Ray Comfort, aka Bananaman, has posted this to his Facebook page twice in fairly quick succession recently, while promoting his fuck-awful “documentary”, Evolution vs God. And no, it really wasn’t any funnier the second time. I’ve seen funnier Dan Lietha cartoons, although that’s only because Lietha’s crippling blindness to the irony of what he writes is inherently hilarious.
I know it’s a cartoon and all, but even then a joke needs a logical structure to it. Observational comedy requires (clue’s in the title here) an observation. Unless you’re one of those ghastly right-wing types who just make stuff up to play to their audience’s prejudices, then really it helps if the observations are somewhat factual. A joke should embed itself partially in reality, otherwise what else are you left with? It sounds pedantic, but seriously, when was the last time you ever laughed at something where that wasn’t based in fact?
Anyway, let’s look at the logical structure since we know that Comfort is trying to make a point, rather than make people laugh here. The text becomes fair game for dissection in this respect.
I’ve been thinking about how no one can create anything from nothing….
Okay, this is mostly true. We can see from experience and observation that things aren’t “created from nothing”. If you want to make a sandwich, you get ingredients and assemble them into a sandwich; it was created, but only in the sense that it was assembled from parts and that a sandwich now exists where there were only the component parts of a sandwich before. You weren’t “created” when you were born, you were assembled. You mind wasn’t “created” at any point, it was assembled as an emergent phenomenon caused by the organisation of neurons in your brain. I’m so sorry if that denigrates your existence by removing the magic from it, but reality sends its regards and says it doesn’t really give a fuck.
Doesn’t that prove everything must have had a creator?
Wait? What? Okay, okay, we could salvage this car crash if the Walter White lookalike in the other panel says something sufficiently witty, but Jesse Pinkman here is playing the protagonist for the creationist, so we must assume they’re supposed to be presented as “right”. In this case, how? Where is the logical connection?
I’m still struggling to find it. I’m trying really hard. I just cannot figure it out. We start with the observation that we only observe ex materia and no ex nihilo creation events, and make a pretty good inference that this means ex nihilo creation is, in fact, impossible. Although that’s just an inference, there are also good logical reasons why it’s impossible, or at least that if it is possible it would break the concept of causality. But how do we go from there to proving that everything had a creator? The first premise says nothing about the nature of the creator, nor anything about creation requiring a “creator”. “Creator” as in an independently acting agent, as we can make a good case for an unconscious physical cause but not for a conscious creator. After all, a car engine “creates” carbon dioxide and water vapour (from hydrocarbons) but we would be hard-pushed to give it the personal agency implied by calling it a “creator”.*
I’m still looking at those two panels. And I’m thinking, and I just can’t see it.
Anyway, I did say the “joke” could be salvaged if the Walter White lookalike could say something sufficiently witty in the last panel. Alas, I lack the wit and charm required, so offer this pitiful re-write that should appeal:
*”Aha!” perks up that one annoying guy in the front row. “But the engine is operated by a human, therefore the human is the creator!” Perhaps, but the human is driving because of their desire to go from A to B. The “creator” is, in fact, the abstract entity of the daily commute.