Lincoln Blogs

Oriental Sweetlips and the Glory of God
January 26, 2008, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Faith
Gary Bell/

Photo by Gary Coopers

Mutualism is a relationship between two or more organisms of different species where all benefit from the association. It is another example of God’s providence and glory, as well as a roadblock for evolution.

Consider the Oriental sweetlips and the blue-streak wrasse, both fish. The Oriental sweetlips, like many fish, have teeth. Just like with humans, they rot and fall out if they are not properly maintained. Thus, the Oriental sweetlips must have some means by which it cleans its teeth. So, after spending its day feeding on little fish, the Oriental sweetlips decides that it is time to get its teeth cleaned. To do this, it looks for a particular spot on the coral reef, which is often called the “cleaning station.” When it finds the cleaning station, it swims up to it with its mouth wide open, little blue-streak wrasses dart out of the coral and swim right into the mouth or up the gills of the Oriental sweetlips. These little fish proceed to eat all of the plaque and other problem-causing materials off the Oriental sweetlips’ teeth. This cleans the sweetlips’ teeth, and provides an excellent meal for the blue-streak wrasses. Again, this is a mutually beneficial relationship, because the Oriental sweetlips gets his teeth cleaned, and the blue-streak wrasses get food.

Dr. Jay Wile makes an excellent point in showing how this is great evidence against evolution.

At some point in time, macroevolutionists would say, the sweetlips’ ancestors probably had no teeth. In a number of generations, however, teeth began to form in a few of the ancestor’s offspring. Now, in order for these teeth to avoid rotting and falling out, this new fish would have to develop the instinct for seeking out the wrasse, allowing the little fish to swim into its mouth, and not eating the little fish when it was done with its work. This instinct, of course, would have to evolve at exactly the same time that the Oriental sweetlips’ teeth evolved. That’s not enough, however. At the exact same time that the teeth and instincts evolved in the Oriental sweetlips, the blue-streak wrasse would have to independently develop the instinct to swim right into the Oriental sweetlips’ mouth without fear of being eaten. Remember, if all these things didn’t happen in the same exact generation [one generation in billions of years], the system would not work.

Obviously, it is ridiculous to believe in all of these coincidences occurring at the same time. Over and over again, however, this is what the scientist who believes in evolution must believe. When this scientist begins to look at the world around him, he sees far too many of these “happy coincidences.”

Besides these overwhelming odds, there is another way it demonstrates a strike against evolution. Evolution says that different species compete with one another for survival. The Oriental sweetlips and the blue-streak wrasse, however, work together to survive. At what point during its evolution did the blue-streak wrasse decide, “I know, I’ll swim into this predators mouth and clean his teeth. He probably won’t eat me.” God-given instinct is the only plausible answer. Mutualism is just one more example of creation providing witness for its Creator.


7 Comments so far
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This is wonderful! I just read the Sweetfish article. It is awesome and I can’t wait to delve into the many wonderful treasures that await me!I am so proud of you. Love, Grandmother

Comment by Grandmother

Sorry, meant to say Sweetlips!

Comment by Grandmother

Wile’s explanation of this was wrong.

Comment by Martha

An addition to my comment:

My reading of the quote from Wile in your post was that he was suggesting that according to evolutionary biologists, the oriental Sweetlips fish species, and each other fish species, had to evolve teeth from scratch. I thought Wile was giving a false picture of what evolutionary biologists say, because biologist would say that the ancestors of bony fish had already evolved teeth long before the sweetlips and the wrasse species evolved.

Now I think that Wile did not mean the quote the way I read it. He did not intend to give a false picture of the evolutionary view. But I think the wording is confusing.

On the other hand I have found no connection to the idea that the cleaning fish specifically were helpful for teeth, so I am still in disagreement with him on that point.

Comment by Martha

The Oriental Sweetlip is my favorite fish in the world! There are schools of them in the Maldives that make for an awesome scuba diving experience.

Just remember, “Take only photos and leave only bubbles!”

Comment by Oriental Sweetlips

The photo is copyrighted by Gary Coopers, but his watermark has been cropped off and he is not acknowledged. Similarily, critical information from a vast body of intellectual work has been cropped out of this article in favour of using one person’s writings to ridiculously simplify and dismiss an entire body of mutually supporting and cohesive findings that resulted from quests to understand our beautiful creation. Integrity is a good way to bear witness, and I hope you present more of it in your future writings!

Comment by Tara McDonald

Martha, your point about Wile’s wording is well taken. But are you saying that evolutionary biologists do not think the teeth evolved from scratch?

I am not a scientist, and I don’t know if you are, but I do know that Wile is quite knowledgeable in his that field, and it seems like common sense that cleaning teeth would be beneficial to them.

Tara, I was not aware that the photo was copyrighted, I’ll be sure to give him credit. I admit that I have not read any other articles on the topic, this just came from a book I had. If there is more information, please enlighten me. I happen to believe what Wile wrote, but even if he is wrong, ignorance is a very different thing from a lack of integrity.

Comment by Lincoln

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