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.
The mission of Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth, Poverty, and Morality is to connect the practical truths of economics with the perennial truths of ethics. We are building a sustained and accessible defense of free enterprise, entrepreneurship, and stewardship in the moral categories consonant with most Americans.
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.
The mission of the Walter Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence at Discovery Institute is to explore the benefits as well as the challenges raised by artificial intelligence (AI) in light of the enduring truth of human exceptionalism. People know at a fundamental level that they are not machines. But faulty thinking can cause people to assent to views that in their heart of hearts they know to be untrue. The Bradley Center seeks to help individuals — and our society at large — to realize that we are not machines while at the same time helping to put machines (especially computers and AI) in proper perspective.
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.
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. Currently, Cascadia is leading the ACES Northwest Network, a unique collective working to bring Automated, Connected, Electric, and Shared vehicle technologies to the Puget Sound region.
The Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership enables young leaders to consider the foundational ideas of leadership in a free society by connecting them with mentors and fellow young leaders through seminars, lectures, and fellowship programs. Our goal is to develop the next generation of public and private sector leaders, in the spirit of collegiality and non-partisan cooperation.
This program promotes the expansion of public support for families to choose the schools they believe will best serve their children, whether traditional public schools, public charter schools, private schools, homeschooling, or virtual schools. The parent is the child’s first and most dedicated teacher and American Center for Transforming Education believes the family has the fundamental responsibility for educating the child. ACTE is especially engaged in an interfaith outreach campaign that informs communities and policymakers about the benefits of empowering parents with choice through legislation. We recognize, however, that traditional public schools remain the choice for many parents and are, therefore, working simultaneously to enhance and improve the operations of our nation’s public schools.
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, Liberty, 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.
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.