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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Banana Testifies Of The Genius of God's Creation


Kirt Cameron says that a banana testifies of the genius of God's creation.

He talks about how a "well-made banana" is specifically designed by God to serve humans. I think his argument is cute, and I do think that a banana demonstrates the genius of God's creation, but not in the same way as this particular example.

What is a "well-made banana"?

Bananas come in all different shapes and sizes. Bananas have been cultivated and selected by humans to benefit humans. Say you have 50 different types of bananas. You would pick the one out of the 50 that best suits human interest and cultivate just that one. As time goes on, any time you come across a variation that benefits humans, you would select that one and cultivate it. If you run across a banana that is too big, or too small, you wouldn't cultivate that one and that gene dies off. The point is that the definition of a "well-made banana" is simply that by its own self-serving definition. The bananas that best serve humans are the ones that are selected and cultivated by humans themselves.

What about corn?

Does corn testify of the genius of God's creation? Of all the varieties of corn in the world today, not one is wild. The reason is simply because the plant we call corn today is physically incapable of regenerating itself without the active assistance of man. To the left you can see a picture of teosinte, an ancestor of modern-day corn. Teosinte is not edible and still exists today in Mesoamerica. It is a grass and has tiny little cobs inside of little pods about 4 cm small and they do grow naturally. Compared to modern day corn, It is practically useless, and I would not consider it "well-made" in the context of describing a plant that is beneficial to humans.

Why Can't Corn Reproduce Naturally?

In my research into the cultures of pre-Colombian Mesoamerica, I learned about how they cultivated maize from a grass-like plant to modern corn. During this research, I came across an interesting tidbit on how modern corn had to have been manipulated genetically by humans and by no other means. In Reader's Digest Mysteries of the Ancient Americas, it says:

Modern corn's strength and its weakness lie in its unique grain-bearing "ear," a highly specialized flower cluster whose hundreds of seeds are compactly arranged along a rigid cob, the lot enclosed in tight-fitting, multi-layered husks. These husks prevent the seed kernels from dispersing on their own either on the stalk or when the ear falls to the ground. in fact, only when the ear is shucked and the kernels are forcibly freed can the seeds go fourth to start another season's growth...corn had somehow been manipulated genetically, from varieties that were less satisfactory in size and productivity to varieties that were large and yielding more food value.

What is a "well-made" ear of corn?


When defining a "well-made" ear of corn(as in beneficial to humans), you would consider the food value, the size fits well in your hands, not too big, not too small, it tastes good, etc.

The paradox, if you are to consider intelligent design, is that corn doesn't grow naturally. What you would consider a "well-made" ear of corn has been cultivated by humans over time to benefit humans. This is evident in the fact that there is no such thing as wild corn. Corn has been cultivated over time and the variations that benefit humans the best have been singled out, selected and cultivated. The ancestors to corn like tripsacum and teosinte are of little use to humans, and when compared to corn, they would in no way be considered "well-made" in this context. There did exist wild corn some 7,000 years ago, but it was very similar to teosinte in that it was very small and grass-like. Wild corn doesn't exist anymore today and the only corn that exists is what has been cultivated and selected by humans.

I don't dispute that God has given us this wonderful thing called nature in all its splendid beauty. After all, without teosinte, we wouldn't have corn, so for that I do thank God. However, I do dispute the argument that everything is designed perfectly by God to benefit man as defined and explained in the video. Now, I have to be careful, because I am not saying that God didn't design everything perfectly, I am saying that the definition of intelligent design that I have heard is not congruent with what one can see simply by looking at an ear of corn. God has given us the tools and means to cultivate our agriculture to our benefit by our own liking, or own choosing and by our own definition. It is almost as if we are given some kind of "free agency" in this selection process. The true intelligent design is the fact that God has provided us with plants and animals that can change and adapt to the environment as well as what we consider "well-made". It seems to me that the most intelligent design is something that can change and go through a selection process.

If there is such a thing as "intelligent design" as defined by many, I think the banana is a very poor example to use. The ability of obtaining the most beneficial banana to humans through the selection process is really what testifies of the genius of God's creation.

Skeptical Mormon

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

It actually reinforces the whole idea of intelligent design.

Remember, it is the evolutionsists who must defend a world in which biological mechanisms 100,000s of times more complex than an ear of corn just happened to come about without any outside intelligence involved in the process.

If something as simple as an ear of corn is impossible without a husbandman, just think of the impossiblity of something as complex as the Earth's earth's ecosystem with its variety and complexity of life springing up all on its own without the aid of the Divine Husbandman.

Zelph said...

Anon-

That draws a good point and I thank you for your insight. I think it does reinforce the concept of a creator, but still doesn't convince me that God designed EVERYTHING just the way it is.

Perhaps by God's own definition, everything is designed perfectly, but we are capable of taking that perfect design and modify it to our own liking. Maybe that is the way God intended it. I am saying that there is such a thing as artificial selection, and that is what God intended.

I think when you look at the reverse, you can see that if humans can cultivate and shape things like bananas, corn or even breeds of dogs, why can't God use this same process? If we are able to do it, I would say that God is also capable of doing it. We would call this process natural selection.

I agree with you that this demonstrates a need for a cultivator, but that contradicts the core idea of intelligent design. Intelligent design as I have heard it explained to me is that everything is created by God intelligently. As I pointed out, there are many problems with this assumption. What about all the different variations of bananas that are not “well-made”? Are those mistakes of God? Of course not, but many of those different variations do not fit with the idea of intelligent design.

I don’t see how natural or artificial selection affects whether or not there is a God. Why does it have to be one or the other?

nathanielmacrae said...

This is an excellent post. I was on here the other day with a note to introduce myself, but I deleted the comment because I thought it might be inappropriate.

From my recent conversation with a particular Mormon chap, it seems that the mormon understanding of the nature of God is very different to say, the Biblical nature of God...that God is the source of all things, that the buck stops with Him...that before Him and after Him, there is no-one else...

...which is diametrically opposed to J. Smith's claim that God was once man etc.

On my blog, I have a video excerpt of John Piper who presents the Sovereignty and Supremacy of Christ. Once we get a glimpse of how powerful God is, we might come to appreciate the fact that there is nothing that happens on this earth and the whole universe that He does not already know about! I don't know if you allow external links or whatever, but here is that video of Mr. Piper, "Supremacy of Christ"...

Zelph said...

Nathan-

You are welcome to post anytime and I appreciate your input. Thank you for that video, it was very insightful and interesting.