It is often said that Intelligent Design Theory is associated with creationism, and some even equate Intelligent Design to be creationism.  There’s no basis for this claim other than the ruling of Judge Jones in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District Intelligent Design advocates have their own response to the Dover decision that can be reviewed here.


Some Say A Word-Processing Error Was Enough To Prove ID Is Creationism

Many legal scholars concur that the most incriminating evidence offered at the Dover trial is a word processing error in the textbook, Of Pandas and People.  In an earlier edition of the Of Pandas and People textbook, a sloppy mistake produced the mispelling, “cdesign proponentsists.”  It has been widely held by many who followed the Dover case closely that this evidence was the deciding factor to convict ID Theory as being inherently religious.  A short YouTube video describing how this evidence was found can be viewed here.

Clearly, Judge Jones ruled in his Opinion as a matter of law that Intelligent Design was creationism.  But, the question still remains how could it be creationism if earlier copies of a textbook referenced creation?  One could reference al-qaeda in passing, but that would not make them a terrorist.  Referencing creationism does not make a textbook anymore creationist than the publishers of a history book would be Nazis because Hitler was referenced. Merely referencing the use of a term is insufficient evidence to determine whether the textbook really was indoctrinating young readers about creationism.  Moreover, the earlier edition they had found was from the year 1987.  Since that time, all the creationism content has been removed from the book. 

Of Pandas and People Textbook

The Word-Processing Error Appearing in the Pandas and People First Print (1987)

In other words, the most damaging evidence ever offered at trial in the Dover case was content that was alleged to be creationist material from an obsolete edition of a textbook, and not from the actual textbook that the Dover High School was using.  No evidence was ever produced that the 1987 edition actually had creationism content in the book other than the word processing error, “cdesign proponentsists.”  And, no evidence was ever offered at trial that the current revision of the text contained any creationist material. For more information on the history of the textbook, Of Pandas and People, you can review its development in this Wikipedia article.

It was only that the earlier textbook edition some 18 years earlier had the spelling error, and that spelling error attempting to replace the term “creationist” with “design proponent” was considered to be adequate enough evidence to allege that ID Theory is creationism, and therefore religious in nature.

A skeptic or critic of ID could argue the very reasonable point that if instances of “creation” can easily be changed out by substituting the term, “intelligent design,” then this is a problem for ID.  If the two terms are interchangeable in that the meaning of the text is not altered, then one should be able to conclude ID and creationism are synonymous.

My response to this would be that this situation does not exist today. The word processing glitch occurred in 1987. The 1987 edition of the text was in error. ID Theory is much different than it was in 1987. By the time of the Dover trial in 2005, ID had already advanced beyond obsolete creation terminology. The Of Pandas and People textbook version being used in Dover had been corrected, with all creationism content removed from the book.

The predecessor of the textbook was a biology textbook under the title, Creation Biology Textbook Supplements.  Although the book employed the term “creationism,” there was actually no creationism in the original or subsequent editions of the text. The book attempted to remove any bias toward any particular view, including creationism. In fact, that was how the book was marketed, it was advertised specifically to be an unbiased textbook. This is all decades ago now. The authors of the original text believe it was only fair to ACKNOWLEDGE creationism, since it is impossible to discuss the controversy without actually reference the terms “creation” and “evolution.”

There really was no creationism content in the textbook to begin with. Aside from the infamous paragraph that references fish appearing fully formed with fins, and birds fully formed with feathers, beaks, and wings, another sentence in the text reads as follows:

“The basic metabolic pathways of nearly all organisms are the same. Is this because of descent from a common ancestor, or because only these pathways (and their variations) can sustain life? Evolutionists think the former is correct; creationists because of all the evidence discussed in this book, conclude the latter is correct.”

These are the strongest examples of creationism that can be found in the text. Although this references creationism, there is no attempt to instruct creationism, any philosophical aspect of creationism, or indoctrinate any philosophical contemplation whatsoever. It merely acknowledges that there is an alternate viewpoint, much like an anthropology textbook might mention various superstitutions held by an American Indian tribe somewhere, or aborigines in Australia.

Later, because just the mere mention of “creation” was offensive to atheists, and so controversial that many consider the term to be illegal in some jurisdictions, the book was printed under its new title, Of Pandas and People, which sported two editions. One addition retained the terms referencing creationism. The other was an Intelligent Design edition, which did a sloppy job of replacing the terms. Creationism is not ID, and it does not work to change out the terms like that. The terms are not interchangeable, and the meaning is not the same when the word, “creationist” is substituted with “intelligent design proponent.”

Perhaps the most controversial content in the textbook began with this quote in the earliest version of textbook, which prior to 1987 was a creationist textbook entitled Biology and Creation.  In that 1986 version, textbook reads:

Creation means that the various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent creator with their distinctive features already intact–fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Biology and Creation 1986, FTE 3015, p. 2-10)

The following year, with the new printing of the textbook was unchanged:

Creation means that various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent Creator with their distinctive features already intact–fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Biology and Origins 1987, FTE 3235, p. 2-13)

In 1987, the textbook was also printed with a new title, with the controversial sentence remaining unchanged:

Creation means that various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent Creator with their distinctive features already intact–fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Pandas 1987, creationist version, FTE 4996-4997, pp. 2-14, 2-15)

Also in 1987, the textbook under new title also printed an intelligent design version in addition to the creation science version.  The intelligent design edition carried forward the controversial sentence still unchanged:

Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact–fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Pandas 1987, intelligent design version, FTE 4667, p. 2-15)

The controversial sentence was also never corrected in the next printing in 1989:

Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact – fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Pandas 1989, 1st edition, published, pp. 99-100)

In 1993, the Second Edition of the textbook was printed.  The controversial sentence continued to remain in the textbook.  This is the version the way the controversial text read that was in the edition adopted for use by the high school by the Dover Area School District:

Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact – fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Pandas 1993, 2nd edition, published, pp. 99-100)

As already noted, the 1987 version of the Of Pandas and People textbook is flawed.  Additionally, this controversial sentence which is unmistakeably creationism was never corrected.  This sentence does not reflect ID Theory today in 2005, and certainly not today.  ID is NOT the belief that life forms were created with “with their distinctive features already intact. Fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, wings, etc.” That is creationism. ID Theory does not accept this view. ID Theory maintains evolution and common descent. The 1987 version of the textbook does not reflect the position of ID. By 1993, all creationism content had been removed from the textbook, with the exception of this one erroneous sentence. The Dover trial considered the 1987 erroneous edition to be admissible evidence. It is only evidence to demonstrate that ID did indeed arise from creationist roots.

Most critics of Intelligent Design read more into the word processing errors than what is there.  This is building a strawman claim against that accuses of ID maintaining the same erroneous views that were reflected in the 1987 edition of the obsolete textbook. This is an unsupported contention.

ID Theory does indeed still maintain today that “various forms of life began abruptly,” such as what is evident in the Cambrian Explosion. However, ID Theory rejects the notion that fish and birds did not evolve, as is implied in the textbook. 

Today, it is not possible to change out instances of creation and substitute ID without changing the meaning of the text because ID does not maintain Creationist views. It also depends on what kind of creationism it is, too. Theistic evolution is a form of creationism that does nothing but science with one exception. Theistic evolution is very much related to ID Theory except that it maintains a deity is responsible for creating the universe and life, while ID does not hold this view. There are similarities with ID and Creationism, but that does not make ID creationism. Humans are similar to dolphins because both life forms are mammals. But, that doesn’t mean that humans are dolphins.

But, is Intelligent Design religion? 

Is Intelligent Design theory really creationism?  There is no denying that Intelligent Design arose out of creationism.  However, this does not justify labeling the theory to be creationism.  For example, a person who is raised as an atheist might decide as an adult to adopt Buddhism.  Or, someone who grew up in a Buddhist family might decide to become an agnostic or Mormon.  There are people who bounce around exploring different faiths and ideologies.   There are people who have grown up in religious homes, but later abandon their heritage and religious roots as adults.  If Intelligent Design claims that it has outgrown it roots in creationism, there should be no reason to disbelief such a declaration unless new evidence arises that reveals otherwise. 

Today, Intelligent Design disassociates itself from any affiliation with theism or philosophical contemplations of the supernatural.  In fact, ID proponents repudiate creation, even the most secular version of creationism, which is theistic evolution.  Stephen Meyer talks about his view on theistic evolution in this YouTube video.

For someone yet not convinced enough to allow ID Theory the benefit of a doubt, and still desire to allege that Intelligent Design is creationism, please consider the following appeals to logic and reason. What about the tons of evidence that obviously shows that ID is NOT creationism? ID has no creation story. ID does not support an religious affiliation. If it is creation, whose creation account is it? Is it an American Indian creation account? Which tribe? Is it from the Vedas?

Science Research

Biblical Creationism is based upon religion; ID does not recognize any ideology.

Biblical Creationism is based upon the Bible; ID is not.

Biblical Creationism is based upon the Book of Genesis; ID is not.

Biblical Creationism is based upon philosophy; ID is not.

Biblical Creationism holds the Creator is the God of Israel; ID does not.

Biblical Creationism holds the Earth was created in six days; ID does not.

Creation science is primarily based upon geology and the fossil record; ID is based upon biochemistry.

Creation websites quote Bible verses; ID websites do not.

Creationists refute evolutionary theory; ID does not.

Biblical Creationism is an interpretation of the Book of Genesis; ID does not recognize the Bible.

Biblical Creationism requires a deity; ID does not.

Biblical Creationism identifies a designer; ID does not.

Biblical Creationism explains everything; ID does not.

Biblical Creationism offers macroevolution as an hypothesis; ID offers irreducible complexity.

Biblical Creationism relies heavily on the geologic fossil record pointing at gaps, and complaining of absence of transitional life forms; ID shuns arguments from ignorance positions.

ID advocates in favor of evolution; Creationism refutes evolution.

ID advocates in favor of common descent; Creationism refutes common descent.

ID is a study of genetic information; Biblical Creationism studies flood geology

ID is active in applied sciences such as biomimicry; Biblical Creationism does not have an applied science.

How does Intelligent Design describe its own theory?

Here are the definitions,   You can also click here for the official Discovery Institute version of the definition.

ID makes it own affirmative predictions. ID Theory is not interested in what evolution and its mechanisms cannot do. What evolution doesn’t do is irrelevant. What ID Theory is interested in is what and how mechanisms of information increase and design DO perform. This is bioinformatics, and for examples of this work, you might like to review this,

There is no KNOWN natural process as to how information (CSI) originated, in the form of DNA, and how it increases in the genome of a population resulting in increased complexity. The examples of evolution causing increase of information appear to be more anomalies than anything else, and are a rare event.

ID Theory is not about refuting evolution. ID Theory is the AFFIRMATIVE proposition that there is yet a missing mechanism or process yet to be discovered. Whether it is natural or non-natural remains to be seen.

There is no argument from incredulity here whatsoever. ID is the affirmative exploration in studying what mechanisms there are yet to be discovered that really operate to increase information. The limitations or inadequacies of existing mechanisms are of no significance. It’s irrelevant what mechanisms cannot do. The fact is that natural selection DOES do things. A frameshift, deletion, or duplication mutation DOES do something. And, we want to know what other factors are involved explaining the complexity and diversity of life.

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