Back off my Darwin Fish -

Back off my Darwin Fish

Keep the natural selection haters off campus


Photo courtesy of kiss kiss bang bang on Flickr

Many years ago, a colleague of mine showed me his Darwin Fish, a little plastic fish made to look like the Jesus Fish stick-ons that were popular at the time among Christians. Remember when Puddy had one on Seinfeld? Except that the Darwin Fish says DARWIN instead of JESUS and, wait for it, has little feet on it. Get it? The fish is evolving? Anyway, I thought it was hilarious and a few months later, he gave me one as a gift. It is in my office to this day, on top of my thermostat.

These kinds of things fade into the background, so I don’t think about my Darwin Fish on a day-to-day basis, but it came to mind today, when I read this story. It seems that a couple of biology profs at a university in Florida had their cars vandalized because they had Darwin Fish on them. The vandals tore off the Darwin Fish, scraped off pro-evolution bumper stickers, and put nails in the tires. To make sure that the message got through, they left religious messages in the form of letters for good measure.

Now, I am not so naive as to imagine that everyone accepts the basic scientific facts of biology, nor do I imagine that universities are bastions of enlightenment where things like this can’t happen. But at the same time, it would be naive to dismiss such acts as petty pranks.

For one thing, it’s a hate crime. Imagine if Muslim symbols were torn off a vandalized car and you’ll see my point. For another, the vandals targeted professors, presumably imagining that somehow the profs might see the light and give up teaching evolution — which, as you can imagine they are not.

But any action, however small, that is deliberately designed to intimidate an academic into changing his position cannot be taken lightly. So far, these two professors don’t seem cowed, but what about the next brilliant young biologist who is offered a position at the University of Florida and thinks to do a Google search? Perhaps she thinks twice about taking that job, and they hire someone less talented. And little by little, the Floridian students of the future are deprived of the education they might have received.

Meanwhile, I’m looking for a more prominent place to display my own Darwin Fish.


Back off my Darwin Fish

  1. I read this with dismay. Living in asia, there are many religions in my country. Thank goodness we are secular, with no religous influence in government. I had thought that the U.S. is the same. I worked in Illinois for a couple of years and I found that my christian friends were tolerant and open minded. I guess Florida is at the other spectrum of tolerance in the U.S. This act will only scare away competent professors as well as smart students who will see this as a threat to an education of quality and integrity. A pity that this State is sliding into an age of darkness and ignorance. More Americans should condemn this senseless and cowardly act. If they were other than cowardly, they would instead put Jesus fish in their cars to openly proclaim their belief. Now they can only be seen as cowardly hoodlums.

  2. As I biology student who has -and is- publicly mocked by professors for my belief in a Creator I do not condone the actions of these mis guided radicals at all, but I can relate to their frustration.
    If I may, I would just like to say my attitude on the subject is God gave you a brain so you could use it, and myself and many other educated persons have discovered upon digging deeper into the so called conflict of evolution vs. creation that there is harmony between both beliefs allowing for their co-existance in the academic world.

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