Faith comes by herring, and herring by the word of cod

Why fish are confused

ShoalI don’t think the average fish can get its head around the idea of dry land.

Perhaps a really creative fish could picture it, but it would face all kinds of scepticism from other fish. How do you swim without water? Wouldn’t the world be two-dimensional, spread on the sea-bed? How can there be room for everything? It’s a wreck.

Nor can science help. How can you do experiments to confirm or deny the presence of a world beyond the sea? Even if fish go there (a big if), they never come back.

The best schools of fish might conclude the whole ‘dry-land delusion’ is a theory, of no practical use, and best ignored. They would, in short, fillet the argument.

Send in the marine (biologist)s

Since the fish can’t figure out dry land for themselves, the only way they can be educated is if we land mammals take the initiative and send someone to tell them. Without revelation from outside, the fish are like the proverbial sailors of the ship carrying red paint that collided with the ship carrying blue paint: marooned.

So, you say, send a marine biologist to tell the fish about the world outside the sea. But would they believe her? Maybe not. Because to get to talk to the fish you have to become so like a fish that they think you are a fish. And who would believe what a raving fish told them?

Not only that, but I have it on good authority that the sea is full of all kinds of voluble fish who speculate widely about a life beyond the sea. Many of them are unreliable witnesses—fishy, in fact—and they contradict each other all the time.

The conclusion of reasonable people? Stick with what you can see, feel and measure. Truth can’t come from anywhere else.

Comments welcome, as are fish jokes.