3. Behold! Bananas and coconuts!

I wasn’t sure what to write about today. I’m not out of ideas; it’s just that the kids are at home. Focus is a rare commodity when you’re at the beck and call of a hungry eight-year-old and a bored four-year-old. Then it came to me. Not from the shadowy depths of my imagination. From the internet.

I stumbled across an old YouTube clip. Kirk Cameron from “Growing Pains” sits comfortably next to a natty little chap with the sort of moustache you would expect to find on a dodgy Boy Scout master. Moustache guy brandishes a banana at the camera and utters the immortal line “Behold the atheist’s nightmare”. He then proceeds to lay waste to the very foundations of atheism. With a banana. He rocks.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to talk about God. I’m going to talk about coconuts. Soon. Moustache guy’s name is Ray Comfort. He is not an asset to his cause. For two reasons.

First of all, that’s not how you say “behold”. I have never used the word in anger, but someday I hope to. When I’m ready. There will be fire. My face will be lit by its eerie, flickering light. I will raise my arms. A fanfare would be pushing it, but I hope there will at least be some kettle-drums. My voice will rumble up from the depths of my chest, like James Earl Jones on CNN. I will not, Mr Comfort, hold up a banana and say “behold” like I was showing my wife a funny-shaped carrot. What a waste.

Secondly, the good Mr Comfort has chosen the wrong fruit. He argues that God must exist because the banana is so well designed for human use. It cannot be an accident. It’s filled with sweet, nutritious flesh. It has no seeds. It’s easy to peel. It fits in your hand. It curves towards your mouth (How handy is that!!!). Surely some intelligent agent must be behind the design of the humble banana

Behold! Mr Comfort's fruitcase!

Behold! Mr Comfort’s fruitcase!


Mr Comfort is absolutely correct. The banana was designed by an intelligent agent. Us. Bananas have been domesticated for about eight thousand years, about as long as maize. This is what they used to look like.

Evidence of a vengeful god?

Evidence of a vengeful god?

The proto-banana is not filled with sweet, nutritious flesh. It has so many seeds it’s almost inedible. It’s not easy to peel. It doesn’t curve towards your mouth or fit in your hand. We didn’t like that. So we fixed it through selective breeding. Does this mean Mr Comfort’s God is dead? Maybe not. Maybe His disciples just battle when it comes to fresh-produce based metaphors. And facial hair grooming choices. This is a coconut.



It’s what Mr Comfort was looking for. Bugger bananas. Let’s say you wash up on a tropical beach after an ocean-crossingly awesome windsurfing accident. You’re going to be a little thirsty. Don’t look around for a stream. The water might make you sick. Find a coconut. It’s filled with coconut water (not milk) that comes with its own handy container. Once you have slaked your thirst, deal with your hunger by eating some of the remarkably healthy flesh. Time to get settled in.

Do not be disappointed if your coconut is slightly less sexy than this.

Do not be disappointed if your coconut is slightly less sexy than this.

You’re in for some hot work. Make yourself a hat. Luckily, the coconut palm has a ready-made, pre-woven fibre growing around the nuts that’s perfect for the purpose. Ready? Time to organise shelter. Build a framework of long, strong, salt resistant coconut trunks, wall it and roof it with coconut leaves tied on with coconut-fibre rope. Carpet it with coir matting made from coconut husks, and use any you have left to stuff your mattress.

You'll have to order the door from IKEA.

You’ll have to order the door from IKEA.

Done? Now make yourself some coconut milk and coconut oil to cook with, harvest some palm hearts to vary to your diet and collect some sap to make palm wine with. All you need now is a set of clothes made out of coconut fibre with coconut-shell buttons (be warned! There will be chafing involved. This stuff ain’t silk.)

So much chafing. So very, very much.

So much chafing. So very, very much.

Clean yourself up with coconut soap, pack your goods up in a coconut leaf basket, and make your way down the beach to the hotel, where you can call the International Epic Windsurfer Rescue Squad. While you’re busy, you may as well call Mr Comfort and laugh at his banana.

Because here’s the thing. The coconut wasn’t bred to do any of these things. It just does. It’s an accident. A coincidence. You could almost believe that coconuts were designed by some sort of intelligent agent for our convenience. Almost, but not quite. They’re a bugger to open.

36 thoughts on “3. Behold! Bananas and coconuts!

  1. kelloggs77 says:

    If the banana was so perfect for human use, why did someone find the need to invent this: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0047E0EII/ref=tsm_1_fb_lk
    P.S. The comment section for this is hilarious.

  2. Another great post. And you’re right, that is one sexy coconut. The last time I attempted to open a coconut it was anything BUT sexy. It involved at least 3 or 4 different knives, a hammer and an awful lot of mess.

  3. Your blog is too good to exist just as a blog. You should get a book deal for your columns or something. Not that I know anything about publishing or how you would do that. I just like telling other people what they should do.

  4. judedsouza says:

    I have a few thoughts on science and theism: Science was founded on the basic principles of, as per my knowledge, ‘Seeing is believing’. Yes, there can be proof for everything. What about experiencing? Because experiencing is personal and feelings can’t be proven. It rests on the individual’s discretion. I believe in the spiritual realm and there is world beyond the visible world. For example, take the example of casting spells. Being outside the ambit of science, this can be construed as foolish. In psychiatry too, there is no explanation to a demon possessed person. It is too ill-equipped to handle and explain this. The psychiatrists themselves admit that it is a developing science. To add to this, there is no explanation to people who are clinically dead too as to how they survive. I am not here to preach, this is just my opinion.

  5. disperser says:

    Interesting . . . what if you hold the banana wrong, and it curves away from you? Worse yet, you peel it from the bottom up.

    Practically need to be a contortionist to eat . . . do it mean it be no god?

    And what if you make it to the island, and you are laying there, exhausted. You roll on your back . . . and the last thing you see is the coconut that will split your skull rain down on you. Is it still the perfect food?

    • 23thorns says:

      Holding a banana wrong is blasphemy. Repent, or you will find yourself in a hell where the only thing to eat are bananas. Straight bananas.
      As for the coconut, you certainly wouldn’t be hungry anymore!

  6. chloelai says:

    Fantastic! Hahaha ah, the coconut… so overlooked, so underrated. Behold! The best way to pass the time as you wait for the Windsurfers to leave the fun of the waves and come rescue you: Coconut baseball!

  7. narf77 says:

    (3…we got to 3 already? Surely I can survive 100…and this one is about fruit and nuts, I can do that…) I am hoping that should I ever wash up on a deserted island (Only God knows how I would get there as I shun large bodies of water as all clever folk wanting to live longer than a few hours should!) that I remembered to pack my trusty machete. As a vegan I know a bit about coconuts and these babies don’t like to give up the goods! Lovely hut…hope the previous occupant made it well enough… I like my creature comforts…left to my own devices (coconut starved and sunburned to within an inch of my life) I would be laying on the ground making sand angels trying to attract attention from the sky chaffing in all the wrong places but “Bear Gryll’s told me to do it and I am damned well GOING to do it!”. I am SURE that is what Bear Grylls would say…I am hoping that this deserted island also has avocados, the coconuts green bud with the machete free skin option. Does the hotel take coconuts in trade?

  8. Marcia says:

    I’m not quite sure why moustache man has to dream up reasons for his faith. Faith is something you either have or you don’t. There isn’t likely to be concrete proof of your beliefs to be found anywhere, let alone in a banana. Things like this just make those of faith look silly, and that’s too bad. Me, I have faith. But my faith involves a plan that includes evolution for both bananas and people. I see no conflict there, and think Science is a good thing. It helps us understand the world around us, whether we have faith in Higher Powers or not. Silly man. Silly banana. Wonderful coconut. Great post! Except for the chafing, of course. Eeep. Coconut fiber underwear is probably not part of the Grand Design, Intelligent or not.

    • 23thorns says:

      I’m with you. I have no problem with anyone believing in anything, so long as it doesn’t harm anyone else. But I am a little bemused by the sort of person who tries to change the world by lying about bananas. If that’s your game, at least pick a fruit that people can take seriously. Like kumquats.

      • Marcia says:

        Oh, yes! Now, kumquats are fruit to be taken seriously! You know you are onto something profound about the Universe when you get into advanced study of the kumquat. We have kumquats growing here in our neighborhood. Sometimes I walk down the block, just to study them in their natural habitat, and commune with them in the wild. Have you ever looked deeply into the soul of a kumquat? Try it. You’ll never be the same again. (Then go home and say the word “kumquat” ten times in rapid succession and try not to laugh yourself sick at how ridiculous it sounds!)

  9. Must. Not. Make. Fun. Of. The. Moustachieod. Man. With. A. Banana.

    Or you, Delicious Husband, with your mad insistence upon a blog a day even on public holidays and weekends.

  10. Buzzwordz says:

    I love when the believers get scienced! Another great post!

    • 23thorns says:

      I don’t have any beef with the believers. But those who are ignorant of the truth about the mighty banana deserve to be scienced.

      • Buzzwordz says:

        I have no beef with them either, I just do love a good sciencing! I had to have the creationism vs science conversation with my 8 year old twins. I think the Rabbi at their hebrew school is in for a surprise on Monday!

  11. Art Brûlant says:

    Thanks once more. Helps my morning start up. Keep up the dailies. Love your take on the ‘design to God’ thing.

  12. Art Brûlant says:

    Another great one. Keep up the dailies. Nice take on the ‘design to God’ thing. Love it!

    • 23thorns says:

      Thank you. I’m not so sure about the dailies. I might just find that in 97 days all the readers I have cultivated over the last 10 months have wandered off to find something less labour intensive.

      • Joel says:

        They aren’t labour intensive if you like to read.
        The might be conservative intensive… probably not.

  13. Anna says:

    Tips on proper coconut opening?

    • 23thorns says:

      Don’t get me started. There are a few, but none is easy. The nuts are covered in a thick, strong, and pliant mass of fibre. getting that off involves machetes, sharpened spikes, or rocks.

  14. warmginger says:

    You had me spluttering into my tea with the video and then you turned me into the family coconut expert. Shukran!

    • 23thorns says:

      You and my three-year-old. She became besotted with the entertainment director at a hotel we stayed at. He gave a talk on coconuts, and now she has an encyclopedic knowledge of them. I had to check all my facts with her.

      • warmginger says:

        Arabic for thank you.
        We’ve had dinner and I enjoyed my position as the holder of supreme knowledge. I even had a couple of coconuts that I whipped out for my presentation.

  15. I was afraid to watch the video, so thanks for recapping it for me. Loved this post!

  16. johnjroberts says:

    If only they had a zipper. You have a wicked sense of humor. Am enjoying your dailies.

    • 23thorns says:

      If you’re talking about the coconuts, I’m with you. When I was a teenager, I nearly sliced off my big toe trying to get into a green coconut with a steakknife.
      I’m glad you’re enjoying them. I’m still a little conflicted myself.

  17. LindaGHill says:

    That is one sexy coconut!
    Great post – love it! 🙂

  18. Leave it to humans to think any fruit is evidence that people are intelligent enough to suss out the origins of the universe. Maybe we’re designed for predators to come – tasty, fat and sugar-loaded treats. I’ll load myself up with caffeine now for that predator on the go. Enjoyed reading this!

  19. Max Shields says:

    This is an awesome post! Bravo!

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