I have written before about the lies we were told, specifically in the PCG, about the Theory of Evolution. In a way, I am at it again, only this time focusing on Armstrong’s lies about it. Specifically, this is the first of a multi-part series covering the Ambassador College booklets A Fishy Story, A Theory for the Birds, and A Whale of a Tale. In my first article, I was not trying to convince anybody that one side of the Great Debate was more true than the other–I was merely pointing out that we were told lies.
In this article, however, I aim to be more persuasive.
I am not trying to persuade you to abandon faith in a Creator–of some sort (although I, personally, can no longer believe in one). Although many feel the findings of science are incompatible with religious ideas, it is not necessarily so; there are all ranges of Spiritualism, or Deism that are compatible belief systems, and there is even Theistic Evolution for those who wish to retain a stronger faith in a “guiding hand” while not dismissing the evidence.
The fact is that we here at Armstrong Delusion have worked hard, have researched long, to find out “whether those things were so”–things like Prophecy, British Israelism, Divine Weather, etc. The subject of Evolution is just one more topic that needs to be addressed, for there is the reality that exists in the world, and there is the lie that exists in the world of Armstrongism.
In The Beginning
The booklet, Some Fishy Stories, first copyrighted in 1966, was written by Garner Ted Armstrong. It is, to be quite honest, 35 pages of “argument from personal incredulity” combined with “argument from ignorance“. These arguments can be seen as two versions of the same thing, so maybe he is only using one complex argument. Sadly, as I read through it, I could remember thinking the exact same things when growing up and (I realize now) stupidly arguing with the science teachers…other than the aforementioned argument(s), he uses a number of examples of different fish that he claims cannot possibly have evolved gradually.
Sadly, Garner Ted has been dead 10 years already. I say this is sad because he bemoaned the fact that, “never have we received a scientific explanation for the many great problems presented (in the evolutionary theory). Never have we received a point-by-point refutation of the truths we have published.” (Pg. 13). Though it is nearly 50 years since the original publishing, I hope to provide some satisfaction by doing just that.
Just What do you Mean, “Faith”?
“The biggest false doctrine today is evolution. Evolution is a faith–an almost religious-like belief in something not seen–not proved.” (Please read along in the booklet if you like.)
His lead-in is showing that scientists (from astronomers to biologists) are not as authoritative or all-knowing as we might think they are. In fact, they disagree amongst themselves quite frequently. Did you know that? Not likely. Those types, especially evolutionists, like to keep that little fact from you–or so GTA would have us believe. I mean, it is not like religions have ever disagreed amongst themselves! And certainly the True Church of God does not have internal disagreements, for there is only one–though whether that was Garner Ted’s church, or his Father’s, or any of the other dozen or so “big” splinters, well, only God knows. Of course, disagreements “over the various hypotheses advanced in support of evolution” is not a sign that the basic idea is disagreed upon (just like disagreements over whether or not god is a Trinity does not change the truth value of the holy book); some might argue that genetic drift is just as important as natural selection, or whatever else there might be to argue about.
But it is scandalous that, when scientists meet to discuss evolution, they agree ahead of time not to mention any type of supernatural deity. Of course, to be fair, naturalists sitting down and discussing their findings in the light of “and this is what God hath created” had already been done for the entire history of natural science until Darwin’s book came out, so it isn’t like the alternative (creation) hadn’t already been contemplated at length, though with little explanatory effect:
“Why does this species of beetle have tiny useless wings under its hard shell when one that looks almost just like it on the other side of the mountain has perfectly useful wings?” “I dunno…cuz god wanted it to?” “But that doesn’t make sense–if god didn’t want the beetle to fly, why not just not put wings on it?” “Hmmm…musta been satan’s doing!” “Ahhh, yes, satan–always mucking up god’s perfect design!”
But what would be accomplished by evolutionists bringing theology into the discussion? There would be unending confusion. Besides having to take into account the possibility of Native American creation “myths” (they’re always called myths in our culture unless they’re the Biblical account), the Hindu account, the Norse version, or any other tale, even the strictly Christian narrative can get sticky (Young Earth Creationism? Old Earth Creationism? Day-Age Theory?).
By the end he says, “Evolution claims you can prove God doesn’t exist”. Wrong. Very simply, wrong. This is an early prime example of 35 pages of this man declaring his (apparently willing) ignorance to the world. Evolution, really, has nothing to say about god, other than to say that the evidence does not support the traditional creation chronicles of the current prominent monotheisms (or any other known account); and for what it is worth, Darwin, in Origin of Species, even makes a few references to all life evolving from one or a few “originally created” progenitors. Obviously, though, Garner Ted never read the book, so he wouldn’t know such trifling details. Of course, he assumes all evolutionists are also atheists (and many, or perhaps even most, are–but not all); atheism, though, doesn’t claim that god can be disproved, but is simply a stance (of non-belief) held based on a lack of evidence supporting the existence of (a) god(s).
OK, enough of this introduction–let’s get down to the meat of the matter. The rest of the booklet is filled with examples of extraordinary fishes that he claims “evolution cannot explain”. Let’s examine the evidence, then, shall we?
The Archer Fish has been around a very long time–as a prime example of “God of the Gaps” reasoning. This booklet from 1966 notes it is mentioned in Scientific American back in ’63, and it is still very popular today. The various facts supporting the idea of evolution (which is simply a way to explain the puzzling things you see when you look at plants and animals around the world and become too curious) are brushed aside and held at naught if just one, tiny, difficult example can be found; if we can find one plant or animal so unlikely that it could not have been a product of evolution, one gap in the wall of evidence, then Creation is true (and, of course, by default, it is the result of the Deity we already believe in…). Not only is this “God of the Gaps” rationale, it is a false dichotomy.
It saddens me to admit it, but I remember asking the same questions this man asks (though not about the Archer Fish, specifically), due to my total ignorance (and a good dose of lies) of what the theory of evolution was or what it said. Specifically, I remember asking my science teacher things like “if something needed an adaptation to survive, how did it survive until it evolved the new bit?” Garner Ted makes much ado on this account in telling us, in detail, how very difficult it would be to adapt a groove in the top of the mouth, a bony tongue to fit in it, the gill action that powers the “shooting”, binocular vision, and exceptionally good eyes (so far as fish go), etc.
His incredulity is only heightened by the fact that the archer fish doesn’t need to shoot/spout/spit to survive, as it also often gets food that is already fallen in the water–thus there is nothing for natural selection to select for! I mean, what use is half a spit?
Apparently, a little spit is better than no spit at all, or at least can be in the struggle for life. Archers have been observed spitting from deep in the water to flip over a leaf that has an insect on it. Spitting at a leaf is like shooting at the broad side of a barn (at least compared to the feats of marksmanship an archer can otherwise perform) and would not have required much power or aim. However, if the leaf is overturned, then there is one more bug for me than for the next species that can’t spit at all. Thus, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
While spitting is not absolutely necessary for survival, it would give an edge; those who could spit got more food, were more fit to survive (survival of the fittest, remember?), produced more offspring, and any of those offspring a few generations down the road that could spit further, or more accurately, had more offspring of their own than those who were not sharp-shooters…etc. “Evolution is non-random selection of random genetic changes“. Nobody knows how it was that the first “pre-archer” was able to spit, but the random mutation was favorable and gave natural selection something to work with.
There is evidence for this line of thought, as well, for life is not as “all or nothing” as people like Garner Ted like to believe. There is a fish similar to the archer (similar…it is in the same order of Perciformes…so a couple steps away, but not that distant) called the Dwarf Gourami that can…spit just a little bit and not very accurately. However, it is enough to catch insects in just the same method as the more advanced and developed archer.
So in the dwarf gourami’s inferior spouting ability, we see the prospect of what might be called an “intermediate form” in the archer fish lineage–another species that lies somewhere on the path between Zero and Hero. GTA goes on at length about how the archer fish could have only been created, how, ”We should come to see more of the love, warmth, and even humor of our God in these little creatures!” on account of its extreme complexity and perfection for what it does. Well, how does he explain the dwarf gourami? I suppose this is more of God’s humor? “Haha! I’m gonna give this other guy an AS50 (a big ol’ sniper rifle), but all you get is a vintage M1 Garand!”
An additional aspect of “god’s humor” might be the fact that while the archer fish might be given equipment that is the equivalent of a top-line sniper rifle and scope, it doesn’t actually receive much training. Researchers in Germany have written an interesting paper regarding the archer fish’s apparent need to watch and learn. They have a fairly good ability to hit stationary targets at various heights right from the start, but they are terrible at hitting anything that moves (and it is the archer fish’s ability to hit moving targets that makes it so very astounding). However, give them a year and they’ll get pretty good. The interesting part comes in, though, when a new batch of recruits are brought in; they watch the top marksman (the dominant fish from the first group) and after a while they are nearly as good as it–on their first shot! Funny how they have to learn at the firing range rather than having all that ability built into them at creation…
So, why create a fish with half a spit, like the Dwarf Gourami, when you’ve already demonstrated your ability to create the likes of the Archer Fish? “This is a question Garner Ted (and other creationists) can’t answer”, but in light of evolution theory it makes sense.
A second helping of fish will be ready soon! Mmmm, Anableps…