Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11
Since the days that Christians worshipped in the catacombs to avoid persecution, the fish has been a symbol of Christianity, just as the star of David is a symbol of Judaism and the crescent symbolizes Islam. Visitors to the Calixitus catacombs outside of Rome, see the symbol carved in the limestone walls where Christians once met and worshipped. Many throughout the world still display the fish—whether it is lapel pin or a small insignia on the bumper of a car—to indicate their faith as Christians.
However, some opposed to Christianity are fighting back by taking the fish symbol, putting legs on it and inserting the word DARWIN in the body. Their argument may be with those who believe that God created the world, but they voice their dissent by desecrating a symbol which is decidedly Christian. Some do it out of ignorance, thinking to put Darwin's name on the fish symbol is a joke or something clever. Others do it with cruel intent.
Charles Darwin, whose name has become synonymous with evolution, really wouldn't have liked the anti-Christian association in the least. Darwin, who was the fifth child in a wealthy, conservative family considered himself to be a Christian and had no battle with God and certainly was not out to launch one with Christianity. What many people do not know is that in 1827, Darwin dropped out of medical school at the University of Edinburgh and went to Cambridge to study for the ministry with the Church of England. After he graduated from Cambridge in 1831, the 22-year-old young man signed on the HMS Beagle as an unpaid naturalist and became part of the crew on a voyage that took the ship around the world.
What does the fish have to do with Christianity? Is it because four of Jesus' twelve disciples were fishermen that the association was made? No, but there is a reason. The Greek word for fish is ixthus. Five Greek letters form the word, and those letters in an acrostic form a message which Christians clearly identified. The first letter represented the word Jesus. The second letter represented the word Christ. The next two, Son of God, and the final letter represented the word Savior.
Though Darwin's publication Origin of the Species brought sharp criticism from the Church, he never repudiated his faith in God, nor would he have allowed his name to become a symbol of hatred for those who affirm a belief in Christianity.
The first word, Iasous, is the Greek word for Jesus, the name given by the angel to Joseph when he learned that his wife Mary was pregnant with a child conceived of the Holy Spirit.
The second word, Christos, is the word translated "Christ." It meant the anointed one and was really a title. The Jews fully understood that using that title bestowed Messianic significance on a person, and it was never used lightly.
The next phrase, Theos huiou, meant "God's son," reminding us of what John wrote long ago when he penned these words: "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son" (John 3:16).
And the final word, Savior, described what Jesus did. When the angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds in the fields outside of Bethlehem, he cried, "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11). And there you have it.
Superimposing the name of Darwin over the fish is akin to painting a swastika over the star of David or putting a cross on the door of a mosque. It is tasteless, defiant and insulting. To disagree theologically is one thing, but in our world today there is no place for insult or ignorance.
Resource reading: Luke 2:1-15.