Of Pandas and People
|The divine comedy|
Of Pandas and People is a book for
creationist cdesign proponentsist "intelligently designed" children, featured in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District court case of 2005. In 2007, the book was touched up by William Dembski and reprinted as The Design of Life: Discovering Signs of Intelligence in Biological Systems.
The textbook was developed during the 1980s, under the working title of "Creation Biology". It was commissioned by the Foundation for Thought and Ethics and intended to serve as a creationism-friendly textbook. Several drafts were produced in the 1980s under the titles Creation Biology Textbook Supplements, Biology and Creation, and Biology and Origins.
In 1987 the US Supreme Court ruled in Edwards v. Aguillard that creationism was unsuitable for teaching in public schools as science because of its religious basis, but that alternative scientific theories could be taught. To comply with the new standards, the old textbook was hastily rewritten and retitled Of Pandas and People. The new name was likely a reference to Stephen Jay Gould's book, The Panda's Thumb, a work which explains evolutionary theory in common, non-scientific prose. The new book was distributed as a "supplemental text" to any municipality that would take them. Among those who received them was Dover, Pennsylvania.
Of Pandas and People first entered the Dover Area School District via school board member Bill Buckingham and his friends at the Thomas More Law Center. After failing to get it fully integrated into the curriculum, the creationist board members simply left the books in the school library and required their science teachers to read a statement similar to the ones used in Kansas. This touched off the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, which ultimately ruled that intelligent design was an unscientific doctrine, unsuitable for public schools.
One of the most damning moments in the trial involved the use of a text-matching program to compare Of Pandas and People to the earlier editions. Sure enough, most of the book was identical to the earlier versions. The cosmetic difference was that all instances of "creator", "creationism" and "creation science" were replaced with "intelligent agent" and "intelligent design", leaving substantive content essentially unchanged. One copy of the book that surfaced during the case even contained the "missing link" between creationists and intelligent design proponents: the cdesign proponentsists.
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