Google
 
Internet Goosing the Antithesis

Friday, February 03, 2006

Argumentum ad Bananum

Now THIS is an atheist's nightmare.

Now, I realize that in the realm of Christian apologetics, Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron are low-hanging fruit, but what the hell, it’s Friday, and they’re always good for a laugh. On their show, “The Way of the Master,” Comfort and Cameron target atheists in the episode, “The Beauty of a Broken Spirit: Atheism.” Although it’s not new, this particular episode has become quite popular recently on the internet, due in large part to its being available through Google Video.


Comfort starts things off with a fairly bold pronouncement: "Atheism and intellectualism are opposites." Fair enough, I suppose. One of the historical attractions of atheism is the perception (rightly, in my opinion) that it is a more intellectual position than that of Christianity, in which faith (essentially, taking someone’s word as truth) is foundational. We’re left to assume that by virtue of the contrary, Christianity and intellectualism are equivalent, although the idiotic grin semi-permanently affixed to Cameron’s face throughout the episode would seem to belie this assumption.

So what is the good Christian apologist to do with his overflowing intellectualism? Why, attack evolution, of course. I’m sure Comfort and Cameron know that acceptance of evolutionary theory isn’t limited to atheists, and in fact the largest Christian institution in the world has officially accepted it as science, but that doesn’t seem to deter their efforts in the slightest.

Interestingly, neither does an accurate understanding of evolutionary theory. Comfort demonstrates his ignorance, real or assumed, by giving a strawman of evolution through a soda can analogy.

It's my theory of where the soda can comes from. Billions of years ago, there was a big bang in space- nobody knows what caused the big bang, it just happened. And from this bang issued a huge rock, on top of the rock was found a sweet brown bubbly substance. And over millions of years, aluminum crept up the side and formed itself in a can, then a lid, and then a tab. And then millions of years later red pain, blue paint, white paint, fell down from the sky and formed itself into the words, "Twelve Fluid Ounces. Do Not Litter.” You say, what you’re doing is insulting my intellect, and so I am. As we know, if the can is made, there must be a maker. If it’s designed, there must be a designer. To believe the soda can happened by chance is to move into an intellectual free zone, is to have an echo when you think, is to have brain liposuction.

Insulting my intellect, indeed. But this isn’t anything revolutionary- it’s just Paley’s watchmaker argument dressed up for teenagers (who else would be impressed by a soda can analogy, I ask you?). Surely if Comfort was up to speed with evolutionary theory he’d come up with something better, wouldn’t he?

Oh, but he does.

Comfort then, grinning at Cameron, faces the camera again for his intellectual tour de force.

Behold the atheist’s nightmare. Now, if you study a well-made banana you’ll find on the far side there are three ridges. On the close side, there are two. If you get your hand ready to grip a banana you’ll find on the far side there are three grooves and on the close side two grooves. The banana and the hand are perfectly made, one for the other. You’ll find the maker of the banana, Almighty God, has made it with a non-slip surface. It has outward indicators of inward contents- green: too early, yellow: just ripe, black: too late. Now if you go to the top of the banana, you’ll find as with the soda can makers, who placed a tab at the top, so God has placed a tab at the top. When you pull the tab, the contents don’t squirt out in your face. You’ll find a wrapper which is biodegradable, and has perforations. Notice how gracefully it sits over the human hand. Notice it has a point at the top for ease of entry, it’s exactly the right shape for the human mouth, it’s chewy, easy to digest, it’s even curved toward the face to make the whole process so much easier. Seriously, Kirk, the whole of creation testifies to the genius of God’s creation.

Yes, folks, the man is serious. Now, I’ll do you all the courtesy of ignoring all the implicit sexual humor in that quote, because, quite frankly, it’s been done to death all over atheist forums. Instead, I think it might just be sufficient to thrash his argument.

Behold Kent Hovind's nightmare.

Behold the Christian’s nightmare. That’s right, it’s a banana. But no, you say, that’s not a banana, it doesn’t look anything like what I get at the store! Gentle reader, what you see is a wild banana. Just like wild strawberries, wild apples, and wild blueberries, it’s not much to look at, and what little is there doesn’t look terribly appetizing. But thanks to the wonder of evolution, something as unappealing as a wild banana can actually become the familiar yellow fruit you find at the grocery store. (But probably not a dog- that would be Kent Hovind’s personal nightmare) Over the course of human history, we have found certain plants (and animals) that had a moderate amount of value nutritionally or otherwise to our survival, and have selected for the best performing individuals in every generation. Jared Diamond gives a great example in his book "Guns, Germs, and Steel" of primitive humans foraging for berries in the woods, only eating the biggest and best-tasting ones on the bush, and then returning back to home where the seeds of those (unconsciously) selected berries germinate in the garbage heap/latrine.

So, no, Ray, the banana isn’t a testament to the genius of God’s creation. It’s a testament to the resourcefulness of man and the potency of evolutionary change. But even if evolution wasn’t in the picture, there’s one key element of the banana that Comfort forgot to mention… where’s the seeds? That’s right, bananas as we know and love them are as sterile as a mule. That’s because they’re triploid (have three copies of each chromosome as opposed to two), which doesn’t make a lot of sense if they were specially created. Not only does this mean that bananas have to be specially cultivated by humans to survive, but it also means that they’re particularly susceptible to disease, since there’s no genetic variability without sexual reproduction. Way to go, God.

As a bonus, I’m going to follow Comfort and crew further in the episode, for a segement that he includes in every episode, called “One2One”. See, juxtaposing numbers and letters like that makes it “cool.” It’s like catnip for teens.

In this segment, Comfort or Cameron find someone on the street outside their studio and confronts them with what I call “The Comfort Method.” Most of you, if you’ve seen their show or website, are familiar with this. I’ve yet to have any actual Christian walk up to me and use this, but according to Comfort, it’s “da bomb.” (He doesn’t actually say that, but he probably would if he thought it would get more kids to try it)

Here’s how it works:

Comfort: Would you consider yourself to be a good person?

Atheist: Yes.

Comfort: I’m going to ask you a few questions to see if it’s true.

Atheist: Sure.

Comfort: Have you ever told a lie?

Atheist: Sure.

Comfort: Okay, what does that make you?

Atheist: A liar.

Comfort: Have you ever stolen something?

Atheist: Uhh… as a kid.

Comfort: What does that make you?

Atheist: I guess… a thief.

He then does the same trick with cursing and lusting, and then segues right into the whole judgement/salvation one-two punch of Christian apologetics. I have to say, it’s pretty well rehearsed and it usually works well for him (at least, in the interviews they put on their show). But what would I do if I was put in that morally damning position?

Comfort: Have you ever told a lie?

Zach: Have you?

Comfort: Well… yes.

Zach: And what does that make you?

Comfort: A liar.

Zach: Would you trust the words of a self-described liar?

Comfort: Well… no.

Zach: See you.

Kirk demonstrates what has to be turned off to be a good Christian.

Like I said, I’ve never actually had someone use The Comfort Method on me before, but just in case, I’ve got that one primed and ready. So, I guess after all is said and done, we can see that although Comfort and Cameron started off with a fierce declaration of atheism as the opposite of intellectualism, it seems as if that might be a more accurate description of Christianity. Maybe that’s why instead of presenting actual intellectual arguments, Comfort and Cameron prefer to attack morality. Isn’t that right, Kirk?

We want to emphasize the principle of swinging from the intellect straight to the conscience. It’s so important to know that- by doing this you’re not side-stepping the questions of the atheist, but you have to learn that it’s not wise to stay in the intellect and wrestle with someone intellectually, because it’s going to take you down a rabbit trail and waste all your time.

Post a Comment


35 Comments:

At 2/03/2006 5:30 PM, Blogger Not Reformed declaimed...

Great post, Zach.

Yes, Comfort/Cameron are low hanging fruit...but they are great comic relief.

Ironically, I just discovered video.google.com yesterday and watched part of that very episode. I laughed out loud at the "Here's the Atheist's nightmare!" part.

 
At 2/03/2006 9:38 PM, Blogger BigHeathenMike declaimed...

Just what I needed for Friday. Great post - loved the bit about the banana.

 
At 2/04/2006 2:21 AM, Blogger Mr. Neil declaimed...

Thanks for the laugh, Zach! I loved every minute of that.

Yes, in my opinion, Ray Comfort is only the second most incompetent apologist out there. And if you even need to ask who the first most incompetent apologist is, then you obviously haven't taken a look at "The Skeptic's Annotated Bible: Corrected and Explained".

 
At 2/04/2006 2:04 PM, Blogger Mr. P. declaimed...

Hello,
Nice blog. In my free time I have been trying to figure out what motivates some one to devote blogs mocking or attacking christianity such as www.moamm.blogspot.com

As someone with a philosophy degree I know that no philosophical position is more tenitive than another. Hence the controversy between creation and evolution. Neither has been proven more true than the other. So we a left with mere choosing which one we think is better. One view contains God the other does not. Some think they can pick and choose elements from any pfilosophy and create their own. There's no basis for this unless you can eradicate the irreconcilable differences between the two philosophies.
However laughable you think Comforts arguement is yours is way weaker. Comfort doesn't claim to not be a liar. He does claim to be speaking on behalf of God or THE TRUTH. And since he is a liar tha is exactly why he needs God. Now he might be wrong about God or the nature of God but his arguement is fairly sound. The problem atheists have is they can't appeal to a higher power in their arguements. So anything they might say is just their opinion since they are the highest power they can appeal to! In essence they become their own God.

 
At 2/04/2006 2:42 PM, Blogger Mr. Neil declaimed...

"The problem atheists have is they can't appeal to a higher power in their arguements."

This is a problem?!

 
At 2/04/2006 4:13 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Mr. P-

As someone with a science degree I know that evolutionary theory is not philosophy, it is science. Since creationism is a theological position, there is no controversy between it and evolutionary theory- they are not competing scientific concepts.

Comfort does indeed claim to be speaking on behalf of God, but there's a problem. By his own criteria he's an admitted liar, so why should I trust what a liar has to say about anything, especially about something as significant as the will of God? For all I know, Comfort's lying to me about God! Now, if God has something he wants to say to me, he's got my phone number. But there's no cause for me to take the word of a liar when it comes to the nature of God.

 
At 2/05/2006 12:19 AM, Blogger Mr. P. declaimed...

Gee what to say, I knew you people wouldn’t get it…Yes it’s a real problem. You simply can’t win an argument based on your own opinion! With such knee-jerk, filpant, sarcastic come backs, perhaps the Atheist really doesn’t care. He’s got his opinion and that’s all that matters.
There is a real Creation/Evolution debate going on raging out there! You are either being intellectually dishonest, trying to skirt the issue, or don’t acknowledge as relevant any of the scientific evidence on the creation side of the debate. I’m never that close minded on an issue…
Most blogs I’ve “intruded upon” with such issues either don’t want to deal with it or can’t so if you’d like to debate the issue (perhaps “discuss” is a better word) you could try out my blog at www.whatwouldbe.blogspot.com

 
At 2/05/2006 12:50 AM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"There is a real Creation/Evolution debate going on raging out there!"

I agree, if you replace "debate" with "propaganda battle". And the Cretinists are losing.

 
At 2/05/2006 1:22 AM, Blogger Mr. Neil declaimed...

"Gee what to say, I knew you people wouldn’t get it…Yes it’s a real problem. You simply can’t win an argument based on your own opinion! With such knee-jerk, filpant, sarcastic come backs, perhaps the Atheist really doesn’t care. He’s got his opinion and that’s all that matters."


Do you even know what the hell you're talking about? Atheists don't have to appeal to authority. That's precisely the point! We appeal tentatively to what we observe.


"There is a real Creation/Evolution debate going on raging out there! You are either being intellectually dishonest, trying to skirt the issue, or don’t acknowledge as relevant any of the scientific evidence on the creation side of the debate. I’m never that close minded on an issue…"


So by "open minded", you mean that we should accept any postulation, regardless of how meaningless and unsubstantiated the claim. Why should we be open minded to something like creation, for which there is absolutely not one shread of evidence?

 
At 2/05/2006 3:54 AM, Blogger Obscure declaimed...

Someone is actually trying to rescue Comfort? Ha.. ho.. huh?

 
At 2/05/2006 5:02 AM, Blogger Mr. Neil declaimed...

I'd be just as astonished as you, but I've seen people defend for Gastrich. Nothing surprises me anymore.

 
At 2/05/2006 10:20 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Oh, I see. Mr. P is just interested in advertising for his own blog. I knew he couldn't be that deluded.

 
At 2/06/2006 9:29 AM, Blogger Lya Kahlo declaimed...

“There is a real Creation/Evolution debate going on raging out there!“

No, there isn’t. There’s only those with either no clue what evolution is, or those with an agenda to push attacking evolution.

 
At 2/06/2006 9:50 AM, Blogger streetapologist declaimed...

Ray Comfort's primary objective is not as an apologist. He is not trained in either apologetics nor philosophy. He is an evangelist.

Ultimately, I believe most apologists would say that Ray has some gaps in his approach however objective morality is a powerful argument for God.

You guys are poking fun at Comfort/Cameron but not offering any reasons why the atheist can distinguish between what is really right and what is really wrong. In the end your morality is based on a Hegelian dialectic or an oligarchy.

 
At 2/06/2006 11:37 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

streetapologist-

You've got to be joking. This blog is full of entries which talk about atheistic morality.

And even if it didn't, so what? Comfort's wrong whether we have a counter position or not.

 
At 2/06/2006 1:27 PM, Blogger streetapologist declaimed...

Zachary-

Is this article indicative of your position?

http://goosetheantithesis.blogspot.com/2005/09/why-christians-cannot-account-for.html

If not, please point me to resource so that I may better understand the epistemic foundations for your morality.

 
At 2/06/2006 2:05 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Yes, particularly this section: "There are four basic types of values in rational morality : physical values, spiritual (mental) values, social values and political values. There are also many virtues such as purpose, honesty, rationality, benevolence, non-coercion, Trader Principle, and so on."

 
At 2/06/2006 5:24 PM, Blogger Clarence the Theologian declaimed...

I'll say this just once, since it has been ranted elsewhere. All the anti-theist arguments are arbitrary. There is no objective way to verify what they believe as true or false. This was Hume's and Russell's point against science. You can claim to say "X' is true, but it is only an opinion. How do you know what the mind informs you about your senses is true or false? For the Christian, it is quite simple: God has ordained me to believe (Ephesians 1) otherwise I would still be an atheist. All knowledge is as Kant stated--analogical, either on the infallibility of God's knowledge or the infallibility of the human mind (the later is experientially proven false).

 
At 2/06/2006 5:31 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Clarence-

How do you know what the mind informs you about God is true or false?

 
At 2/23/2006 12:28 PM, Blogger Clarence the Theologian declaimed...

Hi there Zach,

To answer your question: it is existentially undeniable as much as you assume the infallibility of your mind. Something is true for you if you believe it, such as 2+2 or the sky is blue (I assume you don't believe in objective epistemological norms). God saved me, had he not, I would still be in unbelief. This is what the Bible teaches and I find a correlation in what it says with what has happened to me existentially. I don't expect you to believe me in your ontological state of non-belief. I just find your complaint against God unwarranted, because without him all opinions are valid and arbitrary, such as your belief in no god and the impropriety of rape (I assume that you don't like the idea of rape, or perhaps you would be more consistent and say that it's good if someone wants it to be . . .) Anyway . . . I hope you get the idea . . .

 
At 4/14/2006 11:07 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Clarence-

I absolutely do believe in objective epistemology. It's called reality, and God isn't in it.

 
At 5/13/2006 9:33 PM, Blogger Underblog.co.uk declaimed...

The banana does not evolve to any significant degree. Read my post on this to understand why. ;-)

 
At 5/14/2006 9:20 PM, Blogger Erica declaimed...

" As someone with a philosophy degree"

I stopped reading at this point. This might get the undergrad co-eds all wet in the crotch, but is unlikely to impress anybody else.

 
At 5/14/2006 9:26 PM, Blogger Erica declaimed...

Clarence, suppose for a minute that you were an idiot who quoted Kant and...oh wait. Who gives a shit if we're living in the Matrix, or God's asshole, or whatever? As long as we can make predictions based on observations, that's what matters. Inductive reasoning is your friend.

 
At 5/15/2006 1:04 AM, Blogger Jessi Guilford declaimed...

Another approach to the Comfort Method:

C: Have you ever told a lie?

A: Yeah.

C: And what does that make you?

A: Uh. Human?

One could also substitute "normal" or "typical" or "Somebody who's lied in the past, may or may not ever lie again, and may or may not be lying now," though that last one's kinda wordy.

 
At 5/15/2006 9:47 AM, Blogger John declaimed...

Yeah, I've seen that video. And it's bad, oh so bad. Makes me ashamed to be a Christian, it really does. For, you see, I'm that other sort of Christian. You know, the sane sort. The point made above about the distinction between Creationism and evolution is perfectly true - they're not equivalent. The one is philosophy (not even theology), the other science. As the Archibishop of Canterbury said recently, to confuse them is to commit a category error.

Creationism is not an automatic consequence of Christian belief, any more than the Anthropic Principle is an automatic consequence of atheist belief. Creationism is a mistaken application of a 19th-century reading of a several-thousand-year-old text.

pax et bonum

 
At 5/15/2006 5:25 PM, Blogger razzendahcuben declaimed...

Concerning your "primed and ready" response...

Comfort has told a lie, therefore he cannot be trusted.

But what was Comfort's response to your question? Basically, "Yes, I have told a lie."

And you trusted him.

Furthermore, have you told a lie? Yes. So your same argument applies to you. Why should I trust anything you've just written?

So what's it going to be? On two counts your counterattack is self-defeating. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

 
At 5/26/2006 12:25 AM, Blogger brutant declaimed...

Hi there all you atheistic folk. I must say you all seem to be pretty nice herem and in some sense intelligent as well. I'm as happy as a clam that you can make your thoughts and opinions known. ( I guess clams are extraordinarily happy for some unknown reason).
Anyway, I'd just like to say...What if Ray is right?
Cheers!

 
At 6/05/2006 9:21 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

razzendahcuben-

Either Comfort is a liar, or he is not. Given his own criteria, only someone who has lied is a liar. If he's telling the truth about being a liar, that's all fine and good. If he's lying about being a liar, then it doesn't matter if he's never lied before- he just lied. So either way, I can confidently call him a liar, and therefore, untrustworthy.

Whether or not I am a liar is irrelevant to the conversation. I'm not trying to convert Comfort to my own position by telling him about intangible entities and the meanings of ancient texts.

So, on both counts, I'm in the clear. Damn, that cake is tasty!

 
At 6/05/2006 9:22 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

brutant-

What if Ray is right? What if Mohammed was right? Are you worried about that?

Pascal's Wager is actually an atheistic argument, didn't you know?

 
At 7/24/2006 4:52 PM, Blogger razzendahcuben declaimed...

"So either way, I can confidently call him a liar, and therefore, untrustworthy."

Zach, it's cute---really it is. But it works on you to. Falling back on "whether I'm a liar or not is irrelevant to the conversation" doesn't change anything because Comfort isn't probing you on matters of epistemology where self-defeating statements or inscrutable truth values matter. All you have proven is that people presuppose some amount of trustworthiness in communication. But THAT is irrelevant. Comfort is concerned with lying as a relates to sinning, not as it relates to trustworthiness in communication.

By the way, you still have some cake on your face. A little lower to the left... that's it. Good.

"Pascal's Wager is actually an atheistic argument, didn't you know?"

As long as you accept a whole subset of atheist-driven definitions about God and the afterlife. In short, anybody who uses Pascal's wager should be laughed at, Christian or non-Christian.

 
At 1/10/2007 5:26 PM, Blogger Ratter declaimed...

I just watched that on Google Video. They both have huge, shitlicking grins on their faces that scream "WEEEEE LOOOOOVE YOUUUUUUU". I fail to see how anyone could trust a person who's so obviously brainwashed.

I'm eating a banana as I write this.

 
At 3/27/2007 1:56 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Razzendahcuben-

Actually, the theological implications of lying are irrelevant to my retort to the Comfort Method. You're correct in that it points out the epistemological consequences of Comfort's approach, which are admittedly well above Comfort's perception, but the "cuteness" of the response lies in the fact that Comfort's soteriological assertion opens up an epistemological chasm right underneath him.

Help yourself to another slice of cake, then, while you mull that over.

 
At 11/10/2009 7:40 AM, Blogger Adi declaimed...

Find Internet Marketing resource hare Online Marketing Strategy | Internet Marketing Tools | Online Marketing Campaign | Online Marketing Business | Online Marketing System | Online Business | Online Home Business | Online Business Tips | Internet Marketing Online

 
At 12/01/2009 7:14 AM, Blogger Adi declaimed...

Oes Tsetnoc one of the ways in which we can learn seo besides Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa. By participating in the Oes Tsetnoc or Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa we can improve our seo skills. To find more information about Oest Tsetnoc please visit my Oes Tsetnoc pages. And to find more information about Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa please visit my Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa pages. Thank you So much.
Oes Tsetnoc | Semangat Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa

 

Trackbacks:

Create a Link

<< Home