SkepticblogSkepticblog logo banner

top navigation:

Bananaman slips again

by Donald Prothero, Aug 13 2014

Followers of the evolution-creation wars in this country have heard about Ray Comfort, a glorified street preacher with limited education (he has no college degree) from New Zealand who runs a ministry out of Bellflower, California, called the “Living Waters.” In his appearance, he reminds me of Sonny Bono, except he’s not as smart. He is very prominent on the internet, with dozens of videos (especially his “Way of the Master” series) pushing his theology, and especially attacking evolution. His publicity and high visibility have sold lots of his books (most of which are short titles cobbled together by reprinting stuff from the public domain). Together with washed-up actor Kirk Cameron, they have been constant gadflies preaching against science and evolution, and doing anything possible to generate publicity and sales, especially challenging evolutionists to pointless debates.

I first saw Comfort in action when he and some of his minions came to stalk the huge crowds gathered to hear Richard Dawkins speak at Caltech for a Skeptic Society event. They mingled about, trying to preach creationism, and handing out their little paperback versions of Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species.” However, this book is no true work of Darwin. Comfort has deliberately edited the text to make it sound favorable to creationism, and added a long introduction that is one debunked creationist trope after another. Keeping with his habit of stalking scientists and secularists, I next saw him at a freethought convention in Orange County, where he snuck in without paying for the conference, and tried to interview some of the speakers. He baited P.Z. Myers into an interview, and P.Z. willingly talked to him, not caring that Comfort would selectively edit the interview to make it sound like P.Z. doubted evolution. Unlike the other big fundamentalist creationist ministers who focus on their own flock, Comfort’s approach is as a stalker and gadfly. His mission is to gather video footage that he can take back to his editing room and webmaster, and edit it down to create a “gotcha” moment and make secularists look foolish.

Comfort is most famous for proudly and unabashedly demonstrating his profound ignorance of any kind of science—and then doubling down on the stupid when he is called out for it, rather than retracting or apologizing. He doesn’t seem to care that scientists and secularists are laughing at him, because for him, any kind of publicity is good publicity. His flock doesn’t know or care that he is completely incompetent when it comes to science. His creationist arguments are a litany of the dumbest and most low-brow of all the long-debunked tropes that creationists ever used, and he never quits using them when they are debunked. His notion of evolution is asking scientists to show how a cat could evolve from a dog, or how a male dog could mate unless a female dog were evolved at the same time. Most often, he shows his complete ignorance of biology by imagining that each biological system must arise independently, not that each system is present in more primitive forms, and then co-evolves. In one interview he said:

As blood began to evolve, it couldn’t get around the body, so he evolved a heart to pump it around. The heart would take a long time to evolve, and it also needed a complex system of blood vessels to evolve. So survival was impossible for the first pre-human primitive life form.

In a interview on Pat Robertson’s show he said:

There is a big bang, life forms, and after millions of years a dog evolves. It is the first dog. He has got legs, tail, teeth, eyes – and it’s good he has good he has eyes because he has to look for a female, he has been blind for millions of years but now he can see. He has got to find a female. She has got to be evolved at the right place at the right time with all the reproductive organs and a desire to mate. Because without a female, he is a dead dog.

Comfort constantly harps on the argument from design, especially the design of the eye, and his response to the evidence that our eye is poorly designed with a blind spot is “I don’t have a blind spot in my eye. Both of them see very well and I am thankful for the 137 million light sensitive cells that make sight possible. Do you have a blind spot in your eye? If you do, I suggest that you see an optician and see if he can either fix it, or get you another eye.” He claims that dolphins are fish, that the earth does not move, that men have one less rib than women, and denies that transitional fossils exist—but of course, he expects the fossil to be a crocoduck, not a fossil predicted by the actual process of evolution of which he is so profoundly ignorant.  He admits to quote-mining but says that lying for Jesus is OK because it’s for the Lord, and has been repeatedly caught plagiarizing material for his books.

Wild bananas look nothing like the cultivated product we eat. They are like cacao pods, with thick husks, dry tasteless flesh, and inedible seeds.

Wild bananas look nothing like the cultivated product we eat. They are like cacao pods, with thick husks, dry tasteless flesh, and inedible seeds.

Comfort’s most famous and revealing gaffe was what he called “The Atheists’ Nightmare”: a series of videos where he bragged that the banana was perfectly designed by God for us to hold, the stem is designed to be an easy opening top, the surface is non-slip, and the color tells us when it’s ripe or not. When he began running these videos, he was immediately slammed because he once again demonstrated complete and profound ignorance of science. Indeed, the banana IS designed for humans, because it has been artificially selected by growers and breeders for centuries to have just those properties. The wild banana that god supposedly created has none of those properties: it is a small, dry pod full of inedible bad-tasting seeds that looks like a cacao pod, and a bad-tasting flesh as well. Only by cultivating an asexual triploid clone of the wild banana, and selectively breeding it for commercially-valuable characteristics have humans made the banana we now eat. And the fact that they are clones and genetically limited has caused the modern banana to be subject to all sorts of diseases and pests that don’t attack the wild banana, and made banana growers very worried about worldwide crop failure should something serious come along to infest their crops. When this was pointed out to Comfort, he did not back down, but kept on not only promoting the banana as “designed by God,” but began to do the same with other fruits and vegetables, even though none of them are in their wild state as “created by God” but are only edible because humans have modified them too. It takes real chutzpah (or rank stupidity)  to learn of your mistake, and double down in not only repeating it, but extending it without learning the lesson the first time.
Well, Ray has done it again. In a tweet a few weeks ago, he claimed that there is no gravity in outer space. In his words:

If the Bible isn’t God-inspired, explain why how [sic] the writer of the Book of Job knew 3000 years ago that “the earth hangs upon nothing” (Job 26:7). It wasn’t until thousands of years later that science discovered that gravity doesn’t exist in space, and that this massive does indeed hang upon nothing.

A number of people, including P.Z. Myers on the Pharyngula blog, were laughing uproariously all over the internet at this incredible demonstration of ignorance of science, something even a high-schooler would never say. After all, the first thing you learn about gravity is how it controls the motions of stars and planets. Apparently, the fact that low-mass objects like humans in space craft experience “zero gravity” (an expression that is a bit misleading), no gravity exists in space at all! But once again, the Bananaman doubled down on the ignorance and stupidity. He dragged out an old quote against atheism from Isaac Newton (who was a devout man, just like anyone of  his time)—and then still insisted that the earth hangs on nothing!

He may be an ignorant, uneducated, meddling fundamentalist loon, but I don’t think that his religion is his main motivation. No, Ray Comfort just craves attention, and if he can get the atheist internet community to laugh at him, he’s happy.

46 Responses to “Bananaman slips again”

  1. Jared says:

    The creationists. Their getting desperate

  2. Ed Graham says:

    He should be arrested for slandering the Universe. Would be entertaining if he didn’t have a following.

  3. John H says:

    It’s hard to get all that worked up over the dim-witted loony fringe. The real challenge is getting the lawyers that end up in positions of political power to understand the basics of science and reason.

  4. Richard Forrest says:

    The problem is that although to anyone with a modicum of education – let alone common sense – is clear that although Comfort spouts blatant (and dishonest) nonsense, that is irrelevant to those predisposed to believe that “evolutionism” exists to persecute “true” Christianity.
    I don’t know if Comfort actually believes what he preaches, but have no doubt that provided he tells the ignorant and ill-educated what they want to hear they will continue to support him. Nobody ever lost money by overestimating the ignorance and gullibility of creationists. Creationism is a good money-spinning vehicle for those with utter contempt for truth, and the intelligence of their followers for that matter. And, as the case of Kent Hovind so clearly demonstrates, even when exposed as cheats liars they claim religious persecution and maintain their cash cow.

  5. Old Rockin' Dave says:

    Doing a search, I get about 3.5 million results for “Santa Claus” and 600,000 for “tooth fairy”.
    The phrase “Ray Comfort” gave about 98,000 results.
    “Evolution” gets over 57 million hits.
    From this I conclude that Santa Claus is very likely real, the tooth fairy is plausible, evolution is a dead certainty, and Ray Comfort probably doesn’t exist.

    • A.Zetetic says:

      Using Google, I get:

      23.4 million returns for Santa Claus,
      4.8 million for tooth fairy,
      168 million for evolution, and
      16.3 million for Ray Comfort.

      Even Bing returns 9.5 million for Ray Comfort. What search engine are you using, Dave, Fisher-Price?? Point taken, though!

      • Steve says:

        “Ray Comfort” (with quotes) < Ray Comfort (without quotes).

      • Jerome says:

        Ah – a good scientist – question everything and verify. Bit of a pain in the arse in this context mind you.

      • Bo says:

        Search for “Ray Comfort” with the quotes. That searches for the exact phrase, as opposed to searching without quotes which will searches for all pages that contain the word ray and the word comfort.

      • Ole Rockin' Dave says:

        I use Startpage, which doesn’t record IP addresses or use tracking cookies. I also searched for the two-word terms in quotes. Obviously, searching for sites that include the words “ray” and “comfort” as separate search terms will return a lot of hits that have nothing to do with Ray Comfort or that may include one or the other but not both. Using the quotes around Ray Comfort’s name dropped the hits from 9 million to 98,000. I doubt that the hits left out will detract very much from the relevancy of the returns.

  6. Matt says:

    He’s clearly in it for the cash. The wilful ignorance covers the sound of cash registers.

  7. Matt says:

    Oh and the delicious delicious attention.

  8. Matt says:

    Oh and the delicious delicious attention.

  9. BobM says:

    So he’s in America now? Thank God :-). Please, please keep him. He’s done enough damage here.

    • I wish you folks from the Southern Hemisphere WOULDN’T send us any more evangelists and creationist loons! We have Ken Ham from Australia, and now Ray Comfort, the Kiwi. I wish you’d take them back!

      • WScott says:

        “Give me your tired, your poor, your ignorant blowhards yearning for a larger audience, the wretched morons of your teeming shore…”

      • BobM says:

        They go to America because it’s the land of opportunity :-). It’s much more fertile ground over there and they can make lots more money. If I had the slightest bit of influence with the government I’d revoke the mad bugger’s passport while he was away. But unfortunately…

      • Nick says:

        You guys down under have such beautiful surroundings. I wouldn’t mind going there to preach the good word of the Flying Spagetti Monster, but alas, your smaller population probably wouldn’t support my ministry and I would end up living under a bridge somewhere. ;-) Ramen!

      • Mark Scurry says:

        The strange thing is Don, they are virtually unknown here. For whatever reason, most of the diehard creationists in Australia are up in Queensland, there are very few in Melbourne or Sydney.

        What’s more embarrassing is people may associate us to Ken Ham purely via his accent. We’re not all like that, honest!

  10. seth says:

    i went to a girlfriends Sunday services once and was flabbergasted to hear the pastor claim that sheep and dairy cows were “proof of god” because there is no way they could survive in the wild…he seemed to have no idea that humans bred and domesticated them from wild stock to suit their own purposes…the saddest part was looking around at the hundreds of people eagerly agreeing with his statements. Evolution is a beautiful thing and the complexity of life is profoundly beautiful as well, to simply say, “god wiggled his nose and they appeared”, cheapens the magnificence of the incredible process that is evolution. They love to get offended when we state the widely proven scientific facts, i think it’s high time we start getting offended at their need to dumb down the extraordinarily intricate events that created the world as it is today…we need to express our pride in evolutionism in the same ways they express pride in their glaring short sightedness, and refusal to look at the truth!

    • Dave says:

      Many years ago I was intrigued by the “understanding” of a kind yet naive words of a believer, who marveled that God had created so many breeds of canine. I was speechless.

    • tmac57 says:

      I’m surprised that the pastor also didn’t mention Mount Rushmore as evidence for God’s work.

    • Jerome says:

      I went out with a girl about 20 years ago, she was hot. Come to church with me she said…why not, I’ve got an open mind. Pastor opened his talk with a joke…”what do you tell a woman with two black eyes? nothing, you’ve already told her twice”. I walked out and have not been in “god’s house” since.

  11. Howard says:

    As others have said, Comfort’s rantings aren’t necessarily an indication of his intelligence or lack thereof. They probably reflect that of his audience. The world is full of preachers, priests, rabbis etc. who no longer believe what they preach (see They can’t stop since it’s what pays the bills.

  12. bemtikru says:

    imagine how mentally retarded must you be to buy his shit. people buying this are the problem, not him.

    • oldebabe says:

      Yes, you’ve said it, bemtikru, that some people believe `his shit’ to be real is what is frighening… What he preaches is itself just nonsense and rather laughable.

    • martha says:

      How smart you has nothing to do with it. My brother is very smart, IQ off the charts. He had a number of health problems, in large part of psychological origin. He found Jesus and felt “cured.” He now buys into the whole conservative evangelical Christian dog and pony show.

  13. Ramiro says:

    I would suggest to stop calling him banana man or puting things like “he has no college degree” unless you want to be in the same level as he is. Facts are enough to show when someone is wrong, the rest is sharing the same stupidity that we really need to avoid.

  14. Miguel Lucke says:

    The odd and illogical arguments wielded by Mr. Comfort are not the key issue. The real problem is that there are people lending him an ear. That IS much more worrisome that all the weird non-sequiturs he spouts.

  15. Wissdok says:

    I am an atheist but I always hate when this discussion comes up. The simple fact is that the “dessert” banana that everyone talks about isn’t a man-made creation, but a 1830s mutated plantain. While it has three “parent” plants, it is almost completely sterile. The regular plantain is a popular plant in Southeast Asia and was renamed by the French and English during the time they had a trade rivalry with the Spanish. By the time of the 1800s all the people of Northern Europe used the banana name. Again, the “sweet”, “dessert” or simply the “yellow” banana, isn’t a development of 1000s of years of cultivation, but a simple accident of nature. Claiming otherwise makes people just a stupid as the people they criticizes.

  16. trog69 says:

    I visited Mr. Comfort’s website a few years ago, and there would be hundreds of comments appended to every one of his posts. Most of them were atheists or at least skeptics, and they seemed to enjoy bashing their own heads against the wall, because it was all profit for Ray-Ray. He even took to one or two misinformed commenters-always the easiest to debunk-and write an entire new post arguing with them. That would set off yet another round of skeptics/nonbelievers arguing with themselves, and the cycle continued. It was maddening to see so many intelligent people eating right out of his hand.

    • Peter Robinson says:

      On the plus side, wasting his time replying to the critics is no bad thing. The more he is tied to his keyboard trying to come up with counter arguments, the more he is distracted from other ventures.

  17. Orran Bierstein says:

    He has such a poor grasp on basic logical reasoning that I actually had significant difficulty in attempting to discern his reasoning, it was both humorous and frightening.

  18. Martin says:

    On behalf of all Kiwis, we are so very sorry for this man.

    • BobM says:

      Don’t apologise on my behalf please – as far as I’m concerned it’s someone else’s turn :-).

  19. Aaron Hill says:

    I gave that attention whore a like, attention whores love likes!

  20. macnutz says:

    I agree that his motivation is not religious but financial and as food for a large ego. Sadly, he is very aware of the weaknesses and ignorance of his target audience.

  21. Abel says:

    Money will make people say anything. Ray Comfort is a money and attention whore.

  22. Vincent says:

    “Followers of the evolution-creation wars in this country have heard about Ray Comfort, a glorified street preacher with limited education (he has no college degree) from New Zealand who runs a ministry out of Bellflower, California, called the “Living Waters.” In his appearance, he reminds me of Sonny Bono, except he’s not as smart. He is very prominent on the internet, with dozens of videos (especially his “Way of the Master” series) pushing his theology, and especially attacking evolution. His publicity and high visibility have sold lots of his books (most of which are short titles cobbled together by reprinting stuff from the public domain).”

    Seems quite smart to me, business-wise.

  23. Andre says:

    This reminds me of two quotes;
    “Christianity started out in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise.” – Richard Halverson

    Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful. – Seneca(4 BC –AD 65)

    So, Ray is the real life version of the above two quotes! This happens when theory meets real life examples.

  24. Mobius says:

    “…the fact that low-mass objects like humans in space craft experience ‘zero gravity’…”

    It is not that the objects are low-mass that makes then experience “zero gravity”. It is the fact they are in free fall with no other forces acting upon them. Objects in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) are being accelerated at very nearly 32 feet per second per second, the acceleration we experience here on the surface of the Earth. The reason objects in LEO do not fall to the ground is their high lateral velocity, around 17,000 mile per hour. That means they fall “around” the Earth rather than falling down to the ground.

    The force of the Earth’s gravity diminishes as you get farther from its center (by the inverse-square law), but never completely disappears (though it does become infinitesimal).

  25. Ashley Haworth-roberts says:

    As posted under the 30 July blog post (when I came here yesterday I could not see any more recent blog post than that):

    The battle in the US continues:

  26. Ashley Haworth-roberts says:

    Comfort has claimed that there is not even any EVIDENCE for evolution (and the ever more strident Ken Ham has started ape-ing this).