Cdesign Proponentsists

In 2005, the constitutionality of teaching “intelligent design” was tested in court in the landmark case Kitzmiller v. Dover. The lawsuit was triggered by the school board in rural Dover, Pennsylvania, voting to require a statement to be read in science classes which said, in part:

Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book Of Pandas and People is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.

The ensuing trial centered around the question of whether intelligent design was an inherently religious idea, and thus barred by the First Amendment from being promoted by public schools. For advocates of ID, as well as defenders of evolution, this was a crucial battle.

A ruling that ID was religion, although it would only be binding law in that region of Pennsylvania, would set a precedent that could influence courts across the U.S. and deal a fatal blow to the nascent intelligent-design movement. Conversely, a ruling that ID passed constitutional muster would almost certainly lead to a rash of copycat actions by school boards in conservative and rural districts throughout the country, greatly weakening the teaching of evolution.

One of the key issues at trial focused on whether intelligent design was just another form of creationism. The Supreme Court ruled in 1987, in Edwards v. Aguillard, that teaching creationism in public schools was unconstitutional because it represented an establishment of religion. Naturally, the Dover school board and their legal representation, the Thomas More Law Center, argued strenuously that ID was a brand-new and genuinely scientific movement that had nothing to do with creationism. As defense lawyer Patrick Gillen said in his opening statement:

The board believed that intelligent design was not creationism. They knew what that was, the Book of Genesis. They concluded that intelligent design was science. They looked at the text of Pandas and People. That’s not the Book of Genesis.

…The evidence will show that Dr. Behe takes these positions and posits his thesis of irreducible complexity pointing to design not because evolutionary theory is inconsistent with his religious beliefs. It’s not. Not because he believes in creationism. He doesn’t. And as he’ll explain, creationism and intelligent design are two very different things.

…Dr. Fuller will explain that intelligent design theory is not creationism. It is not inherently religious.

…Taken together, this expert testimony will confirm the defendants’ judgment by showing that intelligent design theory is not creationism. Indeed, it does not even require the action of a supernatural creator, that intelligent design is not religion or inherently religious, that intelligent design theory is science.

The accuracy of this statement would be put to the test in one of the trial’s decisive issues, which concerned Of Pandas and People, the pro-ID textbook mentioned in the board’s statement. Pandas, it turns out, went through several editions: in its first (1983) edition, it was titled Creation Biology, then renamed in 1986 to Biology and Creation, then renamed again in 1987 to Biology and Origins, finally becoming Of Pandas and People. The plaintiffs subpoenaed the book’s publisher, the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, to obtain these prior drafts, and found something amazing.

The earlier drafts, as you might expect from the titles, made repeated references to creationism. But in the wake of the Edwards decision, the book underwent a revision: the term “creationism” was replaced – literally replaced, as in the find-and-replace function of a word processor – with the term “intelligent design”. And in one draft, a transitional fossil was preserved:

Image credit, NCSE.

Clearly, intelligent design is just a retitled form of creationism. What more compelling evidence of this fact could you ask for than the term “cdesign proponentsists”?

The evidence of ID’s creationist antecedents was cited in the strong ruling by U.S. district judge John E. Jones, which struck down the Dover board’s policy as unconstitutional and lambasted them for deceptive practices in trying to disguise their religious beliefs as science. To this day, the ID movement has never responded to this devastating evidence – although they’re hard at work on a new edition of Pandas, now retitled (again) to The Design of Life. How many times will they try this strategy before they learn that you can’t get around the Constitution just by rebranding yourself?

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    I have read the 1989 version of Of Pandas and People. I can tell you that, even with the revised language, the scientific content of the book is still abysmal.

  • Anne Cognito

    On a QWERTY keyboard, the letter “c” is right below the letter “d”, so that could also have been a typo. I’m not questioning whether what you’ve said is true, just why you decided to use the example you did…

  • velkyn

    I find it amusing that supposed “good Christians” go out of their way to lie again and again. Few things could be more damning about their actual belief in what they prate so piously, since their Bible says that their God really hates liars, especially those who think that they are lying for him. What does it say about people who think that they can lie repeatedly and intentionally and that they assume their god will forgive them ever time no matter what?

  • Alex Weaver

    How many times will they try this strategy before they learn that you can’t get around the Constitution just by rebranding yourself?

    Hopefully enough more times that their movement implodes before they find a way around it that works. :/

    I find it amusing that supposed “good Christians” go out of their way to lie again and again. Few things could be more damning about their actual belief in what they prate so piously, since their Bible says that their God really hates liars, especially those who think that they are lying for him. What does it say about people who think that they can lie repeatedly and intentionally and that they assume their god will forgive them ever time no matter what?

    Many of them seem to believe that since the Bible defines truth, a statement consistent with it is not a “lie” no matter what the state of observable reality. How this applies to cdesign proponentsism is not clear, though. They could be taking a page from the numerous examples of God’s favorite characters deceiving and defrauding others with God’s approval in the bible, but most of them have never read it (maybe the ringleaders have).

  • nogrief

    Go to:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/id/

    and follow all the links for a dramatic account of the xian machinations during the Dover trial.

  • TommyP

    It’s been said before, and it bears saying again. Creationist’s beliefs and attempts at legitimacy are evolving due to their hostile environment. It’s funny to point that out to them. I’d like to see them defend the changes in their own beliefs without making it sound like they are adapting and evolving. I wonder where irreducible complexity would come into play.

    Irreducible complexity is such an epic sham. It’s amazing, the ID literature I have seen shows structures such as cells, flagella, and proteins in highly symbolic, simplified forms. They say that basically, these forms are so simple, how could they have evolved? How, indeed could yon bacterial squares and circles and blessed wiggly line have arisen from something earlier that was still useful? Yon circle, if removed or changed, would render said random-shapes apparatus unusable and therefore irreducible.

    The utter simplicity and uselessness of this type of argument is astounding. X-ray crystallography, for just one example, shows that yon simple collection of squiggly line and simple geometric shapes is, in actuality, a hugely complex system of folded proteins, fats, minerals, what have you. And we can see, by way of observation and experimentation, how these complex systems form more of the same, how they work when missing certain more advanced key components, and so many other things. (ugh sorry about the run on sentence)

    In point of fact, all the advanced structures we see in living things today can at least be theorized as to a previous useful role somewhere else, in some different form, in an ancestor. Anything we don’t yet have a theory for can wait until we learn more. That’s how it is. The temporary lack of an explanation does not mean that no explanation is possible. I mean, really! We are all in the process of learning about our world, and this is a sequential process. One thing follows another. If there is something that Creationists feel is irreducibly complex, I invite them to test this feeling by checking a few thousand facts, firstly a more complete and accurate rendering of the structure. Nip that nasty old ignorance in the bud, and leave the simple geometric shapes to those who can really put them to use, like mathematicians and engineers or something.

  • http://piepalace.ca/blog Erigami

    Creationist’s beliefs and attempts at legitimacy are evolving due to their hostile environment. It’s funny to point that out to them. I’d like to see them defend the changes in their own beliefs without making it sound like they are adapting and evolving. I wonder where irreducible complexity would come into play.

    They’d just call themselves intelligent designers, and say that’s necessary for change over time. =(

  • Reginald Selkirk

    The utter simplicity and uselessness of this type of argument is astounding. X-ray crystallography, for just one example, …

    Heh. Check out my dialogue with Creationist “Brigitte” here, starting at December 13, 2008 10:37 AM.

  • Stephan

    I’m having trouble reconstructing the search-and-replace operation that led to “cdesign proponentsists”. The replacement text was obviously “design proponent,” and one can assume that the search term was “creationist”. But what was the original text? “ccreationistists”?

  • 2-D Man

    I’m tempted to believe (without evidence, egad!) that one, or more, among the creationists number picked up on the deception that their leaders were trying to peddle and deliberately torpedoed it by inserting a couple of nuggets like “cdesign proponentsists”. Indeed what is the point of running a find-and-replace on “reation”.

    I swear that this system did not evolve! It is irreducibly complex! It was intelligently designed![/snarky hysterics]

    But seriously, how did this not get picked up by a proofreader? Both terms are going to show up with a simple spell check, which was available in 1987, unless they were added to the spelling dictionary….

  • Josh in California

    On a QWERTY keyboard, the letter “c” is right below the letter “d”, so that could also have been a typo. I’m not questioning whether what you’ve said is true, just why you decided to use the example you did…

    The typo is “cdesign proponentsists“, not “cdesign proponents”.

    I’m tempted to believe (without evidence, egad!) that one, or more, among the creationists number picked up on the deception that their leaders were trying to peddle and deliberately torpedoed it by inserting a couple of nuggets like “cdesign proponentsists”. Indeed what is the point of running a find-and-replace on “reation”.

    You think that the incompetent fundies who churn out such “textbooks” are smart enough to use find-and-replace? I’m betting that they had someone search the text and manually edit out references to creationism and creationists.

    They probably were interrupted in the middle of the edit, flubbed it without noticing at the time, and never found the error later. (“Gee, my search for ‘creation’ isn’t coming up with any results. I guess I’m all done!”)

  • Dave

    Stephen @9:

    I’m having trouble reconstructing the search-and-replace operation that led to “cdesign proponentsists”. The replacement text was obviously “design proponent,” and one can assume that the search term was “creationist”. But what was the original text? “ccreationistists”?

    The evolution of “cdesign proponentsists” might have gone as follows:

    First, in the original book, each “creationists” was manually typed. Second, the proofreader missed “crationists”, a typo. Third, the global replace of “design proponents” would miss “crationists”. Fourth, the highlighting of “crationists” by a subsequent proofreader may hove foundered when the highlighting tool found “ration”, a perfectly good word, and ctrl-v was hit prematurely. Voila, “cdesign proponentsists”.

    Just a possibility involving exons and introns, which are capable of changing a genetic text by more than 500 bytes.

  • Stephan

    First, in the original book, each “creationists” was manually typed. Second, the proofreader missed “crationists”, a typo. Third, the global replace of “design proponents” would miss “crationists”. Fourth, the highlighting of “crationists” by a subsequent proofreader may hove foundered when the highlighting tool found “ration”, a perfectly good word, and ctrl-v was hit prematurely. Voila, “cdesign proponentsists”.

    I think we have found the genuine Irreducible Complexity…

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    On a QWERTY keyboard, the letter “c” is right below the letter “d”, so that could also have been a typo.

    FYI, Anne, we also have previous drafts of the book, and the original word used in that passage was “creationists”. See the NCSE’s page for scanned images.

  • http://thechapel.wordpress.com the chaplain

    If anyone is interested in reading more about the Dover trial, I read 40 Days and 40 Nights a few months ago. It’s a pretty good account of the Kitzmiller v. Dover story. Interestingly, it was written by Charles Darwin’s great-great-grandson.

  • Andrew

    Heres something to consider: if the case for ‘intelligent desgin’ is really as strong as its proponits make it out to be, why do they even need to get the courts involved? I mean if they could undisputibly prove that evolution was false, then schools and other academic instutions would remove it from their curriculum(except maybe as a historical curosity) without government intervention.

    Any thoughts on this?

  • konrad_arflane

    Andrew: The argument goes something like this: the biology establishment is so hostile to Intelligent Design that for ID to get off the ground, they need to teach children about ID so that they will “approach the subject with an open mind” when they grow up. Otherwise, they’d just buy into the Darwinian hegemony because they were never taught anything else.

    I believe Dr. Fuller made this argument as part of his testimony.

  • http://www.myspace.com/driftwoodduo Steve Bowen

    they need to teach children about ID so that they will “approach the subject with an open mind”

    Cue for a Dawkins quote methinks :)

  • Staceyjw

    Reginald,
    I read the link you left in #8- how you stand to converse with these people is beyond me.

    This gem (see link in #8) might not be directly related to the topic, but I think its worth noting, as it perfectly illustrates the mind set of the ID movement. This “biologist” wrote that “reason is the Devils greatest whore”.

    “As to the “whore of reason”, this does not apply to the area of science or medicine, etc. There, the use of reason is completely appropriate. The reformation greatly changed the world for greater education, possibilities for protest, dissemination of information, encouragement of reading for understanding by people of all stations, etc.”

    So, there are areas of inquiry where reason is NOT appropriate? Of course- when it doesn’t agree with the bible- how silly of me.

    Staceyjw

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Heres something to consider: if the case for ‘intelligent desgin’ is really as strong as its proponits make it out to be, why do they even need to get the courts involved?

    Good point. They could do some actual research, and get it published in real peer-reviewed scientific journals. Or better yet, get some actual, practical results. If they could find a cure for a disease using ID principles, they could convince people without even bothering with those dogmatic Darwinists.

    Or, more likely, they could put on a dog and pony show:

    Upcoming Event: Grill the ID Scientist, 9 June 2009, University of Pittsburgh

  • KShep

    If anyone is interested in reading more about the Dover trial, I read 40 Days and 40 Nights a few months ago….

    There’s also “Monkey Girl” by Edward Humes (I may have the author’s name incorrect, but I know the title is right), which I read about a year ago—wonderful account of the entire episode.

    When I read it, I remember thinking that you couldn’t have made up a crazier cast of characters for any fictional novel if you tried—and these were real people.

  • Demonhype

    I hate this comment thing. I forgot to uncheck the box and the stupid thing ate my comment. Grr! Well, I’ll try to recreate it.

    They pour all their efforts and money into PR and legistlation! Do they really think that science is decided by a popular vote? Do they think the scientists have a big ecumentical council and vote on what people are supposed to believe about reality? Do they really think that by popular vote or legislation they can change the fact that people starve if they have no food to eat and freeze in winter if they have no warm clothes and heat? If we just all voted a law that cancer no longer exists, then cancer will go away?

    Well, that’s how their own faith has worked from the start, so they can’t imagine that there is any other way. Which is hard for me, because to read their apologetics one might think they are the most imaginative people ever!

    And these tend to be the types that think everyone who disagrees with them secretly agrees but doesn’t want to admit it. Muslims don’t believe in Allah because they find the Koran compelling, atheists don’t disbelieve in any god because they dont’ see any evidence, scientists don’t accept the ToE because of the vast array of reliable evidence from multiple fields, and so on and so forth….no, we’re all just Denying Christ just to piss them off, because we all know they are right and we just don’t want to admit it for whatever reason. It’s All About Them–they simply can’t conceive of the idea that someone could disagree with them because they honestly disagree. That would take away from their claims of having the “obvious” Truth ™!

    And I’m told I’m an atheist due to my “arrogance”. Yeah, there’s nothing more arrogant than NOT believing the universe was created for you and revolves around even the tiniest events in your life, and that the aspects of Other People’s lives that you don’t like (gayness, atheism, inconvenient scientific evidence) is confirmation that They Are All Against You–or that some Big Cosmic Evil is Against You. Or both. Yes, I can see how arrogant it is to not believe those things. *pfft*

    Know what’s great about Dover? I loved how the guy who was the origniator of the idea saying the community had been so “good” to him that he wanted to “give something back”. Hey, you guys have been great, let me make it up to you by undermining your kids’ education and turning them into a horde of fanatical reality-denying Christtards! You deserve it! And if you keep it up, I might even be able to help you get them into Liberty University!

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Another good book about the Dover trial: The Devil in dover by Lauri Lebo.

  • Virginia

    I saw the whole “Judgment Day:Intelligent Design on Trial” online — I still find it hard to believe the stupidity of such multitude and magnitude
    (1) Discovery Institute who dare to recommend “ID” to Bill Buckingham (he’s truly the most vapid person in this saga)
    (2) Bill Buckingham is stupid enough to believe he find a “science”
    (3) The school board is stupid enough to have Buckingham to “review” textbooks ?!?!? (he is obviously NOT qualified)
    (4) The Thomas Moore law firm dare to believe they have a case
    (5) The publisher forgot to destroy all manuscripts
    (6) Buckingham and Bonsel lied
    plus the fundie clowns…..
    Like Dr. Kenneth Miller said: Intelligent Design makes people stupid.

  • Virginia

    Friends, I and my friend is also at a battle with hidden Creationism/ID proponents here in Hong Kong
    Adrian is the creator of this site, and I also helped in some of the content and promotion.
    This site is Chinese and English, and you all can read about the story (every page has an English translation, except the Article and File Archives)

    http://sites.google.com/site/hkscienceeducation/

    Our Facebook group mentioned in this site was formed back in Feb 2009, with me as the spokesperson. We already submitted a series of papers to our local legislature (LegCo, the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, Panel on Education)

    The Creationism/ID proponents remained hidden from the radar screen until they responded with this must read: http://sites.google.com/site/hkscienceeducation/file-archive/edcb2-1499-1-e.pdf?attredirects=0

    You will find all of this so familiar!!!

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