Tag Archives: fiction

The Fish That Could Walk

Ok, I am finally getting around to writing the follow-up to my previous post. I don’t recall exactly what got me thinking about evolution, but something sparked my thinking on the subject. I spent the majority of my drive home from Muncie one evening about two weeks ago mulling it over and came up with a few things to seemed to be very contradictory to me. So, I drafted a very brief story to demonstrate some of the thoughts I had, and what you got was my previous post.

For me, everytime I think about a creature evolving, I picture in my mind the famous “Darwin fish” — a prehistoric sea bass with four legs, gills, and lungs creeping up out of the water onto dry land for the first time. Now, I realize that my little story had some theoretical problems with it, even from an evolutionary perspective. But it was fun to write and I knew I would never be
able to briefly encompass all my thoughts, so that was what you got. Let me try to elaborate the logical order with which my thoughts progressed.

So, you have this fish, four legs, lungs, gills, able to live both in water and dry land, the first of his species (one would suppose) to have evolved and adapted to a harsh environment. Questions come to mind: How was he able to grow legs and lungs? Did his parents have such organs first, perhaps underveloped ones? Was his aquatic environment too harsh to survive in, thus forcing his evolution to a new species? And if so, why didn’t the rest of his species die off completely? Were they also able to adapt? How long did this adapatation take? One generation? Multiple generations? If multiple, then how were they able to adapt quickly enough to avoid being annihilated? See, the problem for me is that evolutionary scientists assert that physical evolution takes millions, billions of years. That would suggest that for one species to take the next evolutionary step would require at the minimum a couple of thousand years, hardly what I would consider ‘fast’ adaptability to harsh conditions. If I’m not mistaken, evolutionary change is only stimulated as a result of a need to adapt, a need to survive or be destroyed utterly as a species. If that is the case, the evolutionary changes required of a species would take far too long to be beneficial.

In the case of my story example, we have a fish that has evolved at least some of the necessary physiology to survive on land, the first of the lizards. As FKIProfessor has pointed out, the fish’s changes would have had to have developed prior to his emergence from the water onto land, thereby indicating that its ancestors would have had to have encountered the land first and have failed to survive on it. Would every successive generation have then tried for the land, only to fail but at least cause their own genetics to ‘adapt’ a little more by developing new organs adapted to land? (And by the way, how would the genetics have known what to change in order to be suited to life on land?) Also, the mating drive (which was something I was definitely trying to point out in this story) poses an additional problem. There would have had to have been a ‘first’, a creature who emerged from the water ahead of the others. Would it have been alone, the only one of its generation to do so? Or would there have been others who had
evolved at the same time? Where would these new creatures have mated? Would they have been suited for mating on land? And LeiraHoward pointed out a number of good questions, as well.

Ultimately, I found the idea presposterous at least because of its contradictions — evolution that takes far longer than it should in order for a species to survive; the source of food for a new species and its ability (or lack thereof) to catch it; the idea that the genetics of the species would ‘know’ how best to adapt to a completely foreign environment; etc. In essence, I discovered that there would still have had to have been intelligent design behind the whole
thing because there is no way that genetics alone could have known either what adaptations to make in the species or could have randomly figured it out in time for the species to survive the hostile conditions from which it was trying to escape. I know that some of the questions I posed above could be answered from an evolutionary theoretical perspective (I could answer them myself), but I don’t know that it could answer all of them satisfactorily or resolve the seeming contradictions in theory. Again, I find that it takes far more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in creation of the universe and all things in it by an intelligent, living, creative being.

Thanks for indulging this up-and-coming author in a bit of creative, speculative license, and thanks for the comments that came back. It’s always fun to get feedback from real, thinking people.

Steppin’ Out

The sun was high in the sky as it drew toward midday, the heat turning the air into a veritable sauna. Giant ferns and palm trees dotted the landscape, plants best suited to the harsh environment and conditions. A nearby volcano issued forth a continuous breath of steam as it lay momentarily dormant. Waves from the ocean lapped gently onto the sand before receding back to the body from which they came. The landscape was silent but for the occasional buzz of a small insect population.

A flurry of splashing marked the emergence of a creature from the water. It stood there on the sand, lidless eyes bulging from its head in a continual look of mock surprise, sunlight glinting off its scales, legs trembling as it struggled to support its own weight. Its mouth gaped open and shut repeatedly, for the first time inhaling the foreign air for its primary supply of oxygen. It stood poised momentarily, as though unsure of what to do. It had simply leaped from the water to snag an insect flying just above the water’s surface and found itself propped on the harsh, course sand. Now the insect was gone, forgotten, as the creature oriented itself to its new
surroundings. The sun ultimately settled the creature’s indecisiveness for it, the harsh rays stinging its eyes and nearly blinding it. A blur of motion, a splash of water, and the creature was gone, back to its native habitat.

Shortly after nightfall the creature re-emerged from the water. This time it took a few uncertain steps before awkwardly shambling further away from the waterline, his tailfin leaving erratic trails in the sand. It took some time for him to familiarize himself with using his limbs in such a fashion. He had always had them, but in the water he had never really had reason to use them. Chasing down his food required little more than exercising the strength of his tail and navigation of his forward fins. Occasionally, he had used his legs to flip himself around a submerged rock, but far and away his legs had only served as impediments to movement by creating drag
and slowing him down. He had often surrendered his prey to another of his species simply because the other had no such inhibiting limbs, making him sleeker and faster. Now, though, he was alone in his environment, and he found that he could move much more quickly as he became familiar with the mechanics of using his limbs on dry ground.

He chased insects for a time, filling his belly and sating his hunger, never straying too far from the waterline, keeping it always within view. He was not yet quite ready to abandon his native habitat, and the lightening of the sky indicated that dawn was not far away and with it the sun against which his eyes had no defenses. He also felt his body becoming dehydrated and stiff the longer away from the water he remained, so he gently slipped back into the breaking waves
and swam into the depths. He would return to the land again at nightfall, but for now the cycle had run its course and mating season was upon him. Instinct drove him into the deeper water.

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There is at least one fundamental, theoretical, and logical flaw in this story. What is it (or what are they)?

Road Most Traveled

He travelled the path alone, and so he had no one to blame but himself for the way things eventually turned out. The path was well-worn, indicating that many travelled this way. As it was now, though, there was not another person in sight. The sun was high in the sky, no clouds to obscure its bright face. The birds chirped cheerfully to one another.

He was enjoying his walk and the things he experienced along the way. The last village was particularly enjoyable, though the old woman’s warning left him feeling slightly disturbed and advice very confused (“Make sure to take the left fork. The other is dangerous. But if you find yourself in trouble, simply stop and turn around”). It wasn’t something he particularly wanted to reflect on, and so he made a deliberate effort to push the memory further to the back of his mind.

His journey continued into the late morning. The walk was not particularly difficult, the path following a relatively straight course and only slight rises and falls in the geography.

Eventually, the path topped a particularly tall rise, and he looked down the hill to see a dark wood ahead. It had a forbidding look about it. The path he was on went straight into those thick trees. However, he noticed that just before the treeline, another path split off that seemed to follow the edge of the wood.

He thought, “Well, I can just follow this secondary path around the wood and rejoin the main path on the other side.” And so he did, forgetting the warning he was given earlier in the day.

He walked along this new path for some time with no resistance. He thought to himself how much better this path was, how much easier, than if he had followed that other path into those dark woods. Surely, that journey would have been much more difficult.

As he was thinking to himself, he suddenly slipped and found himself sliding quickly down a hill that the path had dropped over. He was sliding toward a particularly nasty looking patch of brambles. He panicked and tried to claw his way back up the hill, but the struggle only accelerated his descent, and soon he found himself caught in the clutches of the brambles. The barbs cut into his skin, and every effort he made to get away only entangled him further. He had forgotten the advice to stop struggling. He didn’t know that even now, that advice would serve him well.

But then, he did remember. Only he remembered the woman and not her words. He cursed her, believing she had tricked him to go this way, when the fault only lay on himself. He had tried to find an easier way to his destination, and now his journey had been hopelessly delayed. He wondered if he would ever be able to get out of this mess…..

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It is interesting to watch people I know created problems and crises for themselves by the sheer power of their own poor decisions. And I know that these people should know better because I know that they have been advised by their close friends and family that their actions are going to prove to be ultimately self-destructive. Yet, they do not listen, choosing instead to take their own path, to do their own thing, because it is easier or because they would rather have immediate satisfaction rather than long-term fulfillment. And it scares me, too, because I see bits of myself in these people, the poor decisions that I myself make, and the consequences of those decisions can be very hard to live with. I can only pray that I make good decisions and that I can be humble enough to heed advice and turn from my bad decisions when I make them.