October 06, 2009
The Banana Man Chronicles-2: What's really on Banana Man's mind
(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.)
In the first post in this series, I wrote about Banana Man's arguments against evolution which, together with a short biography of Darwin, constitutes about 40 pages of his introduction to Origins. But even Banana Man must know that there was nothing new there. It was clear to me that this was just an excuse to gain attention and on the final pages 39-50, he gets down to the real issue that concerns him, which is to get you to come to Jesus.
Banana Man has a bigger challenge than the sophisticated religious intellectuals who are content to argue for the existence of merely a Slacker God. Such people like Karen Armstrong, Robert Wright, and H. E. Baber only wish to believe in the existence of something, anything at all, however small or inconsequential, that is outside the reach of scientific investigation. They then give that the name 'god' and move on. The existence of their god leads to no practical consequences whatsoever and the world would be indistinguishable whether their god existed or not, but this does not seem to bother them. For this reason I call such people 'religious atheists'.
Banana Man, however, believes in the literal truth of the Bible, in Jesus' virgin birth and resurrection, in other words the whole Christian ball of wax. So he has a bigger task than the religious atheists. He not only has to argue for the existence of a supergod who intervenes in the universe all the time, he has to argue for existence of one and only one very specific god, the Jesus-god that he happens to believe in.
In order to achieve this you would think that, at the very least, he would try to show that the god of Christianity is the true god and all the other gods are false. But religious people cannot really argue for the falsity of other people's gods because those same arguments can be used against their own god. So instead of true and false, Banana Man argues that Christianity offers goodies and rewards that the others don't, which makes it preferable to believe in. It is like a store that competes against other stores in sales for the identical item by offering sale prices or throwing in a free toaster, and then suggesting that the resulting higher sales means that they are selling the genuine article while their competitors are selling counterfeit. The argument makes no sense.
So using a long and complicated metaphor involving what would be most useful if one were forced to jump out of a plane (seemingly inspired by seeing the Disney film Up), he tries to justify why it is better to be a Christian than to be a Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist.
Interestingly, he does not include Judaism in his list of loser religions. If you think about it, in his eyes Judaism should be an even bigger loser than Islam. At least Islam recognizes Jesus as a great prophet and is even willing to concede that god gave him a virgin birth and the power to do miracles, although not conceding that he is god incarnate. As far as Jews ago, Jesus was just an ordinary Jew of his time, if he existed at all.
But Christians in the US have come a long way since the days when they despised Jews as Christ-killers. While antipathy towards Jews may exist among individual Christians, a political alliance has been cemented between right wing Christians and right wing Jews. It is now Christianist policy to talk of the 'Judeo-Christian' heritage of the US and of 'Judeo-Christian' values and be nice to Jews and not say any bad things about them (at least publicly) even though they believe that when the Rapture comes, Jews who haven't seen the light and come to Jesus are going to slaughtered by god, just like all the other unbelievers.
So how does Banana Man try to persuade the reader that Jesus is the only god they should believe in? Those familiar with Banana Man's schtick know what to expect. He basically does the same thing that he and Crocoduck do when they are out evangelizing in the streets, which is that they accost random people and go through all the ten commandments, one by one, asking people which ones they've broken.
Just to be sure that you realize you have broken a lot and get a perfect or almost perfect score of 10, he takes liberties with the wording of the commandments. He says that any use of the word god other than in prayer constitutes taking god's name in vain and is thus a violation of the third commandment. He expands the word 'murder' to include hate, justifying the modification by using some quote from Jesus. So if you've ever hated anyone, then you've broken the sixth commandment against committing murder. Again roping in Jesus, he expands the meaning of the word 'adultery' to include sex before marriage and even simple lust, just to make sure you have broken the seventh commandment.
Basically, the idea is to present you with a list of rules that he says that god insists that you follow but which are impossible to obey. The point of all this effort is so that he can then pass judgment on you and say that because you have violated all or almost all of the commandments, you are a disgusting sinner and thus doomed to spending eternity in hell.
So what's the point? In the next post, we'll see why he goes to all this trouble.
POST SCRIPT: Stephen Colbert interviews Richard Dawkins
Look closely and you will see that Dawkins is wearing a crocoduck tie.
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
By the way, I found a nice image of the crocoduck.