Perfectly Designed: Bananas and Religion

In this classic video, Kirk Cameron explains — in all seriousness — how God perfectly and exquisitely designed the banana for human use and consumption:

Although the banana’s functional and optimal design features may not cause nightmares for those who understand that bananas evolved like all other plants and were domesticated (i.e., selected) by humans, they do bring to mind Dr. Pangloss and the adaptationist programme.

Most of those who believe that religion is an evolved and beneficial adaptation are group level selectionists.  For them, religion is analogous to Cameron’s banana: it is perfectly designed to bring people together, knit them into cohesive groups, and imbue them with morals.

All that is missing is the paleolithic banana religion, in which hominids — perhaps Homo antecessor or Homo heidelbergensis — discovered a magnificent grove of banana trees and called it Eden.  In this paradise (which presumably was well defended but remains undiscovered), they began holding hands and praising bananas.  Eventually a whole host of banana rituals evolved, including the banana dance.

This prosocial group of banana worshipers became fruitful and multiplied, giving them advantages over other groups who did not worship bananas.  These advantages included the ability to conquer other groups who had banana groves in their territories but failed to engage in banana rituals or worship.

With this just so hypothesis in mind, paleoanthropologists searching for evidence of the earliest religion should look for fossilized banana groves, banana amulets, banana altars, banana carvings, and banana rock-art.

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