The banana argument is a variation on the argument from design, saying that some things are the way they are because they were designed especially for our pleasure and comfort.
Note that the banana:
- Is shaped for the human hand
- Has a non-slip surface
- Has outward indicators of inward content:
- Green — not ripe enough
- Yellow — just right for eating
- Black — too ripe
- Has a tab for easy removal of its wrapper
- Is perforated on the wrapper for easy peeling
- Has a biodegradable wrapper
- Is shaped for the human mouth
- Is pleasing to the taste buds
- Is curved towards the face to make the eating process easy
The conclusion: obviously the banana was designed by "Almighty God" for the benefit of human beings.
This argument was presented by Ray Comfort as "the atheist's worst nightmare" in the Way of the Master episode entitled "The Beauty of a Broken Spirit—Atheism". (Perhaps the real nightmare is that there may be people in the world who would be convinced by the argument!)
- The banana argument is built upon the assumption that everything that "looks designed" must have a designer. It inherits all of the weaknesses of other arguments from design.
- Even if the argument showed that bananas were designed, it would not prove that there is only one designer; maybe millions of banana designers participated.
- Even if the argument showed that there once was a banana designer, it wouldn't prove that the banana designer still exists.
- Even if the argument supported the existence of a banana designer, it wouldn't prove that the banana designer is supernatural.
- Even if the argument supported the existence of a supernatural banana designer, it wouldn't prove the existence of an eternal, omnipotent, omniscient banana designer who also created the universe (i.e., God). There is nothing about bananas to indicate that only God could design one.
- The argument provides no good reasons to suppose that a naturalistic, non-design explanation for bananas is improbable, let alone impossible.
- The list of features above smacks of cherry picking to devise a good example. Given the range of variation in fruits and vegetables, the enormous number of possible combinations of their attributes, and the fact that the foods we eat are almost by definition the ones "most suited" for our consumption, it would be extremely improbable that no fruit or vegetable would seem "especially well-suited" for our use.
- Bananas aren't even a good example: the bananas that we eat today were specifically bred by humans to be a size that we like. Natural bananas are much smaller and are full of cherry-pit sized seeds. Far from being evidence of God, this is actually evidence of human "design".
- The fact that a banana fits perfectly in our hand might say more about the evolution of hands than it does about bananas. The human hand is very versatile, able to change shape enough to hold a tiny pebble or a large tree branch. Lots of things not designed for our enjoyment also fit in our hands (e.g., weapons).
- The number of objects in the universe that are inedible and even dangerous to humans far outweighs the number of objects that are tasty. Is this evidence of a malevolent designer, or none at all?
- Humans evolved to be able to eat naturally-occurring foods. From this perspective, the argument sounds a bit like Douglas Adams' analogy of a puddle thinking that the hole it's in was perfectly designed to contain it.
- More animals than humans eat bananas (especially naturally occurring bananas). Perhaps bananas were created for monkeys and humans just knew a good thing when they saw it.
- Humans eat all kinds of food and not all of it is easy to get at. The coconut is also enjoyed by humans and yet, apart from having a non-slip surface (like almost all natural objects) and tasting good (like most foods humans eat), it holds none of the other properties of the banana. A cow, whose meat some might say is far more delicious than a banana, is fairly difficult to hold in the hand when in its natural form. Like many other foods, cows also require special preparation before eating, otherwise some dangerous diseases can result. The diseases, by the way, come from bacteria that theists would also say were created by God.
Ray Comfort conceded that this is a bad argument in episode #103 of the Hellbound Alleee show.
He maintains that he no longer uses the banana argument as evidence of a designer because atheists have maliciously removed the argument from its proper context, a segment in which Comfort compares evolution to the natural formation of a Coke can over millions of years.