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'Cdesign Proponentsists'

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The basic metabolic pathways (reaction chains) 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, cdesign proponentsists accept the latter view.
- Of Pandas and People, unpublished draft version


The term 'cdesign1 proponentsists'2 is used as a term of derision directed against Creationists. In particular, it refers to those Creationists who try to disguise their religious beliefs as science in order to get them introduced into the US school curriculum.


The term arises from evidence presented in the US Dover School Board v Kitzmiller trial in 2005. The prosecution alleged that intelligent design theory is a rebranding of Creationism. The defence contended that the two are different and intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory.

Central to the prosecution case was the textbook Of Pandas and People, which attempted to present both intelligent design and Darwinian evolution as equally valid alternative theories. Under subpoena, the publisher handed over several early drafts of the book, which (prior to 1987) featured the words 'Creationist' and 'Creationism'. In 1987, the US Supreme Court declared Creationism a religious belief, and that it was therefore unconstitutional to teach it in schools3. Later on in 1987 a new draft of Of Pandas and People was prepared. The terms 'Creationism' and 'Creationist' had been replaced by 'intelligent design theory' and 'design proponents'.

For example:

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.


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, wings, etc.

This had apparently been done in a hurry. In one place only the middle letters of the word 'Creationists' had been selected for replacement with the phrase 'design proponents', which was pasted over them, leading to the hybrid term 'cdesign proponentsists'. This was part of the evidence that persuaded judge John E Jones III to rule that intelligent design theory is 'substantially identical' to Creationism.

The phrase has now entered the anti-Creationist vocabulary to emphasise the similarity between Creationism and intelligent design. The latter has been alluded to in satire both in comparison with a belief in Santa Claus (or External Delivery) and in the form of a Gilbert and Sullivan parody.

Unlike much of the rest of the content of the book, this new terminology has been adopted by several science blogs as a term of abuse used to refer to some of the scientists4 who are seeking to radically transform the way science is done and taught in US schools.

1Pronounced 'cuh-design'.2This is only ever used properly in the plural, but is sometimes abbreviated to 'design proponentsists'.3The First Amendment to the US Constitution prevents the government from promoting any one religion over others.4Many of whom are 'differently qualified' in science, i.e. they are lawyers.

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