Friday, May 20, 2005


The other day I went to a talk by Dan Dennett, the originator of the idea of universal acid. On a tangent, he mentioned this factoid, which perhaps most of you know about but I did not - the origin of the Jesus fish is a Greek acronym, ICHTHYS, the ancient Greek word for fish. Apparently this stands for Iesous Christos Theou Y(u)ios Soter, or Jesus Christ Son of God Savior. (See here for how it looks with Greek letters. The acronym makes more sense if you remember that CH and TH are single letters in Greek.) So early Christians used to draw a fish with the Greek letters ICHTHYS written inside, and this apparently got translated into drawing a fish with JESUS written inside.

You also probably know about the Darwinian takeoff on the Jesus fish, where the fish has the name DARWIN instead of JESUS written inside. So Dennett came up with his own (Latin) acronym to indicate what DARWIN means:

Delere Auctorem Rerum Ut Universum Infinitum Noscere (Destroy the author of things in order to understand the infinite universe).

I thought it was pretty clever.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

and maybe YOU know this, but i got taught in sunday school that that fish was what early christians drew in the sand as a secret symbol to identify each other upon meeting. because christians back then were i think considered to be cult members (which i suppose in a sense they were) -cult members who'd get killed for their beliefs.

anyway, hooray dennet and darwin. very nice.

Posted by lizzie Pickard

5/27/2005 01:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, a Greek friend of mine told me that after the Dennett talk. Except that he said they drew it on caves which were the secret meeting places for early Christians... 

Posted by Andrew

5/27/2005 11:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The story I heard was that one person would draw a curve in the sand with a toe, and if the other drew a second curve to complete the fish shape, they would know they were cool.But if the other guy didn't finish the fish, the curve alone could be disavowed and just noodling around with one's toe.

Nail em up I say. Nail some sense into em. 

Posted by Lemon Merengue

6/21/2005 07:34:00 AM  
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5/01/2008 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger Trent Eady said...

I thought is was very clever too. I lol'd. :P

7/30/2008 06:40:00 AM  
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