The mission of The Ingersoll Foundation is to fund qualified research studies by investigators interested in the hypotheses we have suggested about the potential neurological and/or mental health effects of long-term instruction of young children to embrace faith and the belief in asserted facts unsupported by evidence that is integral to faith. We may also fund studies proposed by investigators who suggest new questions relevant to our mission. Among the commitments research programs we fund will be required to make will be that their investigations will be evidence-driven and that they address study questions objectively and without bias toward either validating or refuting any concerns they perceive that we may have.
Core Observations, Questions, and Their Potential Implications Informing our Mission
Certain cultural practices, broadly-employed and evident to members of the general public, even to those with no professional credentials whatsoever, present ideas, beliefs and other information to pre-adolescent children (outside the scope of the "standard" academic subjects such as mathematics, science, language skills, evidence-based history, fine arts, etc.) that raise concerns about the potential mental health and neurological effects of those practices. Those concerns resulted in a recognition of the need to ask whether expression of those potential effects actually occurs or is groundless speculation. It was need find a way to promote objective studies to investigate those concerns that led to formation of the Ingersoll Foundation.
Those concerns may also have ethical implications if such practices occur before children have developed the capacity to evaluate the credibility of ideas and beliefs, presented to them as factual, based on reason and the existence of verifiable evidence rather than having them robustly reinforced and established in their minds by long-term institutional and family-based teaching, ritual and other influences that vary based of their cultural environments.
Does the Foundation Have an Anti-Religious "Agenda"
While many of the questions, issues and concerns raised by the Foundation may appear to reflect a bias against religion, our purpose is not in any way to challenge the acceptance of religious beliefs or to invalidate them. As an organization committed to rigorous scientific inquiry, we must remain objective, and while we will pose questions and hypotheses related to the potential effects of certain religious practices, scientific objectivity requires that we accept the results of the studies we support, regardless of their implications for the personal perspectives any member of The Foundation may have. Considering the potentially sensitive nature of the cultural practices likely to be considered by some of the studies we will support, any such perspectives or other factors that could introduce or even create a perception of bias by any Foundation team member or any aspect of the work of The Foundation will be prohibited as a matter of formal policy and rigorous oversight by Foundation management. We will maintain a higher level of scrutiny of all areas of our operations than would be the case in other research funding organizations to detect and eliminate any factors that could suggest bias. A foundation that does not display such intellectual honesty neither could nor should be considered a legitimate scientific study funding entity, and the results of the studies it supported would, justifiably, be vulnerable to challenges of their validity and credibility.
Considering that adherence to and acceptance of faith is an integral element of religion, and because religion and religious instruction is a global reality that touches the lives of billions of children, religion, overwhelmingly, creates the primary context in which the embrace of faith is instilled in those children. If it originated from any other sources that even remotely endorsed faith to the extent that religion does, we would address those sources as well. But there are no other such sources. So, while our efforts may seem to tread on the toes of religion, it is not religion that is our focus, but rather one specific practice that happens to take place, overwhelmingly, in religious contexts.