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  1. Promises, Promises | Science History Institute
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That summer of , Mr. Chapman and Dr. Meyer had dinner with a representative of the Ahmansons, the banking billionaires from Orange County, Calif.

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Meyer, who had grown friendly enough with the Ahmansons to tutor their young son in science, recalled being asked, "What could you do if you had some financial backing? Larson, the historian and author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on the Scopes Monkey Trial, who was an early fellow at the institute, but left in part because of its drift to the right.

Here was an academic, credible activity that involved funders.

Promises, Promises | Science History Institute

It interested conservatives. It brought in money. The institute would not provide details about its backers "because they get harassed," Mr. Chapman said. But a review of tax documents on www. The records show financial support from 22 foundations, at least two-thirds of them with explicitly religious missions.

There is the Henry P. Crowell Trust of Colorado Springs, whose Web site describes its mission as "the teaching and active extension of the doctrines of evangelical Christianity.

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And the Stewardship Foundation, based in Tacoma, Wash. Ahmanson also sits on Discovery's board. McCallie III, its executive director. Darwin was about a metaphysical view of the world.

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Greg Shaw, a grant maker at the Gates Foundation, said the money was "exclusive to the Cascadia project" on regional transportation. Denis Hayes, director of the Bullitt Foundation, described Discovery in an e-mail message as "the institutional love child of Ayn Rand and Jerry Falwell," saying, "I can think of no circumstances in which the Bullitt Foundation would fund anything at Discovery today.

Charles L. Harper Jr. Harper said. While Discovery has "always claimed to be focused on the science," he added, "what I see is much more focused on public policy, on public persuasion, on educational advocacy and so forth. For three years after completing graduate school in , William A. Dembski, whose degrees include a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Chicago, one in philosophy from the University of Illinois and a master's of divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. Meyer said, underwriting books or papers, or often just paying universities to release professors from some teaching responsibilities so that they can ponder intelligent design.

The 40 fellows affiliated with the science center are an eclectic group, including David Berlinski, an expatriate mathematician living in Paris who described his only religion to be "having a good time all the time," and Jonathan Wells, a member of the Unification Church, led by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who once wrote in an essay, "My prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism.

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Their credentials -- advanced degrees from Stanford, Columbia, Yale, the University of Texas, the University of California -- are impressive, but their ideas are often ridiculed in the academic world. It's not something a 'scientist' is supposed to do.

Berlinski, most fellows, like their financiers, are fundamentalist Christians, though they insist their work is serious science, not closet creationism. Gonzalez said. I ask myself the tough questions. Discovery sees the focus on its fellows and financial backers as a diversionary tactic by its opponents.

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Meyer said. But Philip Gold, a former fellow who left in , said the institute had grown increasingly religious. That was certainly how many people read the Wedge Document, a five-page outline of a five-year plan for the science center that originated as a fund-raising pitch but was soon posted on the Internet by critics. Among its promises are seminars "to encourage and equip believers with new scientific evidence that support the faith, as well as to 'popularize' our ideas in the broader culture.

One sign of any political movement's advancement is when adherents begin to act on their own, often without the awareness of the leadership. Glenn Geher Ph. Follow me on Twitter.

Inception of Darwin's theory

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