Sick of those darn fish on the back of everyone's car? You know the ones. The Jesus fish, the Darwin fish, the Jesus "truth" fish eating the Darwin fish, etc. Troy Witte grew tired of them, so he created the "whatever fish" and its accompanying Web site, www.whogivesafish.com.
Witte, who considers himself an agnostic, says the development of the Web site and the fish sticker are not only reactions to the absurdity of the continuous one-upping of the fishes, but also a result of his own personal growth and exploration of his religious beliefs.
What is the real story behind the actual fish symbol? The story, as I know it, goes back to the biblical days, when there was heavy persecution of Christians. When two people crossed paths on the dirt road, one would draw half of a fish in the sand. If the other finished the drawing, he was of "like mind." Also, Jesus is apparently considered "the fisher of men."
What was your inspiration for the whatever fish? It was really born out of humor. I find the entire fish war humorous. With the original (Jesus) fish, here's a symbol that people put on their car to identify themselves, which is fine. But then the Darwin fish came along, and the "Evolve" fish and then the Christians retaliated with the truth fish eating the Darwin fish. It just seemed so ridiculous. My friends and I were talking about it at lunch one day, and I said, "There should be a 'whatever' fish." Originally, I wanted to have the whatever fish eating the truth fish eating the Darwin fish ... but that was too complicated.
How'd the Web site come to be? Well, I just think the fish war is really funny. The site explains the fish war and, of course, the whatever-fish decal. Also ... well, it's therapeutic for me. But most importantly, it serves to provide a place for people, namely younger people, who are coming into their own and ... maybe questioning or having doubt about their religious beliefs.
Do you think people should question their beliefs? Absolutely. They should question anyone who is adamant and taking a dogmatic viewpoint. I'm not saying people should reject religion, but if they have doubts or questions, they shouldn't be afraid to explore those. But lots of people won't, because they have been taught that that's how it's always been. Or are afraid of what their family will think, or of what their spouse will think, or of what their friends will think.
Any negative feedback on the Web site? Yes, though it's more like sympathy for my sins, and people who hope that someday I'll find the real truth. That I'll find God. That I'll find the right path. I've even had an atheist nail me, saying the same thing -- that someday I'll find the real truth, that I was in transition and that someday I will find the path to atheism. ... But overall, I get far more positive feedback.
Do you have any bumper stickers on your car? Actually, I hate bumper stickers. It's just not my style. But, I think it's a way of creating dialogue here. And it's humorous. It's fun to read them. I was thinking of making one that says, "Change your world with bumper stickers." I don't expect to change the world. Just make it a little fun.
Stickers are $3 at www.whogivesafish.com