in, and in fact serves as a theme
of, the Wedge Document.
A powerful move for the consolidation
of the power of the intelligent design movement came in 1996, with the founding of the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture by the Discovery Institute. Following swiftly on the heels of this event was the landmark Mere Creation conference at Biola University
. This conference allowed scientists professing
intelligent design to come together for the first time. Indeed, An article
in Christianity Today
proclaimed that "Prior to the conference, the intelligent-design movement comprised a loose coalition of scholars from a variety of disciplines. The conference brought together like-minded scholars from a variety of disciplines to 'get them thinking about a variety of questions.'says... Phillip Johnson."3
The Wedge Strategy was first mapped out in Johnson's 1997 book, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds
, Chapter Six of which is entitled "The Wedge: A Strategy for Truth." In this chapter, Johnson explains that "A log is a solid object, but a wedge can eventually split it by penetrating a crack and gradually widening the split. In this case the ideology of scientific materialism is the apparently solid log."4
The Wedge Document itself was reportedly first drafted by the Discovery Institute in 1998. In March 1999, the Wedge Document surfaced on the internet, detailing the plan of the Discovery Institute "to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview." It was published online anonymous
ly, initially leading to some doubts as to its authenticity
. It was not until 2003 that the Discovery Institute owned up to its estranged brainchild
. In an article titled "So What?"
(quotation marks theirs), the institute wrote that, "Materialism is a dehumanizing philosophy
that has been used to justify genocide
, among other evils. We want to see it discredited
This section is structured around the "THE WEDGE PROJECTS" section of the Wedge Document, which lays out their agenda in a point-by-point fashion and so is the most straightforward way to go about tracking their efforts.
I. Scientific Research, Writing & Publication
A. Individual Research Fellowship Program
The Discovery Institute has implemented this program, which according to their website has a total of 41 "fellow
Research program (Dr. Paul Chien et al.)
Other than a reference to unnamed "discoveries in such fields as... paleontology"7
on the Institute's website, this program appears to be more or less nonexistent at this time.
C. Molecular Biology Research Program (Dr. Douglas Axe et al.)
Although no "research program" per se is apparent, the Institute does appear to have published some research in the area of biology
II.Publicity & Opinion-making
A. Book Publicity
Intelligent design advocates
have been astonishingly prolific in support of their cause, so much so that it is impossible to escape creationist literature
in any bookstore. An incomplete list of the books
published by creationists in the last two years alone:
Creationists: Selected Essays: 1993-2006
by E.L. Doctorow
Creation As Science: A Testable Model Approach to End the Creation/evolution Wars
by Hugh Ross
The First Scientific Proof of God: Reveals God's Intelligent Design and a Modern Creation Theory
by George D. Shollenberger
Paradigms on Pilgrimage: Creationism, Paleontology and Biblical Interpretation
by Stephen J. Godfrey and Christopher R. Smith
Genesis, Creation, and Creationism
by Lloyd R. Bailey
B. Opinion-Maker Conferences
The Discovery Institute has held many conferences at Christian
colleges over the years, directed in large part at college students.
C. Apologetics Seminars
These have taken place under such touring apologists as Kent Hovind
and the Answers in Genesis crew. The Discovery Institute also offers what it refers to as "educational seminars."
D. Teacher Training Program
The Institute has published materials for use by teachers, available in print and online for those who register
E. Op-ed Fellow
A number of CRSC fellows have published op-ed pieces in publications as distinguished
as The Wall Street Journal
and The New York Times.
F. PBS (or other TV) Co-Production
The Institute has so far not succeeded in educing an agreement with PBS for a television program.
G. Publicity Materials / Publications
The Discovery Institute has used the internet to great effect in the dissemination of information, as is attested to by the plethora
of design-leaning websites currently in existence.
III. Cultural Confrontation and Renewal
A. Academic and Scientific Challenge Conferences
Conferences such as the one at Biola seem to have been the rule rather than the exception since the institute's inception
. Since the beginning of 2007 alone, (less than 2 months) they have staged no less than three conferences to challenge evolution.
B. Potential Legal Action for Teacher Training
There have been a number of creation-evolution cases over the years. A list of major cases, beginning with the Scopes trial ("victory" is allocated here on what is admittedly a more or less arbitrary basis):
Tennessee vs. John Scopes (1925) - Creation Victory
Epperson vs. Arkansas (1968) - Evolution Victory
Segraves vs. State of California (1981) - Draw
Edwards vs. Aguillard (1987) - Evolution Victory
Webster vs. New Lenox (1990) - Evolution Victory
Peloza vs. Capistrano Unified School District (1994) - Evolution Victory
Selman vs. Cobb County (2004) - Evolution Victory
Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District (2005) - Evolution Victory
For reference, the Discovery Institute was founded in 1993.
If you absolutely must allocate a "score" to both sides, it would currently be Creation 1.5, Evolution 6.5.
C. Research Fellowship Program: shift to social sciences and humanities
In the abscence
of any readily apparent research program to begin with, it is doubtful that any sort of "shift" can have been effected at this point.
1. Tim Stafford, "The Making of a Revolution," Christianity Today,
December 8, 1997. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/7te/7te016.html
2.Phillip E. Johnson, Reason in the Balance
3. Swanson, "Debunking Darwin?", Christianity Today
4. Johnson, Defeating Darwinism
5. Discovery Institute Staff, "The "Wedge Document": So What?", 2003, http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=2101
6. The list of fellows can be found at this address: http://www.discovery.org/csc/fellows.php