“Pandas” Publisher Withdraws in Texas

Our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) report: Creationist publisher backs down in Texas. Click over there for the whole story. We’ll give you just one excerpt, with bold added by us:

The Foundation for Thought and Ethics is not going to submit supplementary biology materials for approval by the Texas state of board of education after all, according to a January 31, 2011, post on the blog of the Texas Freedom Network. A list of vendors released by the Texas Education Agency on January 20, 2011, included FTE, which is perhaps best known as the publisher of Of Pandas and People, the “intelligent design” creationism textbook at the center of the Kitzmiller v. Dover case in 2005.

That publisher’s book played a central role in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. The link we just gave is to an informative Wikipedia article about the case, but for this post we’ll quote from the decision itself, which is archived here at NCSE’s website (139 page pdf file). This is the relevant portion of Judge Jones’ opinion, with citations and transcript references omitted, and with bold font added by us:

The evidence at trial demonstrates that ID [Intelligent Design] is nothing less than the progeny of creationism. What is likely the strongest evidence supporting the finding of ID’s creationist nature is the history and historical pedigree of the book to which students in Dover’s ninth grade biology class are referred, Pandas [Of Pandas and People]. Pandas is published by an organization called FTE [The Foundation for Thought and Ethics], as noted, whose articles of incorporation and filings with the Internal Revenue Service describe it as a religious, Christian organization. Pandas was written by Dean Kenyon and Percival Davis, both acknowledged creationists, and Nancy Pearcey, a Young Earth Creationist, contributed to the work.

Are you following this? Pandas was the strongest evidence in the whole Kitzmiller trial that convinced Judge Jones to conclude that intelligent design is nothing but re-packaged creationism. And that book’s publisher had the audacity to offer “supplementary biology materials” to be used in Texas science classes. Let’s continue with where we left off in the Kitzmiller opinion:

As Plaintiffs meticulously and effectively presented to the Court, Pandas went through many drafts, several of which were completed prior to and some after the Supreme Court’s decision in Edwards [Edwards v. Aguillard], which held that the Constitution forbids teaching creationism as science. By comparing the pre and post Edwards drafts of Pandas, three astonishing points emerge: (1) the definition for creation science in early drafts is identical to the definition of ID; (2) cognates of the word creation (creationism and creationist), which appeared approximately 150 times were deliberately and systematically replaced with the phrase ID; and (3) the changes occurred shortly after the Supreme Court held that creation science is religious and cannot be taught in public school science classes in Edwards. This word substitution is telling, significant, and reveals that a purposeful change of words was effected without any corresponding change in content, which directly refutes FTE’s argument that by merely disregarding the words “creation” and “creationism,” FTE expressly rejected creationism in Pandas.

In early pre-Edwards drafts of Pandas, the term “creation” was defined as “various forms of life that began abruptly through an intelligent agency with their distinctive features intact – fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc,” the very same way in which ID is defined in the subsequent published versions. This definition was described by many witnesses for both parties, notably including defense experts Minnich and Fuller, as “special creation” of kinds of animals, an inherently religious and creationist concept. Professor Behe’s assertion that this passage was merely a description of appearances in the fossil record is illogical and defies the weight of the evidence that the passage is a conclusion about how life began based upon an interpretation of the fossil record, which is reinforced by the content of drafts of Pandas.

The weight of the evidence clearly demonstrates, as noted, that the systemic change from “creation” to “intelligent design” occurred sometime in 1987, after the Supreme Court’s important Edwards decision. This compelling evidence strongly supports Plaintiffs’ assertion that ID is creationism re-labeled. Importantly, the objective observer, whether adult or child, would conclude from the fact that Pandas posits a master intellect that the intelligent designer is God.

Now you can appreciate the colorful link we often use in connection with the Discovery Institute, when we refer to them as cdesign proponentsists. If you’ve never clicked on that link, this would be the time to do so.

So the good guys have achieved a victory in Texas, in that one creationist publisher won’t be peddling its wares to the State Board of Education. Others will, of course, so the game isn’t over. Far from it.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to ““Pandas” Publisher Withdraws in Texas

  1. Yay Texas. I wonder if a few e-mails by yours truly helped in any way? Probably not, but it makes me feel better.

  2. Gabriel Hanna

    If there is anything dumber than going to court to prove that ID is secular, with witnesses who are on record saying that intelligent design is going to lead us all to Jesus, and having to pay them even though they backed out at the last minute, it would have to be this move.

  3. Honestly, I don’t think they ever said they would use Pandas did they? They could have another book in the wings. I doubt it though.

  4. OgreMkV says:

    I don’t think they ever said they would use Pandas did they?

    In Texas? I don’t know, but I’m guessing that they realized they had no credibility as a publisher of science books.

  5. The Texas textbook review panel has 6 members. Three are creationists including Stephen Meyer of the DI. Yes, that Stephen Meyer who is a contributor to Pandas and People and who is on the panel to review said book, well, until now.

    Pandas is not a textbook and neither is it’s successor the creationist Explore Evolution published by the DI. They are “supplementary” material. Uncredentialed, unaccredited creationist nonsense.

    Any parent who wants their child exposed to this tripe is free to go to Amazon and buy a copy. Nobody’s stopping them. Knock yourselves out. Have at it.

  6. @OgreMkV: The successor to Pandas, published by FTE in 2007, is The Design of Life by William A. Dembski and Jonathan Wells.

  7. I think this is good news, but what may be lurking around the next corner?

  8. It seems a little suspicious to me. Maybe FTE does not want the publicity associated with having materials formally rejected, which would make them difficult to sell elsewhere. Or perhaps the DI has decided that it would be easier to get their product through the committee if it didn’t come from a known creationist publisher.

    If, as Doc says, half of the review committee are creationists, then we can expect some material to be submitted, probably coordinated by the DI but published by someone not previously associated with creationists. The DI would be violating their charter if they weren’t actively working on this.