“Bait and switch” is one of the oldest tactics under the sun…or seawater. In it, a person (or creature) is lured by something desirable that is then switched out with something much less desirable, or even fatal. It is a fact of life in this fallen world—in the world of nature, in courts of law, and in evolutionary stories about origins.
Bait and Switch in the World of Nature
Consider the female anglerfish. These bony predators lure their prey with a shiny, wiggling, tentacle-like appendage that looks like edible bait. When a would-be diner approaches the “bait,” the female anglerfish’s teeth-laced jaws (and stretchable cheek pouches) predatorily swallow whole the doomed grazer.
The anglerfish—technically termed “teleost lophiiformes”1—lives in deep seawater (pelagic anglerfish) or as a bottom-dweller along the continental shelves (benthic anglerfish). This strange fish displays an ecological lifestyle that requires all-or-nothing unity design; either its critical features all work together within its exotic habitat, or else the anglerfish population cannot survive its own life cycle. Its very existence defies evolution:
One of God’s amazing creations is the deep-sea Angler fish. This fish makes its home more than a mile deep in ocean water. On her forehead the female has a “fishing rod” [flexible filament appendage] tipped with an “artificial worm.” She dangles this “bait” over her mouth to attract her next meal. Ah, but there is a problem—her next meal cannot see the bait, since it is too dark under more than a mile of seawater.…The only possibility [of this fish surviving] is that God created the Angler fish with all the fully-functional equipment it needed to survive at great depths. To solve this darkness problem, God created a special kind of light on the bait. This light displays highly advanced technology—it gives off no heat! A compound called Luciferin is oxidized with the help of an enzyme that scientists named Luciferase, and this reaction produces heatless light. (Research scientists have broken down Luciferase into more than 1,000 proteins, but they still do not know how the heatless light is produced.)…Ask an evolutionist how a deep-sea fish could evolve the ability to produce high-tech light on an artificial bait dangled over the fish’s mouth? God has made His creation to display His glory and power. No one could look at the Angler fish and say it is the result of the “impersonal plus time and chance,” unless that person had already decided to refuse to believe in the God of the Bible (Romans 1).2
As Christians, we appreciate how ingeniously God designed and operates the various anglerfish with which He has populated the ocean. But, if we were the hungry victims tricked by the anglerfish female’s shiny “lure,” our last thought might be that we had fallen prey to a deadly “bait and switch” tactic.
Bait and Switch in the Courts of Law
The concept of bait and switch as a deceptive trade practice that victimizes consumers is a familiar problem in commercial law. For example, the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices—Consumer Protection Act prohibits “bait and switch” sales tactics as suable offenses.3 Other states, as well as some federal agencies, have similar laws prohibiting “bait and switch” marketing tactics.4
However, sometimes even the laws themselves seem to play bait and switch tricks on the unwary. They say one thing, but substitute another.What about a federal law that prohibits “discharging a pollutant” into a “navigable river” of the United States—can that law criminalize pouring sand onto an Arizona desert, or adding clean fill dirt to dry land? Could a local government moving trash at its own city dump be deemed guilty of “discharging a pollutant” into a navigable river? The answer to these legal questions is “yes.”5
In the case of United States v. Mills, the defendants were sentenced to 21 months in prison, plus a $5,000 fine, plus a year of supervised post-incarceration release, because a federal law protecting navigable rivers was stretched—in a Procrustean transmogrification—to criminalize their development of their own dry land, causing even the federal trial judge to pause:
Of course, to a layman, a “wetland” is land that is most often, if not mostly, wet.…Despite its blanket approval of the [Army] Corps’ regulatory authority over “wetlands,” it is doubtful that the Supreme Court realized that the Corps’ definition extends to land that appears to be dry, but which has some saturated-soil vegetation, as is the situation here….This case presents the disturbing implications of the expansive jurisdiction which has been assumed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers under the Clean Water Act. In a reversal of terms that is worthy of Alice in Wonderland, the regulatory hydra which emerged from the Clean Water Act mandates in this case that a landowner who places clean fill dirt on a plot of subdivided dry land may be imprisoned for the statutory felony offense of “discharging pollutants into the navigable waters of the United States.”6
Likewise, arid desert lands in Arizona that are normally dry arroyos may be legally defined as “wetlands,” according to this federal regulatory practice, and if they are recognized as “wetlands” they are treated (at law) as if they are “navigable rivers.”7
In Mount Pleasant, a small town in East Texas, the city dump covered some garbage, and the excavated area accumulated some standing water, which facilitated the growth of some “hydrophilic” weeds. Those weeds were deemed “indicator” plants; this triggered the city dump as fitting the regulatory definition of a “wetland.” Thus, the city dump’s weeds redefined the landfill as an Army jurisdiction “wetland”; it could not be used again until the expensive and time-consuming process of wetland permitting was satisfied.8
So, bait and switch marketing is a violation of deceptive trade practices law. Yet even the laws themselves sometimes seem like such a trap for the unwary.
Bait and Switch in Evolutionary Mythology
Bait and switch is a tactic often used by evolutionists, but it was used by the Creator’s detractors long before Darwin and Huxley. The serpent baited Eve, in Eden, with the promise that eating the forbidden fruit would make Adam and Eve “as gods” (Genesis 3:5). This was the first and worst case of false advertising.
But Darwin’s sophistic marketing phrase “natural selection” likely holds the record as the slickest bait and switch ploy of evolution’s marketing team. By using the word “selection,” Darwin necessarily implies a “selector,” a decision-maker capable of making an information-based choice.9 Yet, by using the adjective “natural,” Darwin appears to remove the supernatural—i.e., God the Creator. An inanimate “pond” of mythical “soup” has no intelligence for selecting anyone or anything, so the phrase “natural selection” is itself a semantic bait and switch—implying intelligent decisions, then switching to a physical environment of nonliving “stuff” incapable of intelligent selection.
As Dr. Randy Guliuzza thoroughly analyzed and repeatedly demonstrated in his recent series of Acts & Facts articles, the naturalistic theory of evolution provides no identifiable “selector” who can actually make any favorable (or unfavorable) selections, whether those selections be “natural” or not.10
This is a fatal flaw in the attempted logic of evolutionary theory, because the magical phrase “natural selection” is absolutely needed to provide a theoretical mechanism to allow the possibility of past and present diversity of life (in their breedable kinds) on earth, apart from a Creator just like the God of the Bible.
But, there is no natural “selector” to substitute for God. So, because evolutionary theory cannot explain the arrival of earth’s living creatures, there are no logical candidates to be the “survivors” who are “fittest.”
Bait and switch is nothing new. The anglerfish lure is a predator’s baiting tactic. Some laws are themselves misleading traps for the unwary. And evolution’s sales pitch, “natural selection,” is a serpentine snare.11 Don’t fall for the naturalistic bait!
- “Teleost” means fish with a bony skeleton. “Lophiiformes” means the category of fish commonly called “anglerfish” (or “angler fish”).
- Martin, Jobe. 2002. The Evolutionist of a Creationist, revised ed. Rockwall, TX: Biblical Discipleship Publishers, 159-160.
- Texas Business & Commerce Code, § 17.46 (1), (4), (5), (6), (7), (9), (12) ,(16), etc.
- “Bait and switch” marketing is defined as “an attractive but insincere offer to sell a product or service which the seller in truth does not intend or desire to sell,” according to People ex rel. Dunbar v. Gym of America, Inc., 177 Colo. 97, 493 P.2d 660, 665 (Colo. 1972), citing Colorado Consumer Protection Act, section 2(1)(a)(o)(i).
- See, generally, the historical summary and examples in Johnson, Logan & Horton’s “Bogged Down Trying to Define Federal Wetlands,” 2 Texas Wesleyan Law Review (spring 1996) 481, 481-513, especially at 486-487, cited in Kirkorowicz v. California Coastal Commission, 83 Cal. App. 4th 980, 100 Cal. Rptr. 124, 31 Envtl. L. Rep. 20,168, (Cal. App. [4th Dist.] 2000), at footnote 9. See also Johnson, Logan & Horton’s “Can ELVIS Resolve our Wetland Definition Quagmire?,” 27 State Bar of Texas Environmental law Journal (fall 1996), pages 60-73.
- United States v. Mills, 817 F. Supp. 1546 (N.D. Fla. 1993. The Mills ruling was affirmed per curiam, 36 F.3d 1052 (11th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 115 S.Ct. 1966 (1995). The “laymen” quote appears on pages 1554-1555. The “regulatory hydra” quote appears on page 1548.
- United States v. Phelps Dodge Corp., 391 F. Supp. 1181, 1187 (D. Ariz. 1975) (noting that normally dry arroyos may be definitionally deemed “wetlands” jurisdictionally regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers).
- See Kate Seago, “Bogged Down—Town Creates Wetland, Headaches at Dump Site,” Dallas Morning News, 12-3-1995, at A45.
- Johnson, J. J. S. 2011. Slow Death for a Tarantula: A Lesson in Arachnid Apologetics. Acts & Facts. 40 (10): 10-11.
- See Guliuzza, R. 2011. Darwin’s Sacred Imposter: Recognizing Missed Warning Signs. Acts & Facts. 40 (5): 12-15; Guliuzza, R. 2011. Darwin’s Sacred Imposter: How Natural Selection Is Given Credit for Design in Nature. Acts & Facts. 40 (7): 12-15; Guliuzza, R. 2011. Darwin’s Sacred Imposter: The Illusion That Natural Selection Operates on Organisms. Acts & Facts. 40 (9): 12-15; Guliuzza, R. 2011. Darwin’s Sacred Imposter: Natural Selection’s Idolatrous Trap. Acts & Facts. 40 (11): 12-15.
- The serpent baited Eve with god-like “improvement” (Genesis 3:5), but the “switch” is in the consequences—“the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). Moreso, if God’s truth is rejected, the consequences include a “reprobate mind” (Romans 1:28) and worse (Revelation 21:8).
* Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Johnson, J. J. S. 2012. Bait and Switch: A Trick Used by Both Anglerfish and Evolutionists. Acts & Facts. 41 (1): 10-11.