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Do Animals Have Spiritual Experiences?

November 02, 2010 | 7,370 views
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cat looking at the heavensThis is a question that will probably never be answered to human satisfaction, unless animals learn to express themselves using language. Only then might we truly understand how other species experience life on the planet.

"Since only humans are capable of language that can communicate the richness of spiritual experience, it is unlikely we will ever know with certainty what an animal subjectively experiences," Kevin Nelson, a professor of neurology at the University of Kentucky, told Discovery News.

Nelson continues, "Despite this limitation, it is still reasonable to conclude that since the most primitive areas of our brain happen to be the spiritual, then we can expect that animals are also capable of spiritual experiences."

Dr. Becker's Comments:

The comments at the end of this Discovery.com article are almost as interesting as the article itself. 

It's futile to debate the issue of the ways in which other species experience our world. None of us knows for sure and likely never will, so the arguments are circular and ultimately do no more than reflect the personal belief systems of those with an opinion.

And does it really matter?

The human need to understand other species in human terms isn't a drive shared by other animals.

Growing in understanding for the sake of understanding is commendable. Attempting to 'humanize' other species can be viewed as egotism. Why should other species be assigned human tendencies? 

It's one thing to delight in the ways animals seem similar to us. It's another to argue whether they are or they aren't. What does winning such an argument accomplish? For animals, winning is primarily a matter of survival, not self-importance.

And what does really matter?

In my opinion? Respect.

Humility.

Using our ever developing human brains to understand the order of the natural world and how we can best conduct ourselves in a manner that preserves and protects it.

Other species aren't here for our amusement, nor is the point of all nature to be conquered by us, just because we can.

Is it really necessary for animals to be like us? Does that make them more worthy to occupy a place in 'our' world?

And finally, who are we to decide that our widely diverse human concept of spirituality is the experience our animal companions should have?

If spirituality resides in the most primitive part of the brain, then perhaps humans -- with our big brains and vast complexity -- are not the embodiment of spiritual simplicity. 

Perhaps one of the reasons animals are on this earth is to demonstrate how wonderfully simple it can be to fulfill their purpose in life, whatever that may be.

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