…but there it is, hosting a major young-earth creationism advocacy site. How humiliating! David A. Plaisted is a computer science professor who has accumulated piles of raving nonsense to support his creationism, and I would think the university would find it a bit of an embarrassment to see one of their faculty flaunting their stupidity in such an awful way, especially now that the Chronicle has picked up on it, and a Duke grad student has rubbed their noses in it.
For example, take a look at his argument that humanity is only 6000 years old. It begins with a partial quote from a paper by Francis Collins, in which he is discussing strategies for cataloging human sequence variation and briefly mentions that one approach would involve “[c]omparing the DNA sequences on two chromosomes in the vicinity of a variant that is 1000 to 10,000 generations old, which is roughly the age of the human population”. Plaisted goes off on this — why, that seems to say that the human race is very young (it actually says that the founding population for our existing sequence variation existed a few hundred thousand years ago). But then he ignores that datum to go looking for other examples, from mitochondria and ducks and flies, where he can claim with “simple math” (and bogus math) that, because some genetic variant arose a few thousand years ago, the whole species poofed into existence at that time. It’s all amazing nonsense in which he selectively picks examples that will support his desired conclusion of a 6000 year old creation.
He’s very fond of pulling out numbers from papers and performing semi-random and inappropriate permutations on them to justify his young earth bias and his rejection of common descent. He even stoops to the “apes have 24 pairs of chromosomes, humans have 23” argument, as if variation in chromosome number is a significant difficulty. As the Primate Diaries show, he’s also not above making some genuinely inane claims.
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.
Gorillas are children’s playtoys? Their purpose is to be displayed in zoos? This is where religious apologetics leads us … to madness and stupidity.
You know, David Plaisted has every right to his opinions, and I even think it’s OK for him to be trumpeting this nonsense on his university’s web servers. But I also have the right to regard David Plaisted, on the basis of his dumb-as-soiled-socks ideas, to be a demented, babbling crackpot, and to think a little less of UNC Chapel Hill’s computer science department. The other good faculty don’t deserve it, I know, but geez … what a loon.