Fish Fry Part 1 – Archer Fish

Too many...fish puns...aaahhhhh!

Too many…fish puns…aaahhhhh!

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 StoryA 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?

Archer

Archer Fish Spit

pew pew pew!

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…

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23 thoughts on “Fish Fry Part 1 – Archer Fish

  1. In Analog some time back, a contributor discussed bats and pointed out one of the fallacies of the creationists: They speak of one or two of a species developing through natural selection, only to fail because they weren’t able to survive without the adaptations. Natural selection doesn’t work like that as the author pointed out: He used bats. Sure, if six bats needed sonar, they would probably die out. 60 million bats in a cave are entirely a different matter. It’s the numbers game and some of the numbers get rather large.

    We have an example of a moth in London 250+ years ago which was white. But what with industrialization, burning coal, pollution, the dominant variant is now black moths: As the background changed, the darker moths had a better chance at survival and the light colored moths pretty much were selected out because predators got them.

    What’s interesting is that there are now synthetic computer simulated species subjected to heuristic “organic” natural selection wherein the species do mutate and evolve over time.

    Of course, this is all so very inconvenient for the creationist, it’s not worth their while to mention it.

  2. It is starting to get interesting, Mikey. Back in the day of Origin of Species, the immutability of species was a solidly held view; now, simply because the evidence is too overwhelming, many creationists are conceding that there is at least MICROevolution, such as the moth you mentioned. However, they still assert that a moth will forever be a moth, and thus there is no MACROevolution. Slowly and surely, their views are evolving…lol

    • That’s funny, Eric — their views are evolving — certainly their excuses evolve and escalate as they rapidly lose traction to scientific discovery.

      Ralph Haulk over at the Painful Truth and with his own blog, Doojies House, has posited the idea that viruses are very much a part of the evolutionary landscape, and indeed, the science I’ve been reading lately (and the oft suspect History 2 Channel) shows that viruses certainly do have the capability of changing species at the cellular level as they themselves mutate and cause mutations in living organisms. Certainly, without viruses and their DNA and RNA, human beings would not have advanced to where they are today. There’s even some scientific speculation that viruses from outer space may one day transform human beings to something else, if they haven’t already.

      Anyway, Ralph’s work is interesting to research and quite compelling in the arena of viruses and their influence on evolving life.

      • Thanks for the reference–I’ll check it out. The idea of virus-driven evolution is new to me. I’ve certainly read plenty about viruses going through speciation in the lab under various human-engineered scenarios.

        Darwin, in Origin, said that the main driving force of evolution was competition betwixt other species (as opposed to environment), and viruses could certainly fit into that realm. Further, I’m reading in Guns, Germs, and Steel, that domestication of livestock gave us (Europeans/Eurasians) variants of animal viruses (small pox…aka Cow Pox) that went a long way in paving the way (with corpses) for our conquest of the New World. The peoples we came into contact with hadn’t domesticated animals (or nothing more than chickens and dogs) and so hadn’t been exposed to those diseases and hadn’t evolved any immunity to them.

  3. Thanks, Mr. Fransson! It has proven to be a Leviathan of a topic; in general I’ve been rather more “scientific minded” than my peers, but as I study into this topic in depth, I find that the comparative superiority is very inferior indeed.

    But I’m full of “piss and vinegar”, as they say, after reading Origin of Species, and Jerry Coyne’s book Why Evolution is True back-to-back. Part 2 is ready to be edited, and Part 3 (of 5) is nearly written (the Anglerfish is a doozy of a critter!).

    It is good that the fish get more interesting as the booklet goes along–something to keep everyone around for a Five Part series…lol!

  4. Migratory birds + the woodpecker: love to read your scientific theory thereon–please!
    Ditto: the platypus; love a good chuckle!…..

    • I’m glad to see you’re interested in all this! I will be covering “A Theory for the Birds” after Part 5 of this “Fishy Stories” series (following the 3 booklets, you see).

      • I smell the makings of a debate between one person who has actually done the research and another who is almost certainly uninformed on the issue he is about to fling mud at.

        Personally, I can’t wait!

  5. As far as I can tell, from what little research I’ve done on the topic (I haven’t studied that particular topic in-depth, though Casey has, I think), the human mind came from the human brain. The Mind, consciousness, is still a bit of a mystery, but as there is no evidence of an invisible Spirit Within Man, then the answer is materialistic. Remember I, Robot? Where does the difference lie between an extremely complicated difference engine and consciousness? Are we anything other than our brains?

    I think Sam Harris has a novella, or long essay, “booklet” or some such regarding Free Will and whether we have it. The evidence, that stuff one gains from observing the world around you (hopefully without too much bias or ideology) suggests Determinism–the brain is a computer. We make decisions based on all the input that has been added to the database of our brain: all our life experiences and everything we learn, or what we can remember of what we’ve learnt, comes into play when it comes to Decision Time. Will you steal that car? The decision rests on “what the years of your life have taught you to be”, as Kansas so poetically put it.

    I think I’m answering your question, but if not, please feel free to specify your meaning. Otherwise, I look forward to your rebuttal! :-)

    • I find it interesting that you take the trouble to capitalize random words in your sentences (?). The utilization of mathematical symbols as conjunctions is also a hoot. Thanks for stopping by for an abbreviated visit.

  6. Jace. G’day! So you’re a dude: yankspeak': makes a minimal comment, no black/white intelletual input + sits back waiting for others to do the REAL work! Mate, have a decent gonadal crack!

  7. For those who really want to understand the Human Mind, I would recommend that they start with “Your Natural Gifts” by Margaret Broadly: It will give an appreciation of talents derived from inherited brain structure. Pay special attention to Structural Visualization, which most Armstrongists lack, but is necessary for any kind of true scientific and technological understanding — it is a sex linked inherited trait and only 25% of the population has it, which is why the cult of Herbert Armstrong is populated with so many people with magical thinking not grounded in the physical universe, but in irrational ethereal abstract thinking where, in their own deficient minds, anything is possible when science and technology dictate otherwise.

    The next resource is “User’s Guide to the Brain” by Dr. John Ratey. This book explores the neurology of the brain and touches on neural networking, a concept entirely foreign to the abstract thinkers of Armstrongism. Neural networking is far advanced over linear processing in the sense that digital computing can take millions of years to resolve a problem, whereas neural networking can solve the problem more or less instantly. This is the reason why we have the cognitive abilities we have. If you think it’s easy, then join the contest to build artificial intelligence to control model helicopters and see just how you get in having your helicopter recognize and move the selected objects on the playing field. Or maybe you’d like to go on Jeopardy against IBM’s Watson. Good luck with that.

    One more resource I would recommend is “The Emperor’s New Mind” by Dr. Roger Penrose. Dr. Penrose is a colleague of Steven Hawking and in the book he explores quantum physics. His belief that the human brain taps into quantum mechanics for greater results than just neural networking is compelling. If you disagree, you can take up the matter with him. I’m pretty sure you’ll lose, but you can be like the false prophets of Armstrongism and when you fail, you can declare yourself the winner.

    Armstrongists are a bunch of nim nul pathetic inadequate incompetent know nothings who have no right to express their flawed opinions, let alone call themselves “ministers”. They are more on the order of L. Ron Hubbard, but without the wit, writing skills and scientific background.

    • Sorry, and some of you already know this, I also recommend “Hardwired Behavior: What Neuroscience Reveals about Morality” by Dr. Laurence Tancredi who is, incredibly enough, both a respected Attorney and a Neurologist, often called as an expert witness in court.

      Of course, as always, Armstrongists will ignore the incontrovertible evidence that there is cause and effect for everything and the universe isn’t just random based on the ideas of some daft kook like Herbert Armstrong.

      They’d be very wrong, but, you know, their defiance against science, technology and reason is a trend.

      And for you of the sects of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia, don’t bother to come here to have a discussion before you read and understand (if that were possible) all the recommended reading list because there’s just no use to airing your useless opinions that have never been based in any sort of verifiable facts, even as we have proved you wrong endlessly.

  8. Well, Mikey didn’t pull his claws on that one…rarely seen him hiss so much! Yeah, I haven’t read any of that stuff (yet, anyway), so my understanding will also be nil.

    I am confused, Danny, by your reply to my comment on the Mind: those really are non-sequiturs…are you trying to imply that Materialism and Determinism are in some way equivalent to saying “the earth is flat”? I fail to see how saying “the world around us, including our minds, are the product of the physical forces we can observe” can be equated with the Argument from Ignorance that “the earth is flat”. However, Argument from Ignorance is precisely where Magical Thinking comes from…how could these fish be here the way they are? How could we have a mind that thinks? MAGIC…I mean, the One and Only All-Powerful Invisible God did it…no, not THAT god, the God I believe in! But in all seriousness, there is no Evidence-based line of reasoning that can tell you that Yahweh was the god who created everything, verses it actually being the construct of the body of Ymir, who was murdered by Odin and his brothers, or the claim that it was sung into existence at the Song of the Ainur under the direction of Eru Iluvitar…

    What makes more sense, to say that the Mind is the product of the Spirit of Man (that came from Yahweh/God the Father) combining with the Human Mind, or that the human mind is the product of a Thetan occupying the brain of a human who, without that Thetan, would have slightly better reasoning abilities than a Chimp? OR…does it make more sense to say that the Mind is a product of a very complicated Brain? I’m not saying it CAN’T be Thetans, I’m just saying we have no evidence for them and so there’s no reason to believe them to be the reason for The Mind.

    Additionally, I never even suggested even a hint that reality is whatever you want it to be–if there was no External Reality then there could be no science, no Technology. And, of course, basing one’s life on EVIDENCE, rather than what you want reality to be, is pretty much the dictionary-derived difference between Rational Skeptics (which we here at AD claim to be) and Believers.

    • To be clear, I am trying to be helpful to those here at AD because I perceive that you will do the right thing and if you are ignorant in an important particular area, you all will put forth effort to rectify the situation. I get really snarky with people who come along with their stupid opinions which are obviously wrong and expect us to not only accept them, but insist that we were wrong in the facts brought forth, then they argue when they have no idea what they are talking about.

      If you do raise your awareness about the human brain — and frankly what’s more important than your own mind to you? — you will be in the unenviable condition of having superior knowledge but will have even GREATER trouble with these stupid fools who know nothing but sure have an opinion and claim you are wrong even after you have proved your point.

      If you are like me, you will be willing to “dumb yourself down” to communicate helpful information to those who are ignorant but nice and willing to accept new knowledge and might even be grateful for it. Those folks are worth it.

      The rest?

      Well, I’m certain you are really smart enough to figure out what I think of them and the fact that I have gotten to the point that life is too short to waste any time on them. Let them reap the rewards of their willing stupidity and craziness. And let them continue to be too stupid to know we are mocking them and holding them in contempt as we make them look even more stupid.

      Being right is the best revenge.

  9. Pingback: Fish Fry Part 2 | Armstrong Delusion

  10. Pingback: Fish Fry Part 3 | Armstrong Delusion

  11. Pingback: Fish Fry Part 4 – Lungfish | Armstrong Delusion

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