John G. West

Senior Fellow, Managing Director, and Vice President of Discovery Institute

Dr. John West is Vice President and a Senior Fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, where he also serves as Managing Director of the Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, which he co-founded with philosopher of science Stephen Meyer in 1996. His current research examines the impact of science and “scientism” on public policy and culture. His other areas of expertise include constitutional law, American government and institutions, and religion and politics.

Dr. West was previously an Associate Professor of Political Science at Seattle Pacific University where he chaired the Department of Political Science and Geography, and he has taught political science and history courses at California State University, San Bernardino and Azusa Pacific University. From 1986-1989, Dr. West served as Managing Editor of Public Research, Syndicated, which distributed essays on public affairs to more than 700 daily and weekly newspapers.

Dr. West has written or edited twelve books, including most recently the expanded edition of Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, The Magician's Twin: C.S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, and Walt Disney and Live Action. Other books include:

Additionally, Dr. West has directed and written several documentaries, including Revolutionary, Privileged Species, the award-winning Biology of the Second Reich and Human Zoos, Darwin’s Heretic, The War on Humans, The Magician’s Twin: C.S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism, and The Magician’s Twin: C.S. Lewis and Intelligent Design. He also helped produce the popular YouTube series, Science Uprising. Listed in Who’s Who in America, he has been interviewed by Time, Newsweek, USA Today, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, and he has appeared on CNN, FoxNews, and C-SPAN.

Dr. West holds a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University and a B.A. in Communications from the University of Washington. He is a recipient of several academic fellowships, including a Haynes Foundation Dissertation Grant, an Earhart Foundation Fellowship, a Richard Weaver Fellowship, and a Chevron Journalism/Economics Scholarship. Dr. West is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha (the national political science honor society) and Phi Beta Kappa.

Archives

John West in Turin, Italy: Intelligent Design’s Roots and Fruit

Today’s ID the Future takes us to a conference in Turin, Italy, where scholar John West speaks about the roots of intelligent design, roots that stretch back to ancient Greek and Roman philosophers. In his talk, West also makes the case that design thinking was crucial to the rise of modern science, and he traces how Darwinism has eroded design thinking, fueled scientific racism, and undermined belief in human exceptionalism. West celebrates some of Italy’s contributions to Western civilization but also calls attention to Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso, who championed various racist ideas undergirded by Darwinian thinking, disturbing work that West learned more about when he visited the Cesare Lombroso Museum in Turin. On the bright side, there has been Read More ›

Answering Questions about Science and Faith

Philosopher Stephen Meyer, theologian Vern Poythress, engineer Stuart Burgess, and biologist Jonathan McLatchie answer questions about science and faith posed to them at the Westminster Conference on Science and Faith.

The Debate over Design in the Early Church Eerily Current

In today’s ID the Future, scholar John West, managing director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, reveals how current debates over whether nature displays evidence of intelligent design echo debates in the first centuries of the Christian church. The early Christians debated the Greco-Roman materialists but also the religious Gnostics of their day; and the ideas the early Christians confronted then confront Christians and other theists still today. Moreover, in some cases, those ideas are being peddled not by outsiders to the faith but by prominent Christians. West’s talk was taped at the 2022 Westminster Conference on Science and Faith in the greater Philadelphia area, an event jointly sponsored by Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture and Read More ›

The Debate Over Design in the Early Church

Current debates over whether nature displays evidence of intelligent design echo debates that took place in the first centuries of the Christian church. According to John West, there is much we can learn from those earlier debates. This presentation was taped at the 2022 Westminster Conference on Science and Faith in the greater Philadelphia area, which was jointly sponsored by Read More ›

Before the Third Reich: America’s Darwinist Eugenics Crusade

On this classic ID the Future, John West, managing director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, explains the Darwinian basis for getting rid of the “unfit.” One way this manifested itself in the twentieth century was in the eugenics movement’s disturbing push for compulsory sterilization, right here in the United States. One of the most famous such instances was Carrie Buck (to the left in the picture accompanying this episode), sterilized as “feeble minded” despite going on to live a normal productive life. Her case went to the Supreme Court, where the court, in an opinion written by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., ruled against Buck. She was sterilized five months later. Listen in to learn about prominent scientists Read More ›

Survival of the Fittest or Survival of the Statist?

Darwin's Real Legacy for Economics
John West, Discovery Institute Vice President and author of Darwin Day in America, describes the history of social Darwinism and its influence on economics, government policy, and social institutions.

C.S. Lewis, Science, and the Occult

Award-winning British producer and director Norman Stone discusses his new biopic on C.S. Lewis, The Most Reluctant Convert, with Discovery Institute Vice President John West. The freewheeling conversation covers a wide range of topics, including Lewis’s view of science, the problems of reductionist science, Lewis’s attraction to and rejection of the occult (and the strange connection between the occult and scientific materialism), Bertrand Russell’s atheism, the women in C.S. Lewis’s life (not just Joy Gresham), and even the strange fate of C.S. Lewis’s old rooms in Oxford (you’ll never guess what’s in there now!). Plus, John tries his best to convince Norman that he should do a film version of Lewis’s sci-fi novel That Hideous Strength.

A Portentous Collapse

For generations, “Darwin’s Arch” in the Galápagos Islands stood as an unmovable monument to the life and work of Charles Darwin. A few weeks ago, on May 17, the arch collapsed. While the loss of this landmark is sad, it’s also fitting — for Darwinism as a scientific and social theory is collapsing as well.

C. S. Lewis and Intelligent Design

On the episode of ID the Future we bring you a production by Discovery Institute about C.S. Lewis and Intelligent Design. With contributions by Discovery Institute’s John West and philosophers Victor Reppert and Angus Menuge, we hear about Lewis’s early doubts about God based in part on an argument from undesign or “bad design” in nature, and how he moved from this position to developing multiple arguments for intelligent design. Another contribution he made to the intelligent design project wasn’t a specific argument but the example he set. As John West explains near the end of the episode, one of his greatest contributions was a commitment to free inquiry and open debate, one he modeled while a professor at Oxford Read More ›

John West on Darwin’s Culturally Corrosive Idea, Pt. 2

On this episode of ID the Future, hear the second half of Discovery Institute’s John West’s talk given at the 2020 Dallas Conference on Science and Faith, on how Darwinism has corroded Western culture. In this portion he examines the morally poisoning effects of Darwinism on marriage, sexual ethics, and religion, such that virtually anything can be defended as OK, and no particular culture’s ethic is to be preferred over another. Humankind’s spiritual purpose has likewise been eroded. Yet West closes with hope: science in our generation is discovering more and more signs of intelligent design and purpose in nature, and young researchers are learning that materialism shouldn’t be the foregone conclusion of contemporary science.

John West on Darwin’s Culturally Corrosive Idea, Pt. 1

On this episode of ID the Future, catch the first half of talk political scientist John West recently gave on how Darwinism has poisoned Western culture. In the lecture, delivered at the 2020 Dallas Conference on Science & Faith, West explores how Darwin’s purely materialistic theory of evolution drained meaning from nature, undercut the idea of inherent human dignity, and fueled the rise of scientific racism in the twentieth century. 

John West and Michael Medved Talk Human Zoos and Racism

This episode of ID the Future features an interview with filmmaker John West on the Michael Medved show, about West’s recent documentary Human Zoos: America’s Forgotten History of Scientific Racism, now streaming on YouTube. Medved and West explore the tragic story of Ota Benga, and the prominent role that the Bronx Zoo, the pro-Darwinian scientific establishment, and the New York Times, played in that tragedy. As West explains, there are lessons here about the danger of letting the voices of “science” confuse our grasp of moral truth. Please consider donating to support the IDTF Podcast.

C.S. Lewis & Science: An Interview With Dr. John West, Part 1

On this episode of ID the Future from the vault, David Boze talks about the book The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society with the editor of the book, Dr. John West. Boze and Dr. West discuss how some have tried to construe C.S. Lewis’ views in order to make them benefit their own, as well as Lewis’ views on Darwinism and intelligent design.

The Dangers of Totalitarian Science: Pt. 2

On this episode of ID the Future we hear part two of a panel discussion on “The Danger of Totalitarian Science,” held at the July 2018 FreedomFest in Las Vegas. This discussion followed a screening there of the film Human Zoos, written and directed by Dr. John West. In this second episode, Discovery Institute Senior Fellow George Gilder raises concerns about artificial intelligence — but not the usual economic ones. He’s more concerned about the thinking underlying some of the more ambitious attempts at AI — and how it would tend to turn the whole world into one very large yet confining human zoo.