October 05, 2009
The Banana Man Chronicles-1: The abbreviated version
(My latest book God vs. Darwin: The War Between Evolution and Creationism in the Classroom has just been released and is now available through the usual outlets. You can order it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, the publishers Rowman & Littlefield, and also through your local bookstores. For more on the book, see here.)
A week or so ago, I wrote about Banana Man and Crocoduck's excellent new adventure where, on November 19, they are going to give away 50,000 copies of Charles Darwin's classic book On the Origin of Species on various college campuses (not sure if ours is one of the lucky ones) but with the added bonus of a 50 page introduction by Banana Man.
The Banana Man claims that in those 50 pages he will, using his demonstrated powerful reasoning powers and rhetorical skills that I described in that previous post, demolish the theory of evolution by natural selection that has, for the last century, been the foundation of biology. And who is better able to provide an introduction to one of the greatest works of science than someone whose understanding of evolutionary theory is so deep that he thinks the banana could not have evolved to be so perfectly suited to being eaten by humans and thus had to be directly made by god?
For those who cannot wait until November 19 to see what delights are in store in Banana Man's introduction, you can see read it here. Oddly, the link to the introduction no longer works, although it was live for more than a week. I don't know if it is a temporary server glitch or it has been pulled from the site for some reason. I had downloaded the introduction earlier and still have it but you will have to take my word for it about what it contains until the book appears or the link is restored.
For those others who cannot spare the time to read all fifty pages, I have decided to take one for the team and devote some time to prepare a CliffsNotes version of Banana Man's thesis (with my own commentary added of course) and these will form the topic of posts for this week. The reason I am devoting so much time to this is partly in response to commenter Derek's point some time ago that I should not devote all my attention on refuting only the sophisticated religious apologists who don't believe in anything remotely resembling what the average believer thinks, but also examine the views of more traditional believers. The Banana Man is as unlike the sophisticated apologists as one can get. Derek had in mind people like Albert Mohler and Cornelius Van Til who are somewhere in between those two extremes but one has to start somewhere so I will start at the bottom with Banana Man and work myself up from there. Furthermore, a case can be made that the kinds of views expressed by Banana Man have a greater following than those of the others.
Anyway, here is what Banana Man says in his introduction:
Pages 1-4: Short biography of Darwin. Banana Man ends this section with "At the age of seventy-three, Charles Darwin went to meet his Maker at Down house on April 19, 1882, with his wife, Emma, by his side."
When I first read this, I thought that Banana Man was saying that god lived at Down house and that was where Charles went after he died and that Emma went along with him, and thus must have died at the same time as Charles. Of course, this is not true but is the kind of misunderstanding that can arise when you use soothing religious euphemisms like 'went to meet his Maker' instead of the straightforward 'died'.
Since Darwin was an unrepentant agnostic right to the end, we have to assume that the Maker scolded him and sent the naughty boy to his room without dessert.
Pages 4-8: Timeline of Darwin's life.
It is after this that the 'attack' on the theory of evolution begins in earnest. Given the level of Banana Man's understanding of the theory, his attack on Darwin is like (to use the late Molly Ivins' memorable phrase) being gummed by a newt.
Pages 9-15: Shorter version:
"Wow! Isn't DNA amazing? It contains such a lot of information! It couldn't have occurred by chance. Hence god exists."
In other words, we get an argument from personal incredulity, based on the willful misrepresentation that evolution by natural selection occurs by pure chance.
Pages 15-22: Shorter version:
"There are no transitional forms. Hence evolution is wrong. Hence god exists."
Sadly, Banana Man disses his faithful sidekick Kirk Cameron by not including the latter's ingenious crocoduck argument. Why the omission? Does he also think Cameron's argument is ludicrous? Et tu, Brute?
Pages 22- 28: Shorter version:
"I don't understand how the blood circulatory system or the eye came about. Hence god exists."
In other words, another argument from personal incredulity. Oddly enough, Banana Man does not include as another example the very banana that he had earlier described as providing irrefutable proof of god's existence because it was so perfectly suited for human eating and impossible to conceive of as having evolved. Given that he will be forever after permanently associated with that fruit, the omission is inexplicable.
Page 29: Shorter version:
"Some vestigial organs may have some purpose. Hence god exists."
Pages 30-36: Shorter version:
"Darwin was a racist and misogynist. Hitler was evil and an evolutionist. Hence Darwin was evil like Hitler. Hence the theory of evolution is bad. Hence god exists."
Pages 36-39: Shorter version:
"Darwin and Albert Einstein and some other well-known figures in scientific history were not atheists. Richard Dawkins and Francis Crick cannot prove that god does not exist. Hence god exists."
This was pretty much it as far as arguing against the theory of evolution went. Frankly, I was disappointed. Given all the money and resources that Banana Man was pouring into this venture, I had expected better arguments or at least a mention of those golden oldies, the banana and the crocoduck.
As one can see, these are the same old arguments against evolution that have been thoroughly refuted over and over again. Biologist Jerry Coyne makes a clinical dissection of these arguments against evolution here.
I think that Herbert Spencer's response in 1891 is still the best: "Those who cavalierly reject the Theory of Evolution as not being adequately supported by facts, seem to forget that their own theory is supported by no facts at all."
Next: The last ten pages where Banana Man gets to the point of the exercise.
POST SCRIPT: Mr. Deity explains how baptism by water came about