If we understand our own times, we will know that we should affirm the
reality of God by challenging the domination of materialism and naturalism in
the world of the mind. With the assistance of many friends I have developed a
strategy for doing this,...We call our strategy the "wedge." --Phillip E.
With the simplest of metaphors, Phillip Johnson describes the "wedge"
strategy adopted in order to advance "intelligent design" theory, the most
recent--and most dangerous--manifestation of creationism. Yet the simplicity of
the metaphor is deceptive. In reality, the wedge strategy is being aggressively
and systematically executed by the Discovery Institute's (DI) Center for the
Renewal of Science and Culture (CRSC) through an extensive, constant, and
sometimes dizzying range of activities which, as Johnson says, are intended
ultimately to "affirm the reality of God." This religious goal, advanced chiefly
by means of CRSC's anti-evolution agenda--and by politics--is the heart of the
This essay does not analyze the philosophical and scientific arguments (such
as they are) of DI's intelligent design proponents. Others are doing that quite
capably; rather, the present study analyzes the nature of the wedge strategy,
providing a framework from which to move at any point into the philosophical and
This study of the CRSC's wedge strategy consists of three parts:
Part I. A chronological history of the wedge strategy and the
authentication of the "Wedge Document."
The development of the wedge movement and its strategy can be chronicled by
consulting the Discovery Institute's own publications, as well as through
articles in friendly sources. The Wedge's chronological development includes the
production of a strategy outline known informally outside DI as "the Wedge
Document," which is authenticated here. An important point, however, is that
DI's activities would speak for themselves even if the document were not
genuine. These activities betray an aggressive, systematic agenda for
promoting not only intelligent design creationism, but the religious worldview
that undergirds it.
Part II. A survey of wedge activities.
A survey of the activities which DI's Center for the Renewal of Science and
Culture has undertaken to advance the wedge strategy shows that the systematic
program has been very successfully carried out except for its most important
component: the production of scientific data to support intelligent design.
Yet despite the scientific failure of the wedge, the CRSC is tireless in
advancing the rest of its strategy--(1) establishing a beachhead in higher
education, (2) influencing public opinion by a steady stream of popular
publications, and, most insidiously, (3) insinuating "intelligent design theory"
into the public education curriculum.
Part III. An analysis of the nature of the wedge strategy and its advance
into the mainstream.
The Wedge consists of a tightly knit core of people at DI's Center for the
Renewal of Science and Culture who have worked together for almost a decade to
advance the wedge strategy; the same people are always active in the CRSC's
major events. The movement is fueled by a religious vision which, although it
varies among the members in its particulars, is predicated on the shared
conviction that America is in need of "renewal" which can be accomplished only
by instituting religion as its cultural foundation.
"Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks
nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies . . .
." --Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture 
The "Wedge," a movement--aimed at the court of public opinion--which seeks to
undermine public support for teaching evolution while cultivating support for
"intelligent design theory," was not born in the mind of a scientist, or in a
science class, or in a laboratory, or from any kind of scientific research, but
out of personal difficulties after a divorce which led to Phillip Johnson's
conversion to born-again Christianity. The wedge movement thus began, in a very
real sense, as a religious epiphany in the life of Phillip Johnson. In accounts
given by Johnson himself, he says that "The experience of having marriage and
family life crash under me, and of achieving a certain amount of academic
success and seeing the meaninglessness of it, made me . . . give myself to
Christ at the advanced age of 38. And that aroused a particular level of
intellectual interest in the question of why the intellectual world is so
dominated by naturalistic and agnostic thinking." Nancy Pearcey, a CRSC fellow and Johnson associate, sees
enough of a connection between Johnson's leadership of the intelligent design
movement and his religious conversion to link both events in two of her most
recent publications. In a recent interview with Johnson for World
magazine, Pearcey says, "It is not only in politics that leaders forge
movements. Phillip Johnson has developed what is called the 'Intelligent Design'
movement . . . Mr. Johnson is a Berkeley law professor who, spurred by the
crisis of a failed marriage, converted to Christianity in midlife." In Christianity Today, she made an even sharper
connection which reveals the connection between Johnson's religious beliefs and
his animosity toward evolution: "The unofficial spokesman for ID is Phillip E.
Johnson, a Berkeley law professor who converted to Christianity in his late 30s,
then turned his sharp lawyer's eyes on the theory of evolution."
Having begun with his religious conversion, Johnson's quest for personal
meaning culminated in another epiphany during a sabbatical in England: "In 1987,
when UC Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson asked God what he should do with
the rest of his life, he didn't know he'd wind up playing Toto to the ersatz
winds of Darwinism. But a fateful trip by a London bookstore hooked Mr. Johnson
on a comparative study of evolutionary theory." Johnson purchased Richard Dawkins' The Blind
Watchmaker and "devoured it and then another book, Michael Denton's
Evolution: A Theory in Crisis." Such was Johnson's second epiphany: "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." The wedge's gestation period had begun.
According to Johnson, the wedge movement, if not the term, began in
1992: "The movement we now call the wedge made its public debut at a conference
of scientists and philosophers held at Southern Methodist University in March
1992, following the publication of my book Darwin on Trial . The
conference brought together as speakers some key wedge figures, particularly
Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, William Dembski, and myself." Johnson had initiated contact with a "cadre of intelligent
design (ID) proponents for whom Mr. Johnson acted as an early fulcrum. . . . Mr.
Johnson made contact, exchanged flurries of e-mail, and arranged personal
meetings. He frames these alliances as a 'wedge strategy,' with himself as lead
blocker and ID scientists carrying the ball behind him." In 1993, a year after the SMU conference, "the
Johnson-Behe cadre of scholars met at Pajaro Dunes. . . . Here, Behe presented
for the first time the seed thoughts that had been brewing in his mind for a
year--the idea of 'irreducibly complex' molecular machinery."
When the July 1992 Scientific American published Stephen Jay Gould's
review of Darwin on Trial, in which Gould called the book "full of
errors, badly argued, based on false criteria, and abysmally written," Johnson's
supporters formed the "Ad Hoc Origins Committee" and wrote a letter (probably in
1992 or 1993) on Johnson's behalf: "This letter was mailed to thousands of
university professors shortly after Stephen Jay Gould wrote his vitriolic
bashing of . . . Darwin on Trial. Included with it was Johnson's essay
'The Religion of the Blind Watchmaker,' replying to Gould, which Scientific
American refused to publish." Among the thirty-nine signatories were nine (listed
below with their then-current affiliations) who a few years later became fellows
of the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture:
Henry F. Schaefer III, Ph.D. Quantum Computational
Chemistry University of Georgia
Robert Koons, Ph.D. Philosophy UT, Austin
Stephen Meyer, Ph.D. Philosophy of Science Whitworth
Walter Bradley, Ph.D. Chairman, Mechanical
Engineering Texas A & M University
Michael Behe, Ph.D. Biochemistry Lehigh University
Paul Chien, Ph.D. Biology University of San
William Dembski, Ph.D. Philosophy Northwestern
John Angus Campbell, Ph.D. Speech Communication University
Robert Kaita, Ph.D. Plasma Physics Princeton
The signatories describe themselves in the letter as "a group of fellow
professors or academic scientists who are generally sympathetic to Johnson and
believe that he warrants a hearing. . . . Most of us are also Christian Theists
who like Johnson are unhappy with the polarized debate between biblical
literalism and scientific materialism. We think a critical re-evaluation of
Darwinism is both necessary and possible without embracing young-earth
creationism." A critical mass of supporters had begun to coalesce
By 1995, Johnson's mission had crystallized, and he had a loyal contingent of
like-minded people to help carry it out. That summer they held another
conference, "The Death of Materialism and the Renewal of Culture," which served
as the matrix of the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, organized
the following year. Johnson produced another book, Reason in the Balance:
The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law and Education (InterVarsity
Press, 1995), in which he positioned himself as a "theistic realist" against
First, here is a definition of MN [methodological naturalism], followed by
a contrasting definition of my own position, which I label "theistic realism"
(TR). . . .
1. A methodological naturalist defines science as the search for the best
naturalistic theories. A theory would not be naturalistic if it left something
(such as the existence of genetic information or consciousness) to be
explained by a supernatural cause. Hence all events in evolution (before the
evolution of intelligence) are assumed to be attributable to unintelligent
causes. The question is not whether life (genetic information) arose by
some combination of chance and chemical laws . . . but merely how it
did so. . . . The Creator belongs to the realm of religion, not scientific
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 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
The opposition between naturalism and theistic realism has become a hallmark
of Johnson's thinking.
Now that ID's metaphysical terrain was clearly mapped, Johnson and his allies
needed a formal strategy for executing their mission. By 1996, the most crucial
development in the wedge strategy had occurred: the Center for the Renewal of
Science and Culture was established under the auspices of the conservative
Seattle think tank, the Discovery Institute. In its Summer 1996 Journal, "a periodic
publication that keeps Discovery members and friends up to date on Discovery's
programs and events," the Discovery Institute announced the CRSC's formation,
which "grew out of last summer's  'Death of Materialism' conference." According to DI president Bruce Chapman, "The conference
pointed the way and helped us mobilize support to attack the scientific argument
for the 20th century's ideology of materialism and the host of social 'isms'
that attend it." Larry Witham's December 1999 Washington Times column
reveals the CRSC's topmost position on its parent organization's roster of
The eight-year-old Discovery Institute is a Seattle think tank where
research in transportation, military reform, economics and the environment
often takes on the easygoing tenor of its Northwest hometown. But it also
sponsors a group of academics in science affectionately called 'the wedge' . .
. The wedge is part of the institute's four-year-old Center for Renewal of
Science and Culture (CRSC), a research, publishing and conference program that
challenges what it calls an anti-religious bias in science and science
education. "I would say its our No. 1 project," said Bruce Chapman,
Discovery's president and founder.
With the formation of the CRSC, the wedge's core working group was in place:
Stephen Meyer and John G. West, Jr., as co-directors; William Dembski, Michael
Behe, Jonathan Wells, and Paul Nelson as 1996-97 full-time research fellows; and
Phillip Johnson as advisor. Once the movement was securely housed with the Discovery
Institute, the execution of the wedge strategy began to pick up speed.
In November 1996, Johnson and his associates convened the "Mere Creation"
conference at Biola University in California. The importance of this conference cannot be
underestimated; indeed, in the Foreword to the book which issued from it, its
importance was explicitly spelled out by Henry Schaefer, the University of
Georgia chemist who had supported Phillip Johnson as a signatory to the Ad Hoc
Origins Letter: "An unprecedented intellectual event occurred in Los Angeles on
November 14-17, 1996. Under the sponsorship of Christian Leadership Ministries,
Biola University hosted a major research conference bringing together scientists
and scholars who reject naturalism as an adequate framework for doing science
and who seek a common vision of creation united under the rubric of intelligent
design." (Christian Leadership Ministries has continued to
actively assist the wedge both logistically and in its provision of "virtual"
office space to wedge members on its "Leadership University" web site.)
Contrary to Schaefer's labeling the Mere Creation conference a research
conference, it did not actually produce any scientific research. It did, however, produce the needed strategy. The
movement's goal at this conference was already clear to third-party observers,
such as Scott Swanson, who wrote about the conference for Christianity
The fledgling "intelligent-design" movement, which says Darwinian
explanation of human origins are inadequate, is aiming to shift from the
margins to the mainstream. . . . The first major gathering of
intelligent-design proponents took place in November at Biola University in La
Mirada, California. . . . If the turnout at the conference is any indication,
intelligent design is gaining a following. More than 160 academics, double
what organizers had envisioned, attended from 98 universities, colleges, and
organizations. The majority represented secular universities.
Although, according to Swanson, the organizers "chose not to use the
conference as a forum to develop a statement of belief for the movement," he
learned that "leaders are planning a spring conference at the University of
Texas and have begun publishing a journal, Origins and Design, edited by
Paul Nelson. . . ." This is a reference to the "Naturalism, Theism, and the
Scientific Enterprise" conference, held at UT in February 1997 and organized by
CRSC fellow Robert Koons, a philosopher and UT faculty member. With a core of supporters who had now been able to
convene and strategize, the wedge's gestation period was over: "Prior to the
conference, the intelligent-design movement comprised a loose coalition of
scholars from a wide variety of disciplines. The conference brought together
like-minded scholars 'to get them thinking in the same range of questions,' says
. . . Phillip Johnson. . . ."
William Dembski edited a book of conference presentations entitled Mere
Creation: Science, Faith and Intelligent Design (such books, like the
conferences themselves, being an important component in the wedge strategy).
Henry Schaefer wrote the Foreword, in which he reveals unmistakably that the
wedge strategy had now solidified in important ways:
Wonderful ideas left under a bushel do no good. The conference should
produce tangible results that will accelerate the growth of scientific
research programs unencumbered by naturalism, encouraging and disseminating
scholarship both at the highest level and at the popular level via such
activities as preparing a book for publication, with chapters drawn from the
conference papers (this goal has been met with the publication of the present
volume); planning a major origins conference at a large university to engage
scientific naturalists (this goal remains in the offing); outlining a research
program to encourage the next generation of scholars to work on theories
beyond the confines of naturalism; exploring the need for establishing
fellowship programs, and encouraging joint research (Seattle's Discovery
Institute is the key player here--see http://www.discovery.org/); providing
resources for the new journal Origins & Design as an ongoing forum and a first-rate interdisciplinary
journal with contributions by conference participants (see www.arn.org/arn); preparing information
usable in the campus environment of a modern university, such as expanding a
World Wide Web origins site (see http://www.leaderu.com/, http://www.origins.org/, http://www.iclnet.org/) and exploring video
and other means of communication (see http://www.daystar.org/).
Schaefer also lists the members of the steering committee for the
The activities Schaefer lists in his Foreword prefigure most of the
activities which are now actually being executed, and the steering committee
metamorphosed into some of the wedge's most active members. All steering
committee members except Johnson, who is the CRSC's advisor, and Sherwood
Lingenfelter, Biola University provost who hosted the conference, have become
By 1997, Johnson was talking openly about the wedge strategy in his book,
Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds (dedicated "To Roberta and Howard,
who understood 'the Wedge' because they love the Truth"). Johnson devotes Chapter 6 to "The Wedge: A Strategy for
Truth," calling upon a familiar metaphor of using a wedge to make a small
opening which then splits a huge log: "We call our strategy 'the wedge.' A log
is a seeming 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." Johnson's 1998 book, Objections Sustained: Subversive
Essays on Evolution, Law and Culture is dedicated "To the members of the
wedge, present and future." His most recent book is The Wedge of Truth: Splitting
the Foundations of Naturalism (InterVarsity Press, 2000).
Although Johnson had begun thinking and speaking of the wedge strategy in
1997, there had been no detailed elaboration of the form its execution would
take. Such elaborations were stated in a CRSC strategy document which has come
to be known informally as the "Wedge Document." It surfaced anonymously and was posted on the Internet
in March 1999; various aspects of the document indicate that it was written in
1998. This document is the "Five Year Plan" of the Center for the Renewal of
Science and Culture, although it includes goals which stretch into the next
twenty years, indicating the CRSC's view of the strategy as a long-term
commitment. Although Johnson has talked openly about the existence of the
strategy, he has not publicly elaborated upon its logistics, and the logistics
are ambitious. The document, entitled "The wedge Strategy," with the name of the
organization, "Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture" beneath the title,
explains what the CRSC is doing now as well as where they want to go; therefore,
it is crucially important.
The authenticity of the Wedge Document has been neither affirmed nor denied
by the CRSC; however, a strong case can be made for its authenticity.
[Editor's Note: Since publication of this study, Stephen Meyer has admitted
that the document is genuine.] The Introduction reads as follows:
THE WEDGE STRATEGY
CENTER FOR THE RENEWAL OF SCIENCE & CULTURE
The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of
the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. Its influence
can be detected in most, if not all, of the West's greatest achievements,
including representative democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and
progress in the arts and sciences.
Yet a little over a century ago, this cardinal idea came under wholesale
attack by intellectuals drawing on the discoveries of modern science.
Debunking the traditional conceptions of both God and man, thinkers such as
Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud portrayed humans not as moral and
spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by
purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very thoughts were dictated by
the unbending forces of biology, chemistry, and environment. This
materialistic conception of reality eventually infected virtually every area
of our culture, from politics and economics to literature and art.
The cultural consequences of this triumph of materialism were devastating.
Materialists denied the existence of objective moral standards, claiming that
environment dictates our behavior and beliefs. Such moral relativism was
uncritically adopted by much of the social sciences, and it still undergirds
much of modern economics, political science, psychology and sociology.
Materialists also undermined personal responsibility by asserting that
human thoughts and behaviors are dictated by our biology and environment. The
results can be seen in modern approaches to criminal justice, product
liability, and welfare. In the materialist scheme of things, everyone is a
victim and no one can be held accountable for his or her actions.
Finally, materialism spawned a virulent strain of utopianism. Thinking they
could engineer the perfect society through the application of scientific
knowledge, materialist reformers advocated coercive government programs that
falsely promised to create heaven on earth.
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 Center awards fellowships for original research,
holds conferences, and briefs policymakers about the opportunities for life
The Center is directed by Discovery Senior Fellow Dr. Stephen Meyer. An
Associate Professor of Philosophy at Whitworth College, Dr. Meyer holds a
Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University. He
formerly worked as a geophysicist for the Atlantic Richfield Company.
The most compelling evidence for the Wedge Document's authenticity was
located on the DI's own web site, on pages which contained exactly the
same wording as this Introduction. These pages appeared to date from the
establishment of the Center for Renewal of Science and Culture and are no longer
accessible. Yet even if the document were not authentic, the
ambitious spate of activities being carried out by the CRSC proves the existence
of a well orchestrated strategy. The document simply provides a specific sketch
of the strategy and can be used as a reference point to examine the CRSC's
progress in executing its phases.
An ambitious strategy like the wedge would have been useless, however,
without money. The CRSC has been generously funded by a number of benefactors,
the most forthcoming of whom is Howard Ahmanson through his organization
Fieldstead and Company. A rather ominous aspect of Ahmanson's identity is his
long-time membership (until 1995) on the board of the Christian
reconstructionist Chalcedon Foundation, one of the most extreme right-wing
fundamentalist organizations in the country. Ahmanson's contribution of crucial start-up funding is
acknowledged in the Discovery Institute's announcement of the CRSC's
establishment in its Summer 1996 Journal. In the 1999 Journal, the CRSC announces major
. . . three enlarged grants to the Center for the Renewal of Science and
Culture have enabled it to expand the number of fellowships it is supporting
for scholarly work on the theory of 'intelligent design' . . . Crucial
decisions in the fall of 1998 at the Fieldstead & Co. . . . increased its
grant to Discovery to $300,000 per year for the next five years. The Maclellan
Foundation . . . also increased its grant to $400,000 for 1999, while the . .
. Stewardship Foundation . . . voted to increase its CRSC grant to $200,000
per year for the next five years. Special grants are likely to bring the
overall CRSC budget to over $1 million for 1999.
According to Larry Witham in the Washington Times, all three of the
above funding sources have "Christian roots." Their contribution of so much money indicates that they
recognize and support the CRSC's mission. DI president Bruce Chapman affirms
such support: "We are not going through this exercise just for the fun of it. We
think some of these ideas are destined to change the intellectual--and in time
the political--world. Fieldstead & Company and the Stewardship Foundation
agree, or they would not have given us such substantial funding."
Now, in the year 2000, with its program of action spelled out in the Wedge
Document and ample funding secured, the strategy is at work and gaining steam.
Having begun with only four research fellows, the CRSC presently consists of
forty-one fellows, thirteen of whom have senior status. Phillip Johnson is still
the advisor, along with George Gilder. Their pursuit of the wedge's goals continues unabated.
The split in the log widened, and the wedge lodged more firmly in place, with
the establishment in October 1999 of the Michael Polanyi Center at Baylor
University, run by CRSC fellows William Dembski and Bruce Gordon. As will be
seen in the subsequent parts of this study, the Discovery Institute having
provided a secure home, the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture has
grown from infancy to robust adolescence, and it is impatiently racing toward
"The social consequences of materialism have been devastating. As
symptoms, those consequences are certainly worth treating. However, we are
convinced that in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source.
. . . Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the
materialist world view, and to replace it with a science consonant with
Christian and theistic convictions." --"The Wedge Strategy"
In the July/August 1999 Touchstone Magazine, Phillip Johnson declares
that "it is time to review how the wedge has grown and progressed, to evaluate
how far we have come, and to forecast what we expect to accomplish in the next
decade." The Wedge Document lists specific goals by means of
which DI's progress in pursuing its wedge strategy can be calculated. Wedge
members maintain a dizzying schedule of activities--new ones show up on the
Internet constantly, making it difficult to keep track of all of them. Not all
of them are of equal significance; some are relatively minor, while others, such
as conferences, are more ambitious and wider in their impact. Neither has DI
itself organized all of these activities. Some were organized by others--both
their allies and their opponents. However, when wedge members participate in
events organized by others--whether allies or opponents--the wedge's goals are
advanced even more pronouncedly: Johnson's goal of getting a place at the table
is met, and the wedge registers as a force which must be taken into account.
At least one activity for virtually every major goal in the Wedge Document is
identified below. A notable exception, however, is their very first
phase--the goal of scientific research. Yet when added together, the other
activities demonstrate that the strategy--consisting of a great deal of
political and public relations work, if not scientific research--is a well
funded, aggressive, systematic program which has considerably advanced the goals
in the Wedge Document:
THE WEDGE PROJECTS
Phase I. Scientific Research, Writing and Publication
Individual Research Fellowship Program
Paleontology Research Program . . .
Molecular Biology Research Program . . .
Phase II. Publicity and Opinion-making
Teacher Training Programs
PBS (or other TV) Co-production
Phase III. Culture Confrontation and Renewal
Academic and Scientific Challenge Conferences
Potential Legal Action for Teacher Training
Research Fellowship Program: shift to social sciences and humanities
The Wedge Document also states that DI does not consider the chronological
order of these phases to be unchangeable, and they are optimistic about the
Wedge's success: "The wedge strategy can be divided into three distinct but
interdependent phases, which are roughly but not strictly chronological. We
believe that, with adequate support, we can accomplish many of the objectives of
Phases I and II in the next five years (1999-2003), and begin Phase III . . ."
By the Discovery Institute's own description above, Phase I--the production
of scientific research, along with writing and publicity--is the foundation of
the wedge strategy. In support of "significant and original research in the
natural sciences, the history and philosophy of science, cognitive science and
related fields," the CRSC has a generous fellowship program, providing
"Full-year research fellowships between $40,000 and $50,000" and "Short-term
research fellowships between $2,500 and $15,000 for either summer research,
release time from teaching or book promotion activities, or other
research-related activities." During CRSC's first year of operation alone, they
awarded more than $270,000 in research grants. Such lucrative support should enable industrious young
scientists to develop scientific research programs and compile data to support
Yet, in this most important of all the Wedge's goals--the only one that can
truly win them the credibility they crave--their record is conspicuously
unsuccessful. Ironically, the CRSC boasts of its scientific research program,
while Phillip Johnson has admitted the lack of scientific data which would
substantiate their boasting. The CRSC's web site declares, "The Center for the
Renewal of Science and Culture seeks, therefore, to challenge materialism on
specifically scientific grounds. Yet Center Fellows do more than critique
theories that have materialistic implications. They have also pioneered
alternative scientific theories and research methods that recognize the reality
of design . . . This new research program--called 'design theory'--is based upon
recent developments in the information sciences and many new evidences of
design." But in 1996, when the wedge strategy was being
formalized at the Mere Creation conference at Biola University, Johnson
acknowledged that design proponents did not yet have the science to accomplish
What we need for now is people who want to get thinking going in the right
direction, not people who have all the answers in advance. In good time new
theories will emerge, and science will change. We shouldn't try to shortcut
the process by establishing some new theory of origins until we know more
about exactly what needs to be explained. Maybe there will be a new theory
of evolution, but it is also possible that the basic concept will collapse and
science will acknowledge that those elusive common ancestors of the major
biological groups never existed. If we get an unbiased scientific process
started, we can have confidence that it will bring us closer to the truth.
For the present I recommend that we also put the Biblical issues to one
side. The last thing we should want to do, or seem to want to do, is to
threaten the freedom of scientific inquiry. Bringing the Bible anywhere near
this issue just raises the "Inherit the Wind" stereotype, and closes minds
instead of opening them.
We can wait until we have a better scientific theory, one genuinely
based on unbiased empirical evidence and not on materialist philosophy, before
we need to worry about whether and to what extent that theory is consistent
with the Bible. Until we reach that better science, it's just best to live
with some uncertainties and incongruities, which is our lot as human
beings--in this life, anyway. [Emphasis added.]
Despite this notable lack of "some new theory of origins," CRSC fellow Nancy
Pearcey wrote in 1997 that "The design movement offers more than new and
improved critiques of evolutionary theory. . . . Its goal is to show that
intelligent design also functions as a positive research program." The Discovery
Institute boasts of CRSC's scientific achievements in its 1999 Journal:
Today . . . Darwinist dogma is being challenged by new science. It isn't
easy getting a hearing, but it is happening more and more. Science's grand
tradition of self-examination is leading to new theories based on better
evidence, and pointing away from materialism.
Defenders of Darwinian orthodoxy are quarreling among themselves as never
before as disturbing evidence against Darwinism appears in such fields as Big
Bang cosmology, paleontology (especially in Cambrian era fossils) and
molecular biology. Moreover, an alternative to Darwinism—within science—is
emerging in the theory of "Intelligent Design." The Center for the Renewal of
Science and Culture at Discovery Institute is a major factor in the new
scientific debate and the examination of its implications for culture and
The wedge movement's desired entré into secular academia is impossible
without a scientific research program, buttressed by the production of
peer-reviewed scientific data. Yet fellows of the CRSC have been successful only
in the Phase I goals of writing and publication. They have produced no original scientific data, nor even
a genuine scientific research plan, which would mark the successful
accomplishment of this most crucial phase.
The CRSC's 1997 "Year End Update" chronicled its activities for that year.
Its "Consultation on Intelligent Design" brought together "CRSC fellows and
friends from around the world." Featured as "highlights of the weekend" were
wedge scientists whose work purportedly holds promise for confirmation of
design's scientific viability: Paul Chien, a University of San Francisco biology
professor, and Michael Behe, a biochemistry professor at Lehigh University. Research on the scientific output of these wedge members
reveals the lack of success in the goal with which they have been entrusted.
Paul K. Chien
Paul K. Chien is charged in the Wedge Document with conducting the CRSC's
paleontology research. He has cultivated connections with Chinese scientists in
Kunming, China, where the famous Chengjiang fossils, dating back to the Cambrian
period, have aroused intense international interest. Chien and the Discovery
Institute helped organize the June 1999 "International Symposium on the Origins
of Animal Body Plans and Their Fossil Records," a conference on the Chengjiang
fossils which scientists from around the world attended in Kunming.
The Discovery Institute is exploiting Chien's connection with the Chengjiang
discovery in several ways; an example is their argument for teaching intelligent
design in the nation's public schools in an article entitled "Intelligent Design
in Public School Science Curricula: A Legal Guidebook":
In recent years the fossil record has also provided new support for design.
Fossil studies reveal a "biological big bang" near the beginning of the
Cambrian period 530 million years ago. At that time roughly fifty separate
major groups of organisms or "phyla" (including most all the basic body plans
of modern animals) emerged suddenly without evident precursors. Although
neo-Darwinian theory requires vast periods of time for the step-by-step
development of new biological organs and body plans, fossil finds have
repeatedly confirmed a pattern of explosive appearance followed by prolonged
stability of living forms. Moreover, the fossil record shows a "top-down"
hierarchical pattern of appearance in which major structural themes or body
plans emerge before minor variations on those themes. . . . Not only does this
pattern directly contradict the "bottom-up" pattern predicted by
neo-Darwinism, but as University of San Francisco marine paleobiologist Paul
Chien and several colleagues have argued, . . . it also strongly resembles the
pattern evident in the history of human technological design, again suggesting
actual (i.e., intelligent) design as the best explanation for the data.
The Wedge is clearly using Chien's expertise as a "paleobiologist" to shore
up its pro-intelligent design stance. However, although Chien does have
distinguished credentials, paleontological expertise--a necessary credential for
studying the Chinese Cambrian fossils--is not among them. On the University of
San Franciso's Department of Biology home page, Dr. Chien's degrees are listed:
B.S., Chung Chi College, N.T., Hong Kong, Chemistry, 1962; B.S., Chung Chi
College, N.T., Hong Kong, Biology, 1964; Ph.D., University of California,
Irvine, 1971. His Ph.D. field is not listed, but according to his bio on the
CRSC web site, it is biology. Chien's research interests are also listed on the
USF page: "Prof. Chien is interested in the physiology and ecology of
inter-tidal organisms. His research has involved the transport of amino acids
and metal ions across cell membranes and the detoxification mechanisms of metal
ions." Clearly, Chien has no formal credentials in
paleontology; moreover, he is not really interested in acquiring them, as he
revealed in a 1997 Real Issue interview:
RI: Do you intend to go back to Chengjiang, the Chinese Cambrian
Chien: I would very much like to do that. Somehow I would like to get
more involved in fossil work. Although I have lectured so many years in my own
area of marine biology and pollution, I think I would like to concentrate on
this aspect. This was an opportunity presented to me which nobody else has.
RI: Perhaps you could add "paleontologist" to your credentials.
Chien: Not really; that's not my purpose. I am more interested in
working on the popular level. . . . 
A survey of the scientific literature reveals that Chien's study of the
Chengjiang fossils has progressed no farther than a hobby. A survey in May 2000 on SciSearch (the electronic
version of the Science Citation Index), which contains citations dating to 1988,
using the name "P. K. Chien," with no date restrictions, yielded only six
articles, none of which were about either the Chengjiang fossils or intelligent
design. A Medline search on June 26, 2000, for "P. K. Chien" yielded the same
results. A combined search of Biological and Agricultural Index, Medline, and
Zoological Record on June 26, 2000, for "P. Chien" (which also picked up
anything by "P. K. Chien") yielded a total of forty-five articles, but none
about either the Chengjiang fossils or intelligent design.
Chien has expended considerable effort to advance the cause of intelligent
design in China:
More important for me is to tell the Chinese people about [the Cambrian
Explosion]. The Chengjiang Biota is a "Treasure" discovered by our own
scientists on our own land! In Taiwan, China and Hong Kong, very few people
know about it. Many Chinese have been taught the wrong theory, namely
Darwinism. When I told them about this new scientific finding, some were very
angry because they had been told the wrong story all their lives. Of course
some thought I was telling a lie. But after I showed them the evidence, the
real fossils from Chengjiang, they turned around and blamed the education they
This kind of work serves the Discovery Institute's agenda of undermining
evolution and advancing the cause of intelligent design beyond the U.S. The
Wedge Document predicts, as one of the CRSC's Five Year Objectives, "An active
design movement in Israel, the UK and other influential countries outside the
US." However, Chien's work does nothing anywhere in the world to provide genuine
scientific support for intelligent design.
Michael Behe is the wedge member whom the Discovery Institute presents as its
most formidable scientist. His book Darwin's Black Box, which the Wedge
Document lauds for being published in paperback after "nine print runs in hard
cover," is credited in the document with helping to increase the momentum of the
wedge strategy that began with Johnson's book Darwinism on Trial. Yet
Behe's failure to produce original intelligent design research and to publish on
intelligent design in scientific journals proves that publicity, not real
scientific accomplishment, is DI's primary goal--Behe serves a vital function
for the organization, but not a scientific one.
An inspection of professional information about Behe on his departmental web
site at Lehigh University yielded nothing which could be taken as scientific
research supporting intelligent design. Behe's own faculty page is about his professional
research; interestingly, he has nothing at all to say there about his avocation
of promoting intelligent design. He has posted a picture of himself at what
appears to be a bookstore, holding a copy of Darwin's Black Box. He lists
four representative publications, none of which are about intelligent design. He
lists his favorite links, one of which is the creationist web site, Access
Research Network, where he maintains an outdated schedule of his engagements. However, other than these two rather subtle references,
there is nothing related to intelligent design in his professional postings.
A survey of the scientific literature shows that Behe, like Chien, has to
date published no peer-reviewed research on intelligent design in any scientific
journal. Darwin's Black Box, published by a respectable publishing
company, The Free Press, and aimed at a popular audience, has been thoroughly
critiqued by scientists, but the ideas in the book have not been published in a
scientific journal. A May 2000 SciSearch survey using "Behe, M." yielded ten
articles in scientific journals, none of which are about intelligent design. The
only listed titles attributed to Behe referring to either evolution or
intelligent design were five letters: "Embryology and Evolution,"
Science, 1998, V. 281, N. 5375; "Defining Evolution," Scientist,
1997, V. 11, N. 22; "Defining Evolution," Scientist, V. 11, N. 12;
"Darwinism and Design," Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 1997, V. 12, N.
6; and "Understanding Evolution," Science, 1991, V. 253, N. 5023. None is
more than one page long.
Behe responded to an article in the July 1999 issue of Philosophy of
Science, "Redundant Complexity: A Critical Analysis of Intelligent Design in
Biochemistry," by Niall Shanks and Karl H. Joplin. His response, "Self-Organization and Irreducibly Complex
Systems: A Reply to Shanks and Joplin," appears in the March 2000 issue of
Philosophy of Science. However, the only work of his own that he cites in
this response is Darwin's Black Box, published in 1996. He cites CRSC
fellow William Dembski's The Design Inference (Cambridge University
Press, 1998). He also cites scientific articles and books written by others, but
he cites no articles bearing his own name in scientific journals.
Behe has produced several articles in response to his critics. One of them,
"Correspondence with Science Journals: Response to Critics Concerning
Peer-Review," purports to provide evidence of his attempt to publish "a
full-length reply-to-critics paper" in "a journal in the field of evolution." However, responses to one's critics published on the web
site of a political think tank do not qualify as scientific publications. In
light of Behe's failure to publish anything about intelligent design in
scientific journals--which would gain him some measure of respect, if not
agreement--it is ironic that he issues a warning to proponents of "the theory of
Darwinian molecular evolution": "'Publish or perish' is a proverb that
academicians take seriously. If you do not publish your work for the rest of the
community to evaluate, then you have no business in academia and, if you don't
already have tenure, you will be banished."
The utter absence of any scientific publications supporting intelligent
design by Chien and Behe is characteristic of intelligent design as a whole. The
dearth of scientific data supporting intelligent design was confirmed in 1997 by
George W. Gilchrist in a survey of the scientific literature: "This search of
several hundred thousand scientific reports published over several years failed
to discover a single instance of biological research using intelligent design
theory to explain life's diversity." In the May/June 1997 Reports of the National Center
for Science Education, Gilchrist reports his survey up to 1997 in five
computerized databases--BIOSIS, the Expanded Academic Index, the Life Sciences
Collection, Medline, and the Science Citation Index--for any scientific
publications on intelligent design as a biological theory. His search yielded a
total of only thirty-seven references, of which "none report scientific research
using intelligent design as a biological theory." The situation has not improved since 1997.
A similar search conducted for the present study, supplementing Gilchrist's
survey by looking for intelligent design articles published since 1997, had the
same results: no scientific research supporting intelligent design as a
biological theory has been published. In order to survey other databases for
anything the earlier described SciSearch survey might have missed, surveys were
conducted, with no date restrictions, of the BIOSIS and Medline databases, using
both "intelligent design" and "design theory" as keywords. The "intelligent
design" search in BIOSIS yielded four articles, only one of which was about
intelligent design (the July 1999 Shanks-Joplin article). Using "design theory"
as the keyword, a BIOSIS survey yielded sixteen articles, but none about design
theory as it relates to intelligent design creationism. The Medline search using
both "intelligent design" and "design theory" yielded fourteen articles,
none of which were about intelligent design creationism. A SciSearch survey
using "intelligent design" yielded sixty-one titles. All except four were
related to industrial technology, engineering, computers, shipbuilding, etc. Of
the remaining four, only two were on intelligent design as a biological theory:
Shanks-Joplin's and Behe's Philosophy of Science articles cited above.
The other two were letters entitled "Intelligent Design" in Geotimes and
"Intelligent Design Reconsidered" in Technology Review--ambiguous titles
given the fact that articles with intelligent design in their titles were also
listed, but were clearly not about intelligent design as a biological theory
(e.g., "HyperQ Plastics: An Intelligent Design Aid for Plastic Material
The surveys reveal that the wedge strategy is failing miserably in its most
important goal: the production of scientific research data to support
intelligent design creationism and the publication of such data in scientific
journals. Not only have Chien and Behe failed to produce such work, but so has
every other CRSC fellow--if other wedge members' work were being presented at
scientific meetings and published in scientific journals, it should have been
found in the survey of the databases. In the only part of its strategy that
could genuinely win the wedge acceptance into the academic and cultural
mainstream, the Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and
Culture is so far an utter failure.
Despite the total absence of scientific productivity on which Phase I
depends, the wedge is tirelessly engaged in the Phase II and III activities.
Even a brief list of these activities for each major category paints a
convincing picture of the organized, systematic nature of the wedge's advance.
Phase II. Publicity and Opinion-making
Wedge members are advancing quickly toward the Wedge Document's stated goal
of "Thirty published books on design and its cultural implications . . ."
Phillip Johnson alone has now written five books. Their books are available at
major online retail outlets such as Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. Books, videotapes, audiotapes, and their journal,
Origins and Design, are aggressively marketed on the creationist web
site, Access Research Network, which is largely operated by wedge members. They use their science education web site's "Science
Education Bookstore" to sell their books via a direct link to the "Bookstore"
on the Discovery Institute web site. Book publicity is therefore a constant activity,
exemplified by Phillip Johnson's promoting his books at the February 2000
National Religious Broadcasters convention in Anaheim, California.
The CRSC has attended at least one conference which it explicitly labeled
an "Opinion-Maker Conference," recounted in its November/December 1997 Year
End Update. This event was clearly a networking opportunity for wedge members:
Opinion-Maker Conference: At the invitation of Ed Atsinger,
President of Salem Communications, Inc., Steve Meyer and Phillip Johnson
recently addressed a national conference of radio talk-show hosts. The
talk-show hosts were extremely enthusiastic in response to Steve and Phil,
and their presentation of the case for Intelligent Design. Afterward, Howard
Freedman, National Program Director of Salem Communications Inc., and many
of the talk-show hosts invited Steve, Phil, and other scientists to appear
on their programs to discuss the evidence for design, . . . 
The Wedge Document states that the CRSC seeks "to build up a popular base
of support among our natural constituency, namely, Christians. We will do this
primarily through apologetics seminars." William Dembski's Fieldstead &
Company-supported seminar, "Design, Self-Organization, and the Integrity of
Creation," would fit into this category. The course description shows that the
June 19-July 28, 2000, "Summer Seminar" at Calvin College was designed to
attract Christian, pro-intelligent design participants: "The aim of this
seminar is to see whether a rapprochement between design and self-organization
is possible that pays proper due both to the divine wisdom in creation and to
the integrity of the world as an act of creation. . . . [S]cholars with
expertise in the following disciplines are especially encouraged to apply:
complex systems theory, information/design theory, history and philosophy of
science, philosophy of religion, philosophical theology, and any special
sciences dealing with complex systems." Each applicant was required to submit
"a one-page description of his/her vocation as Christian scholar and
Teacher Training Programs
Of all the Discovery Institute's goals designed to advance the Wedge, this
is the most insidious, since it is aimed at getting intelligent design into
the public school classroom. The wedge's most prominent tactic toward this end
is a CRSC web site offering "Science Education Resources." When the site first went up early in 2000, DI allowed
public access to a set of learning (i.e., teaching) objectives and a
lesson plan on the "Cambrian Explosion." After only a brief period of accessibility, DI
restricted access by requiring a user name and a password to obtain this
"pilot curriculum"--no doubt because of its dubious constitutionality (the
rest of the site is accessible). The now-restricted "Cambrian Explosion
Objectives" include learning "Current evidence for the Cambrian explosion"
based on "Recent Chinese fossils," with a reference to "P. Chen" (apparently a
misspelling of "Chien") so as to present him as an authority; as has been
shown, Paul Chien's scientific work on the Cambrian fossils is nonexistent. Listed in "Current competing explanations of the
Cambrian explosion" is "Design theory (P. Chen [Chien] and S. [Stephen]
Meyer)"--along with "Punctuated equilibrium (N. Eldredge and S.J. Gould),"
implying the scientific legitimacy of design theory. The also-restricted
"Cambrian Explosion Lesson Plans" actually call for students to "Role Play the
Lives of Scientists, Science Educators, and Philosophers of Science," with
students pairing off as opposing characters: "[Phillip] Johnson/[William]
Provine," "[Stephen] Meyer/[Eugenie] Scott," and "[Michael] Behe/[Michael]
Ruse." On a page entitled "Related Websites," listed under "Other Progressive
Supplementary Science Curricula," is a link to the creationist Access Research
Network. Recognizing the power of the World Wide Web in promoting their
teaching resources, the CRSC's web site development schedule includes the plan
to "Present [the web curriculum] to NABT, NSTA, and other science education
professional groups, (1999-2001)." On a page entitled "Web Curriculum Lowers Political
Hurdles," CRSC asserts that its "Web curriculum can be appropriated without
textbook adoption wars"--meaning, of course, that teachers who want to use it
are encouraged to do an end run around textbook adoption procedures.
Many wedge members have published editorials in major newspapers. Phillip
Johnson has published op-ed pieces in The Wall Street Journal (August
16, 1999) and The Chronicle of Higher Education (November 12, 1999).
Michael Behe has had pieces in The New York Times (October 29, 1996,
and August 13, 1999), and Stephen Meyer has written for The Wall Street
Journal (December 6, 1993) and The Washington Times (July 4, 1996).
Jay Richards wrote a column for The Washington Post (August 21, 1999).
CRSC fellow Nancy Pearcey produces a steady stream of op-eds for journals and
magazines, most prominently the religious World Magazine and
Christianity Today. The list here is by no means exhaustive.
PBS (or other TV) Co-production
The Discovery Institute has not yet achieved its goal of a PBS production
on intelligent design, but it has logged quite a bit of television time.
Michael Behe and Phillip Johnson were featured on two segments of PBS's
Technopolitics series, for which DI provided funding. Phillip Johnson was invited by PBS's NOVA Online, as
one of the "leading spokesmen in the evolution/creation debate," to share an
online discussion with biologist Kenneth Miller in 1996. Stephen Meyer appeared on the PBS program Freedom
Speaks in March 1997. Johnson, Behe, and CRSC fellow David Berlinski formed
the pro-intelligent design side of a debate on PBS's Firing Line in
December 1997. Johnson was featured as an authority on the Scopes
trial on the History Channel's In Search of History. Whether they arrange these TV appearances themselves
or receive invitations, the air time raises the profile of wedge members.
Some of the above information is relevant to this category. Discovery
Institute also cultivates publicity by announcing CRSC fellows' availability
and including contact information for interviews in its U.S. Newswire press
releases. In addition, the wedge has taken masterful advantage
of the Internet for publicity. One example is a banner running in June 2000 on
the conservative WorldNetDaily.com, advertising the videotape "The Triumph of
Design and the Demise of Darwin," featuring Phillip Johnson. According to
PCDataOnline, WorldNetDaily received 4.235 million page views in one week. The videotape was produced by conservative writer and
producer Jack Cashill (see http://www.cashill.com/) and is advertised
by Video Post Productions on a web site, http://www.triumphofdesign.com/,
devoted exclusively to its promotion.
Conferences are supremely important to the wedge strategy: "Once our
research and writing have had time to mature, and the public prepared for the
reception of design theory, we will move toward direct confrontation with the
advocates of materialist science through challenge conferences in significant
academic settings . . . .The attention, publicity, and influence of design
theory should draw scientific materialists into open debate with design
theorists, and we will be ready" (Wedge Document, Phase III). CRSC has
obviously not waited for their research to mature before holding conferences.
As stated by Phillip Johnson, the wedge movement actually started in 1992 with
a conference at Southern Methodist University. Instead of waiting for their
research to mature, the wedge has used conferences since its inception in its
attempt to become a "player" in American academia. The wedge strategy
crystallized at the "Mere Creation" conference at Biola University in 1996, a
conference which, according to CRSC fellow Ray Bohlin, constituted "the
backbone of the future direction of the fledgling intelligent design
movement." CRSC fellows also attend many conferences held by
others--in short, conferencing is a full-time concern for the wedge. Taken
together, just the wedge's own major conferences--six in only eight
years, four of them in very "significant academic settings"--can be
clearly identified as a primary component of the wedge strategy:
(1) Darwinism: Scientific Inference or Philosophical Preference?
Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, March 26-28, 1992
Although these conferences may be officially sponsored or co-sponsored by
non-wedge entities, their identity as major wedge events can be discerned by
the constant presence of a core of wedge members who, given their relationship
as a tightly knit group with carefully orchestrated activities, stand out as
the dominant presence at these events.
Potential Legal Action for Teacher Training
Given the certainty of constitutional challenges should a teacher introduce
intelligent design into a public school classroom, the CRSC has taken measures
to meet this challenge. Senior fellows David K. DeWolf , a law professor at
Gonzaga University, and Stephen Meyer, a philosophy professor at Whitworth
College, along with Mark E. DeForrest (not a CRSC fellow), have written Intelligent Design in Public School
Science Curricula: A Legal Guidebook (Foundation for Thought and Ethics,
1999). On its science education web site, CRSC assures those
who register for access to their restricted curriculum that "Email listserv
for registered web curriculum users can include legal advice." With the
assurance that "Our Curriculum is Legally Permissible in Public Schools," the
CRSC urges, "Don't let legal intimidation squash classroom innovation."
Research Fellowship Program: Shift to Social Sciences and
The re-emphasis on fellowships in Phase III appears to have figured in the
wedge's plan for the controversial Michael Polanyi Center at Baylor
University, given the MPC's plan, stated on its "Events and Programs" web
page, for "A research fellowship program so that the MPC can sponsor a steady
stream of top scientists and scholars . . . at Baylor." Run by CRSC fellows William Dembski (Director) and
Bruce Gordon (Associate Director), the MPC was clearly established to advance
the study of intelligent design theory: "Design . . . may serve to elucidate
various phenomena that prove intractable from the standpoint of neo-Darwinian
and self-organizational approaches. Present design-theoretic research holds
much promise, but the ultimate significance of design theory remains to be
seen. Nonetheless, the MPC sees design-theoretic ideas as a promising resource
for understanding the complexity we observe in nature, and is committed to
pursuing this avenue of research to see what fruit it will bear." More importantly with respect to Phase III would be
the MPC's explicit reflection of the wedge's goal of extending design theory
to the social sciences and humanities: "The first [goal of the Polanyi Center]
is to promote and pursue research in the historical development and conceptual
foundations of the natural and social sciences. . . . The impact of science on
the humanities and the arts is the second focus of research at Michael Polanyi
Center." One of the Wedge Document's Twenty Year Goals is "To see design
theory application in specific fields, including . . . psychology, ethics,
politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; to see its [influence] in
the fine arts." Yet the most telling connection between the Polanyi Center and
the wedge would be this statement of the Polanyi Center's purpose: "The
successful achievement of these goals, therefore, is a task that the Michael
Polanyi Center shares with a network of individual scholars and other
established Centers around the world that have similar research projects." The
most prominent center with a similar research project is the Center for the
Renewal of Science and Culture.
Christians in the 20th century have been playing defense. . . . They've
been fighting a defensive war to defend what they have, to defend as much of it
as they can. . . . It never turns the tide. What were trying to do is something
entirely different. We're trying to go into enemy territory, their very center,
and blow up the ammunition dump. What is their ammunition dump in this metaphor?
It is their version of creation. 
--Phillip E. Johnson, February 6, 2000, at a meeting of the National
Religious Broadcasters in Anaheim, California
Since Darwin, we can no longer believe that a benevolent God created us in
His image, . . . Intelligent Design opens the whole possibility of us being
created in the image of a benevolent God. . . . The job of apologetics is to
clear the ground, to clear obstacles that prevent people from coming to the
knowledge of Christ. . . . And if there's anything that I think has blocked the
growth of Christ as the free reign of the Spirit and people accepting the
Scripture and Jesus Christ, it is the Darwinian naturalistic view. . . . It's
important that we understand the world. God has created it; Jesus is incarnate
in the world. 
--William Dembski, February 6, 2000, at a meeting of the National
Religious Broadcasters in Anaheim, California
The key to understanding the CRSC's activities is to understand fully the
true nature of the wedge movement. The important point is that the wedge
strategy--the intelligent design movement as a whole--really has nothing to do
with science, despite its proponents' affirmations to the contrary. Johnson
actually admitted this in 1996: "This isn't really, and never has been, a debate
about science . . . It's about religion and philosophy." Not a single area of science has been affected in any
way by intelligent design theory. In actuality, this "scientific" movement which
seeks to permeate the American academic and cultural mainstream is religious to
In March 1994, Johnson attended a conference on "Regaining a Christian Voice
in the University." He delivered a lecture entitled "The Real Issue: Is God
Unconstitutional?" in which he lamented the increasing prevalence in American
universities of "scientific naturalism," which, according to Johnson, is "the
established religious philosophy of America." This lament is a constant theme in Johnson's campaign to
promote "intelligent design"; it fuels the mission by Johnson and his CRSC
associates to get "intelligent design theory" into the academic world and into
public life as the chief competitor of the theory of evolution. Johnson's words
at this conference reveal just how important this mission is to them: "The
bitter debate over whether 'creation' or 'intelligent design' may be considered
as a possibility in scientific discourse is no minor matter. Behind it lies one
of the most important questions of human existence: Did God create Man, or did
Man create God?"
In 2000, Johnson is still lamenting what he sees as the departure of God from
both secular and religious universities. In The Wedge of Truth, he
recounts the story of Philip Wentworth, who, according to Wentworth's essay
"What College Did to My Religion," entered Harvard in 1924 as a faithful
Presbyterian youth and emerged several years later as a disillusioned convert to
"scientific naturalism," having been taught, as Johnson puts it, by
"infidels." Johnson sees parallels between Wentworth's and his own
experience at Harvard more than thirty years later. They were both victims of an
"elite" who "are particularly skilled at inventing ways to tame God because they
desire either to ignore God or to use him for their own purposes." They were
defenseless young people in a university which "offered no instructions in how
to recognize idolatry."
According to Johnson, Wentworth's--and Johnson's own--experience of
"apostasy" at Harvard are "representative of the experience of an entire culture
of educated people over more than a century" because of scientific naturalism
( Wedge of Truth, 20). Hence, in Johnson's mind, the only remedy for such
apostasy is to institute a completely new scientific paradigm and methodology:
"Phillip Johnson's idea of revolution is not . . . a struggle to control one
corner of the ivory tower. He is playing for all the marbles for the governing
paradigm of the entire thinking world. He believes evolution's barren rule can
be overturned, that it is rip[e] for revolution. . . . " Yet Johnson and his wedge associates are only using
science as the facade behind which to stage their revolution, which, according
to their plan, will establish their religious worldview as the foundation of
American cultural and academic life. Paradoxically, they are pursuing their
remedy for "scientific naturalism" from outsidescience. They are
not attempting to change the way science is currently done by introducing a
better methodology or more viable hypotheses; if they were, they would
actually be doing scientific research and presenting it at scientific
conferences to be vetted by scientific peers. Rather, they are trying to change
the way the public and influential policy-makers perceive science through
their aggressive program of public relations activities. This is crucial to
In May 2000, the wedge strategy took another crucial turn--toward
implementing their overtly political goal to "cultivate and convince . . .
congressional staff . . ." (Wedge Document). In a May 8 press release, DI
announced that "Discovery Institute will bring top scientists and scholars to
Washington D.C. to brief Congressional Representatives and Senators and their
staffs on the scientific evidence of intelligent design and its implications for
public policy and education, Wednesday, May 10, in the U.S. Capitol Building and
Rayburn Office Building." Seven members of the U.S. House of Representatives, both
Republicans and Democrats, co-hosted the briefing, which was attended by about
fifty people. One congressman, Rep. Thomas Petri of Wisconsin, was at one time a
Discovery Institute Adjunct Fellow, according to the Summer 1996 Discovery
Institute Journal. Another, Rep. Mark Souder of Indiana, published a
defense of intelligent design after the briefing in the June 14, 2000,
Congressional Record (H4480). David Applegate, director of the American
Geological Institute's Government Affairs Program, in an AGI "Special Update"
sent to AGI member societies to alert them about the briefing, noted Rep.
Souder's membership on the House Education Committee and Rep. Petri's upcoming
chairmanship of the House Education and Workforce Committee. This is the most convincing evidence to date of the
political ambitions of the wedge, and this ambition is aimed primarily at an
important target: American public schools. The possibility also exists that CRSC
will attempt to secure government funding for intelligent design research. The
briefing was a small but significant advance for the wedge into the political
In the Discovery Institute's August 1996 Journal, DI president Bruce
Chapman explicitly connects the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture
with not only a religious mission but also a political one as well:
The new Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture is an exciting and
ambitious exemplar of Discovery Institute's role as a futurist think tank with
. . . [It] challenges policy makers--and even our members and sponsors--to
stretch their own thinking, . . . It calls upon their imagination to see the
world not just as we received it, but as it is becoming and can become. . . .
. . . We think some of these ideas are destined to change the
intellectual--and in time the political--world. . . .
. . . The more you read about this program . . . the more you will realize
the radical assault it makes on the tired and depressing materialist culture
and politics of our times, as well as the science behind them. Then, when you
start to ponder what society and politics might become under a sounder
scientific dispensation, you will become truly inspired.
. . . There is great comfort, courage and resolve in the moral and
political legacy of our civilization as formulated in the Bible, history and
the writing of the American Founders. So it is fitting that our news of the
Center for Renewal of Science and Culture this month is accompanied by
publication of Discovery Senior Fellow John West's superb book, The Politics
of Revelation and Reason. Before you opine about the place of religion in
politics, (or why there shouldn't be any), use this scholarly, but very
readable, account of religion in early American politics. It will surprise
you--and perhaps, it will inspire, too.
The Center for Renewal of Science and Culture fits well with Discovery's
existing programs in high technology and religion.
With the political wheels of the wedge having been set in motion, Johnson, as
is obvious in his most recent book, The Wedge of Truth, is no longer
trying to disguise the religious nature of the wedge strategy. He reveals this
with a biblical reference in a recent interview about the book:
[Interviewer]: How would you describe the main purpose of The
Wedge of Truth in comparison to your other books?
[Johnson]: Each of my books builds upon the logic that was erected
in my previous ones. My prior books argued that the real discoveries of
science--as opposed to the materialist philosophy that has been imposed upon
science--point straight towards the reality of intelligent causes in biology.
. . . [T]here are two definitions of "science" in our culture. One definition
says that scientists follow the evidence regardless of the philosophy; the
other says that scientists must follow the (materialist) philosophy regardless
of the evidence. The "Wedge of Truth" is driven between those two definitions,
and enables people to recognize that "In the beginning was the Word" is as
true scientifically as it is in every other respect.
Moreover, not only is the wedge strategy founded on and fueled by religious
zeal, but it is merely the newest "evolution" of good old-fashioned American
creationism. According to Johnson, the scientific "creation myth" must be
replaced by the true account of human existence:
That God created us is part of God's general revelation to humanity, built
into the fabric of creation. This foundational truth is something which, in
the words of the political philosopher [and wedge member] J. Budziszewski,
we can't not know. . . .
. . . The proper metaphysical basis for science is not naturalism or
materialism but the fact that the creator of the cosmos not only created an
intelligible universe but also created the powers of reasoning which enable us
to conduct scientific investigations. . . . True science will also remember
that only some aspects of reality can be understood through observation and
experiments, . . .
. . . [T]he materialist story thrives only as long as it does not confront
the biblical story directly. In a direct conflict, where the public perceives
the issues clearly, the biblical story will eventually prevail over the
materialist story. . . .
. . . What we need is for God himself to speak, to give us a secure
foundation on which we can build. . . . So it is of the greatest importance
that we ask the question: Has God done something to give us a start in
the right direction, or has he left us alone and on our own?
When we have reached that point in our questioning, we will inevitably
encounter the person of Jesus Christ, the one who has been declared the
incarnate Word of God, and through whom all things came into existence. This
time he will be asking the question that is recorded in the Gospels:
Who do men say that I am? . . .
. . . When the naturalistic understanding of reality finally crashes and
burns . . . the great question Jesus posed will come again to the forefront of
consciousness. Who should we say that he is? Is he the one who was to come, or
should we look for another?
As a Christian I have answers to those questions, and of course other
people will have different answers. The wedge philosophy is that the important
thing is to get the right questions on the table, and that task requires that
we invite any and all answers for a fair hearing. For now my point is merely
that a question which was long assumed to be off the table will become
important again if the cultural debate over Darwinism and naturalism goes in
the direction I am predicting. We are not talking about some mere revision of
a particular scientific theory. We are talking about a fatal flaw in our
culture's creation myth, and therefore in the standard of reasoning that
culture has applied to all questions of importance. . . .
. . . The basic story of the Incarnation--that God has taken human form . .
. is more equivalent to the scientific truth that apples fall down rather than
up. . . . 
There is no doubt that the message Johnson wants his readers to hear is that
science, properly built only upon a metaphysics of supernatural creation, is
marching toward Jesus--and straight into the academic and cultural mainstream.
Establishing a presence in American higher education is one of the wedge's
most ambitious goals. CRSC fellow Nancy Pearcey is optimistic about its success:
"The new strategy centers on a concept labeled intelligent design. The design
movement shows promise of winning a place at the table in secular academia,
while uniting Christians concerned about the role science plays in the current
culture wars." Wedge strategists do not expect to establish a large
presence--indeed, as stated in the Wedge Document, they do not even believe it
is necessary: "A lesson we have learned from the history of science is that it
is unnecessary to outnumber the opposing establishment. Scientific revolutions
are usually staged by an initially small and relatively young group of
scientists who are not blinded by the prevailing prejudices and who are able to
do creative work at the pressure points, that is, on those critical issues upon
which whole systems of thought hinge." What is most important is that they establish a
presence inside the academic establishment and the cultural mainstream.
This is slowly but surely taking place.
Nothing is more important to the wedge than the academic respectability that
comes from earning degrees and securing teaching positions at well known,
respectable universities. One of the goals of the wedge strategy is to have ten CRSC
fellows teaching at major universities by 2003. They have already more than
realized that goal in the following CRSC members:
Michael Behe--Lehigh University
Walter Bradley--Texas A & M (until his retirement)
J. Budziszewski--University of Texas-Austin
John Angus Campbell--University of Memphis
Robert Koons--University of Texas-Austin
Paul Chien--University of San Francisco
David K. DeWolf--Gonzaga University
Guillermo Gonzales--University of Washington-Seattle
Bruce Gordon--Baylor University (part-time instructor and Associate
Director of the Michael Polanyi Center)
Phillip E. Johnson--University of California-Berkeley (until retirement)
Robert Kaita--Princeton University
Dean H. Kenyon--San Francisco State University (California State
Scott Minnich--University of Idaho
Henry F. Schaefer--University of Georgia
Richard Weikart--California State University-Stanislaus
Mary Beth Marklein's comment in USA Today, "From the
intelligent-design movement, advanced by scholars at respected universities, is
emerging what could become a battle in science research," creates in the minds
of its readers exactly the impression that the Discovery Institute wants the
American public to have.
By carving a niche for themselves in university life, both secular and
religious, DI's intelligent design creationists are in a position to accomplish
(1) To cultivate a facade of academic legitimacy.
Johnson realizes that academic legitimacy is the first hurdle the wedge
The conference [Southern Methodist University in March 1992] brought
together as speakers some key wedge figures, particularly Michael Behe,
Stephen Meyer, William Dembski, and myself. It also brought a team of
influential Darwinists, headed by Michael Ruse, to the table to discuss this
proposition: "Darwinism and neo-Darwinism as generally held in our society
carry with them an a priori
commitment to metaphysical naturalism, which is essential to making a case
on their behalf." . . . the
amazing thing was that a respectable academic gathering was convened to
discuss so inherently subversive a proposition.
In an interview with Communiqué: A Quarterly Journal, Johnson also
acknowledges the difficulty of acquiring this legitimacy, but is resolutely
committed to achieving it:
CJ: That seems to be behind the idea of driving 'the wedge'
into the scientific community--that you'd just encourage them [students and
faculty] to get behind guys like Behe and join that momentum.
Phil: Yes, the idea is that you get a few people out promoting a
new way of thinking and new ideas, it's very shocking, and they take a lot
of abuse. . . . [Y]ou have to have people that talk a lot about the issue
and get it up front and take the punishment and take all the abuse, and then
you get people used to talking about it. It becomes an issue they are used
to hearing about, and you get a few more people and a few more, and then
eventually you've legitimated it as a regular part of the academic
discussion. And that's my goal: to legitimate the argument over evolution .
. . as a mainstream scientific and academic issue. . . . We're bound to win
. . . We just have to normalize it, and that takes patience and persistence,
and that's what we are applying.
(2) To influence college students, too many of whom are ignorant of
genuine science, thus recruiting them into the wedge movement.
In Touchstone Magazine (July/August 1999), Johnson updates the
progress of the wedge. His remarks indicate that universities are fertile
recruiting ground for the wedge:
"[M]any . . . college students are reading our literature, and are
responding very favorably. . . . The most talented of these will be the wedge
members of the future."
Colleges and universities are the logical source of the "future talent"
which, according to the Wedge Document, the CRSC seeks "to cultivate and
(3) To cultivate the support of university administrators and financial
"We believe that, with adequate support, we can accomplish many of the
objectives . . . in the next five years (1999-2003) . . . For this reason we
seek to cultivate and convince influential individuals, . . . college and
seminary presidents and faculty, . . . and potential academic allies."
As shown earlier, the Wedge has secured the financial support of
benefactors such as Howard Ahmanson. The wedge's stability may depend upon the
continuation of this lucrative support, as indicated by Steven Meyer after
they received increased funding in 1999: "We not only have a larger program
than before, the existence of 'outyear' funding means greater long term
stability." William Dembski and Bruce Gordon were successful in
securing Baylor University president Robert Sloan's support for the
establishment, if not necessarily the indefinite continuation, of the Michael
Polanyi Center. This support manifested itself in Sloan's strenuous defense of
their presence at Baylor during a controversy over its establishment,
recounted in the Houston Chronicle:
"[Sloan] said alumni, students and parents have 'overwhelmingly' supported the
goals of the Polanyi Center, but he would still back the center even without
such support." Sloan at the time buttressed his moral support of
the Polanyi Center with financial backing for Dembski and Gordon: "Baylor spokesman Larry Brumley said the university will pay for Dembski's salary
after the [John Templeton Fund] grant expires next year, and that it is paying
Gordon's salary." As the Chronicle also reveals, the John Templeton
Fund has proven to be a source of support for these activities: "[Dembski's]
salary at the Polanyi Center is paid by a $75,000 grant from the John
Templeton Fund, distributed through the Discovery Institute."
(4) To acquire physical bases of operation, with access to all the
advantages this brings.
The Polanyi Center was established at Baylor in October 1999, giving the
CRSC its first physical base outside the Discovery Institute in Seattle. As of
this writing, the wedge has not established anything like the Polanyi Center
in any secular university. However, both at the Polanyi Center and other
universities where they have held conferences, wedge members have accomplished
the next best thing: they are, in effect, bringing the secular universities to
them by inviting mainstream scholars and scientists to participate in
their conferences. "The Nature of Nature" conference featured major academic
figures in April 2000, and Discovery Institute publicized this fact in an
April 7, 2000, news release, pointing out that "Among the participants are two
Nobel prize [sic] winners, Steven Weinberg and Christian de Duve, as well as
noted scientists Alan Guth, Simon Conway Morris and others. . . . 'This is
going to be the greatest collection of minds on the subject of directionality
versus contingency in the natural sciences,' said [William] Dembski." After the conference, DI celebrated the achievement
of the goal of making "the role of naturalism in science an acceptable topic
of academic discussion, and to create a non-confrontational forum for rival
scholars to interact on the issue." Phillip Johnson explicitly linked himself to the
Baylor conference when he boasted that "we had a conference at Baylor
University in April 2000 to discuss whether the evidence of nature points
towards or away from the need for a supernatural creator. It was probably the
most distinguished conference in Baylor history, with two Nobel Prize winners
and many of the country's most distinguished professors in science,
philosophy, and history."
(5) They can exploit their presence in higher education, using their
credentials to "snow" the public.
Academic credentials are the ticket to success for the Wedge, and members
take every opportunity to publicize their own. An example is a short article
by CRSC fellow Ray Bohlin, executive director of Probe Ministries, entitled
"Mere Creation: Science, Faith & Intelligent Design." In no more than
roughly five pages, he never mentions a fellow CRSC member (and he refers to
six of them) without also stating the fellows academic credentials and
accomplishments, as in the case of Henry Schaefer: "So said Dr. Henry F.
Schaefer III, professor of chemistry at the University of Georgia, author of
over 750 scientific publications, director of over fifty successful doctoral
students, and five-time Nobel nominee. . . ."
The accomplishment of these goals is especially important to the CRSC's
strategy to advance their brand of creationism; indeed, it is critical because
they are the only creationists who stand a chance of pulling it off. The
old-style creationism represented by Henry Morris, Duane Gish, and others is
unlikely to be tolerated on mainstream campuses, even religious ones like
Baylor. The CRSC creationists have taken the time and trouble to acquire
legitimate degrees, providing them a degree of cover both while they are
students and after they join university faculties. Johnson alludes to this in
the interview with Communiqué:
CJ: Along those lines, what encouragement would you offer to a young
student of science--let's say a young lady beginning a Ph.D. program in
microbiology at a major university?
Phil: We have a wonderful example here in Michael Behe . . . in what
he is able to do while retaining a well funded lab and standing in the
scientific world. . . . The fact is that there are a lot of people in science
who just don't want to be bothered with the whole Darwinian ideological
agenda. It doesn't have anything to do with the scientific work that they do,
so they are patient with it. I think if we're clever enough in quoting the
arguments and keeping people in the conversation and so on, and reassuring
them that they can doubt Darwinism and still practice science just as well as
ever--that it doesn't mean they are going to give up science and, you know,
start thumping bibles instead or whatever--I think there'll just be a growing
number of people who will get used to that conversation in that element. Behe
has so far been able to maintain his standing, and he's getting invitations
everywhere. Once you get someone like that breaks the ice, then there are
opportunities for more people. So, I don't think you need to be in despair, but you need to use a lot of tact and
judgment and keep your head down while you're getting your Ph.D. in a lot of
places-because there is dogmatism, but there are ways to overcome that. [Emphasis added.]
By keeping their "head down" at the universities where they teach and study,
intelligent design creationists blend more smoothly into the academic
population. They can do this either by compartmentalizing their
creationism--separating their involvement from what they do professionally on
their respective campuses--or by cloaking it in technical, esoteric, and
therefore more palatable, language. They thereby present less risk of
embarrassment to their universities and increase their chances of being
tolerated, at least by administrators who are either sympathetic to them,
unaware of their agendas, or scientifically unsophisticated. An example of this
is Robert Koons' hosting of the "Naturalism, Theism and the Scientific
Enterprise" conference in 1997 at the University of Texas. Koons acknowledges
the advantage of a sympathetic department head: "I . . . spoke to my department
head [Daniel Bonevac] about making the department the official host. My chairman
is a good friend of mine (who also happens to be a Christian and is very
sympathetic to this sort of thing) and he agreed to attach the department's name
to the conference. We didn't get any money from the university, but we did get
clerical and administrative support."
William Dembski plays an essential role in the advancement of the wedge
strategy in academia; the proof of this is his directorship of the Michael
Polanyi Center. An essential point to understand, moreover, is that Dembski and
Phillip Johnson are inseparable. Each cites the other as a key figure in the
intelligent design movement. Johnson refers to Dembski as one of the "key wedge
figures." Dembski cites Johnson as one of the people with whom
the movement begins and whose book Darwin on Trial was a "key text" in
the movement. Moreover, Johnson has acknowledged as recently as
August 1999 his own role as a representative of the movement and its role in
carrying the intelligent design debate into higher education, as well as public
discussion: "[Evidence for intelligent design] is given in books published by
the academic publishers, like Cambridge University Press, and by other scholars,
scientists, philosophers in the intelligent design movement, which I represent,
and which is carrying this issue into the universities and into the mainstream
Targeting academia and public opinion is intended to advance the wedge
strategy of undermining evolutionary theory, thus creating an opening for CRSC's
new paradigm of "theistic science." The fact that "theistic science" will never
overthrow mainstream science is irrelevant to the strategy. At present, just
getting the subject into the academic and cultural mainstream--even when it is
attacked--is an advancement. As early as 1996, in a review of Del Ratzsch's
book, The Battle of the Beginnings: Why Neither Side Is Wining the
Creation/Evolution Debate, Johnson acknowledged that even carrying the
discussion into the Christian academic world is a "scandal" but "exciting":
Our movement is something of a scandal in some sections of the Christian
academic world for the same reason that it is exciting: we propose actually to
engage in a serious conversation with the mainstream scientific culture on
fundamental principles, rather than to submit to the demand that naturalism be
conceded as the basis for all scientific discussions. That raises the alarming
possibility, as one of Ratzsch's colleagues put it in criticizing me, that
"the gulf between the academy and the sanctuary will only grow wider." The
bitter feeling that has been spawned in some quarters by that possibility may
explain why Ratzsch discusses our group so tentatively, but no matter. What
matters for the present is to open up discussion. . . .
He acknowledged it again in 1997 in a quote by the New York Times:
"Mr. [Kenneth] Miller also skewered Mr. Behe's book in a recent review. But that
the book was even reviewed is progress in Mr. Johnson's view: 'This issue is
getting into the mainstream. People realize they can deal with it the way they
deal with other intellectual issues. . . . My goal is not so much to win the
argument as to legitimate it as part of the dialogue.'" Two years later, in Spring 1999, Johnson was still
describing the intelligent design movement as primarily "destructive" in its
function--admitting that the intelligent design movement so far has produced no
answers of its own, despite its hope to have some in the future:
CJ: So, would it be fair to say that the goal is to undermine
or call into question what has generally been accepted in the scientific
community rather than purporting your own answers to all of the questions?
Phil: Yes, the starting point is to understand what in the official
answers is just dead wrong, because you can't get anywhere until you've made
that step. Now, obviously at some time in the future you hope to get to better
answers which are actually true, and that's a positive program, but you can't
begin to work in that direction until you have an acknowledgement that the
existing answers are false. You have to get the questions right before you can
even determine the falsity of the answers. So, for the time being, it's
primarily a destructive work that's aimed at opening up a closed dogmatic
field to new insights.
Despite the difficulties, however, the movement continues unabated, and
getting a foothold in the academic world is crucial to the strategy, as Johnson
stressed in February 1999 at D. James Kennedy's "Reclaiming America for Christ"
conference: "Johnson added that he is happy to be working with university
professors, such as Michael Behe of Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, . . .
This strategy, he said, 'enables us to get a foothold in the academic world and
the academic journals. . . .'" 
Clearly, Johnson does not see this effort as having short-term results;
rather, he sees the promotion of intelligent design as a long-term project which
will bear fruit after present wedge members are gone: ". . . I hope we'll be
remembered as the pioneers who opened up the criticism and made it possible for
the change to occur. It'll take decades . . . and we won't be around to see the
final days, but maybe we'll be remembered as among those who started the ball
rolling, and that'll be a great satisfaction." In the meantime, the goal is to stay on the offensive
and wear down the opposition: "Johnson speaks of a wedge strategy, with himself
the leading edge. 'I'm like an offensive lineman in pro football,' he says. . .
. 'My idea is to clear a space by legitimating the issue, by exhausting the
other side, by using up all their ridicule.'"
In Johnson's mid-1999 assessment of the success of the wedge strategy
(Touchstone Magazine, July/August 1999), he remains convinced that all
the wedge strategists have to do is to be patient and eventually the academic
world will come around: "As the discussion proceeds, the intellectual world will
become gradually accustomed to treating materialism and naturalism as subjects
to be analyzed and debated, rather than as tacit foundational assumptions that
can never be criticized. Eventually the answer to our prime question will become
too obvious to be in doubt." Asserting his confidence that this strategy will work,
he uses Dembski as an example: "I attended a seminar on Dembski's ideas recently
at a major university philosophy department where I saw from the reactions how
common it is for clever people to deploy their mental agility in the service of
obscurity. But Dembski put the concept of intelligent design on their mental
maps, and eventually they will get used to it." Clearly, the resistance to Dembski's ideas does not
deter Johnson, and just as clearly, he thinks the key is to just dig in and ride
out the controversy. Notably, he does not say wedge strategists must
improve their arguments or present hard scientific data to bolster their
Also clear is the fact that Johnson views this movement as religious at its
core. Speaking in February 1999 at the "Reclaiming America for Christ"
conference convened by D. James Kennedy, who has become one of the Religious
Right's leading figures through his Coral Ridge Ministries, Johnson again
revealed the true religious nature of the movement, which is aimed at creating
divisions in "the other side":
The objective, he said, is to convince people that Darwinism is inherently
atheistic, thus shifting the debate from creationism vs. evolution to the
existence of God vs. the non-existence of God. From there people are
introduced to the truth of the Bible and then "the question of sin" and
finally "introduced to Jesus."
"You must unify your own side and divide the other side," Johnson said. He
added that he wants to temporarily suspend the debate between the young-Earth
creationists, who insist that the planet is only 6,000 years old, and
old-Earth creationists, who accept that the Earth is ancient. This debate, he
said, can be resumed once Darwinism is overthrown.
Apparently this view is shared by Johnson's colleagues in the movement and is
considered its "defining concept":
My colleagues and I speak of "theistic realism"--or sometimes, "mere
creation"--as the defining concept of our movement. That means that we affirm
that God is objectively real as Creator, and that the reality of God is
tangibly recorded in evidence accessible to science, particularly in biology.
We avoid the tangled arguments about how or whether to reconcile the Biblical
account with the present state of scientific knowledge, because we think these
issues can be much more constructively engaged when we have a scientific
picture that is not distorted by naturalistic prejudice.
Until the present study, there was no comprehensive survey of the activities
in which the Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture
has engaged in order to execute the wedge strategy. Such a survey is highly
instructive. The head-spinning pace of wedge activity is an indication of the
urgency with which wedge strategists at the CRSC view their mission. It is
unlikely that even the recent election losses of the creationist candidates in
the August 2000 Kansas school board primaries will slow the wedge's momentum.
For such a movement--fueled by religious zeal, funded by sympathetic
benefactors, and aided by political alliances--this defeat was only a momentary
setback. The stream of public relations events, conferences, books, and
"educational materials" for public schools continues energetically. The wedge
continues its advance, guided by its vision of a "promised land" in which
Darwin's powerful legacy has lost its hard-won place in the scientific
 Phillip E. Johnson, Defeating Darwinism by Opening
Minds (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 91-92.
 Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, "What Is the
Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture All About? The Mission of the
Center" [online]. Accessed 18 March 2000 at http://www.discovery.org/w3/discovery.org/crsc/aboutcrsc.html.
This document was found in a directory which is no longer publicly
 "Ad Hoc Origins Committee." The complete list of
signatories is available at http://www.apologetics.org/news/adhoc.html.
Notre Dame philosopher Alvin Plantinga was also a signatory to this letter,
which is early evidence of his continuing support of the intelligent design
movement. Nancy Pearcey refers to Plantinga as a "design proponent." See Nancy
Pearcey, "We're Not in Kansas Anymore: Why Secular Scientists and Media Can't
Admit that Darwinism Might Be Wrong," Christianity Today, May 22, 2000
[online]. Accessed on 13 April 2001 at http://christianityonline.com/ct/2000/006/1.42.html.
 Phillip E. Johnson, Reason in the Balance: The Case
Against Naturalism in Science, Law and Education (Downers Grove, Illinois:
InterVarsity Press, 1995), 208-209.
 Even though the CRSC--the creationist arm of the larger
Discovery Institute--is the subject of this study, "CRSC" and "Discovery
Institute" are often used interchangeably, as will occasionally be done
 This information was on a web page at http://www.discovery.org/w3/discovery.org/crsc/crsc96fellows.html
but is no longer accessible. Another page from this directory, which appears to
somewhat later than 1996-97, although the year is not specified, also lists
additional people as fellows: Walter Bradley, Chair, Dept. of Mechanical
Engineering, Texas A & M; John Angus Campbell, Professor of Speech
Communications, University of Memphis; William Lane Craig, Research Professor,
Talbot School of Theology; Jack Harris, Ph.D. candidate, University of
Washington; Dean H. Kenyon [co-author, Of
Pandas and People], San Francisco State University; Nancy Pearcey,
Wilberforce Forum; and Charles Thaxton, Charles University, Prague. George
Gilder is listed as an advisor along with Phillip Johnson.
 Phillip E. Johnson, "How to Sink a Battleship: A Call to
Separate Materialist Philosophy from Empirical Science," The Real Issue,
November/December 1996 [online]. Accessed on 31 August 2000 at http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9602/johnson.html.
This article is located on the Christian Leadership Ministries' "Leadership
University" site, which CLM describes on the site as part of its "Telling the
 Most of their books have been published by religious
presses--Zondervan and InterVarsity Press. However, that is changing. William
Dembski's book The Design Inference was published by Cambridge University
Press , and Michael Behe's book Darwin's Black Box, was published
by The Free Press . As time goes on, the CRSC's goal of wedging into the
cultural and academic mainstream is being facilitated by their entry into the
 Chien's affiliation with the Discovery Institute (CRSC) was
not disclosed in his organizing of the China symposium. Scientists from around
the world who participated learned of Chien's identity as a creationist only
after they arrived in China and were alerted by David Bottjer, Professor of
Earth Sciences (Paleobiology and Evolutionary Paleoecology) in the Department of
Earth Sciences at the University of Southern California, who had arrived early
and was assisting Chien with preparation of an abstract book for participants.
(David Bottjer to Barbara Forrest, telephone interview, May 31, 2000)
 Chien actually characterizes his interest in the Chengjiang
fossils as just a hobby. See Cecilia Yau, "The Twilight of Darwinism at the Dawn
of a New Millennium: An Interview with Dr. Paul Chien," Challenger, February/March 2000.
Accessed on 14 June 2000 at http://www.ccmusa.org/challenger/000203/doc1.html.
 Yau, "The Twilight of Darwinism at the Dawn of a New
Millennium: An Interview with Dr. Paul Chien."
 George W. Gilchrist, "The Elusive Scientific Basis of
Intelligent Design Theory," Reports of the National Center for Science
Education 17:3 (May/June 1997), 14-15. Also available online at http://www.natcenscied.org/newsletter.asp?curiss=3.
Accessed on 13 April 2001.
 Gilchrist, "The Elusive Scientific Basis of Intelligent
Design Theory," 15.
 They also enjoy serendipitous publicity, an example of
which occurred on August 29, 2000, when Behe's Darwin's Black Box and
Johnson's Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds appeared as "Quick Picks"
on the Amazon.com web site.
 Joseph L. Conn, "God's Air Force: How the National
Religious Broadcasters Provide Troops and Ammo for the Religious Right's
Christian Nation Crusade," Church & State, April 2000 [online].
Accessed on 13 April 2001 at http://www.au.org/churchstate/cs4002.htm.
 The CRSC's science education web site contains a lengthy
bibliography of sources on the Cambrian fossils. Consistent with this study's
findings regarding Chien's lack of publication on this subject, the CRSC's own
bibliography lists not a single work by Chien. Yet the learning objectives
present him as an authority.
 See http://www.discovery.org/crsc/scied/present/topics/political.htm.
Accessed on 13 April 2001. The Science Education site also has a page listing
"Other Web Curriculum Examples" on which there is a link entitled "Infectious
AIDS: Have We Been Misled?" This is a link to the site of Berkeley scientist
Peter Duesberg, who has been criticized for his claim that "there is no
virological, nor epidemiological, evidence to back-up the HIV-AIDS hypothesis."
Accessed on 13 April 2001.
 See Ron Nissimov, "Baylor Professors Concerned Center Is
Front for Promoting Creationism," Houston Chronicle, July 1, 2000. See
also "Dembski Relieved of Duties as Polanyi Center Director," Baylor Public
Relations, October 19, 2000. Accessed on 12 April 2001 at http://pr.baylor.edu/rel.fcgi?2000.10.19.05.
The research function of the Polanyi Center was absorbed into Baylor's Institute
for Faith and Learning. William Dembski's current title is "Associate Research
Professor in the Conceptual Foundations of Science," while Bruce Gordon is
"Interim Director, The Baylor Center for Science, Philosophy and Religion" and
"Assistant Research Professor, Institute for Faith and Learning." See http://www.baylor.edu/~William_Dembski/biosketch.htm
Accessed on 12 April 2001.
 The importance to the wedge of reaching the public through
publicity and publications is emphasized in the wedge document: "The primary
purpose of Phase II [Publicity and Opinion-making] is to prepare the popular
reception of our ideas. The best and truest research can languish unread and
unused unless it is properly publicized."
 This announcement was made in a May 8, 2000, U.S. Newswire
press release which is not archived.
 "Interview with Phillip Johnson About The Wedge of
Truth," Christianbook.com, August 14, 2000 [online]. Accessed on 13 April
2001 at http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/dpep/interview.pl/16559901?sku=22674.
"In the beginning was the Word" is the first line in "The Gospel According to
St. John" in the New Testament. Johnson cites this passage in support of
supernatural "mere" creation in order to avoid the disputes which arise when
young earth, biblical literalist creationists cite the book of Genesis.
 "The Wedge Strategy: Five Year Strategy Plan
 Gordon states in his curriculum vitae (as of April 2001)
that he had "adjunct faculty" status at Baylor (1999-2000). His web site lists
two courses he taught in Fall 1999 and Spring 2000. Gordon had no current
teaching assignments as of April 2001, although he still had assistant research
professor status. This status allows him to carry on his research activities in
Baylor's Institute for Faith and Learning, but it includes no teaching duties.
for both his c.v. and his previous course listings. Accessed on 13 April
 Ron Nissimov, "Baylor Professors Concerned Center Is
Front for Promoting Creationism," Houston Chronicle, July 1, 2000.
Regarding the controversy over the Polanyi Centers presence at Baylor, the
Chronicle points out that although Sloan refused a request from the
Faculty Senate to dissolve the Center, he had established a "nine-member
committee of scholars primarily from outside Baylor to examine whether the
Polanyi Center can contribute to constructive dialogue." See "Baylor Releases
Committee Report" at http://pr.baylor.edu/feat.fcgi?2000.10.17.polanyi. The
report is also available here. Accessed on 17 April 2001.
 In the same article is a denial by Jay Richards, CRSC
program director, that the Discovery Institute was directing Dembski's work at
the Polanyi Center. Richards said, however, that the Discovery Institute hoped
intelligent design would be taught along with evolution.
 "Nobel prize winners, international scientists and
scholars meet to discuss the nature of the universe," Discovery Institute News,
April 7, 2000. Accessed 16 April 2000 at
http://www.discovery.org/news/baylor.html. News stories are not archived by DI,
so this document is no longer accessible.
 Phillip E. Johnson, "Starting a Conversation About
Evolution," review of The Battle of the Beginnings: Why Neither Side Is
Winning the Creation-Evolution Debate, by Del Ratzsch. Accessed on 31 August
2000 at Access Research Network: Phillip Johnson Archives,
 Lawrence, "Communiqué Interview: Phillip E. Johnson."
Evidence of the long-term nature of the wedge strategy consists in the fact
that, except for Johnson, the most important wedge members, such as William
Dembski and Steve Meyer, are relatively young.
 Johnson, "The Wedge: Breaking the Modernist Monopoly on
Science." Johnson's prime question is this: "What should we do if empirical
evidence and materialist philosophy are going in different directions? Suppose,
for example, that the evidence suggests that intelligent causes were involved in
biological creation. Should we follow the evidence or the philosophy?" For
Johnson, this question is tantamount to asking the academic establishment, "If
the evidence suggests intelligent design, should we be genuinely scientific and
admit this, or should we be unscientific and refuse to admit it?"