What is it with evolution denialists and creationists using modern foods as arguments against the theory of evolution? Coincidentally, their favorites seem to be peanut butter and bananas – a favorite combination of food of the King himself, Elvis Presley. But unlike Elvis, theses people are still around, so I apparently have to take the time to refute these arguments, as easy as that may be.
The peanut butter argument is one of the most refutable. The argument is as such: spontaneous generation of life does not happen. If it did, we would see the spoils in our jars of peanut butter. Life should spontaneously generate in sealed jars of peanut butter if it were at all possible for life to generate. Here we run into two problems: (1) The environment in a jar of peanut butter is not under any circumstances analogous to the environmental conditions of the earth, circa 3.7 billion years ago. (2) A jar of peanut butter is not an open environment – it is a closed and air-sealed environment. If you would like to read about the differences between closed and open environments, simply search last month’s anti-evolution argument: The second law of thermodynamics. Sadly, this argument runs into the same problem as the thermodynamics argument: closed and open systems are not the same things, and therefore do not abide by the same natural laws. The first of the problems, however, is much simpler than explaining closed vs open systems. The first flaw is that a jar of peanut butter is not a chaotic, cooling planet, ripe with boiling pools of amino acids, amid a lightening and lava-laden planet in a cooling stage. The differences between the two require no further explanation. Third, this argument is hardly applicable in the first place. The last time my electricity went out because of heat, snails didn’t spontaneously generate in my refrigerator. Does that mean snails don’t exist? Of course not.
In summation, the jar of peanut butter is a flawed argument and is not analogous to what it pretends to be, and is therefore not a scientific challenge to the theory of evolution, nor is it a challenge to any of the proposed hypotheses regarding the origins of life on earth.
Now onto something a bit more foolish: The banana. Kirk Cameron brought this argument to our attention with a Youtube video years ago, claiming that a banana was perfectly fit to a human hand, and therefore is evidence of a designer. Now, one might look at this and say it’s far more proof of human evolution from an ape relative than it is of creationism, but this isn’t the origin of the problem. In fact, both conclusions would be completely false. Much like the conclusion a dirtier mind might make regarding the shape of a male’s genitals and the human hand, or the human mouth. A banana is not the result of either a supernatural designer or natural selection. A banana is the result of selective mutation. Selective, meaning that they were genetically engineered and manipulated to look as they do today – this includes their shape. The following photo is what bananas looked like before they encountered selective mutation from humans. This is what a wild banana looks like:
Does that look like something that fits perfectly in your hand? Not really. In fact, it’s almost inedible because of the thick, gross skin, and all of the tooth-breaking seeds. However, through years of selective cross-breeding, cross-pollination, selective seeding and placement, bananas are now the perfect fruit. Much in a very simpler way, George Washington Carver crossed butter with ground peanuts to create peanut butter as a means for people without teeth to gain the essential protein provided by the popular legume. Bananas fit right in our hands; they peel very easily, unlike other fruits; they’re very rich in potassium and all of its 19 protons. More than anything, however, this is a cognitive breach on behalf of the evolution denialists. A common one at that: The confusion of cause and effect. The creationists do this all too often, and it is also the main composite problem in the green/human eye problem. A creationist will say how great God is to make green the most appeasing color to the human eye, since green is all around us in nature. They don’t take into consideration that perhaps – PERHAPS – the green is the most appeasing color to the human eye because we came from nature and our eyes adapted. The same type of flawed reasoning could be applied to stop signs. “Boy, wasn’t it nice of God to make red the color we see from the farthest distance, since all stop signs are red?” In reality, stop signs are red because it was known prior that humans can see red from the farthest distance. Cause and effect are often confused in anti-evolution arguments, and it is a very unfortunate thing that human beings in this age of science and discovery can still confuse the two so badly, in their use of pseudoscience and superstition to dispel real science.