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Now, there’s something wrong with saying “whales are phylogenetically just as closely related to bass, herring, and salmon as these three are related to each other.” What’s wrong with the statement is that it’s false. Suppose you travel back in time to ancient Israel and try to explain to King Solomon that whales are a kind of mammal and not a kind of fish.Your translator isn’t very good, so you pause to explain “fish” and “mammal” to Solomon.Solomon says oh God, you are so annoying, who the hell cares whether whales have tiny little hairs or not.In fact, the only thing Solomon cares about is whether responsibilities for his kingdom’s production of blubber and whale oil should go under his Ministry of Dag or Ministry of Behemah.So the Bible seems to think whales are just big fish. For all we know, Jonah was swallowed by a really really really big herring.The second problem is that if the ancient Hebrews want to call whales a kind of fish, let them call whales a kind of fish.But now you’re making a status argument, not a factual argument.Your argument is “conform to the way all the cool people use the word ‘fish'”, not “a whale is really and truly not a fish”.
Solomon says you didn’t even know the word dag ten minutes ago, and now suddenly you think you know what it means better than he does, who has been using it his entire life?
Who died and made you an expert on Biblical Hebrew?
You try to explain that whales actually have tiny little hairs, too small to even see, just as cows and sheep and pigs have hair.
You tell him that fish is “the sort of thing herring, bass, and salmon are” and mammal is “the sort of thing cows, sheep, and pigs are”.
Solomon tells you that your word “fish” is Hebrew dag and your word “mammal” is Hebrew behemah.
You can get a reputation as a daring and original thinker just by copy-pasting it at different arguments with a couple of appropriate words substituted for one another, mad-libs like.