I want to add some insights and observations to the nonsensical discussion about intelligent design. Not only is intelligent design another version of creationism masquerading as a new idea, it is a dishonest attempt to accomplish what creationism has failed to do-impose a Christian fundamentalism in the public schools of our country. This anti-modernity response to the 21st century drives me nuts. Not only is this an attempt to morph right-wing Christianity further into the political landscape of pluralistic America, but this Luddite-like mentality turns its back upon the future.

The creationism/intelligent design brouhaha is one of the least important issues facing America today. Come on now, aren't there other more critical debates begging discussion? What about rebuilding the hurricane-racked Gulf region? It is also apparent that the pronouncement of "mission accomplished" in Iraq needs more work. In addition, there is a war of terrorism going on, which also needs addressing. If that hasn't filled our plates, we need to look at the trade-offs of freedom for security in the post 9/11 world. Nevertheless, the radical-right wants to revisit the Scopes' Monkey Trial again-for the millionth time.

How does one get through to those that think that they are defending God? Then one day I experienced a divine epiphany while multitasking (reading term papers and watching the 10 o'clock news). I heard in the background, a reporter talking about the panda cub at the zoo in Washington, DC. She waxed poetic about the baby panda, Tai Shan, and the mania accompanying his coming out party. Then it dawned upon me-the proof that would disprove intelligent design. Finally, I had the irrefutable proof that will finally end this debate. The proof is the panda bear. That's correct-the panda bear.

Last spring, I took a group of university students to China as a part of a class that I was teaching. We traveled about China experiencing firsthand that vast Asian nation. One of the stops was Chengdu in central China. A couple hours drive outside Chengdu is the Wolong Panda Reserve where Chinese authorities work at repopulating the diminishing numbers of pandas. The visit to Wolong was a highlight for all my students even though pandas weren't a part of the history and philosophy curriculum.

Visitors at the Wolong Panda Reserve can wander along paths that meander through the park and observe some of the pandas. You can also visit the panda neonatal facilities (where more care is given to pandas than is often given to Chinese children-especially infant girls). If the intelligent design group joisting Darwin, et al, had visited Wolong once, all notion of intelligent design would dissipate like the morning mist at Wolong. Spend a couple hours watching panda bears, and you will wonder how the panda has made it this far in evolution. There was no intelligent design when it comes to the creation of the cuddly panda. Indeed, the panda should be the poster child for the Darwinian position and the idea of the survival of the fittest. Without the labor and financial intensive efforts of thousands of people, the panda would have long since joined other evolutionary mistakes like the dodo bird. The following are a handful of obvious examples that disprove intelligent design and in particular that some wise entity worked on the panda project millions of years ago.

  1. Its Latin genetic name is Ailuropoda melanoleuca, which loosely translated means "black and white cat-foot." In Chinese, panda means "cat bear." The panda is from the bear family but doesn't have a bear's round pupil in it eye. Rather, the panda has vertical slits like that of a cat. That creative oops doesn't point to a very intelligent designer.
  2. Pandas are carnivores but for some design flaw, they are mostly herbivorous. They spend most of their days munching on bamboo while reclining on their backs. Now, bamboo is high in fiber but extremely low in protein, which makes leave pandas often protein deficient. Pandas don't go out looking for animals to acquire needed protein. Instead, they dig for grubs. These rolely polely bears that don't hibernate surely weren't designed well for survival.
  3. Panda are rotund animals but aren't nimble of foot. In fact, I watched them at Chengdu stumbling over logs in their huge exercise pen. How this poorly designed bear has made it this far is a testimony to the help of humans but surely not that of an intelligent designer.
  4. Pandas have a very low birth rate and a high infant mortality. You would have thought that an intelligent designer would have done a better design on the panda. Occasionally, when a mother panda has twins, she will select one and allow the other one to die because it takes so much time to care for one panda cub. Ironically, pandas exercise the Chinese government one-child policy even though the low population of pandas could cause extension within the century. Here again, this is another example of poor design.
  5. The Chinese realized that they possessed a "cash-cow" or rather a cash-panda. They rent panda to a half dozen zoos around the world for a million dollars and retain sole rights to all offspring. However, breeding pandas in captivity is another designer flaw. Male pandas in captivity aren't the Casanovas of carnivores. Even when the females are clearly in heat, their sex drive is null. Some ingenious panda handler decided to videos of pandas in the wide doing it and then showing the males panda pornography videos as a show and tale exercise.

All in all, the cuddly panda dispels the notion of intelligent design. I left the Wolong Panda Reserve amazed that the panda even with human assistance has not long become extinct.