Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New Guinea tribes created the banana (and God said 'why didn't I think of that?')

The other day, someone was telling me that bananas are 'proof' of God's existence. Why? Because they're so 'perfect' for human consumption. Now, after having done some research on cultivated fruits, I knew just what to say to this:

Wild bananas (presumably the way God made them, right?) are practically inedible. They are lemon-shaped, sour, starchy fruits filled with rock-hard seeds. You can cook then like potatoes, but they aren't very good to eat raw. The natives of Papua New Guinea were apparently the first people to make bananas that are easier to peel, eat and digest.

You can read more about it here.

Because of my quick rebuttal, I was spared being called an 'idiot' for thinking that the bananas originally did not have humans in mind while soda cans do. Also, I found a YouTube that does the same thing, and the placement of the photo at 1:20 is brilliant! (Not sure about what it says about the Big Bang, though... I'm behind in cosmology.)

Isn't that hilarious? Actually, I hear that Comfort had since conceded (in 2006) that his argument made no sense.

Now, for a quick review for popular creationist points on this subject.

1 Bananas are obviously shaped for the human hand.

Originally, they did not have this shape. They were, however, perfectly shaped for being eaten by other animals.

2 Bananas have a non-slip surface.

Just like most fruits!

3 The colors of bananas tell humans whether or not to eat them. Green-too early, Yellow-just right, Black-too late.

The same goes for almost any fleshy fruit - this is to let the species which eat the fruit know when to eat them so that the seeds will be dispersed properly, thus propagating another generation of fruit-bearing plant.

4 Bananas have a tab for removal of wrapper.

From what I hear, you can't actually peel wild bananas. Even so, it is easier to peel bananas from the other end! Did you know that? Try it!

5 The wrapper is perforated at three points.

Yes, but if you can't peel them, then what's the point?

6 The wrapper is bio-degradable.

What fruit is not completely bio-degradable? How does saying this make bananas special?

7 Bananas are shaped for the human mouth.

...after humans bred them to be this way. Originally, bananas were more spherical.

8 Bananas have a point on top for ease of entry .

Again, humans were responsible for this.

9 The taste of bananas are pleasing to humans.

And this is because humans bred them to taste good. Have you ever tasted a wild banana? I have not, but I hear they are an acquired taste.

10 Bananas are curved towards the face to make eating process easy.

Again, humans are responsible for this.

So, I hope I've debunked this silly claim! Although... the creationists also have a similar one where instead apples are the 'proof' of God's existence.

Believe what you want, it is clear that humans made apples 'perfect' for human consumption, not anything else! Go ahead. Eat an apple, plant the seeds and see what happens. You'll probably get something that is barely edible. That's why apple orchards are created by cloning the plants - you get one good apple tree after planting thousands of seeds. This is such a big deal that the one 'good' tree is then cloned millions of times.

That's why Johnny Appleseed was so popular. European settlers in America were being made to improve their land and planting an orchard was one way to do this. So, Johnny Appleseed planted a whole bunch of saplings from seed - which is considerably cheaper than cloning trees - and people stocked their orchards with those instead.

Though they couldn't eat the apples, they could still use the small, sour fruits to make hard cider. Not only that, but Johnny's gig also implied a sort of lottery - if you were that one lucky person to have hit the apple genetics jackpot, everyone would want a cutting of your tree!

Besides domestication in order to make fruits more pleasing to humans, I also wonder why these creationists don't consider other fruits. The vast majority of fruits are not very well-suited to human consumption. Even ones that are cultivated aren't that great. Take the pomegranate - it's hard to harvest, hard to open, it may not taste very good, you can chip a tooth on one of the seeds, and if the juice gets on your clothing, it's stained forever.

...Or does that just mean the devil made the pomegranate?


Galtron said...

Thanks for the advice, Spoony. Glad to see you up and going after those wackmobiles again!

Monado said...

Good one!

If bananas are shaped for the human mouth and apples are shaped for the human mouth, then I guess the mouth is pretty flexible!

I learned in Genetics that our cultivated bananas are mostly sterile triploid hybrids, which is why they are not full of hard black seeds and why they must be propagated by cuttings.

I think most apples from seed are quite edible, but apple genetics is so complex that you don't know what you'll get. Cloning gives you a known variety.

Did you know that the Golden Delicious was a feral apple from seed that someone found on their farm. I think.

Cara said...

Wow, that's a very interesting video.

I quite like the original shape of bananas. They look earthy and sexy!




Monado said...

The interesting ones are leftover plants where the animal that used to distribute the seeds are extinct. The fruits of the Osage Orange in North America just lie under the trees when they fall. They're a solid green fruit about the size of a grapefruit. Some scientists think that they used to be eaten and shat out by giant ground sloths.

There's some tree in Mauretania that hadn't reproduced for 300 years until someone forced turkeys to eat the seeds. The turkey gizzards ground their thick shell down to where the seeds would germinate. The theory, which the experiment tends to confirm, is that they depended on the dodo.

And someone told me the other day that mangoes used to have something that ate them... dunno what.

S E E Quine said...

` Galtron, good to see you here, too!

` Lol, Monado! I see, apples are quite diverse. Well, I guess the truth probably is that it's unlikely that you'll get particularly large or un-sour apples. (Luckily I like sour apples just fine!)
` That's interesting about the Osage Oranges. I used to throw them around and make my hands smell all Osagey. I also hear that Carolina parakeets used to disperse their seeds, until they went extinct a hundred years ago. I wonder if they will eventually become endangered?
` Interesting... although, as for the 'dodo tree', I distinctly recall reading that the tree has been propagating itself, only the younger trees look like a different species and were not recognized as the same.

` Indeed, Cara, wild bananas almost remind me of sweet potatoes despite the fact that they are berries. I don't think there would be any way to practice putting condoms on wild bananas!

angel said...

well i like bananas!

Galtron said...

BTW, Spoony, there still are bananas you have to pick green and cook, though I eat them the usual way anyway.

Personally, I like the small purple bananas, they're usually by the mangoes and coconuts.

J Morgetron said...

Well that was fruity.

S E E Quine said...

` Purple bananas! I guess those are okay in some instances.