ERIC MICHAEL JOHNSON
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"If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin."
- Charles Darwin
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Sep 9, 2007

Creationist Lunacy in North Carolina

UNC Professor says God designed apes so humans could cage them.


And God said it was good?

(Many thanks to Pharyngula for the link. For more on the exciting world of creationist logic see my posts Parsimony and the Origin of Life in the Universe and The Feeling of What Happens. This story was picked up by the Chronicle of Higher Education, join the discussion on their blog.)

As a recent émigré to the South from the heathenistic West Coast I'm often reminded of some of the cultural differences between my fellow countrymen. A case in point is this gem from David A. Plaisted, professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (just a stone's throw from where I live in Durham). After quote-mining select news items and science journals to claim that anthropologists are confused by the fossil evidence connecting humans and other apes (we aren't) he offers this suggestion of God's motives:

But why would God create a creature that is so close to a human, but not quite? To answer this, we have to reason from what we know or can infer about God's motives in the creation. This may lead us to considerations that seem far removed from those that are expected in this context. The original creation was intended to contribute to the happiness of man and animal. We can assume that in many cases the Lord created animals that would be a delight to man, and created man to be a blessing to the animals. Even today, both children and adults enjoy seeing gorillas and chimpanzees in zoos. It is reasonable to assume that these creatures were partly made for just this reason, to be a joy and entertainment to us.

So, in His infinite wisdom the purported Creator of the Universe specifically chose to make great apes because He knew, one day (six thousand years hence), little Jimmy could point at one with amusement. And He said it was good. This is what passes for a "reasonable" explanation in creationist circles (and from a university professor at that)? No wonder people are turning from religion in droves.

A further tour through his university hosted website demonstrates that he uses the UNC web server to advocate teaching creationism in public schools. I wonder what the university policy is concerning religious evangelism using public resources?

Many thanks to Vanessa for bringing this loony to our attention.

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11 comments:

coturnix said...

Heck, there used to be a Biology Honors Class in "problems with evolution" until very recently at NCSU. Taught by a YEC, who was, incidentally, Head of the Botany Department. Speaking of using university resurces....

John said...

...David A. Plaisted, professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (just a stone's throw from where I live in Durham).

As a spineless pacifist, I would never be one to suggest that you should throw stones at Dr. Plaisted, but, as a First Amendment purist, I would never think of stopping, as long as said stone throwing was done in the spirit of honest discourse.

Anonymous said...

You wrote:

"As a recent émigré to the South from the heathenistic West Coast I'm often reminded of some of the cultural differences between my fellow countrymen."

From his bio:

"Prof. Plaisted was born in Pennsylvania. He received a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University. He served on the faculty of the computer science department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign until 1984..."

No one region in the U.S. has a monopoly on ignorance and your post would be stronger without the smug.

Eric Michael Johnson said...

No one region has a monopoly on ignorance, but some definitely own the most market share. I've loved my experience so far in North Carolina, but the level of religiosity is bizarre. Having grown up religious I have some basis for comparison.

Dr. Plaisted would have never been allowed to spew this bunk from the Stanford web server. His colleagues wouldn't have stood for it. I'm rather surprised his colleagues at UNC-Chapel Hill haven't complained, it makes the department look bad.

tinyfrog said...

So all the chimp movies and funny chimp videos on the internet are part of God's divine plan? Hallelujah!

Middle_Professor said...

EMJ said "Dr. Plaisted would have never been allowed to spew this bunk from the Stanford web server."

That's right. Stanford just holds conferences to spew this bunk...

http://daily.stanford.edu/article/2005/5/2/veritasForumPromptsReligiousDiscussion

Eric Michael Johnson said...

The Veritas Forum was organized by the Christian student group Mosaic. Student groups can organize any conferences they like. And I'm fine with Plaisted's page, I think the quality of the information speaks for itself. But if I were in his department I wouldn't want it hosted on the department's server. It's akin to an endorsement of the information and it's a huge embarrassment to his colleagues. It's the same thing as a professor using his university web page to endorse Holocaust denial or discoveries of the lost continent of Atlantis (which Plaisted talks about in one of his links - it's a hoot). Plus he's advocating for creationism to be taught in public schools! If a Muslim or Hindu was advocating religion on his university site Christian wing-nuts would be outraged (look at the reaction of a simple Hindu prayer opening the Senate).

Robert O'Brien said...

"After quote-mining select news items and science journals to claim that anthropologists are confused by the fossil evidence connecting humans and other apes (we aren't)..."

Anthropologists are confused in general. Y

George said...

"Heck, there used to be a Biology Honors Class in "problems with evolution" until very recently at NCSU."

Damn you, coturnix! I was just about to gloat that this is another reason NCSU is superior.

Well, at least those classes aren't taught ANYMORE...

ordinarygirl said...

As a computer scientist I'm embarrassed by all the computer scientists that spout such ignorant babble.

My university in South Carolina required that I take a large number of science classes outside of the computer curriculum (and this guy would have been laughed off campus). I get the feeling that most computer scientists know very little about science.

John said...

What's funny to me is that most of you seem to think that evolution is indeed science, rather than what it really is: a system of belief that actually requires more faith than creationism does, that miserably fails to qualify as 'science' under the scientific method, and flies squarely in the face of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

At least creationists don't think that Mount Rushmore came about due to random natural forces of erosion; but evolutionists believe something more outlandish -- namely that organic life rose quite by accident from some primordial puddle of amino acids. The probability of that happening at any time is astronomically more remote than the Rushmore scenario above. It makes more sense to believe that Rushmore arose from the mountainside all by itself, than to think that infinitely more complicated biological forms evolved from inorganic material.

Or, as another person put it, evolutionary belief makes about as much sense as the belief that a tornado passing through a junkyard could produce a line of shiny, perfectly-functioning Rolls Royces, complete with that new-car smell. (Here again, the probability of that happening is much higher than the probability of life arising from random inorganic materials.)

Evolution is a faith construct, and an incredibly illogical one at that.