Review by Greg Neyman
© 2006, Old Earth Ministries
On 29 May 2006 Creation Ministries International published an article addressing a recent conference in which fish intelligence was discussed.1
The article by David Catchpoole summarized a study showing that fish have longer memories than first thought. While interesting, this has nothing to do with the veracity of evolution, nor does it have anything to do with creation science.
In this article, Catchpoole mentions the idea that fish have a "three-second" memory, and shows in the article that by restricting food to a specific time of day, the fish figured out that it did no good to perform the food-rewarding task at other times during the day.
Catchpoole says that this "highlights the fallacy of standard evolutionary misconceptions that the apes...would be the animals expected to most closely match the intelligence of humans." However, this article does nothing to address the intelligence of fish. There are several misconceptions here by Catchpoole.
First, this issue is discussing the fact that fish memory is longer than expected. Memory, although important, is not the key to cognitive abilities. The fish did not have to reason out this issue. It learned, through memorization, that certain times of the day were more rewarding than others. This learning, based solely on memory, does not indicate deductive reasoning on the part of the fish.
Second, it would be unfair to compare a fish, with no hands and feet, to a chimpanzee, with pretensile hands and feet. As the author points out, God created each species a unique "kind." Just as evolution would expect a chimp to be smarter than a fish, creation would also expect the same thing, based on the differences in the animals. Differint intelligence (or equal intelligence, for that matter) is not an argument for or against evolution.
Catchpoole says that fish intelligence "match or exceeds" that of chimps. Again, this is a comparison of memory abilities, not intelligence (nor does he provide proof of this claim). According to Webster's Dictionary, intelligence is "capacity for reasoning, understanding, and for similar forms of mental activity." The fish learned through memory that certain times of the day were beneficial for obtaining food. The fish even used a "tool" to obtain the food. These can all be accomplished through memory. This does not fit the definition.
The chimpanzee, on the other hand, is much more complicated. They don't simply use tools...they make tools. They have sophisticated hunting strategies. They have a complex social structure. They are manipulative and will deceive others to get their goal. They are analytical problem solvers, capable of complex cognitive performance. They can learn symbols for language, and can even teach them to others.
Despite the claims of Catchpoole, there is still no comparison between chimpanzees and fish. This is a perfect example of young earth creationists pulling arguments out of thin air. There is nothing in this argument that argues against evolution.
For More Reading
Chimpanzee Central (Jane Goodall Institute)
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