The Fish Wars
A Battle Between Two Worldviews...
The Fish Wars
A Battle Between Two Worldviews...
In the parking lot of the community college where I teach biology, I witness battles taking place every day. These aren't violent gangs fighting each other with knives, but wars of worldviews -- with fish as the weapon of choice.
Many cars sport Jesus fish decals: some contain the word "Jesus," some have the Greek letters IXOYE which represent "Jesus Christ God's Son and Savior," and some are just plain old fish. On other cars, I see fish sprouting legs with the word "Darwin" inside. On yet other cars, a fish saying TRUTH is devouring the Darwin-fish. Its all-out fish warfare, I'd say, but what does it all mean?The Christian fish is a positive expression of faith
The Christian fish symbol represents the way that some early believers communicated with one another to avoid persecution. When meeting a stranger, one person would draw an arc -- one side of the fish. If the stranger was not a Christian, they would not think anything of their new friend's scribblings, but then the Christian knew to be cautious when speaking about Jesus (in order to avoid persecution). But if the stranger was a believer, he or she would complete the fish by drawing the other side, and then open communication regarding matters of Christianity could take place. Ancient etchings of the fish are still visible on the walls of Rome's catacombs, the secret meeting place of early Christians. Today, Christians put fish decals on their car as a positive expression of their faith.
The Darwin fish decal affirms a person's acceptance of the scientific evidence for evolution. People who use Darwin decals may think that evolution disproves the existence of God -- a worldview opposed to religious belief. As a parody of the Christian symbol, it expresses a not-so-subtle attack on Christianity. One company who sells Darwin fish, California-based Ring of Fire, says that they consider it a parody of the "creationist theory supported by fundamentalist Christians."
Honestly, the whole fish decal wars drive me bonkers! I have thought about putting one of each decal on my bumper: a fish to declare my devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ, and a fish with feet to show I support and agree with the scientific theory of evolution.
What? How can a Christian accept and agree with evolutionary theory? Doesn't evolution prove there is no God? Isn't evolution "work of the devil"?
On the contrary, I will explain how scientists -- and college biology teachers like myself -- understand evolutionary biology and why we need to define our terms. I will also explain how some people have falsely made philosophical conclusions from a scientific theory, leading to the unnecessary and irrational Fish Wars.Can Science Test All Things?
As Christians, we believe that God created the earth and everything in it. "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made" (John 1:3). Because of that fact, what valid science reveals about God's creation will never and can never contradict what God intended in the inspired creation account of Genesis. God is not deceptive, but rather a loving God whose wonder and glory is reflected in His creation.
People use science to study the natural world, and to figure out how it operates. The scientific method and peer review system (where scientists anonymously review one another's work before publishing in respected journals) were developed to prevent human bias and personal opinion from influencing a scientist's results. When followed properly, scientific research simply reveals how the natural world physically operates.
It is important to note that scientists can't test all ideas. Natural science by definition only examines the physical, not the metaphysical. Thus scientists can not experimentally test for the supernatural existence of a Creator because God's presence is spiritually discerned. "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor. 2:14)
Accepting that a spiritual or supernatural realm exists is one expression of faith. Paul writes, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against -- the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm." (Eph. 6:12) Therefore, no matter what science reveals about natural history and the development of organisms, it can never disprove -- or prove -- the existence of God.
Define Your Terms!
Before we can discuss evidence for evolution, we must define terms or we risk making false statements, or causing confusion instead of bringing understanding. The word "evolution" evokes strong feelings in many people, and before the discussion can move toward a resolution, everyone needs to use the same definitions.
On a separate page, I have defined key evolution terms in their most accepted usage. If even thinking about the evolution of humans bothers you, simply apply these terms to animals, plants, an other organisms while excluding humans from your definition for the time being.
The two most important definitions to understand are:
Evolution: Taken in its most basic form, evolution simply means change. The biology textbook1 I teach from defines evolution as "the cumulative genetic changes in a population from generation to generation."
Unfortunately, "evolution" is used at various times to mean microevolution, macroevolution, evolutionary biology, neo-Darwinism, and evolutionism, all of which I explain on the definition page.Evolutionism: The philosophical position that states evolutionary theory is incompatible with belief in God. Evolutionism is often what Christians mean when saying they oppose evolution, although it is often confused with the science of evolution. Evolutionism is an invalid extension of evolutionary biology out of science and into the realm of philosophy.
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Darwin fish image used with permission of Evolution Design, Karnes City, TX.
"Fish War" graphic courtesy of Gene McKenna
Text Copyright © 2000 Wendee Holtcamp