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An editor’s thoughts on “cdesign proponentsists”


Further to johnnyb’s “Intelligent Design Creationism” as a Label”: The word salad “cdesign proponentsists” was cited as evidence of something  in comments 4 and 40.

For readers confused by “cdesign proponentsists’” here’s the widely circulated story from an atheist blog at Patheos:

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”? More.

Well, a lot more compelling evidence, actually, come to think of it. Indeed, it sounds like being a follower of Darwin means that one can always feel good about cherrypicking trivial evidence.

Three observations: On the main point under discussion, the cryptic commenters seem to mean that there is no functional difference between claims that the universe and life forms show evidence of design and claims that they were created ex nihilo.

Now, obviously, they would be mistaken if they were arguing in good faith. Creation from nothing (ex nihilo) and evidence of design in existing entities are two different concepts. But the commenters are not arguing in good faith, so we will not pursue that matter with them.

Second, if one wanted to know what is going on in the ID world, one might read, as a great many people have done, Darwin’s Doubt. Or perhaps, Edge of Evolution or Being as Communion. Or attend the upcoming What Is Information? conference, or read the papers.

There is also a variety of types of creationism, but the Ham vs. Nye debate would seem to capture one major strand and is easy to access.

But the sort of Darwin proponents we get commenting here rarely seem to follow the issues at that level.

A mantra like “cdesign-proponentsists” is more their speed.

Third, speaking as a editor (as well as writer), I don’t think the error demonstrates much of anything, even about the individual book Of Pandas and People. Unless, of course, nothing had changed between published editions except the substitution of the term “design proponents” for “creationists.”

The problem with taking unpublished drafts as evidence of a person’s intentions is that one can never know their intentions for sure until they do publish something.

For example, when updating a textbook chapter written by someone else, and especially if pressed for time, I might use a search and replace function. I might do that if education fads or political correctness force a sweeping change of terminology, on pain of career ruin. Some old terminology might survive temporarily in, for example, an embedded chart whose copyright is held by another party.

I of course intend to go back and edit the material to reflect many less mechanical changes required. Maybe the chapter needs a wholesale revision. That is usually done in stages. After everyone’s opinion has been heard, not much may even survive of the original ideas.

Successive drafts usually indicate a direction, but the conversation in editorial meetings is of far more use in determining intentions. And finally, the published book is the public record that matters.

People who are unwilling or unable to compare published versions are probably best suited to a game of Gotcha!! They will always have their audience, probably the same audience as that of the prof who holds the Darwindrone Chair. Life goes on. – O’Leary for News

See also: Dover all over.

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