Board of Directors
The mission of Discovery Institute is to advance a culture of purpose, creativity and innovation.
Discovery Institute is an inter-disciplinary community of scholars and policy advocates dedicated to the reinvigoration of traditional Western principles and institutions and the worldview from which they issued. Discovery Institute has a special concern for the role that science and technology play in our culture and how they can advance free markets, illuminate public policy and support the theistic foundations of the West.
Mind, not matter, is the source and crown of creation, the wellspring of human achievement. Conceived by the ancient Hebrews, Greeks and Christians, and elaborated in the American Founding, Western culture has encouraged creativity, enabled discovery and upheld the uniqueness and dignity of human beings.
Linking religious, political, and economic liberty, the Judeo-Christian culture has established the rule of law, codified respect for human rights and conceived constitutional democracy. It has engendered development of science and technology, as well as economic creativity and innovation.
In contrast, the contemporary materialistic worldview denies the intrinsic dignity and freedom of human beings and enfeebles scientific creativity and technological innovation. Its vision of a closing circle of human possibilities on a planet of limited horizons summons instead the deadening ideologies of scarcity, conflict, mutual suspicion and despair.
Study and Activity Areas:
- Science and Culture. Scientific research and experimentation have produced staggering advances in our knowledge about the natural world, but they have also led to increasing abuse of science as the so-called “new atheists” have enlisted science to promote a materialistic worldview, to deny human freedom and dignity and to smother free inquiry. Our Center for Science and Culture works to defend free inquiry. It also seeks to counter the materialistic interpretation of science by demonstrating that life and the universe are the products of intelligent design and by challenging the materialistic conception of a self-existent, self-organizing universe and the Darwinian view that life developed through a blind and purposeless process.
- Economics and Business. Technological innovation has become the engine of economic progress, but it also has attracted new efforts by government to take over areas traditionally handled by private enterprise; at the same time, it has fueled a technocratic mindset that believes morality is somehow irrelevant to wealth creation. Our program on Technology and Democracy examines the destructive consequences of the over-regulation of new technologies, while our Center on Wealth, Poverty, and Morality explores how free enterprise and the Judeo-Christian moral tradition create a culture of entrepreneurship that makes technological innovation, and thus economic prosperity, possible.
- Center on Human Exceptionalism. New medical technologies have dramatically improved human health and extended human life, yet these same technologies have been misused to efface human dignity. Similarly, while modern discoveries in biology and ecology have given us a greater appreciation for the importance of other creatures, these same discoveries are sometimes misused to promote an extreme vision of “animal rights” that places animal welfare above the welfare of human beings. Our Center on Human Exceptionalism counters pseudo-scientific attacks on human dignity by defending the unique dignity of persons, what we call human exceptionalism, in health care policy and practice, environmental stewardship, and scientific research.
- International Affairs. The discoveries of science have enabled huge advances in prosperity and freedom around the world. At the same time, they have provided new methods for mass destruction, the abridgement of human dignity and the spread of misinformation and hatred. Our programs on international affairs explore the dynamic role science and technology play in many international issues as well. These programs promote such enduring Western values and institutions as the rule of law, religious liberty, free markets, liberal democracy and non-governmental associations.
- Local Government and Communities. The invention of the automobile has led to unparalleled freedom of movement for people, goods, and services; but it also has disrupted traditional social and political patterns in ways we are only now beginning to understand. Our Cascadia Center for Regional Development shows how new transportation technologies and building techniques can build more vibrant, human scale communities.
- Religion and Public Life. The worldview of scientific materialism has been pitted against traditional beliefs in the existence of God, Judeo-Christian ethics and the intrinsic dignity and freedom of man. Because it denies the reality of God, the idea of the Imago Dei in man, and an objective moral order, it also denies the relevance of religion to public life and policy. Our program on Religion and Civic Life defends the continuing relevance of traditional religious faith to public life within a pluralistic democracy. Specifically, it seeks to defend the importance of Judeo-Christian conceptions of the rule of law, the nature of man and the necessity of limiting the power of government. Thus, it also seeks to protect religious liberty, including its public expression in pluralistic democracies.