Of Behe and mammary glands
Of Behe and mammary glands
MIKE ARGENTO, York Daily Record, Thursday, Oct 20, 2005
HARRISBURG — If you've been waiting for a brand, spanking new edition of Of Pandas and People, your wait is nearly over.
The folks who brought us Of Pandas and People, a volume of intelligent design creationism gospel, are busy at work on Pandas 3.0.
And by busy at work, I mean they dusted off the old "find and replace" function of their word processing program.
The book has evolved, so to speak, since its inception to conform with sound scientific principles and theories to reflect the latest work in the burgeoning field of intelligent design.
See if you can follow it.
In early editions, the book included this sentence: "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, wings, etc."
Of course that was incorrect.
So later editions, edited after a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court decision that forbade the teaching of creationism in public schools, the sentence was changed to this: "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."
And now the newest edition, to be titled The Design of Life, a draft of which was previewed Wednesday during Day 12 of the Dover Panda Trial, includes this sentence: "Sudden appearance 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, wings, and mammals with fur and mammary glands, etc."
Now, you could conclude that the good folks who brought us Of Pandas and People made the adjustment to reflect exciting new developments in the area of mammary glands. Or maybe the intelligent-design movement has reached an age where it has just discovered mammary glands. It's hard to say.
And besides, who's going to object to mammary glands?
The other big change, evidence that the people who brought us Of Pandas and People have not forgotten how to work Microsoft Word, is the substitution of "intelligent design" with "sudden appearance."
This is disturbing, more disturbing than whatever happened to the panda.
As Eric Rothschild, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs in the Panda Trial, asked in court, "Will we be back in a couple of years for the 'sudden appearance' trial?"
Judge John E. Jones III retorted, "Not on my docket."
And that's how it went as the participants in this exercise finally bid farewell to Dr. Michael Behe, a Lehigh University biochemist who is one of the top intelligent design jihadists. He was on the stand, officially, for three days. It only seemed a lot longer.
At one point, rationalizing why he hasn't produced any peer-reviewed articles in science journals, Behe said his book, Darwin's Black Box, had been peer-reviewed. Under cross-examination, he said he had suggested the reviewers to his publisher. The publisher, though, picked another on his own, Behe said.
The reviewer, chosen by the book's editor because his wife had taken a class from him, was a biochemist in the veterinary school of the University of Pennsylvania.
OK, anyway, the guy did review the book.
The guy wrote an article, produced by Rothschild, about his involvement with Darwin's Black Box after it came out, saying his review consisted of a 10-minute phone conversation with the book's editor. He said it sounded "interesting."
So, what came of Behe's three days on the witness stand?
He said some of the stuff in cells and such is designed because it looks like it was designed. But there's other stuff that looks designed that wasn't designed. And yet there's other stuff, we don't know what it is and you probably don't want to know.
Oh, and the identity of the designer doesn't matter. Could be God, or a cosmic Versace, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
At one point, Rothschild asked Behe whether he thought the human body was "a beautiful structure."
"I'm thinking of examples," he said.
I'm not going to say a word about mammary glands.
Mike Argento, whose column appears Mondays and Thursdays in Living and Sundays in Viewpoints, can be reached at 771-2046 or at email@example.com.