Darwin fish

The Darwin fishOur Darwin fishes arrived today. The fish has long been a symbol used by Christians many of whom today sport a badge showing a stylized fish outline. If you wish for an explanation, you will find one here here.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before it occurred to a witty atheist that a fish could as easily be a symbol of unbelief. This would of course be no ordinary fish but a fish with legs, a coelacanth, the very archetype of evolution in action. And so it came to pass that the Darwin fish was created, no doubt on the eighth day of creation.

The Darwin fish is no less charming for being slightly obvious. It is a visual pun but also has a character of its own. There are several variants and they come in silver and gold and different colours. One of my favourites is the Evolve fish, who not only has legs but also carries a spanner. You can see one here.

Why would you wear a Darwin fish badge? I don’t know about you and can only speak for myself. I have never been one to join organizations and associations or to sport membership badges and so on but the Darwin fish is a free-floating symbol. It doesn’t belong to any organization, not even an atheist one. In fact, I can even imagine a Christian who believes in evolution wearing this fish as a sort of double pun (Christian fish + evolution). Notwithstanding this, the badge does I think immediately suggest support for Darwinian evolution as opposed to creationism and therefore support for atheism rather than religious belief.

Above all, it’s a bit of fun. Creationists may carp* but I cannot imagine anyone sincerely feeling threatened by people wearing this symbol. Mildly irritated possibly, but not threatened.

*I promise you that this was an accidental pun!

About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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25 Responses to Darwin fish

  1. Bad says:

    I’ve never liked it precisely because it’s sort of bumpersticker logic: it’s a cheap swipe at something someone else is doing (and generally doing in sincerity in a completely different context). And by using evolution to swipe at Christianity, it reinforces the false idea that evolution is a weapon of atheism, rather than just good science anyone should appreciate the evidence for regardless of what else they believe.

  2. SilverTiger says:

    At Β£5.45 + p&p perhaps you are justified in calling it cheap. You make a valid point though whether or not I agree with it is another question.

    I don’t really see it as a “swipe” but others may well do. It’s all a matter of opinion, I suppose.

    Tigger and I have had many conversations with believing Christians and on the whole these have been good-humoured and amiable. I would imagine that a lot of Christians would see the humorous side of these badges.

    The other point is, of course, the even the “Christian fish” is not copyright and is not the property of Christians. Anyone can use it for any purpose they wish whether or not this refers to Christians and their beliefs.

  3. SilverTiger says:

    Mmmm, I love spaghetti. I’m just waiting for them to bring out a Flying Spaghetti Monster with pesto sauce then, believe me, I’ll get one πŸ˜€

  4. objectivewriting says:

    We all make statements in our own way, i even considered (briefly so) buying one of Dawkins’ scarlett “A” shirts to wear out and see if anybody got it. The symbols, like yours, are a symbol of solidarity though, and i can’t fault people for seeking it. And the symbol is more for those who find comfort in their solidarity with you than vice versa.

    Just remember that you are jabbing at those who advertise their religion on their cars by advertising your lack thereof on your car.

    Nice post, i’ll be sure and drop by.


  5. SilverTiger says:

    To objectivewriting,


    Yes, while these symbols are fun (I have the Darwin fish on my jacket and the Scarlet A on my “man bag”), solidarity is an important issue. In the years I have been online, I have met several people who were hesitant about exposing their unbelief and confided it to me in private. Some presented as religious in their daily lives for fear of the consequences. If such people can be comforted by the knowledge that they are not alone and that there are others they can associate with so as to live more in harmony with their beliefs and feelings, that is a good thing.

    Also, there is a good deal of ignorance among believers as to what atheism actually is and extremist religious leaders encourage this ignorance by repeating myths. The more visible atheists are, leading normal, moral lives, the more difficult it becomes to perpetuate these false views.

  6. objectivewriting says:

    It is good that people like yourself serve as an example (though i would not expect in London for that to be too necessary). I stopped writing on the topic (i’m simply new to this blog thing, so here i am) for a long time simply because those who saw my p.o.v. were most valuable in discussing other ideas. And those who did not couldn’t identify anyway. And those who led a life of denial in fear i simply had no patience for.

  7. SilverTiger says:

    It’s easy for us in Britain but there are countries where it isn’t so easy. In a land where people kill one another over doctrinal differences those with no doctrine are likely to be the target of all.

    I am not sure whether you mean you have started a blog only recently or that you haven’t started it yet. It’s addictive once you start πŸ™‚

  8. Chris says:

    Your use of the word ‘carp’ was an accidental pun, was it?

    In other words, it was not in-tench-onal.

  9. objectivewriting says:

    just discovered the blog thing yesterday. This is going to be a distraction.

  10. Ted Marcus says:

    The “Darwin fish” is commonly seen here as a metallic badge on the bumpers of cars. Regrettably, the original “Jesus fish” is somewhat more common. And then there’s the inevitable version that features a “Darwin fish” being devoured by a larger fish labeled “TRUTH.”

    It all sounds fishy to me.

  11. Ted Marcus says:

    It’s so good to see that you’ve finally started wearing your religious beliefs on your sleeve (literally)!

  12. JustMe says:

    I’m not a creationist, but the Darwin fish does mildly irritate me. I see it as a perversion of someone’s sacred religious symbol, which could be interpreted as a lack of tolerance or religious bigotry. Sort of like wearing a Star of David with a picture of a pork chop at the center of it. Maybe I’m just too “politically correct”.

  13. SilverTiger says:

    objectivewriting Says: just discovered the blog thing yesterday. This is going to be a distraction.

    An enjoyable one, I hope.

    Ted Marcus Says: […] It all sounds fishy to me.

    There is something of a fad for wearing badges (both serious and humorous) at the moment. As long as it all remains good-humoured, I don’t see any problems.

    I have the fish on my chest, not my sleeve. And of course, I am not displaying “religious beliefs” since (a) atheism is not a belief (it is lack of belief) and (b) there is, by definition, nothing religious about atheism.

    JustMe Says: I’m not a creationist, but the Darwin fish does mildly irritate me.

    Your feelings are your feelings and you have as much right to them as anyone else. I would make the following points:

    The primary Christian symbol is the cross, not the fish. While the cross is universally seen as Christian “property”, I don’t think the fish is in anything like the same category. No one owns rights to the fish symbol; anyone can use it for any purpose and plenty of people are doing so, usually for humorous ends.

    Atheists as a group have not hitherto had a symbol. Hence Richard Dawkins’ invention of the Scarlet A which atheists can use to make public their solidarity with one another. We don’t yet know whether it will become universally used and recognized. In the meantime, if the Darwin fish is used humorously to make a point (primarily against creationism, not against Christianity) I see very little harm in it.

    You can read anything you like into a symbol. For example, I am irritated by the way Northern Irish Protestants wave the Union Flag about as a symbol of their rights and beliefs, since I do not consider these to be at all “British” but highly partisan. On the other hand, as British citizens, they have as much right to the flag as I have.

    Atheists have historically taken a lot of stick from religious organizations. If they now wish to stand up and peacefully reclaim some rights for themselves, it is only right and fair that they should do so. Compared with this, a little humorous bandying about of a Darwin fish is hardly important.

  14. narziss says:

    the problem is that atheists, who are otherwise basing their philosophy on logic, sometimes turn a blind eye towards certain things, or at best, look at them a bit superficially…
    I was once an atheist. And I love science very profoundly. But one thing that you people have all got wrong, is that evolution corroborates your theory.

    It doesn’t.

    I am a pantheist, and pantheism does not bend down, modify, or debunk even a single proposition of science. It is totally in tune with the big bang theory, the theory of evolution, all other physical laws, and even the string theory, if you know what that is…

    Since there are many perceptions and variations in the term “pantheism”, I will let my stand be a bit more unambiguous. Pantheism debunks the idea of an “external” or an “ex-nihilist” creator, and rather proposes that there is ONE entity in existence- the summation of every thing that exists- and you can call this “God” if you want to. This entity is an intelligent entity, and does every thing for perfect reasons.
    We are, therefore, fragments or parts of this entity, (which fragmented itself for reasons). That is to say, GOD is ALL, and ALL is GOD.

    If you have an open, rational mind (which sometimes many atheists too don’t have today), I would recommend this book “Conversations with God” by Neale Donald Walsch. Though if you read it with a sense of acquiescent scepticism, it’s probably not going to help anyway.

    Many people debunk Pantheism without going into the depths of what they say. They look at it superficially, and it is one theosophy that you need to go deep into, because the superficial outlook is very misleading. It is not a religion, and in fact debunks all religions.
    Richard Dawkins called Pantheism as “sexed up atheism”, but he hardly knows what he’s talking about when he comes to this. He is an epitomized example of someone who has achieved acquiescence in skepticism and disbelief.

    Shopenhauer, who actually happens to one of my favourite philsophers, said that Pantheism has no ethics and morality.

    Quite to the contrary, Pantheism, when it says that everything is a part of the same entity, that is God, all ethics flow out of it.
    What it doesn’t have, in fact, is a forceful hand telling you what is right and what is wrong. It doesn’t have an idea of punishment for doing certain things, and glorification for doing some others.
    In fact, it does not “enforce” anything at all. No universal static concept of morality.

    But on the other hand, it leaves it to our understanding, that whatever we do to any other being/object, we are doing it to a part of ourself. This makes the Pantheistic morality the sturdiest of all, because you do good because you want to, not because some imaginary creator wishes you to…

  15. SilverTiger says:

    Hi narziss, thanks for a very interesting comment.

    There are a couple of things I would say in reply. The first is that it could well happen that I turn a blind eye to things or look at them superficially but that, if I do that, it is because of failings in myself, not because I am an atheist. Atheism doesn’t tell me how to look at things or how not to look at things. The responsibility is mine.

    The next thing is that I, as an atheist, would never dream of “debunking” pantheism or any other religion. That would be a pure waste of time. It is my position that I only accept claims for which there is reasonable evidence. The more improbable the claim (and God is a very improbable claim indeed), the better the standard of evidence required. If you can produce reasonable evidence for pantheism, then I will accept it, at least as a working hypothesis, unless and until something better comes along. So far, no one had shown me any evidence susceptible of inducing me to accept the pantheist proposition.

    As for morals and ethics, I have no difficulty in believing that pantheists are as moral and ethical as everyone else. This is because morality is a human construct, along with such things as meaning and value. Religions always lay claim to morals but in fact morals come first.

    We all have to have a working model of the world in order to operate within it. Your pantheism is such a model. It is not mine but if it floats your boat then as long as you do not use it to abuse and exploit others, but hold it close to yourself, then, as far as I am concerned, your beliefs are your own business. If you wish to debate the subject further, you are welcome to do so.

  16. titus2woman says:

    Not at all irritated here. The first time I saw one, I laughed! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  17. SilverTiger says:

    Good for you, Sandi! πŸ™‚

  18. SilverTiger says:

    Chris Says:

    Your use of the word β€˜carp’ was an accidental pun, was it?

    In other words, it was not in-tench-onal.

    Trying to introduce humour into a serious topic, eh?

    Is this the fin end of the wedge?

  19. mathaytacechristou says:

    I am a Christian and A theistic Evolutionist. Although I believe God set in order the processes of Evolution and Guided it, I would not wear the badge because it definitely has atheistic connotations.

  20. narziss says:

    It is my position that I only accept claims for which there is reasonable evidence.

    I completely agree to this: in fact this is very much how I work too. But the difference would be that I do not say that I haven’t been provided with reasonable evidence, without attempting to seek evidence or trying to go deeper.

    Everything cannot be spoon fed to you. You have to work a bit yourself too. I gave you a book’s name in the previous comment, and if you want to look at another perspective, then you are advised to read that book.

    If however you say that there is no evidence without attempting to read that book, that shows how open minded or scientific you are. I for one swear by logic and science myself. But these, like everything else, are limited.

    As far as the whole concept goes, it doesn’t bother me personally in the least whether you make these attempts or not. Unlike a Christian, pantheists will not be fettered by what others believe in, simply because it doesn’t make the slightest of difference. We don’t have to seek anyone’s “salvation”.
    Its quite analogous to the schizophrenic syndrome, which you would hopefully know about. I have been a Hindu, a Christian, an agnostic, an atheist, again a Christian in my time. Until I discovered the flawless depths that pantheism has in its arguments.

    Yes, so if you want to continue living in a fool’s paradise, and beat your breast that you haven’t encountered evidences when in truth you haven’t made the effort to, by all means, do that. I frankly wouldn’t mind it.
    Or, if you want, you can actually go more than just skin deep into other’s perspectives, and then make a holistic decision: even if it be to stay put to your current philosophy.

    Have a nice life…Enjoy yourself. And I wish you all the love this world can give, because in truth, that’s the best evidence of God. A good scientist knows that a mathematical evidence isn’t feasible for every single thing. That is why there is a concept of empirical evidence.
    And this is God’s empirical evidence. True, unfettered, unconditional, non-judgmental, persisting love.

  21. objectivewriting says:

    Can you help me with a few issues i am having putting the “A” on my website… my email is objectivewriter@hotmail … it has been a few years since my web-design class in college, and i am useless without dreamweaver!

  22. SilverTiger says:

    To mathaytacechristou: I understand your point. Believers differ in their attitudes to evolution theory and to the Darwin fish symbol. I agree that it has “atheist connotations”, as you put it. That’s why we wear it (if we do), of course.

    To narziss: You may think me narrow-minded, if you wish (that’s your privilege), but you cannot know how much I know or what I have studied, so it’s a little arrogant of you to castigate me for not reading one book just because you personally happen to think contains the complete answer. I have read and studied enough to think it most unlikely that yet another book is going to produce a killer argument for the existence of God.

    To objectivewriting: I’ll contact you further about this problem.

  23. SilverTiger says:

    As this post has generated some lively discussion with diverse points of view, may I remind you (or inform you if you didn’t know) that my message board at http://silvertiger.ipbfree.com/ is available if people want to continue the discussion. I would be happy for you to do so. For example, narziss could open a pantheist forum, if he wished and others could do the same for their own particular views.

    In the meantime, continue posting comments here if you wish. The more the merrier.

  24. Kathy says:

    Lovely lapel pin – has given my great ideas for Christmas pressies

    I just ordered myself one of these

    yum yum

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