Originally posted on http://digitaldiatribes.wordpress.com on June 16, 2007.
As I pulled into work the other day, I maneuvered my vehicle into a parking spot immediately behind a vehicle exhibiting the Darwin salamander. Or at least I think it’s a salamander. It’s like a fish with legs, except that fish don’t have legs. I heard of some prehistoric fish that they think may have had legs and is the argument for how animals went from sea to land, so maybe it’s supposed to be that thing. Anyway, what it is supposed to actually portray is irrelevant, but it’s the kind of random stuff that keeps me up at night.
But as I looked at this little $3 item that someone chose to slap on their car, I started contemplating this whole competition we’ve engaged in. There is an unsettling aspect to it that I don’t think really struck me before.
It used to be that people put the fish symbol on their car as a testament to their Christianity. It’s a traditional symbol that was used as kind of a code back in times when there was extreme persecution of Christians. One way of identifying someone as a Christian was a subtle little fish symbol. I would be lying if I said I knew the complete history and all the details, but that’s the general idea, as I understand it. Now, regardless of how accurate the whole story about this is, let’s fast-forward to present times. The fish symbol once again gained popularity among Christians as a subtle bumper sticker. It’s pretty harmless. It’s not an in-your-face bumper sticker or a crucifix or anything overly blatant. It’s a fish. To the person in the car, it’s simply a statement of faith and belief.
Now, what struck me is that this little item is used to profess faith in our God, Jesus Christ. It was not intended as some larger argument about the details of theological thought. It does not testify, necessarily, to one’s personal views on Creationism, Evolution, or Intelligent Design, or anything of the sort. It doesn’t even really provide information on Christian denomination. It merely says “Fish = Christian.”
And so, the unsettling part of the whole Darwin Salamander is not whether it’s a fish with legs or a lizard or a turtle. It’s that the item on the car is a direct rebuff of the Jesus fish. Think about it… the fish professes a faith in God. The person in the car with the Darwin tag has openly professed a replacement of Jesus with Darwin, or at the very least, evolution (or science). Jesus is gone. Jesus is unnecessary. Christians are worshipping the wrong thing. Darwin/Evolution/Science is the new god, the new faith.
Now, personally, I can actually reconcile a belief in Evolution with being a Christian, so long as the belief is that Evolution occurs through God’s will and plan – that God chose to institute an immortal soul into man at some point. That the Creation story, while not literal, is nonetheless completely true in what it teaches regarding God as Creator. Now, I don’t actually believe that Evolution is true as it is professed by many proponents. But my reasoning is based on critical observation, reasoning, and my understanding of the science. I see a lot of holes, have questions that are unable to be answered, and add a dose of common sense. If, however, it were proven without a reasonable doubt that man has an acestor in a paramecium, my faith does not rest on my skepticism of evolutionary theory, and thus would not be shaken by this conclusion. I am wary, however, of the attitude of many who are proponents of Darwinian thought when they somehow suggest that proof of Evolution disproves God as Creator. It does nothing of the sort. Should Evolution be proven, all it tells us is how we got to the point we are, and one can easily argue that God is infinitely imaginitive in the way He manages His creation.
That explanation is somewhat of an aside, to briefly summarize my own musings on the subject of Evolution and put my other thoughts in a bit of context. Back to the main point: Those who stick the Darwin Salamander on their vehicle, whether conscious of it or not, have just put another god before the true God. It is entirely possible that many just think it’s funny, or some even profess to be a Christian that believes in Evolution. The problem is, the fish is not actually a statement on Evolution. It is a statement of faith. As such, the salamander also displays a deeper meaning, be it purposeful or not.
As if that isn’t bad enough, Christians then forgot the purpose of placing a fish emblem on a vehicle and decided to fire the next shot in the bumper-sticker war. Enter the “Truth” whale or big fish, or something. I’ll admit that the first time I saw that, I was kind of amused. But upon further reflection, I’m not a fan of this. All it does is detract from the original intent of the Jesus fish by getting drawn into a petty back-of-an-auto-stickie-thing debate. I mean, do we really think we’ll convert anyone by putting that on our car? Oh, it may make us feel clever, as if we just showed all those atheist folk who’s boss, but in the end it’s hard to believe that this has ever served a positive purpose. The other thing is that you then get caught up in looking like you’re trying to suppress scientific thought, lending credence to the idea that anyone with a fish on their car is a strict fundamentalist Creationist. Stick with the normal Jesus fish, if you ask me, and instead of going tit-for-tat with the sticky thingies, just pray for those who may not know what they are actually saying when they trumpet Darwin in the place of Christ.
I don’t actually have a fish. I have nothing against it. I’m just not one to plunk things on my car. I think the only bumper sticker I’ve ever put on my car is a small Packers bumper sticker. That was on a car I got rid of 11 years ago. I loved that car. I had a bumper sticker on another vehicle that came with it and I never took off. That minivan cost me a lot of money.
Maybe I should have had a Jesus fish…