Intelligent design movement

Intelligent design movement

The intelligent design movement is a neo-creationist religious campaign for broad social, academic and political change to promote and support the idea of intelligent design (ID), which asserts that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection."[1][2][3] Its chief activities are a campaign to promote public awareness of this concept, the lobbying of policymakers to include its teaching in high school science classes, and legal action, either to defend such teaching or to remove barriers otherwise preventing it.[4][5] The movement arose out of the previous Christian fundamentalist and evangelistic creation science movement in the United States,[6] and is driven by a small group of proponents.[7][8] The overall goal of the intelligent design movement is to overthrow materialism and atheism. Its proponents believe that society has suffered "devastating" cultural consequences from adopting materialism and that science is the cause of the decay into materialism because it seeks only natural explanations, and is therefore atheistic. They believe that the scientific theory of evolution implies that humans have no spiritual nature, no moral purpose, and no intrinsic meaning. They seek to "reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview" represented by the theory of evolution in favor of "a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions."[4]

To achieve their goal of defeating a materialistic world view, advocates of intelligent design take a two-pronged approach. Alongside the promotion of intelligent design, proponents also seek to "Teach the Controversy"; discredit evolution by emphasizing perceived flaws in the theory of evolution, or disagreements within the scientific community and encourage teachers and students to explore non-scientific alternatives to evolution, or to critically analyze evolution and the controversy surrounding the teaching of evolution. But the world's largest general scientific society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has stated that "There is no significant controversy within the scientific community about the validity of evolution." and that "Evolution is one of the most robust and widely accepted principles of modern science."[9] The ruling in the 2005 Dover, Pennsylvania, trial, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, where the claims of intelligent design proponents were considered by a United States federal court, stated that "evolution, including common descent and natural selection, is 'overwhelmingly accepted' by the scientific community."[10][11]


External links

  • Bohlin, Ray, ed. (2000). Creation, Evolution, & Modern Science: Probing the Headlines That Impact Your Family. Foreword by  
  • DeWolf, David K.;  
  • Johnson, Phillip E. (1995). Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law & Education. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.  
  • Johnson, Phillip E. (1997). Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.  
  • Johnson, Phillip E. (2010) [Originally published 1991; Washington, D.C.: Regnery Gateway]. Darwin on Trial. New introduction by  
  • Phy-Olsen, Allene (2010). Evolution, Creationism, and Intelligent Design. Historical Guides to Controversial Issues in America. Santa Barbara, CA:  
  • Stewart, Robert B., ed. (2007). Intelligent Design: William A. Dembski & Michael Ruse in Dialogue. Minneapolis, MN:  
  • Young, Matt; Edis, Taner, eds. (2004). Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism. New Brunswick, NJ:  


  1. ^ "CSC - Top Questions: Questions About Intelligent Design: What is the theory of intelligent design?".  
  2. ^ Forrest & Gross 2004, p. 7
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  5. ^ a b c Forrest 2001, "The Wedge at Work: How Intelligent Design Creationism Is Wedging Its Way into the Cultural and Academic Mainstream"
  6. ^ Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 04 cv 2688 (December 20, 2005). Context, pp. 18–31. [p. 18] "An Objective Observer Would Know that ID and Teaching About 'Gaps' and 'Problems' in Evolutionary Theory are Creationist, Religious Strategies that Evolved from Earlier Forms of Creationism" [p. 24] "The concept of intelligent design (hereinafter 'ID'), in its current form, came into existence after the Edwards case was decided in 1987. For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the religious nature of ID would be readily apparent to an objective observer, adult or child." [p. 31] "...we find that ID's religious nature would be further evident to our objective observer because it directly involves a supernatural designer. ... A 'hypothetical reasonable observer,' adult or child, who is 'aware of the history and context of the community and forum' is also presumed to know that ID is a form of creationism.... The evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism."
  7. ^ "Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District Trial transcript: Day 6 (October 5), PM Session, Part 1".   — Barbara Forrest, 2005, testifying in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial.
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  10. ^ Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 04 cv 2688 (December 20, 2005). Whether ID is Science, p. 70
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  51. ^ a b "Discovery Institute and Thomas More Law Center Squabble in AEI Forum". National Center for Science Education (Blog). Berkeley, CA: National Center for Science Education. October 23, 2005. Retrieved 2014-05-31. 
  52. ^ "ADF attorneys seek to supply missing link in intelligent design curriculum case" (Press release). Harrisburg, PA:  
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  57. ^ Caldwell v. Roseville Joint Union High School District, 05 cv 061 (September 7, 2007).
  58. ^ Sanders, Robert (March 15, 2006). "Court dismisses lawsuit targeting evolution website". UC Berkeley News. Berkeley, CA:  
  59. ^ Johnson, Phillip E. (June 11, 2001). "The Pennsylvania Controversy".  
  60. ^ Johnson, Phillip E. (May 7, 2001). "Icons of Evolution exposed on CNN". Access Research Network (The Weekly Wedge Update). Goleta, CA. Retrieved 2014-05-31. If the science educators continue to pretend that there is no controversy to teach, perhaps the television networks and the newspapers will take over the responsibility of informing the public. 
  61. ^ Johnson, Phillip E. (April 9, 2002). "Passing the Torch". Access Research Network (The Weekly Wedge Update). Goleta, CA. Retrieved 2014-05-31. If the public school educators will not "teach the controversy," our informal network can do the job for them. In time, the educators will be running to catch up. 
  62. ^ "Privileged Planet--New Science Documentary Explores Earth's Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos". Discovery Institute. Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute. August 20, 2004. Retrieved 2014-05-31. 
  63. ^  
  64. ^ Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 04 cv 2688 (December 20, 2005). Whether ID is Science, p. 89
  65. ^ Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 04 cv 2688 (December 20, 2005). Disclaimer, p. 49
  66. ^ a b "Public Divided on Origins of Life". Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project. Washington, D.C.:  
  67. ^ Hoffman, Carey (October 11, 2002). "Majority of Ohio Science Professors and Public Agree: 'Intelligent Design' Mostly About Religion". University of Cincinnati. Cincinnati, OH:  
  68. ^ "Sign - Dissent from Darwin". Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute. Retrieved 2014-06-01. 
  69. ^ Chang, Kenneth (February 21, 2006). "Few Biologists But Many Evangelicals Sign Anti-Evolution Petition". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-06-01. 
  70. ^ "The List of Steves". National Center for Science Education (Blog). Berkeley, CA: National Center for Science Education. Retrieved 2014-06-05. 
  71. ^ "A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism" (PDF). Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute. April 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-05. 
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  73. ^ "Small Group Wields Major Influence in Intelligent Design Debate".  
  74. ^ Johnson 1995, pp. 208-209. "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 the consequences one would observe if the universe were the product of nonrational causes... God always has the option of working through regular secondary mechanisms, and we observe such mechanisms frequently. On the other hand, many important questions—including the origin of genetic information and human consciousness—may not be explicable in terms of unintelligent causes, just as a computer or a book cannot be explained that way."
  75. ^ Johnson, Phillip E. (April 1999). "Keeping the Darwinists Honest". Citizen (Colorado Springs, CO:  
  76. ^ Johnson, Phillip E. (July–August 1999). "The Wedge: Breaking the Modernist Monopoly on Science".  
  77. ^ Bohlin 2000, p. 5
  78. ^ Johnson 1995, pp. 12–13
  79. ^ "What is The Center for the Renewal of Science & Culture All About?".  
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  84. ^ a b Forrest & Gross 2004, pp. 165-167
  85. ^ "About Access Research Network". Access Research Network. Goleta, CA. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  86. ^ "Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District Pre-Trial transcript: July 14, Part 2". TalkOrigins Archive. Houston, TX: The TalkOrigins Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  87. ^ "Our History". Foundation for Thought and Ethics. Richardson, TX:  
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  88. ^ Brown, Sarah Price (January 5, 2006). "Intelligent Design Gains Momentum, Raises Eyebrows on Campuses". Washington, D.C.: Religion News LLC.  
  89. ^ "Chapter Locations".  
  90. ^ MacNeill, Allen (December 22, 2008). "The 'Intelligent Design' Movement on College and University Campuses is Dead". The Evolution List (Blog). Ithaca, NY: Allen MacNeill. Retrieved 2014-06-01. 
  91. ^ Harris, William S.; Calvert, John H. (Autumn 2003). "Intelligent Design: The Scientific Alternative to Evolution" (PDF). The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly (Philadelphia, PA:  
  92. ^ Schwabauer, Daniel; Calvert, John (2002). "The Rule: A One-Act Play" (PDF). Intelligent Design network (Play). Shawnee Mission, KS:  
  93. ^ "Nearly Two-thirds of U.S. Adults Believe Human Beings Were Created by God". The Harris Poll. Rochester, NY:  
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  95. ^ a b Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 04 cv 2688 (December 20, 2005). Testimony, Aralene Callahan, September 27, 2005
  96. ^ a b Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 04 cv 2688 (December 20, 2005). Testimony, Julie Smith, September 28, 2005
  97. ^ Kauffman, Christina (February 22, 2006). "Dover gets a million-dollar bill".  
  98. ^ Brauer, Matthew J.; Forrest, Barbara;  
  99. ^ "The Group". VirusMyth: A Rethinking AID$ Website. Hilversum, Netherlands: Robert Laarhoven. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  100. ^ Quittman, Beth (September 8, 2006). "Undercover at the Discovery Institute". Seattlest (Blog) (New York:   Wells' "personal peculiarities include membership in the Moonies and support for AIDS reappraisal - the theory that the HIV is not the primary cause of AIDS."
  101. ^ McKnight, Peter (June 17, 2006). "Aids 'denialism' gathers strange bedfellows".  
  102. ^ Delgado, Cynthia (July 28, 2006). "Finding the Evolution in Medicine".   "...While 99.9 percent of scientists accept evolution, 40 to 50 percent of college students do not accept evolution and believe it to be 'just' a theory." — Brian Alters
  103. ^ Boyle, Tara; Farden, Vicki; Godoy, Maria (December 20, 2005). "Teaching Evolution: A State-by-State Debate".  
  104. ^ Renka, Russell D. (November 16, 2005). "The Political Design of Intelligent Design". Renka's Home Page. Round Rock, TX. Retrieved 2014-06-03. 
  105. ^ Slevin, Peter (March 14, 2005). "Battle on Teaching Evolution Sharpens".  
    • Wilgoren 2005
  106. ^ a b Schmid, Julie; Knight, Jonathan (June 17, 2005). "Faculty Association Speaks Out on Three Top Issues" (Press release). Washington, D.C.:  
  107. ^ Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 04 cv 2688 (December 20, 2005). 6:Curriculum, Conclusion, pp. 129–130. "Moreover, Board members and teachers opposing the curriculum change and its implementation have been confronted directly. First, Casey Brown testified that following her opposition to the curriculum change on October 18, 2004, Buckingham called her an atheist and Bonsell told her that she would go to hell. Second, Angie Yingling was coerced into voting for the curriculum change by Board members accusing her of being an atheist and un- Christian. In addition, both Bryan Rehm and Fred Callahan have been confronted in similarly hostile ways, as have teachers in the DASD."
  108. ^ "Science Wars: Should Schools Teach Intelligent Design?" (Conference). Washington, D.C.:  
  109. ^ DeWolf, Meyer, & DeForrest 1999
  110. ^ Phy-Olsen 2010, pp. 70–71
  111. ^ Forrest & Gross 2004, p. 165
  112. ^ "Dr. William Collier". Oral Roberts University. Tulsa, OK:  
  113. ^ "Michael N. Keas". Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Fort Worth, TX:  
  114. ^ "Patrick Henry College Student Handbook" (PDF). Patrick Henry College. Purcellville, VA:   Edition 10.2.4.
  115. ^ Young & Edis 2004
  116. ^ Luskin, Casey (September 6, 2006). "Putting WorldHeritage On Notice About Their Biased Anti-ID Intelligent Design Entries". Evolution News & Views. Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute. Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  117. ^ Randerson, James (November 26, 2006). "Revealed: rise of creationism in UK schools".  
  118. ^ Randerson, James (December 6, 2006). "Ministers to ban creationist teaching aids in science lessons". The Guardian (London: Guardian Media Group). Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
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  120. ^ McGrath & McGrath 2007, p. 30
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  123. ^ Burke, Daniel (October 20, 2005). "Bring us your legal issues,’ clergy told".  


See also

An October 2005 conference called "When Christians and Cultures Clash" was held in Christ Hall at Evangelical School of Theology in Myerstown, Pennsylvania. Attorney Randall L. Wenger, who is affiliated with the Alliance Defense Fund, and a close ally of the Discovery Institute, and one of the presenters at the conference advocated the use of subterfuge for advancing the movement's religious goals: "But even with God’s blessing, it’s helpful to consult a lawyer before joining the battle... For instance, the Dover area school board might have had a better case for the intelligent design disclaimer they inserted into high school biology classes had they not mentioned a religious motivation at their meetings... Give us a call before you do something controversial like that... I think we need to do a better job at being clever as serpents."[123]

Sahotra Sarkar, a molecular biologist at the University of Texas, has testified that intelligent design advocates, and specifically the Discovery Institute, have misused his work by misrepresenting its conclusions to bolster their own claims, has gone on to allege that the extent of the misrepresentations rises to the level of professional malfeasance:

Another common criticism is that since no intelligent design research has been published in mainstream, peer-reviewed scientific journals, the Discovery Institute often misuses the work of mainstream scientists by putting out lists of articles that allegedly support their arguments for intelligent design drawing from mainstream scientific literature. Often, the original authors respond that their articles cited by the center don't support their arguments at all. Many times, the original authors have publicly refuted them for distorting the meaning of something they've written for their own purposes.

This criticism is not reserved only to the Institute; individual intelligent design proponents have been accused of using their own credentials and those of others in a misleading or confusing fashion. For example, critics allege William A. Dembski gratuitously invokes his laurels by boasting of his correspondence with a [121]

Such statements commonly note the institutional affiliations of signatories for purposes of identification. But this statement strategically listed either the institution that granted a signatory's

One of the most common criticisms of the movement and its leadership is that of intellectual dishonesty, in the form of misleading impressions created by the use of rhetoric, intentional ambiguity, and misrepresented evidence.[119] It is alleged that its goal is to lead an unwary public to reach certain conclusions, and that many have been deceived as a result. Critics of the movement, such as Eugenie Scott, Robert T. Pennock and Barbara Forrest, claim that leaders of the intelligent design movement, and the Discovery Institute in particular, knowingly misquote scientists and other experts, deceptively omit contextual text through ellipsis, and make unsupported amplifications of relationships and credentials. Theologian and molecular biophysicist Alister McGrath has a number of criticisms of the Intelligent design movement, stating that "those who adopt this approach make Christianity deeply... vulnerable to scientific progress" and defining it as just another "god-of-the-gaps" theory. He went on to criticize the movement on theological grounds as well, stating "It is not an approach I accept, either on scientific or theological grounds."[120]

Criticisms of the movement

Despite being primarily based in the United States, there have been efforts to introduce pro-intelligent design teaching material into educational facilities in other countries. In the United Kingdom, the group Truth in Science has used material from the Discovery Institute to create free teaching packs which have been mass-mailed to all UK schools.[117] Shortly after this emerged, government ministers announced that they regarded intelligent design to be creationism and unsuitable for teaching in the classroom. They also announced that the teaching of the material in science classes was to be prohibited.[118]


The Web continues to play a central role in the Discovery Institute's strategy of promotion of intelligent design and it adjunct campaigns. On September 6, 2006, on the Center's Evolution News & Views blog, Discovery Institute staffer Casey Luskin published a post entitled "Putting WorldHeritage On Notice About Their Biased Anti-ID Intelligent Design Entries." In the post, Luskin reprinted a letter from a reader complaining that WorldHeritage's coverage of ID to be "one sided" and that pro-intelligent design editors were censored and attacked. Along with the letter, Luskin published a WorldHeritage email address for general information and urged readers "to contact WorldHeritage to express your feelings about the biased nature of the entries on intelligent design."[116]

Much of the actual debate over intelligent design between intelligent design proponents and members of the scientific community has taken place on the Web, primarily blogs and message boards, instead of the scientific journals and symposia where traditionally much science is discussed and settled. In promoting intelligent design the actions of its proponents have been more like a political pressure group than like researchers entering an academic debate as described by movement critic Taner Edis.[115] The movement lacks any verifiable scientific research program and concomitant debates in academic circles.[5]

The Web

In 2005, the American Association of University Professors issued a strongly worded statement asserting that the theory of evolution is nearly universally accepted in the community of scholars, and deploring requirements "to make students aware of an 'intelligent-design hypothesis' to account for the origins of life." It said that such requirements are "inimical to principles of academic freedom."[106]

Two universities have offered courses in intelligent design: Oklahoma Baptist University, where ID advocate Michael Newton Keas taught 'Unified Studies: Introduction to Biology,' and Biola University, host of the Mere Creation conference.[111] Additionally, numerous Christian evangelical institutions have faculty with interests in intelligent design. These include Oral Roberts University[112] and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.[113] Patrick Henry College teaches creationism but also exposes its students to both Darwinian evolution and intelligent design.[114]

In 1999, William A. Dembski was invited by Baylor University president Robert B. Sloan to form the Michael Polanyi Center, described by Dembski as "the first Intelligent Design think tank at a research university." Its creation was controversial with Baylor faculty, and in 2000 it was merged with the Institute for Faith and Learning. Dembski, although remaining as a research professor until 2005, was given no courses to teach.[110]

Higher education

In a round table discussion entitled "Science Wars: Should Schools Teach Intelligent Design?"[108] at the American Enterprise Institute on 21 October 2005 and televised on C-SPAN, the Discovery Institute's Mark Ryland and the Thomas More Law Center's Richard Thompson had a frank disagreement, in which Ryland claimed the Discovery Institute has always cautioned against the teaching of intelligent design, and Thompson responded that the Institute's leadership had not only advocated the teaching of intelligent design, but encouraged others to do so, and that the Dover Area School District had merely followed the Institute's calls for action.[51] As evidence, Thompson cited the Discovery Institute's guidebook Intelligent Design in Public School Science Curricula written by the Institute's co-founder and first director, Stephen C. Meyer, and David K. DeWolf, a CSC Fellow, which stated in its closing paragraphs: "Moreover, as the previous discussion demonstrates, school boards have the authority to permit, and even encourage, teaching about design theory as an alternative to Darwinian evolution -- and this includes the use of textbooks such as Of Pandas and People that present evidence for the theory of intelligent design."[109]

With a doctrine that calls itself science among non-scientists but is rejected by the vast majority of the real practitioners, an amicable coexistence and collaboration between intelligent design advocates and upholders of mainstream science education standards is rare. With mainstream scientific and educational organizations saying the theory of evolution is not "in crisis" or a subject doubted by scientists, nor intelligent design the emergent scientific paradigm or rival theory its proponents proclaim,[106] "teaching the controversy" is suitable for classes on politics, history, culture, or theology they say, but not science. By attempting to force the issue into science classrooms, intelligent design proponents create a charged environment that forces participants and bystanders alike to declare their positions, which has resulted in intelligent design groups threatening and isolating high school science teachers, school board members and parents who opposed their efforts.[12][95][96][107]

Intelligent design is an integral part of a political campaign by cultural conservatives, largely from evangelical religious convictions, that seek to redefine science to suit their own ideological agenda.[104] Though numerically a minority of Americans,.[66] the politics of intelligent design is based less on numbers than on intensive mobilization of ideologically committed followers and savvy public relations campaigns.[105] Political repercussions from the culturally conservative sponsorship of the issue has been divisive and costly to the effected communities, polarizing and dividing not only those directly charged with educating young people but entire local communities.

The main battlefield for this culture war has been US regional and state school boards. Courts have also become involved as those campaigns to include intelligent design or weaken the teaching of evolution in public school science curricula are challenged on First Amendment grounds.[103] In Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, the plaintiffs successfully argued that intelligent design is a form of creationism, and that the school board policy thus violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Politics and public education

The response of the scientific community has been to reiterate that the theory of evolution is overwhelmingly accepted as a matter of scientific consensus[102] whereas intelligent design has been rejected by the overwhelming majority of the scientific community (see list of scientific societies explicitly rejecting intelligent design).

Prominent Institute campaigns have been to "Teach the Controversy" and, more recently, to allow Critical Analysis of Evolution. Other prominent campaigns have claimed that intelligent design advocates (most notably Richard Sternberg) have been discriminated against, and thus that Academic Freedom bills are needed to protect academics' and teachers' ability to criticise evolution, and that there is a link from evolution to ideologies such as Nazism and eugenics. These three claims are all publicised in the pro-ID movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (2008). Other campaigns have included petitions, most notably A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism.

The Discovery Institute, through its Center for Science and Culture, has formulated a number of campaigns to promote intelligent design, while discrediting evolutionary biology, which the Institute terms "Darwinism."[3]


Leading members of the intelligent design movement are also associated with denialism, both Phillip E. Johnson and Jonathan Wells have signed an AIDS denialism petition.[98][99][100][101]

In pursuing the goal of establishing intelligent design at the expense of evolution in public school science, intelligent design groups have threatened and isolated high school science teachers, school board members and parents who opposed their efforts.[12][95][96] Responding to the well-organized curricular challenges of intelligent design proponents to local school boards have been disruptive and divisive in the communities where they've taken place. The campaigns run by intelligent design groups place teachers in the difficult position of arguing against their employers while the legal challenges to local school districts are costly and divert scarce funds away from education into court battles. Although these court battles have almost invariably resulted in the defeat of intelligent design proponents, they are draining and divisive to local schools. For example, as a result of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial, the Dover Area School District was forced to pay $1,000,011 in legal fees and damages for pursuing a policy of teaching the controversy - presenting intelligent design as an allegedly scientific alternative to evolution. [97]

Critics of intelligent design and its movement contend that intelligent design is a specific form of creationism, neo-creationism, a viewpoint rejected by intelligent design advocates. It was bolstered by the 2005 ruling in United States federal court that a public school district requirement for science classes to teach that intelligent design is an alternative to evolution was a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. In Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, United States District Judge John E. Jones III also ruled that intelligent design is not science and is essentially religious in nature.

[94] The Discovery Institute has also relied on several polls to indicate the acceptance of intelligent design. A 2005

The intelligent design movement primarily campaigns on two fronts: a public relations campaign meant to influence the popular media and sway public opinion; and an aggressive lobbying campaign to cultivate support for the teaching of intelligent design amongst policymakers and the wider educational community. Both these activities are largely funded and directed by the Discovery Institute, from national to grassroots levels. The movement's first goal is to establish an acceptance of intelligent design at the expense of evolution in public school science; its long-term goal is no less than the "renewal" of American culture through the shaping of public policy to reflect conservative Christian values. As the Discovery Institute states, intelligent design is central to this agenda: "Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions."


  • The Access Research Network (ARN) has become a comprehensive clearinghouse for ID resources, including news releases, publications, multimedia products and an elementary school science curriculum. Its stated mission is "providing accessible information on science, technology and society issues from an intelligent design perspective."[84] Its directors are Dennis Wagner and CSC Fellows Mark Hartwig, Stephen C. Meyer and Paul A. Nelson.[85] Its 'Friends of ARN' is also dominated by CSC Fellows.[84]
  • The Richardson, Texas, that publishes textbooks and articles promoting intelligent design, abstinence, and Christian nationism.[86] CSC Fellows Charles Thaxton and WIliam A. Dembski have served as academic editors for the Foundation.[87] The FTE has close associations with the Discovery Institute, hub of the intelligent design movement and other religious Christian groups.
  • The [90]
  • The Shawnee Mission, Kansas. The Intelligent Design Network was founded by John Calvert, a corporate finance lawyer with a bachelor's degree in geology and nutritionist William S. Harris. Together, Calvert and Harris have published the article in The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly.[91] Calvert also has written a play about intelligent design in a high school biology class with Daniel Schwabauer.[92]

Other organizations

Promotional materials from the Discovery Institute acknowledge that the Ahmanson family donated $1.5 million to the Center for Science and Culture, then known as the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, for a research and publicity program to "unseat not just Darwinism but also Darwinism's cultural legacy."[81] Mr. Ahmanson funds many causes important to the Christian religious right, including Christian Reconstructionism, whose goal is to place the US "under the control of biblical law."[82] Until 1995, Ahmanson sat on the board of the Christian Reconstructionist Chalcedon Foundation.[83]

Recently the Center for Science and Culture's has moderated its previous overtly theistic mission statements[79] to appeal to a broader, a more secular audience. It hopes to accomplish this by using less overtly theistic messages and language.[80] Despite this, the Center for Science and Culture still states as a goal a redefinition of science, and the philosophy on which it is based, particularly the exclusion of what it calls the "unscientific principle of materialism," and in particular the acceptance of what it calls "the scientific theory of intelligent design."

Critics of the movement cite the Wedge Document as confirmation of this criticism and assert that the movement's leaders, particularly Phillip E. Johnson, view the subject as a culture war: "Darwinian evolution is not primarily important as a scientific theory but as a culturally dominant creation story. ... When there is radical disagreement in a commonwealth about the creation story, the stage is set for intense conflict, the kind of conflict that is known as a 'culture war.'"[78]

In his keynote address at the "Research and Progress in intelligent design" (RAPID) conference held in 2002 at Biola University, William A. Dembski described intelligent design's "dual role as a constructive scientific project and as a means for cultural renaissance." In a similar vein, the movement's hub, the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture had until 2002 been the "Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture." Explaining the name change, a spokesperson for the CSC insisted that the old name was simply too long. However, the change followed accusations that the center's real interest was not science but reforming culture along lines favored by conservative Christians.

The Center for Science and Culture, formerly known as the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, is a division of the Discovery Institute. The Center consists of a tightly knit core of people who have worked together for almost a decade to advance intelligent design as both a concept and a movement as necessary adjuncts of its wedge strategy policy. This cadre includes Phillip E. Johnson, Michael Behe, William A. Dembski and Stephen C. Meyer. They are united by a religious vision which, although it varies among the members in its particulars and is seldom acknowledged outside of the Christian press, is predicated on the shared conviction that America is in need of "renewal" which can be accomplished only by unseating "Godless" materialism and instituting religion as its cultural foundation.

The Center for Science and Culture


Phillip E. Johnson, largely regarded as the leader of the movement, positions himself as a "theistic realist" against "methodological naturalism" and intelligent design as the method through which God created life.[74] Johnson explicitly calls for intelligent design proponents to obfuscate their religious motivations so as to avoid having intelligent design recognized "as just another way of packaging the Christian evangelical message."[75] Hence intelligent design arguments are carefully formulated in secular terms and intentionally avoid positing the identity of the designer. Johnson has stated that cultivating ambiguity by employing secular language in arguments which are carefully crafted to avoid overtones of theistic creationism is a necessary first step for ultimately introducing the Christian concept of God as the designer. Johnson emphasizes "the first thing that has to be done is to get the Bible out of the discussion" and that "after we have separated materialist prejudice from scientific fact" only then can "biblical issues" be discussed.[76] In the foreword to Creation, Evolution, & Modern Science (2000) Johnson writes "The intelligent design movement starts with the recognition that 'In the beginning was the Word,' and 'In the beginning God created.' Establishing that point isn't enough, but it is absolutely essential to the rest of the gospel message."[77]

Obfuscation of religious motivation

The Discovery Institute consistently denies allegations that its intelligent design agenda has religious foundations, and downplays the religious source of much of its funding. In an interview of Stephen C. Meyer when World News Tonight asked about the Discovery Institute's many evangelical Christian donors the Institute's public relations representative stopped the interview saying "I don't think we want to go down that path."[73]

In his presentation to the 1999 "Reclaiming America for Christ Conference," "How The Evolution Debate Can Be Won," Johnson affirmed this 'big tent' role for "The Wedge" (without using the term intelligent design):

Intelligent design has been described by its proponents as a 'big tent' belief, one in which all theists united by a having some kind of creationist belief (but of differing opinions as regards details) can support. If successfully promoted, it would reinstate creationism in the teaching of science, after which debates regarding details could resume. In his 2002 article in Christian Research Journal, Discovery Institute fellow Paul A. Nelson credits Johnson for the 'big tent' approach and for reviving creationist debate since the Edwards v. Aguillard decision.[72] According to Nelson, "The promise of the big tent of ID is to provide a setting where Christians (and others) may disagree amicably, and fruitfully, about how best to understand the natural world, as well as Scripture."

The movement's strategy as set forth by Phillip E. Johnson states the replacement of "materialist science" with "theistic science" as its primary goal; and, more generally, for intelligent design to become "the dominant perspective in science" and to "permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life." This agenda is now being actively pursued by the Center for Science and Culture, which plays the leading role in the promotion of intelligent design. Its fellows include most of the leading intelligent design advocates: William A. Dembski, Michael Behe, Jonathan Wells and Stephen C. Meyer.

The 'big tent' strategy


In October and November 2001, the Discovery Institute advertised A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism in three national publications (The New York Review of Books, The New Republic and The Weekly Standard), listing what they claimed were "100 scientific dissenters" who had signed a statement that "We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."[68] Shortly afterwards the National Center for Science Education described the wording as misleading, noting that a minority of the signatories were biologists and some of the others were engineers, mathematicians and philosophers, and that some signatories did not fully support the Discovery Institute's claims. The list was further criticized in a February 2006 article in The New York Times which pointed out that only 25% of the signatories by then were biologists and that signatories' "doubts about evolution grew out of their religious beliefs."[69] In 2003, as a humorous parody of such listings the NCSE produced the pro-evolution Project Steve list of signatories, all with variations of the name Steve and most of whom are trained biologists. As of July 31, 2006, the Discovery Institute lists "over 600 scientists," while Project Steve reported 749 signatories; as of May 30, 2014, 1,338 Steves have signed the statement, while 906 have signed A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism as of April 2014.[70][71]

Scientists responding to a poll overwhelmingly said intelligent design is about religion, not science. A 2002 sampling of 460 Ohio science professors had 91% say it's primarily religion, 93% say there is not "any scientifically valid evidence or an alternate scientific theory that challenges the fundamental principles of the theory of evolution," and 97% say that they did not use intelligent design concepts in their own research.[67]

An August 2005 poll from The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life showed 64% of Americans favoring the teaching of creationism along with evolution in science classrooms, though only 38% favored teaching it instead of evolution, with the results varying deeply by education level and religiosity. The poll showed the educated were far less attached to intelligent design than the less educated. Evangelicals and fundamentalists showed high rates of affiliation with intelligent design while other religious persons and the secular were much lower.[66]

Intelligent design advocates realize that their arguments have little chance of acceptance within the mainstream scientific community, so they direct them toward politicians, philosophers and the general public.[59][60][61] What prima facie "scientific" material they have produced has been attacked by critics as containing factual misrepresentation and misleading, rhetorical and equivocal terminology. A number of documentaries that promote their assertion that intelligent design as an increasingly well-supported line of scientific inquiry have been made for the Discovery Institute.[62][63] The bulk of the material produced by the intelligent design movement, however, is not intended to be scientific but rather to promote its social and political aims.[11][64][65] Polls indicate that intelligent design's main appeal to citizens comes from its link to religious concepts.

Reception by the scientific community

In the movement's sole major case, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, it was represented by the Thomas More Law Center,[47] which had been seeking a test-case on the issue for at least five years.[48][49] However conflicting agendas resulted in the withdrawal of a number of Discovery Institute Fellows as expert witnesses, at the request of DI director Bruce Chapman,[50] and mutual recriminations with the DI after the case was lost.[51] The Alliance Defense Fund briefly represented the Foundation for Thought and Ethics in its unsuccessful motion to intervene in this case,[52] and prepared amicus curiae briefs on behalf of the DI and FTE in it.[53] It has also made amicus curiae submissions[54] and offered to pay for litigation,[55] in other (actual and potential) creationism-related cases. On a far smaller scale, Larry Caldwell and his wife operate under the name Quality Science Education for All, and have made a number of lawsuits in furtherance of the movement's anti-evolution agenda. In 2005 they brought at least three separate lawsuits to further the intelligent design movement's agenda. One was later abandoned, two were dismissed.[56][57][58]

Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (2005)

On February 13, 2007, the Board voted 6 to 4 to reject the amended science standards enacted in 2005.[46]

"ID has theological implications. ID is not strictly Christian, but it is theistic," asserted Martin.[45] The scientific community rejects teaching intelligent design as science; a leading example being the National Academy of Sciences, which issued a policy statement saying "Creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science."[18]

Local science advocacy group boycott of the hearings by mainstream scientists, who accused it of being a kangaroo court and argued that their participation would lend an undeserved air of legitimacy to the hearings.[44] Board member Kathy Martin declared at the beginning of the hearings "Evolution has been proven false. ID (Intelligent Design) is science-based and strong in facts." At their conclusion she proclaimed that evolution is "an unproven, often disproven" theory.[45]

The Discovery Institute, hub of the intelligent design movement, played a central role in starting the hearings by promoting its Critical Analysis of Evolution lesson plan[42] which the Kansas State Board of Education eventually adopted over objections of the State Board Science Hearing Committee, and campaigning on behalf of conservative Republican candidates for the Board.[43]

The hearings raised the issues of creation and evolution in public education and were attended by all the major participants in the intelligent design movement but were ultimately boycotted by the scientific community over concern of lending credibility to the claim, made by proponents of intelligent design, that evolution is purportedly the subject of wide dispute within the scientific and science education communities.

The Kansas evolution hearings were a series of hearings held in Topeka, Kansas, from May 5 to May 12, 2005, by the Kansas State Board of Education and its State Board Science Hearing Committee to change how evolution and the origin of life would be taught in the state's public high school science classes. The hearings were arranged by the conservative Board with the intent of introducing intelligent design into science classes via the "Teach the Controversy" method.[40][41]

Kansas evolution hearings

Johnson in his 1997 book Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds confirmed some of the concerns voiced by the movement's gainsayers:

Critics of intelligent design movement argue that the Wedge Document and strategy demonstrate that the intelligent design movement is motivated purely by religion and political ideology and that the Discovery Institute as a matter of policy obfuscates its agenda. The Discovery Institute's official response was to characterize the criticism and concern as "irrelevant," "paranoid," and "near-panic" while portraying the Wedge Document as a "fund-raising document."[38]

1. To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies
2. To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God

The document begins with "The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built." and then goes on to outline the movement's goal to exploit perceived discrepancies within evolutionary theory in order to discredit evolution and scientific materialism in general. Much of the strategy is directed toward the broader public, as opposed to the professional scientific community. The stated "governing goals" of the CSC's wedge strategy are:

The wedge strategy was formulated by Phillip E. Johnson to combat the "evil" of methodological naturalism.[36] It first came to the general public's attention when a Discovery Institute internal memo now known as the "Wedge Document" (believed to have been written in 1998) was leaked to the public in 1999. However it is believed to have been update of an earlier document to be implemented between 1996 and 2001.[37]

The wedge strategy

On December 6, 1993, an article by Meyer was published in The Wall Street Journal, drawing national attention to the controversy over Dean H. Kenyon's teaching of creationism. This article also gained the attention of Discovery Institute co-founder Bruce Chapman. On discovering that Meyer was developing the idea of starting a scientific research center in conversations with conservative political scientist John G. West, Chapman invited them to create a unit within the Discovery Institute called the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (later renamed the Center for Science and Culture). This center was dedicated to overthrowing "scientific materialism" and "fomenting nothing less than a scientific and cultural revolution."[34] A 1995 conference, "The Death of Materialism and the Renewal of Culture," served as a blueprint for the center.[35] By 1996 they had nearly a million dollars in grants, the largest being from Howard Ahmanson, Jr., with smaller but still large contributions coming from the Stewardship Foundation established by C. Davis Weyerhaeuser and the Maclellan Foundation, and appointed their first class of research fellows.[34]

Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture

During the early 1990s Johnson worked to develop a 'big tent' movement to unify a wide range of creationist viewpoints in opposition to evolution. In 1992, the first formal meeting devoted to intelligent design was held in Dean H. Kenyon (co-author of Pandas) and Walter Bradley (co-author with Thaxton and Kenyon of The Mystery of Life's Origin (1984)), as well as two graduate students, Paul A. Nelson and Jonathan Wells.[33]

Pandas was followed in 1991 by Darwin on Trial, a neo-creationist polemic by Phillip E. Johnson, that is regarded as a central text of the movement.[27] Darwin on Trial mentioned Pandas as "'creationist' only in the sense that it juxtaposes a paradigm of 'intelligent design' with the dominant paradigm of (naturalistic) evolution," but his use of the term as a focus for his wedge strategy promoting "theistic realism" came later.[28][29] The book was reviewed by evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould for Scientific American in July 1992, concluding that the book contains " weighing of evidence, no careful reading of literature on all sides, no full citation of sources (the book does not even contain a bibliography) and occasional use of scientific literature only to score rhetorical points."[30] Gould's review led to the formation in 1992 or 1993 of an 'Ad Hoc Origins Committee' of Johnson's supporters, which wrote a letter, circulated to thousands of university professors, defending the book. Among the 39 signatories were nine who later became members of the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (CRSC).[31][32]

The modern use of the words "intelligent design," as a term intended to describe a field of inquiry, began after the Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of Edwards v. Aguillard (1987), ruled that creationism is unconstitutional in public school science curricula. A Discovery Institute report says that Charles Thaxton, editor of Of Pandas and People, had picked the phrase up from a NASA scientist, and thought "That's just what I need, it's a good engineering term."[22] In drafts of the book over one hundred uses of the root word "creation," such as "creationism" and "creation science," were changed, almost without exception, to "intelligent design,"[23] while "creationists" was changed to "design proponents" or, in one instance, "cdesign proponentsists." [sic][24] In 1989, Of Pandas and People was published by the Foundation for Thought and Ethics (FTE),[25] with the definition:


The intelligent design movement grew out of a creationist tradition which argues against evolutionary theory from a religious standpoint, usually that of evangelical or fundamentalistic Christianity. Although intelligent design advocates often claim that they are arguing only for the existence of a designer who may or may not be God, all the movement's leading advocates believe that this designer is God. They frequently accompany their arguments with a discussion of religious issues, especially when addressing religious audiences, but elsewhere downplay the religious aspects of their agenda.

History of the movement

At the 1999 "Reclaiming America for Christ Conference" called by Reverend D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries, Phillip E. Johnson gave a speech called "How The Evolution Debate Can Be Won."[21] In it he sums up the theological and epistemological underpinnings of intelligent design and its strategy for victory:



  • Philosophy 1
  • History of the movement 2
    • Origins 2.1
    • Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture 2.2
    • The wedge strategy 2.3
    • Kansas evolution hearings 2.4
    • Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (2005) 2.5
  • Reception by the scientific community 3
  • Structure 4
    • The 'big tent' strategy 4.1
    • Obfuscation of religious motivation 4.2
    • Organizations 4.3
      • The Center for Science and Culture 4.3.1
      • Other organizations 4.3.2
  • Activism 5
    • Campaigns 5.1
    • Politics and public education 5.2
    • Higher education 5.3
    • The Web 5.4
    • International 5.5
  • Criticisms of the movement 6
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

According to critics of the intelligent design movement, the movement's purpose is political rather than scientific or educational. They claim the movement's "activities betray an aggressive, systematic agenda for promoting not only intelligent design creationism, but the religious worldview that undergirds it."[5] Intelligent design is an attempt to recast religious dogma in an effort to reintroduce the teaching of biblical creationism to public school science classrooms; the intelligent design movement is an effort to reshape American society into a theocracy, primarily through education. As evidence, critics cite the Discovery Institute's political activities, its wedge strategy and statements made by leading intelligent design proponents. The scientific community's position, as represented by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), is that intelligent design is not science, but creationist pseudoscience. Richard Dawkins, a biologist and professor at Oxford University, compares the intelligent design movement's demand to "teach the controversy" with the demand to teach flat Earthism; acceptable in terms of history, but not in terms of science. "If you give the idea that there are two schools of thought within science--one that says the earth is round and one that says the earth is flat--you are misleading children."[20]

[19] campaign and a political campaign.public relations This has led the movement's critics to state that intelligent design is merely a [11]