It has been almost 10 years since the Discovery Institute (DI) created a fundraising proposal called the “Wedge Document.” This proposal included 5 and 20 year plans by the DI for its “Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture.” The proposal was somehow released on the internet without consent from the DI. Since then, many people have used this as a smoking gun to show that the DI is promoting religion in not only science but other areas of society. Books have even been written on the subject.
To be honest, I had not given much credence to the accounts of the wedge document. However, I decided to read the document to see what the fuss was about. What I found in the proposal actually shocked me. I was expecting to find some hints of religious undertones, but with the majority being focused on fleshing out intelligent design as a science. This is what I found:
Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.
Alongside a focus on influential opinion-makers, we also seek to build up a popular base of support among our natural constituency, namely, Christians. We will do this primarily through apologetics seminars. We intend these to encourage and equip believers with new scientific evidences that support the faith, as well as to popularize our ideas in the broader culture.
They really spelled it out in those two passages: The Discovery Institute is focused on pushing a particular Christian view and not on discovering the reality of life on Earth. It couldn’t be any more clear.
Despite their transparency, the DI has released several documents and blog posts that can only be described as damage control. One is simply named “The Wedge document: So what?”
In this document, they make the argument that the Wedge document was innocuous and saying otherwise is simple paranoia:
For many the scandal of the Wedge Document is nothing more and nothing less than its mention of “Christian and theistic convictions” and our stated intention to support scientific research that is “consonant” with such convictions. But why should this be upsetting?”
It is not that it is upsetting to those of us on trying to push an unbiased view of science, it is that they are admitting that they are not impartial to the science. It shows that they are incapable or unwilling to not let the data take them in whatever direction it will. Their thinking has to fit into a box based on their preconceived notion of reality. A better approach, and an intellectually honest one, is to say that they will support the science no matter what information it yields.
Recent developments in physics, cosmology, biochemistry, and related sciences may lead to a new harmony between science and religion. Many of us happen to think that they will, and we are not alone in that. But that doesn’t mean we think religion and science are the same thing. We don’t. Nor do we want to impose a religious agenda on the practice of science.
Fair enough, they don’t want to impose a theocracy on science, but it does not matter what your intentions are if you are starting from a biased position. If they want a real harmony between science and religion, they should just keep the two separate. Or better yet, take the advice of Abdu’l-Bahá:
There is no contradiction between true religion and science. When a religion is opposed to science it becomes mere superstition: that which is contrary to knowledge is ignorance
In light of this new information, I find it hard to believe that so many at the DI still deny the association of intelligent design and religious underpinnings. It also shows that their science can never be fully trusted until they divorce themselves from their boxed in view of reality.