BY STEVE HAYS
The discovery that man shares half his DNA with bananas has triggered a paradigm shift in religion, paleoanthropology, and bioethics.
Richard Dawkins has already penned several bestsellers on the subject, including The Selfish Banana, The Blind Banana, and Climbing A Banana Split.
In an interview I recently conducted with him, he said, “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in the bananan origin of man, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane or wicked—but I'd rather not consider that.”
Jumping on the bandwagon, Daniel Dennett rushed to press with Darwin’s Dangerous Banana.
Edward O. Wilson published a book entitled Sociobananthropology in which he derives a secular blueprint for human ethics from the social life of bananas.
For his part, Stephen Jay Gould published a book highly critical of Wilson’s thesis, entitled The Mismeasure of Banana-Man. He proposed punctuated paleobananthropology as a scientific alternative to sociobananthropology.
His colleague, Richard Lewontin, has made this an issue of scientific method. In an exclusive interview for this reporter, he said, “We take the side of methodological bananaturalism in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”
By contrast, Francis Collins took issue with Lewontin’s naturalistic bananthropology. Describing his own position as theistic bananthropology, Collins explained to me that man evolved from a banana at the point in time when God miraculously endowed the banana with a rational soul.
Dr. Collins deplored “woodenly literalistic” interpretations of Genesis. He expressed his concern that Appalachian fundies, by their backward denial of bananthropology, would drive many young students away from the Christian faith.
Other lines of dissent have begun to emerge. John Maynard Smith has argued that man is actually descended from a cucumber while Ernst Mayr has argued, to the contrary, that the zucchini is the true ancestor of modern man. In turn, Francis Crick recently proposed the theory of directed panbananaspermia.