Archive for Monday, July 10, 2000

Symbolic message

July 10, 2000


To the editor:

Over the past months I have noticed more and more automobiles carrying fish symbols with "Darwin" inscribed inside and feet added to the fish. I would assume this is due, in part, to the recent debate over how human origins is to be taught in our public schools. I find this change of the "ichthus" very offensive. And I am hoping that if the origin of the ichthus and its meaning were known to all this desecration might stop.

The word for fish, ichthys in Greek, was used as a rebus from which one can derive a statement of faith. The word consists of the five letters of the Greek alphabet: i-ch-th-y-s. These five letters are regarded as initials for five words: Iesous, Christos, Theou, Yios, Soter. These words say: Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior. It is believed that the symbol of the fish, signifying the statement, was used by early Christians under Roman rule. These Christians underwent several periods of persecution. The symbol could be used as a way for Christians to identify each other while maintaining their anonymity.

Christians, strangely enough, were thought to be atheist by the Romans due to the Christian worship of an imageless God. Later, they were also viewed as a threat to Rome due to the Christian allegiance to a heavenly King and their refusal to worship Ceasar, whose role as a godhead grew as the empire aged.

The ichthus is a special symbol to Christians, not as sacred as the cross, but the ichthus embodies a statement of our faith. I cannot believe that many who carry the Darwin fish on their vehicles are aware of the special meaning of the ichthus. It not only symbolizes the bearer as a Christian, but also declares the object of our faith, Jesus Christ. This desecration of a symbol of faith is not warranted. Hopefully, the debate concerning human origins and science education can take place in the public forum without maligning the Christian faith.

Mark Jarboe,

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