The fish that discovered water

Some scientists at Smolensk University decided to develop a fish that could live out of water.

So, choosing some healthy red herrings, they bred, crossbred, hormoned and chromosomed until at length they had a fish that could live—at least exist—out of water.

The local commissar was not satisfied. True, these fish had survived till now on rarefied gas, but what about reactionary tendencies? He suspected a secret yen for water.

“You have neglected education,” he said, “Start over, and this time do not neglect education.”

So again they bred, crossbred, hormoned and chromosomed, and this time they did not neglect education—down to the veriest reflex.

The result? A red herring that would rather die than get its tail wet. The slightest suggestion of humidity filled the new herring with dread. Thought control had done its perfect work, and with the possible exception of the red herring, everyone was happy. Surely this year’s Lenin Prize would go to the scientists of Smolensk University.

But the world must see this triumph of Russian research. The commissar who had thought of education must take the fish on tour.

Somewhere in Hungary the tragedy occurred. Quite accidentally, according to official reports, the red herring fell into a pool of water.

Deep in the green translucent stuff it lay—eyes and gills clamped shut—afraid to move lest it become wetter. And, of course, it could not breathe—every reflex said no to that. Never did a fish so wet feel more like a fish out of water.

But breathe it must, and there was nothing else to breathe. Only water. So the red herring drew a tentative gillful.

Its eyes bulged. It breathed again. Its jaw flew open. It flicked a fin . . . then another . . . and wiggled with delight. Then it darted away. The fish had discovered water!

And with that same kind of wonder, men, conditioned by a world that rejects Him discover God. “For in Him we live and move and have our being.”

–Harold Bredesen
(1918 – 2006)

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