Introduction:

That genius was Ray Comfort and sitting next to him like a lapdog was Kirk Cameron.  They are evangelical champions.  They are anti-gay, anti-choice and anti-science.  With their knowledge based firmly in the Bible, the claim the Earth is only six thousand years old and that all animals were created in their current form thus negating all the facts and truths of evolution.  What proof do Mr. Comfort and Mr. Cameron have?  Mountains of scientific evidence?  Decades of research?  No, who needs all that when you have the banana.  That’s right folks, the rod in the spokes of evolution, the nail in the coffin, the spike through the heart and the final countdown, is a simple, yellow banana.  Bullshit you may say.   How can a banana disprove evolution?  Well my friends, it’s rather simple.  Let me dumb down Mr. Comfort’s argument so the masses can understand this complex theory, I’m sorry, did I say theory?  I meant fact.  Because evolution is just a theory you know.

So what makes the banana the atheist nightmare?  The only banana nightmares I have involve bananas chasing my down, peeling my skin and eating my insides but that’s between me and my therapist.  Here is a list:

  1. The banana is shaped for the human hand
  2. It has a non-slip surface
  3. It has outward indicators of inward contents such as:
    1. Green is not ripe enough
    2. Yellow is just right for eating
    3. Black is too ripe
    4. It has a tab for easy removal of its wrapper, just like a soda can
    5. The wrapper is perforated for easy peeling
    6. The wrapper is biodegradable
    7. It’s shaped for the human mouth (never mind those heathen monkeys and apes)
    8. It is yummy to our taste buds and
    9. It is curved towards the face to make eating it easy

What’s the conclusion to all this?  The banana had to have been designed especially for humans to consume, like a soda can.  Therefore God is the designer.  Well, I’m convinced, looks like this is the last episode of this podcast because we all have just been schooled.  Let’s all bow down and worship the almighty banana!

Here at C-Webb’s Sunday School, I like to present both sides to an argument.  Let’s just take a look at what evolutionist are saying about this theory.  I’m sure it is not going to be as airtight as Mr. Comfort’s theory.

Part One – A Moment in Skepticism

Before we go any further, I want to define and explain three logical fallacies that Mr. Comfort engages in when he presents his Banana by Design argument.  They are:

  1. The Straw Man Fallacy
  2. The Argument from Design, and
  3. Special Pleading

A straw man logical fallacy is exaggerating, misrepresenting, or just completely fabricating someone’s argument.  This makes it much easier to present your own position as being reasonable or valid [2].  This misrepresentation is then undermined as if it were the other side’s actual position [3].  A good example would be the Republican Party taking President Obama’s “You Didn’t Build That” quote out of context then create a straw man of the President, saying he is a socialist and hates small businesses.

The argument from Design was made famous by William Paley in 1802 where he argued design by finding a watch on the beach.  The complexity of the watch infers a watchmaker and the intricate moving parts where put together for a purpose, telling time.  The fine tuning argument is a modern interpretation where it posits that the precise order of our universe is so finely tuned, that it must have been a product of design.  There are many arguments against this fallacy, some much so it warrants its own episode [4].

Special pleading is a post-hoc rationalization we humans engage in when our previously held beliefs are challenged.  We then invent special rules that were not previously stated to justify the result that was countered to our previously held belief [5]. A good example would be psychic powers.  When tested with strict scientific controls, the psychic fails every time or they are no better than chance.  The psychic will then claim that their ability cannot be tested with science and you have to believe them based on faith.

Break One

Do you enjoy this podcast?  If so, tell a friend.  Use twitter, Facebook or Google + or leave me a positive review on iTunes.  If you want to throw me a few bucks, I’ll accept that too.  Anyway to spread the word of this podcast is greatly appreciated.  Don’t forget to follow me on twitter @cwebb619 and check out my site atheistsocialworker.org and also dumbassmedia.info.  I am also on stitcher and spreaker and don’t forget to like C-Webbs Sunday School on Facebook.

As a podcast junkie, I am always running across new and up and coming podcast.  Here are a few of my most recent finds:

A Matter of Doubt – is a podcast for atheist and people who are having doubts about their religion where topics like prophecy fails and the problem of evil and suffering are discussed.

This Week in Doubt – is a podcast for atheist, agnostics and whoever with topics ranging from current events to exploring the nuances of belief and non-belief.

Why You’re Wrong – is weekly show by Tim Wilson and Jesse Dybka that focuses on current news topics and common beliefs that need a little reason and critical thinking applied.  Check out their most recent episode on Supernatural Fallacies and misconceptions about food.

Looking to get into podcasting?  Have an opinion or idea you want to get out to the world but don’t know where to begin?  Here at atheistsocialworker.org and dumbassmedia.info are here to help.  We are always looking for some new fresh faces.  Contact us at cwebb619@gmail.com or dumbass@dumbassmedia.info

Part Two – Counter Arguments

Now that we have an understanding of the three logical fallacies that present themselves in Mr. Comfort’s argument, let’s see how he uses them and how to counter them.

The first logical fallacy is the straw man of the soda can.  When he compares a soda can to a banana, he creates a straw man of the evolutionary process because the soda can lacks the major mechanisms of evolution [6].  I don’t think if left alone in the wild, a soda can would evolve to survive in its environment but I could be wrong.  Let’s say, for the sake of argument that a soda can is able to evolve.  Surely, the cans we have today were created in their current form hundreds of years ago?  Soda cans became popular in the 1930’s when they were first used to store beer.  The very first cans had no tabs; they looked like soup cans and required a churchkey to open them.  Then the can’s evolved a pull-tab because carrying a churchkey around was not convenient, it didn’t suite the cans environment.  The pull-tab is similar to modern soup cans.  It is a ring you use to pull a piece of the lid off and then discarded.  This created a lot of waste and caused injuries because of the sharp edges, the soda can evolved once more into its current form, the stay-on-tab [7].  Evolution!

When looking at the argument from design, the banana appears to have some features that make eating it convenient for mankind.  The appearance of design does not mean a designer.  The Grand Canyon can have appearances of design; does that mean the Colorado River purposefully designed its route through the canyon?  Evolution provides a reasonable explanation for the banana and its evolutionary process had a hell of a lot of help from human involvement.  Also, the color of the banana is not just for us humans, animals use color to determine if a fruit is edible and the banana even has a reason for changing colors, signaling animals its ok to eat.  The animals eat the seeds and the genes of the banana get passed on.  Why does it matter that they banana is shaped for human consumption?  Other animals eat them as well.  We humans are not special and the banana was not “designed” just for us.  Evolution!

If the banana we eat was the only banana in existence and could not be traced to early banana relatives, Mr. Comfort’s argument could be valid but that’s just not the case.  The wild banana is essential inedible to humans and it contains large seeds and is often very bitter.  The banana you and I eat are seedless, which makes them useless in the wild, how would they reproduce?  The bananas we eat today were not designed but produced using artificial selection.  Being one for the first domesticated fruits over 7000 years ago, bananas have been bred to have smaller seeds and to make them tastier.  How would this be possible if evolution were not true?  You know inherited genetics?   Where did our modern bananas come from?  They were first found in Jamaica, they were a mutant hybrid that was sweet to the taste, yellow in color and didn’t require cooking to eat.  Evolution rears its ugly head again with genetic mutations.  This new banana caught on and soon became the most popular banana in the world, that doesn’t always drink beer, but when it does, it drinks Dos Equis [8].

Conclusion

The banana is a terrible argument for the existence of God but simple ideas for simple minds.  I am sure there are numerous people out there that will buy the bullshit this guy is selling.  Mr. Comfort has since recanted his argument because of the well documented history of human domestication of the banana but still claims our ability to do this is because God allows us to.  If only he could take the evidence for evolution and conclude the 6-day creationism does not mesh with the natural world but I’m not holding my breath.  This idea should be ridiculed and scorned.  It should be laughed at and thrown in the trash as idiotic. But, in some strange way, Mr. Comfort is right, the banana was designed but not by his God, instead by human intervention.  This seems to be the typical Christian response.  Give God the credit for something mankind did.  Is God so insecure that we have to give him credit for everything?  I’m not going to mince words; Ray Comfort is a jackass and so is his lapdog Kirk Cameron and they deserve to be ridiculed.  Trust the evidence, trace the history and believe the facts, we’d all be better off.

This has been C-Webb’s Sunday School.  Find us at atheistsocialworker.org or at dumbassmedia.info.  We are on iTunes, search C-Webb’s Sunday School and while you are there, leave us a review.  We can be found on stitcher, Zune and most other podcatchers and don’t forget to follow me on twitter @cwebb619 and like us on Facebook.  Join me next time when I take on more religious claims both holy and unholy