Archive for April 2nd, 2014

April 2, 2014

Ichthys

Ichthys [ik-thees], from the Koine Greek word for fish, is a symbol consisting of two intersecting arcs, the ends of the right side extending beyond the meeting point so as to resemble the profile of a fish, used by early Christians as a secret Christian symbol and now known colloquially as the ‘sign of the fish’ or the ‘Jesus fish.’

It is sometimes a subject of satire, especially when adorning the bumpers or trunks of automobiles. The most notable is the ‘Darwin Fish,’ an ichthys symbol with ‘evolved’ legs and feet attached. Rhetorical scholar Thomas Lessl conducted a survey of users of the Darwin fish emblem. Based on their responses, he interprets the symbol as scientific ‘blackface,’ a parody that is one part mockery and one part imitation. While users frequently explain the symbol as a rebuke against Creationism, Lessl suggests that the emblem represents a metaphor for cultural progress.

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