The Icthys or Christian fish symbol,
which I call the “Jesus fish,” is one of
the most recognized religious symbols
in America and has been used for more
than a thousand years.
The “Darwin fish” adopts the outline of
the Jesus fish, but adds legs and the
word “Darwin” in the middle. Now in the
public domain, it was the subject of a
lawsuit between creators Al Shekel and
John Edwards, who used it on atheist
materials in the early 1980’s, and Chris
Gilman who began making silver car
ornaments with a similar design in 1990.
Variations on the Darwin fish include
one with the word “evolve” in the center
(thereby avoiding deifying Darwin) and
a tool in its hand, another with the word
“science” at its center, as well as a fish
made only of bones. The best of the
species, from my point of view, is a fish
with legs and the word “atheist” in the
middle. This clarifies that the user not
only supports evolution (which many
religionists also support) but also that
the user rejects religion.
Religionists responded to the Darwin
fish with a compound symbol of a Jesus
fish labeled “truth” eating a Darwin fish,
ironically using a concept they reject to
support their argument.
Ring of Fire Enterprises created a
symbol of a dinosaur eating a Jesus fish
in response as well as developing a
Darwin fish copulating with a Jesus fish.
Part of the humor of the dinosaur is that
religious fundamentalists have a hard
time objecting to the symbol since many
do not believe in dinosaurs.
The Darwin fish is currently well
recognized, but does not apply
exclusively to atheists. Replacing the
word “Darwin” with “atheist” makes it a
strong atheist symbol
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