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1996: Christian Leadership Ministries sponsors ID conference:

According to Dr. Henry F. Schaefer III, a chemistry professor at the University of Georgia: "An unprecedented intellectual event occurred in Los Angeles on November 14-17, 1996. Under 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. The two hundred participants, primarily academics, formed a non-homogeneous group. Most had never met each other. Yet virtually all the participants questioned the reigning paradigm of biology—namely, that natural selection and mutation can account for the origin and diversity of all living things." 1 The conference was called "Mere Creation: Science, Faith & Intelligent Design." 2 One outcome of the conference was the publishing of a book on ID. 3

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1999: Wedge strategy:

According to the Secular Web, 4 "On March 3, 1999, an anonymous person obtained an internal white paper from the [Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (CRSC)] entitled 'The Wedge Project,' which detailed the Center's ambitious long-term strategy to replace 'materialistic science' with intelligent design." 5

According to AANEWS: "In 1999, a document circulated widely on the internet and elsewhere which was allegedly based on a 'Wedge Strategy' being promoted by the Discovery Institute and the Center for Renewal of Science and Culture. The document, never fully repudiated by either group, advocated driving a 'wedge' between scientific methodology and the search for natural answers concerning life and the universe. One stated goal was 'to replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.' " 6,7

The document:

bullet States that belief in God was a prerequisite for such social developments as democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in the arts and sciences.
bullet Links materialism, and thus naturalistic evolution, with the denial of absolute moral standards, undermining of personal responsibility, victimization of people, and the creation of coercive government programs.
bullet States that the goal of the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture is to overthrow "materialism and its cultural legacies" by promoting a "theistic understanding of nature."
bullet Promotes ID in an effort to replace the materialist worldview "with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions."
bullet Defines as their 20-year goals:
bullet "To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science."
bullet "To see design theory application in specific fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics and cosmology in the natural sciences, psychology, ethics, politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; to see its inflence in the fine arts."
bullet "To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life." 7

Whether the Wedge Project document was ever official CRSC policy remains an open question.

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Year 1999: Polanyi Center established, briefly:

William Dembski founded the Polanyi Center at Baylor University. It was named after a Hungarian-born British scientist Michael Polanyi. Its mandate was to study "design in nature." Shortly afterwards, the Center sponsored The Nature of Nature conference. Attendee Glenn Morton, reviewed the conference, commenting that: "It was starkly clear to most of the attendees that the ID movement offered no research program, avoided making empirical predictions, and basically engaged in philosophizing about, rather than explaining, the nature of Nature.... [The conference] succeeded in exposing the intellectual weaknesses of the ID movement." 8 The conference triggered a revolt among some of Baylor's other faculty members. "...Lewis Barker, a well-respected psychology and neuroscience professor, left Baylor for Auburn university." Other faculty members either left or threatened to leave. Baylor President Robert Sloan appointed an independent panel to investigate. According to an essay by James Still on the Secular Web's site, when the smoke cleared, the center was stripped of its name, it was moved to the philosophy and religion department, and Dembski was demoted to associate professor. 9

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Year 1999: Kansas State board of Education:

Conservative Christian members of the Kansas State Board of Education formed the majority and passed regulations in 1999 which removed all questions on evolution from the state's public school examinations. This caused the teaching of evolution to be discontinued in some schools in the state. There was some concern that this action might open the door to the teaching of Intelligent Design. The regulations were denounced by Kansas' governor, most science educators and many members of the public. The public outrage was sufficiently widespread to eliminate the conservative Christian majority on the board during the 2000-NOV elections. A new board reverted to the original regulations in mid 2001-FEB. 2

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Year 2000: Congressional briefing:

The Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, the main organization supporting ID, is sponsored by the Discovery Institute. 6 In 2000-MAY, the Institute "hosted a briefing for members of the main hearing room for the House Judiciary Committee..." 10  The title was "Scientific Evidence of Intelligent Design and its Implications for Public Policy and Education." Included were Dr. Behe, a biochemist at Lehigh University; Stephen Meyer, a philosophy professor at Whitworth College; William Dembski, then Director of the Michael Polanyi Center at Baylor University; and Charles "Chuck" Colson, ex-Watergate conspirator and founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries. 11

This essay continues below.

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Year 2000: Pratt Unified School District opens the door to the teaching of ID

When the Kansas State Board of Education passed regulations in 1999-AUG which removed all questions on evolution from the state's public school examinations, there was some concern by scientists that conservative Christians might attempt to have Intelligent Design taught in the state's public schools. There was even concern that the teaching of ID might become a national issue within a few years.

By coincidence, the Pratt Unified School District's science curriculum came up for review less than a year after the new state regulations. The board voted 4 to 3 on 2000-JUN-12 to ignore recommendations of their science committee and "... incorporate instruction methods using critical analysis which both supports and questions the theory of evolution." The aim, according to board president Willa Mills was to have a "true study of numerous areas of science." According to the Topeka Capital-Journal: "Lu Bitter, teacher and head of the PHS science department, said the only reason for rejection of the biology standards seemed to be to decrease the value of teaching evolution. 'As for introducing the idea of creationism, I think it opens the door to be able to do that,' she said." Dick Kurtenbach, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri, considers ID to be a form of creationism. He said: "Hopefully, the school board will do the right thing and the constitutional thing here and not infect their curriculum with religious teachings." [If not,] "It would be ripe for legal action."

Supporters of ID in Pratt had attended school board meetings to promote Intelligent Design. Lawyer Ernie Richardson said: "Every theory of origins is either a chance-based theory or a design-based theory. I think people are generally against censorship and in favor of opening up the curriculum, as opposed to restricting it...."If [the teachers] a short-hand presentation of evolution, there's no reason they can't do a short-hand presentation of design. They need to teach about some of the controversy out there concerning the subject of origin." 12

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Year 2002: Ohio State Board of Education de-emphasizes ID:

The inclusion of ID into the curriculum of Ohio public schools was actively debated throughout 2002.  The State Board of Education finally reached a decision on DEC-10. Evolution is to be the only theory of origins that will be taught. However, teachers may allow critical analysis of the theory of evolution. John Rowe, chairman for the science/health curriculum council for Cincinnati Public Schools approved of the Board's decision. He said: "I want kids to learn evidence-based theories, not ones that aren't.  Intelligent design doesn't hold up as a scientific idea in any way. It's not evidence-based." Patrice Clair, a 17-year-old senior at Mariemont High School, disagreed. She said: "I personally believe that both the theories of creation and evolution can co-exist in public schools. All scientists have reached a point where they can no longer explain, with scientific evidence, the beginnings of life forms. I do not think that students should be limited to only one opinion or viewpoint." 13

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2005-AUG: President Bush endorses ID:

During an media interview on 2005-AUG-01, President Bush made a brief comment favoring having schools teach ID " people can understand what the debate is about." He continued: "I think part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. You’re asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes."

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, called the president’s comments uninformed and reckless. Lynn said:

"The young people of America are ill served by a president who confuses religion with science. Bush has used his presidential pulpit to advance the ludicrous notion that evolution is in controversy and that ‘intelligent design’ is legitimate science. Surely, he knows that most religious people see no conflict between Bible teachings and the evidence of science......His irresponsible comments will likely score big points with Religious Right leaders, but they undermine the teaching of sound science in the nation’s public schools. The president has demonstrated a disturbing degree of scientific illiteracy, which may also explain his ideologically driven positions in other areas of scientific policy including stem cell research....As a Yale graduate, President Bush should know basic science. Maybe he signed up for Biology 101 but didn’t report for duty." 15

In President Bush's defense, it is important to realize that he did not necessarily call for ID to be taught in science class. His remark might have implied that ID be taught in a comparative religious course, along with naturalistic evolution (which is accepted by many religious liberals), theistic evolution (which is believed in by many mainline Christians), the many forms of creation science, which are accepted by many conservative Christians, and the hundreds of religious myths concerning the creation of the universe that are found in religions around the world.

John West, associate director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture said: "President Bush is to be commended for defending free speech on evolution and supporting the right of students to hear about different scientific views about evolution."

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Henry F. Schaefer III, "Foreword," in William A. Dembski, Ed., "Mere Creation: Science, Faith and Intelligent Design," InterVarsity Press, (1998), Page 9.
  2. Dr. Ray Bohlin, "Mere Creation: Science, Faith & Intelligent Design," Probe Ministries, at:
  3. William A. Dembski, Ed., et al, "Mere creation: Science, faith and intelligent design," Intervarsity Press, (1998) Read reviews or order this book The book contains papers delivered at the 1996 Mere Creation conference. Some papers are difficult for an untrained layperson to read.
  4. The Secular Web's web site is at:
  5. James Still, "Discovery Institute's 'Wedge Project' Circulates Online," Secular Web, at:
  6. The Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture has a web site at: 

  7. "The Wedge Strategy, Center for the Renewal of Science & Culture," at:
  8. Reports of the National Center for Science Education, 2000-JAN/APR issue.
  9. James Still, "The Wedge Strategy Three Years Later," Secular Web, 2002-APR-14, at:
  10. "Kansas board to restore evolution to curriculum, but new fight over 'Intelligent Design' expected," AANEWS, 2001-JAN-12

  11. "Creationists hit capitol hill for congressional briefing," at:

  12. Paul Eakins, "Pratt to review biology standards: Critics say school board's vote is a step toward creationism," The Topeka Capital-Journal, 2000-JUN-30, at:
  13. Jennifer Mrozowski, "New standards play down 'intelligent design'; State board of education updates guidelines on science curricula," The Cincinnati Enquirer, 2002-DEC-11, at:
  14. Michael Behe, "Darwin's Black Box: The biochemical challenge to evolution," Touchstone Books, (1998). Read over 260 reviews or order this book safely from online book store
  15. "Bush endorsement of 'Intelligent Design' in public schools is irresponsible, says Americans United," press release, Americans United, 2005-AUG-02.
  16. Aaron Atwood, "Score Two for Intelligent Design," Citizen Link, Focus on the Family, 2005-AUG-03, at:

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Copyright © 2001, to 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-JAN-14
Latest update: 2005-AUG-05
Author: B.A. Robinson

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