Discovery Institute

Discovery Institute
Founded 1990.[1] Incorporated in 1991[2]
Type IRS exemption status: 501(c)(3)
Key people
Steven J. Buri, President
$4,074,669 USD (2013)[3]
Expenses $4,981,381 (2013)[3]

The Discovery Institute (DI) is a non-profit public policy think tank based in Seattle, Washington, best known for its advocacy of the pseudoscientific principle of intelligent design (ID). Its "Teach the Controversy" campaign aims to permit teaching of anti-evolution, intelligent-design beliefs in United States public high school science courses alongside accepted scientific theories, positing that a scientific controversy exists over these subjects.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10]

In Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (2005), the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania found:

The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board's ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause. In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.[11]

This federal court—along with the majority of scientific organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science—say that the Institute has manufactured the controversy they want to teach by promoting a false perception that evolution is "a theory in crisis"[12] through incorrectly claiming that it is the subject of wide controversy and debate within the scientific community.[13][14][15] The court ruled that the Discovery Institute pursues "demonstrably religious, cultural, and legal missions,"[12][14][16] and the Institute's manifesto, the Wedge Document,[17] describes a religious goal: to "reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions."[18][19] It was the court's opinion that intelligent design was merely a redressing of creationism and that, as such, it was not a scientific proposition.


The Institute was founded in 1990[1] as a non-profit educational foundation and think tank. It was founded as a branch of the Hudson Institute, an Indianapolis-based conservative think tank, and is named after the Royal Navy ship HMS Discovery in which George Vancouver explored Puget Sound in 1792.[20]

In 1966, Bruce Chapman and George Gilder—who were roommates at Harvard and who later co-founded the Institute, with Chapman serving as its first president—participated in the Ripon Society, a group for Republican liberals, and collaborated on Advance, dubbed "the unofficial Republican magazine," which criticized the party from within for catering to segregationists, John Birchers, and other "extremists." Following their graduation, Chapman and Gilder advanced their "progressive" Republican campaign in their 1966 polemic book The Party That Lost Its Head. The book critiqued Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential candidacy and dismissed the GOP's embrace of rising star Ronald Reagan as the party's hope to "usurp reality with the fading world of the class-B movie." The Party That Lost Its Head denounced Goldwater's conservative backers for their "rampant" and "paranoid distrust" of intellectuals. The book labeled the Goldwater campaign a "brute assault on the entire intellectual world," and placed the blame for this development on what they viewed as a wrong political tactic; "In recent years the Republicans as a party have been alienating intellectuals deliberately, as a matter of taste and strategy." Chapman moved to the right in the Reagan administration,[21] where he served as director of the United States Census Bureau. Chapman left the Census Bureau to work in the White House under Reagan adviser Edwin Meese III and was appointed United States Ambassador to the United Nations Organizations in Vienna.

Gilder wrote several books addressing culture, technology, and poverty, including Visible Man (1978), which criticised American culture for its failure to promote the ideals of the traditional nuclear family.[22] His next work, Wealth and Poverty (1981), was cited by President Reagan.[23][24] Gilder's later books have dealt more with developments in technology, such as Microcosm (1989) and Life After Television (1990).

Chapman had built a political platform, but lacked funding and a defining issue.[25] In December 1993, Chapman noticed an essay in The Wall Street Journal by Stephen C. Meyer about a dispute when biology lecturer Dean H. Kenyon taught intelligent design creationism in introductory classes.[26] Kenyon had co-authored Of Pandas and People, and in 1993 Meyer had contributed to the teacher's notes for the second edition of Pandas. Meyer was an old friend of Gilder, and over dinner about a year later they formed the idea of a think tank opposed to materialism. In the summer of 1995, Chapman and Meyer met a representative of Howard Ahmanson, Jr.; Meyer, who had previously tutored Ahmanson's son in science, recalls being asked "What could you do if you had some financial backing?" In 1996, the promise of $750,000 over three years from the Ahmansons and a smaller grant from the conservative Maclellan Foundation was used to fund the Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, which went on to form the motive force behind the intelligent design movement.[26] In 2002, the name was changed to the Center for Science and Culture.[27]


Officers, directors and fellows

  • Steven J. Buri
Vice President
  • Eric Garcia
Chairman of the Board
Board of Directors
  • Howard Ahmanson, Jr.
  • Dave Barber
  • Charles K. Barbo
  • Bruce Chapman
  • Kathy Connors
  • Skip Gilliland
  • Slade Gorton
  • Richard R. Greiling
  • Bob Kelly
  • Bryan Mistele
  • Byron Nutley
  • Mariana Parks
  • James Spady
  • Raymond J. Waldmann
Program Advisor (CSC)
Senior Fellows
  • Bruce Agnew
  • Erik J. Larson
Former Senior Fellows
  • Bruce Agnew
  • Sam Beard
  • Ray B. Chambers
  • Robert J. Cihak
  • John C. Drescher
  • Albert Gidari, Jr.
  • Philip Gold
  • Richard W. Judy
  • Roberta R. Katz
  • Edward J. Larson
  • Patricia M. Lines
  • Jane M. Lommel
  • Yuri Y. Mamchur
  • Vincent Phillip Muñoz
  • James J. Na
  • John S. Niles
  • William L. Pierce
  • Mark L. Plummer
  • Richard W. Rahn
  • Bret Swanson
  • William Tucker

Center for Science and Culture

The Center for Science and Culture (CSC), formerly known as the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (CRSC), is a subsidiary of the Discovery Institute. It was established in 1996 with the assistance of Phillip E. Johnson to advance the wedge strategy. Bruce Chapman calls the CRSC "our No. 1 project."[31]

The CSC offers fellowships of up to $60,000 a year for "support of significant and original research in the natural sciences, the history and philosophy of science, cognitive science and related fields." Since its founding in 1996, the Institute's CSC has spent 39 percent of its $9.3 million on research according to Meyer, underwriting books or papers, or often just paying universities to release professors from some teaching responsibilities so that they can work on intelligent design related scholarship. Over those nine years, $792,585 financed laboratory or field research in biology, paleontology or biophysics, while $93,828 helped graduate students in paleontology, linguistics, history and philosophy. The CSC lobbies aggressively to policymakers for wider acceptance of intelligent design and against the theory of evolution and what it terms "scientific materialism." To that end, the CSC works to advance a policy it terms the Wedge strategy, of which the "Teach the Controversy" campaign is a major component. The "Teach the Controversy" strategy was announced by Meyer in 2002.[32] It seeks to portray evolution as a "theory in crisis"[33][34] and leave the scientific community looking closed-minded,[35] opening the public school science curriculum to creation-based alternatives to evolution such as intelligent design,[36] and thereby undermining "scientific materialism."[37]

Biologic Institute

Main article: Biologic Institute

In 2005, the Discovery Institute provided the funding to set up the Biologic Institute in Redmond and the Fremont district of Seattle, Washington, headed by Douglas Axe. The Biologic Institute claims to conduct research into intelligent design in response to one of the primary criticisms of intelligent design that there is no valid research conducted by the scientific community on the topic. According to Axe, the lab's main objective "is to show that the design perspective can lead to better science," and will "contribute substantially to the scientific case for intelligent design."[38] Biologic's staff consists of at least three researchers: Axe, the senior researcher; zoologist Ann Gauger, who like Axe is a signatory to the Discovery Institute's petition expressing skepticism towards "Darwinian theory" entitled A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism; and Brendan Dixon, a software developer.[38] In keeping with the Discovery Institute's October 2006 statement that intelligent design research is being conducted by the Institute in secret to avoid the scrutiny of the scientific community,[39][40] both Axe and Discovery Institute spokesperson Rob Crowther portray it as a "separate entity" despite being funded by the Discovery Institute.[38]

Previously serving as a director of the Biologic Institute was George Weber, who is also a member of the local chapter of the creationist group Reasons To Believe. In an interview he stated that the lab is a wing of the Discovery Institute and that their goal is to "challenge the scientific community on naturalism" and "What we are doing is necessary to move ID along" which led to his dismissal from the board of the Institute.[38][41]

PZ Myers likens the Biologic Institute's design research program to cargo cults, with "Intelligent Design creationists pretend[ing] that they're doing science."[42]


The Discovery Institute through the Center for Science and Culture has been involved in the intelligent design movement; transportation in the American and Canadian northwest (Cascadia); a bioethics program opposed to assisted suicide, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human genetic manipulation, human cloning, and the animal rights movement. Its economics and legal programs advocate tort reform, lower taxation, and reduced economic regulation of individuals and groups as the best economic policy. The Discovery Institute also maintains a foreign policy program currently focused on Russia and East Asia.

The Institute's primary thrust in terms of funding and resources dedicated are those political and cultural campaigns centering on intelligent design. These include the:

Intelligent design and Teach the Controversy

The Discovery Institute's main thrust has been to promote intelligent design politically to the public, education officials and public policymakers, and to portray evolution as a "theory in crisis" and advocating teachers to "Teach the Controversy" through the CSC. It has employed a number of specific political strategies and tactics in the furtherance of its goals. These range from attempts at the state level to undermine or remove altogether the presence of evolutionary theory from the public school classroom, to having the federal government mandate the teaching of intelligent design, to 'stacking' municipal, county and state school boards with ID proponents. The Discovery Institute has been a significant player in many of these cases, through the CSC providing a range of support from material assistance to federal, state and regional elected representatives in the drafting of bills to supporting and advising individual parents confronting their school boards.

Some of the political battles which have involved the Discovery Institute include:

In 2004, the Institute opened an office in Washington, D.C., and in 2005 the Discovery Institute hired Creative Response Concepts, the same public relations firm to promote its intelligent design campaign that promoted the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign, the Republican National Committee, the Christian Coalition, and the Contract with America. Creative Response Concepts scored an early victory for the Institute in getting The New York Times to publish an essay by Roman Catholic Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, condemning neo-Darwinism and positivism. The essay, "Finding Design in Nature,"[43] submitted directly to The New York Times by Creative Response Concepts, was prompted by the Institute's vice president Mark Ryland.[44]

Cascadia Center

Discovery Institute's Cascadia Center for Regional Development (formerly the Cascadia Project) focuses on regional transportation.[45] The Cascadia Project started in 1992 with Bruce Agnew, former Chief of Staff for U.S. Representative John Miller, serving as the director. In 2003, Thomas Till was brought in as Managing Director, after leaving his post as Executive Director of the Amtrak Reform Council.

Cascadia attempts to forge alliances between local governments to ease traffic congestion in the Pacific Northwest, utilizing focus groups[46] as well as forming citizen panels and public forums.[47] In conjunction with Microsoft, Cascadia sponsored a session involving elected officials, entrepreneurs and public policy experts including Washington State Representative Dave Reichert and former CIA director R. James Woolsey, Jr. to discuss varying proposals for securing U.S. ports and diversifying America's energy portfolio.[48]

The Cascadia project is funded in part by a large grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.[49]

Technology & Democracy

The Technology and Democracy Project (TDP) has been a part of the Discovery Institute since the beginning, founded by Senior Fellow George Gilder. The project supports technology as a force for economic growth and advocates freeing technological advancement from government regulation. It utilizes national publications, speeches, conferences and public testimony to lobby for pro-technology and pro-free enterprise policies. The Technology and Democracy Project supports pushing deregulation to the forefront of the national debate and maintains a blog,, where senior fellows comment on a wide range of issues.[50]

The Real Russia Project

The Real Russia Project provides analysis and commentary on the future of democracy in Russia through its internet portal, Russia Blog.[51] In addition to maintaining the weblog, the program organizes conferences and events to address current events and daily public life in Russia.[52]

C. S. Lewis & Public Life

The C. S. Lewis & Public Life program is part of the Discovery Institute's Religion, Liberty & Public Life program, which seeks to define and promote the role of religion in society.

The program provides analysis and commentary on the writings and thinking of C. S. Lewis and how they can influence public policy. The program publishes a quarterly online journal, The Lewis Legacy,[53] and an online archive, C. S. Lewis Writings in the Public Domain.[54]


Religious agenda

Although it often describes itself as a secular organization, critics, members of the press and former Institute fellows consider the Discovery Institute to be an explicitly Christian conservative organization,[26][55][56] and point to the Institute's own publications and the statements of its members that endorse a religious ideology. Americans United for Separation of Church and State notes, "Though the Discovery Institute describes itself as a think tank 'specializing in national and international affairs,' the group's real purpose is to undercut church-state separation and turn public schools into religious indoctrination centers."[57] U.S. district court Judge John E. Jones III came to a similar conclusion about the Institute in his 2005 ruling in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District: "The CSRC expressly announces, in the Wedge Document, a program of Christian apologetics to promote ID. A careful review of the Wedge Document's goals and language throughout the document reveals cultural and religious goals, as opposed to scientific ones."[58]

As evidence of the Institute's organized campaign to mask or downplay its religious origins and agenda, critics point to the Discovery Institute's renaming of its Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture to Center for Science and Culture in 2002 to avoid religious overtones implied with trying to "renew" society. They claim the name change "followed hard on the heels of accusations that the center's real interest was not science but reforming culture along lines favored by conservative Christians."[27] As further evidence that the Institute is promoting a Christian agenda, observers of the Institute also point to the fact that the Discovery Institute' members are largely outspoken Christians,[26] who are promoting an explicitly Christian agenda,[59] funded largely by Christian conservatives, catering to an almost exclusively Christian constituency.[59][60][61] Nevertheless, the Discovery Institute also has members who espouse Judaism[62] and agnosticism.[63]

Nina Shapiro's 2001 Seattle Weekly article, "The New Creationists," cites Bruce Chapman when she wrote that behind all Discovery Institute programs there is an underlying hidden religious agenda:

"Yet the Discovery Institute as an organization didn't get involved in the issue in order to solve the mysteries of the universe. Chapman is up front about having a social and political agenda. He sees design intelligence as a way to combat the growing reliance on genetic explanations for human behavior and what he sees as an undermining of personal responsibility. As an example of this phenomena, Chapman cites the infamous 'Twinkie defense' used by a murder defendant claiming his sugar high made him do it.

Others associated with the institute take a bigger leap of logic to argue that welfare, as currently dispensed, is a misguided consequence of the Darwinian outlook. 'If you see human beings as nothing but matter and motion, than [sic] all you do is treat them like mouths to feed,' says Jay Richards, program director for the institute's Center for Science and Culture. 'If they're more than that, you treat the whole person,' he argues, which would mean looking at such things as family structure and the role of moral and religious values in their lives.

Do you really have to attack a whole branch of science in order to counter liberal views on welfare? The Discovery Institute folk think they do. 'Unless you get the science right,' Chapman says, 'it's very hard to contend with the other arguments.'"[64]

Several Discovery Institute fellows have left the Institute over its religious positions and campaigns, such as political scientist Donald Hellmann, described by the Seattle Metropolitan in 2006 as a "disillusioned former Discovery Fellow."[65] Another former Senior Fellow, Philip Gold, resigned his post as a defense analyst with the Institute in 2002, saying the Institute had grown increasingly religious: "It evolved from a policy institute that had a religious focus to an organization whose primary mission is Christian conservatism."[26] One controversy erupted when it was made public in the online journal Salon that, in the summer of 2000, Chapman advised a breakaway faction of Episcopalians opposed to the ordination of gays on how to fund their desired schism from the mainline denomination, and suggested that funds from multi-millionaire and Institute board member Howard Ahmanson, Jr., who was also a fellow Episcopalian, might be available for this task. In a memo Chapman sent to fellow dissident Episcopalians, he stated that for their campaign to succeed fund-raising was critical, but "is going to be affected directly by whether we have a clear, compelling forward strategy" and "the Ahmansons are only going to be available to us if we have such a strategy and I think it would be wise to involve them directly in settling on it...."[66] In 2000 and 2001, Chapman was successful in securing more than $1 million from Ahmanson for the American Anglican Council, but is no longer personally involved in the schism in the American Episcopal community; Chapman converted to Catholicism in 2002.

Creation science and intelligent design

The public relations catastrophe for the Discovery Institute that was the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District concerned in large part revised editions the Of Pandas and People[67] that was promoted at trial by various DI-sponsored experts, particularly CSC Senior Fellow Michael Behe. The issue began when some proponents of intelligent design associated with Pandas found a need to distinguish it from creation science, whose teaching in public science class had been negated as a violation of the Establishment Clause by the Supreme Court of the United States in Edwards v. Aguillard (1987).

An early contributor to Pandas, CSC Fellow Charles Thaxton proposed a term to replace creation science, which he "picked up from a NASA scientist"—intelligent design.[68] In a new draft of Pandas, approximately 150 uses of the root word "creation," such as "creationism" and "creationist," were systematically changed to refer to "intelligent design."[69] Panda editors also deleted more than 250 references to "creationism" and the "creator" and replaced them in the final version with "intelligent design" and "intelligent designer."

Following pattern, the term "creationists" was quietly changed to "design proponents," but in one telling case, the beginning and end of the original word "creationists" were accidentally retained, so that "creationists" became "cdesign proponentsists."[70]

"The basic metabolic pathways (reaction chains) of nearly all organisms are the same. Is this because of descent from a common ancestor, or because only these pathways (and their variations) can sustain life? Evolutionists think the former is correct, cdesign proponentsists accept the latter view."[67]

The proof that intelligent design was creationism re-labeled played a significant part in the Kitzmiller trial, and "cdesign proponentsists" has been described by Nick Matzke as "the 'missing link' between creationism and intelligent design."[71]

Peer-reviewed publications

The Discovery Institute maintains a list of what it claims are peer-reviewed publications supporting intelligent design.[72] Mark Isaak of TalkOrigins Archive responded to the list by saying, "Even by the most generous criteria, the peer-reviewed scientific output from the intelligent design (ID) movement is very low, especially considering the long history and generous funding of the movement. The list of papers and books above is not exhaustive, but there is not a lot else. One week's worth of peer-reviewed papers on evolutionary biology exceeds the entire history of ID peer-review."[73]

Misrepresentation of agenda

At the foundation of most criticism of the Discovery Institute is the charge that the Institute and its Center for Science and Culture intentionally misrepresent or omit many important facts in promoting their agenda. Intellectual dishonesty, in the form of misleading impressions created by the use of rhetoric, intentional ambiguity, and misrepresented evidence, form the foundation of most of the criticisms of the Institute.[74][75] It is alleged that its goal is to lead an unwary public to reach certain conclusions, and that many have been deceived as a result. Its critics, such as Eugenie Scott, Robert T. Pennock, Richard Dawkins and Barbara Forrest, claim that the Discovery Institute knowingly misquotes scientists and other experts, deceptively omits contextual text through ellipsis, and makes unsupported amplifications of relationships and credentials, and are often said to claim support from scientists when no such support exists.[76] A wide spectrum of critics level this charge; from educators, scientists, and the Smithsonian Institution, to individuals who oppose the teaching of creationism alongside science on ideological grounds.

This criticism is not limited to those in the scientific community that oppose the teaching of intelligent design and the suppression of evolution, but also includes former Discovery Institute donors. The Bullitt Foundation, which gave $10,000 in 2001 for transportation causes, withdrew all funding of the Institute; its director, Denis Hayes, called the Institute "the institutional love child of Ayn Rand and Jerry Falwell," and said, "I can think of no circumstances in which the Bullitt Foundation would fund anything at Discovery today."[77]

The Wedge Document, a widely circulated 1998 fund-raising document, laid out Discovery's original, ambitious plan to "drive a wedge" into the heart of "scientific materialism," "thereby divorcing science from its purely observational and naturalistic methodology and reversing the deleterious effects of evolution on Western culture."[6] The Wedge Document states two "Governing Goals":

Meyer says that the Wedge Document "was stolen from our offices and placed on the Web without permission."[6] The central item of this agenda — establishing intelligent design as legitimate science through conducting actual scientific research — has not been achieved.[78]

Michelle Goldberg has said:

"... the Center for Science and Culture takes creationism and tries to legitimize it in scientific terms, and make it sound as if it's really just a competing scientific theory. It hires people with a lot of impressive degrees, although, in many cases, they got the degrees specifically with the idea of using them to discredit Darwinism for religious reasons. It'll put someone forward like Jonathan Wells, who has a Ph.D. from Berkeley, and yet here he is, defending intelligent design. So they've given a lot of thought to packaging intelligent design to make it seem like legitimate science. And they've given a lot of thought to how to try to infiltrate their ideas into the culture."[79]

John Templeton Foundation

According to an article in The New York Times, the John Templeton Foundation, who provided grants for conferences and courses to debate intelligent design, later asked intelligent design proponents to submit proposals for actual research. Charles L. Harper Jr., senior vice president at the Templeton Foundation, was quoted as saying "They never came in." He also said that while he was skeptical from the beginning, other foundation officials were initially intrigued and later grew disillusioned. "From the point of view of rigor and intellectual seriousness, the intelligent design people don't come out very well in our world of scientific review," he said.[80] The Templeton Foundation has since rejected the Discovery Institute's entreaties for more funding, Harper states. "They're political - that for us is problematic," and that while Discovery has "always claimed to be focused on the science," "what I see is much more focused on public policy, on public persuasion, on educational advocacy and so forth."[26][81]

In 2007, in a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times, Pamela Thompson, Vice President for Communications of the Templeton Foundation, wrote "We do not believe that the science underpinning the intelligent-design movement is sound, we do not support research or programs that deny large areas of well-documented scientific knowledge, and the foundation is a nonpolitical entity and does not engage in or support political movements."[82] The Wall Street Journal also published a letter from Thompson making much the same point: "The foundation doesn't support the political movement known as 'Intelligent Design.' This is for three reasons: We don't believe the science underpinning the 'Intelligent Design' movement is sound, we don't support research or programs that deny large areas of well-documented scientific knowledge and the foundation is a non-political entity and does not engage in, or support, political movements."[83]

In February 2007, the Discovery Institute began to counter the unfavorable statements of Harper and Thompson citing a "report" published on the intelligent design wiki[84] This report by Joseph C. Campana quoted clarifications from Charles Harper of the Templeton Foundation denouncing intelligent design and distancing the Templeton Foundation from the intelligent design movement, notably a clarification by Harper that The Wall Street Journal article published "false information" that "mention[ed] the John Templeton Foundation in a way suggesting that the Foundation has been a concerted patron and sponsor of the so-called Intelligent Design ("ID") position."[85] Campana claimed that this was indicative of larger errors and bias: "The media has misrepresented the record of the intelligent design research community."[86] Critics of intelligent design responded by noting that though Harper appears to have "confirmed that while the first statement about a formal call for applications was false, the real point of the article, that ID advocates don't do very well in terms of actual research and scientific review, remains true and valid" a point the Discovery Institute glosses over.[87] The Templeton Foundation posted a response to the Discovery Institute's campaign, saying:

In response to errors and misrepresentations stated in the February 28, 2007 blog post:

1. The John Templeton Foundation has never made a call-for-proposals to the ID Community.
2. The Henry Schaefer grant was from the Origins of Biological Complexity program. Schaefer is a world's leading chemist, and his research has nothing whatsoever to do with ID.
3. Bill Dembski's grant was not for the book "Free Lunch". Dembski was given funds to write another book on Orthodox Theology, which was not on ID, however he has never written the book.

From our FAQ...

Does the Foundation support I.D.?

No. We do not support the political movement known as "Intelligent Design." This is for three reasons 1) we do not believe the science underpinning the "Intelligent Design" movement is sound, 2) we do not support research or programs that deny large areas of well-documented scientific knowledge, and 3) the Foundation is a non-political entity and does not engage in, or support, political movements.

It is important to note that in the past we have given grants to scientists who have gone on to identify themselves as members of the Intelligent Design community. We understand that this could be misconstrued by some to suggest that we implicitly support the Intelligent Design movement, but, as outlined above, this was not our intention at the time nor is it today. -- John Templeton Foundation[88]

Judge John E. Jones III

In December 2006 the Discovery Institute and its fellows published several articles describing a study performed by the Discovery Institute criticizing the judge in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial. It claims that "90.9% (or 5,458 words) of Judge Jones' 6,004-word section on intelligent design as science was taken verbatim or virtually verbatim from the proposed 'Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law' submitted to Judge Jones by ACLU attorneys nearly a month before his ruling."[89] The study, though making no specific allegations of wrongdoing, implies that Judge Jones relied upon the plaintiff's submissions in writing his own conclusions of law.

Within a day, the president of the York County Bar Association, Sara Austin, wrote that parties are required by the courts to submit findings of fact and "a judge can adopt some, all or none of the proposed findings." She added that in the final ruling, a judge's decision "is the judge's findings and it doesn't matter who submitted them." A partner in a York, Pennsylvania, law firm, James D. Greenberg, said that "Any attempt to make a stink out of it is absurd."[90]

Several commentators described a number of critical flaws in the study from both a numerical and legal standpoint. Witold Walczak, legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the ACLU's lead attorney on the case called the Institute's report a stunt: "They're getting no traction in the scientific world so they're trying to do something ... as a PR stunt to get attention, ... That's not how scientists work, ... Discovery Institute is trying to litigate a year-old case in the media." He also said the Discovery Institute staff is not, as it claims, interested in finding scientific truths; it is more interested in a "cultural war," pushing for intelligent design and publicly criticizing a judge.[91]

A subsequent review of the study performed by Wesley R. Elsberry, author of the text comparison program that was partly responsible for the decision in the case, indicated that only 38% of the complete ruling by Judge Jones actually incorporated the findings of fact and conclusions of law that the plaintiffs proposed that he incorporate, and only 66% of the section (on whether intelligent design was science) incorporated the proposals, not the 90.9% the Discovery Institute claimed was copied in that section. Significantly, Judge Jones adopted only 48% of the plaintiffs's proposed findings of fact for that section, and rejected 52%, clearly showing that he did not accept the section verbatim.[92][93]


The Institute is a non-profit educational foundation funded by philanthropic foundation grants, corporate and individual contributions and the dues of Institute members. Contributions made to it are tax deductible, as provided by law.

The Institute does not provide details about its backers, out of harassment fears according to Bruce Chapman.[26]

In 2001, the Baptist Press reported, "Discovery Institute ... with its $4 million annual budget ($1.2 million of which is for the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture) is heavily funded by evangelical Christians. Maclellan Foundation of Chattanooga, Tenn., for example, awarded $350,000 to the institute with the hope researchers would be able to prove evolution to be a false theory. Fieldstead & Co., owned by Howard and Robert Ahmanson of Irvine, Calif., pledged $2.8 million through 2003 to support the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture."[94]

In 2003, a review of tax documents on GuideStar showed grants and gifts totalling $1.4 million in 1997. Included in the supporters were 22 foundations. At least two-thirds of these foundations stated explicitly religious missions.[95]

Most Discovery Institute donors have also contributed significantly to the Bush campaign.[26][66]

In 2005, the Washington Post reported, "Meyer said the institute accepts money from such wealthy conservatives as Howard Ahmanson Jr., who once said his goal is 'the total integration of biblical law into our lives,' and the Maclellan Foundation, which commits itself to 'the infallibility of the Scripture.'"[96]

According to Charity Navigator, in FYE December 2005, the Discovery Institute had $2,989,608 in total revenue and $3,878,186 in total functional expenses.[97]

The Discovery Institute denies allegations that its intelligent design agenda is religious, and downplays the religious source of much of its funding. In an interview of Stephen C. Meyer, when ABC News asked about the Discovery Institute's many evangelical Christian donors, the Institute's public relations representative stopped the interview saying "I don't think we want to go down that path."[5]

Though in the minority, funding also comes from non-conservative sources: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave $1 million in 2000 and pledged $9.35 million over 10 years in 2003, including $50,000 of Bruce Chapman's $141,000 annual salary. The money of the Gates Foundation grant is "exclusive to the Cascadia project" on regional transportation, according to a Gates Foundation grant maker.[26]

Published reports state that the Institute has awarded $3.6 million in fellowships of $5,000 to $60,000 per year to 50 researchers since the CSC's founding in 1996.[26] "I was one of the early beneficiaries of Discovery largess," says William A. Dembski, who, during the three years after completing graduate school in 1996 could not secure a university position, received what he calls "a standard academic salary" of $40,000 a year through the Institute.

Discovery Institute Press

Discovery Institute Press is the Institute's publishing arm[98] and has published intelligent design books by its fellows including David Berlinski's Deniable Darwin & Other Essays (2010), Jonathan Wells' The Myth of Junk DNA (2011) and an edited volume titled Signature Of Controversy, which contains apologetic works in defense of the Institute's Center for Science and Culture director Stephen C. Meyer.

See also


  1. 1 2 "Media Backgrounder: Intelligent Design Article Sparks Controversy". Center for Science and Culture. Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute. September 7, 2004. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  2. "Form 990 for DISCOVERY INSTITUTE (91-1521697) for 12/2010" (PDF). Bulk.Resource.Org. Sebastopol, CA: Public.Resource.Org. Retrieved May 11, 2014.
  3. 1 2 "Charity Navigator Rating - Discovery Institute". Charity Navigator. Glen Rock, NJ: Charity Navigator. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  4. Forrest, Barbara (May 2007). "Understanding the Intelligent Design Creationist Movement: Its True Nature and Goals" (PDF). Center for Inquiry. Washington, D.C.: Center for Inquiry. Retrieved August 6, 2007.
  5. 1 2 "Small Group Wields Major Influence in Intelligent Design Debate". World News Tonight. New York: American Broadcasting Company. November 9, 2005. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  6. 1 2 3 Mooney, Chris (December 2002). "Survival of the Slickest". The American Prospect. Washington, D.C. 13 (22). Retrieved July 23, 2008. ID's home base is the Center for Science and Culture at Seattle's conservative Discovery Institute. Meyer directs the center; former Reagan adviser Bruce Chapman heads the larger institute, with input from the Christian supply-sider and former American Spectator owner George Gilder (also a Discovery senior fellow). From this perch, the ID crowd has pushed a 'teach the controversy' approach to evolution that closely influenced the Ohio State Board of Education's recently proposed science standards, which would require students to learn how scientists 'continue to investigate and critically analyze' aspects of Darwin's theory.
  7. Dembski, William A. (2001). "Teaching Intelligent Design: What Happened When?". Access Research Network. Colorado Springs, CO. Retrieved May 5, 2014. The clarion call of the intelligent design movement is to 'teach the controversy.' There is a very real controversy centering on how properly to account for biological complexity (cf. the ongoing events in Kansas), and it is a scientific controversy.
  8. Matzke, Nick (July 11, 2006). "No one here but us Critical Analysis-ists…". The Panda's Thumb (Blog). Houston, TX: The TalkOrigins Foundation, Inc. Retrieved May 5, 2014. Nick Matzke's analysis shows how teaching the controversy using the Critical Analysis of Evolution model lesson plan is a means of teaching all the intelligent design arguments without using the intelligent design label.
  9. "Mississippi Legislators Should Drop Academic Freedom Bill or Make Clear It Doesn't Permit Creationism". Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  10. "The Theory of Evolution: Educator's Briefing Packet". The Discovery Institute: Center for Science & Culture. pp. 5–6. Retrieved February 19, 2016. "Has ID Been Banned from Public Schools? No. Science teachers have the right to teach science. Since ID is a legitimate scientific theory, it should be constitutional to discuss in science classrooms and it should not be banned from schools. If a science teacher wants to voluntarily discuss ID, she should have the academic freedom to do so."
  11. Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 04 cv 2688 (December 20, 2005). Curriculum, Conclusion, p. 136.
  12. 1 2 Saletan, William (December 21, 2005). "Is Creationism Destructible?". Slate. Washington, D.C.: The Washington Post Company. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
  13. Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 04 cv 2688 (December 20, 2005). Whether ID Is Science, p. 89. "ID's backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard."
  14. 1 2 Annas, George J. (May 25, 2006). "Intelligent Judging — Evolution in the Classroom and the Courtroom". The New England Journal of Medicine. Waltham, MA: Massachusetts Medical Society. 354 (21): 2277–2281. doi:10.1056/NEJMlim055660. ISSN 0028-4793. PMID 16723620. Retrieved May 5, 2014. That this controversy is one largely manufactured by the proponents of creationism and intelligent design may not matter, and as long as the controversy is taught in classes on current affairs, politics, or religion, and not in science classes, neither scientists nor citizens should be concerned.
  15. "Statement on the Teaching of Evolution" (PDF). Washington, D.C.: American Association for the Advancement of Science. February 16, 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 21, 2006. Retrieved May 5, 2014. Some bills seek to discredit evolution by emphasizing so-called 'flaws' in the theory of evolution or 'disagreements' within the scientific community. Others insist that teachers have absolute freedom within their classrooms and cannot be disciplined for teaching non-scientific 'alternatives' to evolution. A number of bills require that students be taught to 'critically analyze' evolution or to understand 'the controversy.' But there is no significant controversy within the scientific community about the validity of the theory of evolution. The current controversy surrounding the teaching of evolution is not a scientific one.
  16. Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 04 cv 2688 (December 20, 2005). Curriculum, Conclusion, p. 131.
  17. Luskin, Casey (September 8, 2006). "Response to Barbara Forrest's Kitzmiller Account Part IV: The 'Wedge Document'". Evolution News & Views. Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  18. "The Wedge" (PDF). Seattle, WA: Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture. 1999. Retrieved May 5, 2014. ...If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a 'wedge' that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points. ... Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.
    • "The 'Wedge Document': 'So What?'" (PDF). Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute. 2003. Retrieved May 5, 2014. The Institute's response to the leaking of the Wedge strategy raises the same objection to the materialistic worldview: "We think the materialist world-view that has dominated Western intellectual life since the 19th century is false and we want to refute it. We further want to reverse the influence of such materialistic thinking on our culture."
  19. Tapper, Jake (February 22, 2007). "McCain Speech Tied to Intelligent Design Group Draws Fire". ABC News. Retrieved December 5, 2007.
  20. "Discovery Institute: A Brief History" (PDF). Center for Science and Culture. Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
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  22. "The Editors". Gilder Technology Report. New York: Gilder Publishing, LLC; Forbes, Inc. 2008. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  23. Reagan, Ronald (May 14, 1983). "Radio Address to the Nation on Small Business". The American Presidency Project. Santa Barbara, CA: Gerhard Peters; John T. Woolley: University of California, Santa Barbara. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
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  26. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Wilgoren, Jodi (August 21, 2005). "Politicized Scholars Put Evolution on the Defensive". The New York Times. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  27. 1 2 Forrest, Barbara; Branch, Glenn (January–February 2005). "Wedging Creationism into the Academy". Academe. Washington, D.C.: American Association of University Professors. 91 (1): 36–41. doi:10.2307/40252735. ISSN 0190-2946. Archived from the original on July 29, 2007. Retrieved August 27, 2007.
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  29. "Board of Directors". Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
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  31. Forrest 2001, "The Wedge at Work: How Intelligent Design Creationism Is Wedging Its Way into the Cultural and Academic Mainstream"
  32. Gishlick, Alan; Matzke, Nick; Elsberry, Wesley R. (September 12, 2004). "Meyer's Hopeless Monster". Talk Reason. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  33. McDonald, R. Robin; Bluestein, Greg (November 12, 2004). "Scientists Defend School Board's Use of Evolution Disclaimer Sticker". Fulton County Daily Report. New York: ALM Media Properties, LLC. Retrieved May 5, 2014. Calling evolution "a theory in crisis," more than two-dozen scientists signed an amicus brief by written by Seth L. Cooper of the Discovery Institute and George M. Weaver and Kevin T. McMurry of Hollberg & Weaver.
  34. Chapman, Bruce (September 21, 2003). "How Should Schools Teach Evolution?". The Dallas Morning News. Dallas, TX: A. H. Belo. Retrieved May 5, 2014. Darwinism is a theory in crisis. — Bruce Chapman, Discovery Institute co-founder
  35. West, John G. (August 8, 2003). "Institute Supports Accurate Science". San Angelo Standard-Times. Cincinnati, OH. Retrieved May 5, 2014. Such closed-minded dogmatism is the opposite of good science, and it shouldn't be allowed to dictate what Texas students learn about biology. — John G. West, Discovery Institute Senior Fellow
  36. Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, 04 cv 2688 (December 20, 2005). Disclaimer, p. 49. "In summary, the disclaimer singles out the theory of evolution for special treatment, misrepresents its status in the scientific community, causes students to doubt its validity without scientific justification, presents students with a religious alternative masquerading as a scientific theory, directs them to consult a creationist text as though it were a science resource, and instructs students to forego scientific inquiry in the public school classroom and instead to seek out religious instruction elsewhere."
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  52. "Past Event: How Do Western Stereotypes Harm U.S.-Russia Relations?". Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute. October 11, 2006. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
  53. "The Lewis Legacy Online". The Lewis Legacy Online. Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
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  56. Jones, Thomas (November 1, 2001). "Short Cuts". London Review of Books. 23 (21): 22. ISSN 0260-9592. Retrieved June 24, 2010. The Discovery Institute is a conservative Christian think-tank – although some of its fellows are quick to deny they are either of those things...
  57. Benen, Steve (May 2002). "The Discovery Institute". Church & State. Washington, D.C.: Americans United for Separation of Church and State. ISSN 2163-3746. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
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  63. Phy-Olsen 2010, p. 73: "Possibly the most intriguing personality associated with the Discovery Institute is senior fellow David Berlinkski. He is not a Christian and sometimes even identifies himself as 'a Jewish agnostic.' In an interview, he has admitted: 'I have no religious convictions and no religious beliefs. What I do believe is that theology is no more an impossible achievement than mathematics.'"
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