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JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

Was Religion more specifically Christianity created just for humans? Do you believe other animals are capable of learning theological morals?

Asked by JoeyOhSoClever (969 points ) February 26th, 2013

The point of this question is not to bash Christianity or to bash religion all together, it is simply thoughts. I am on not on a specific side I simply want your opinion and my goal is to be eduacated if my questions come off as ignorant. Earlier this week in my college class Earth History we spoke of how significantly small humans, other animals, and our Solar System is compared to our entire universe. It made me think about Christianity specifically the Bible and how it has focused primarily on human morality and our relationship with God, disregarding behavior and morality of other animals. Also, think about what God has created all of the magnificent creations as in planets and galaxies, something’s we still can’t even comprehend. Are we truly Gods greatest creation? We have seen that other animals in our own planet have potential and capabilities. Yet we are the focus. The thought of humans not being the center of universe being that we are so small compared to the rest of Gods creations but yet most religion is revolved around humans. When we think about the morality of other animals we tend to not think they have morals at all, that all of their behavior is instinctive. When I actually see people and scientists teaching morals to dogs and chimps. As in how to properly behave in public or how to tone down aggressiveness for the sake of other people and animals. Should animals play a larger role in religion? Should the talk of other planets and space have a larger role in religion? All of these questions I am left with right now that I’ll eventually find a solution for, I’d just like some input.

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29 Answers

Symbeline's avatar

Animals may have potential for capacities and abilities that might otherwise surpass their natural being, such as your example with chimps. I’ve heard you can even teach a crow to make specific sounds, depending on its needs. That is, essentially, it can ask you for food.

But there would be no mass method to get all animals to be more than they are, and animals ARE purely instinctive. Therefore, no matter what you teach them, to them it would be related to nothing but survival. It ’‘might’’ respect other animals, but only because it knows that it will get scolded or whatever if it doesn’t, and not because it would ’‘understand’’ that hurting other animals or people is ’‘wrong’’. Animals can’t, as far as I know, understand things like morality, and cannot make a rationalized choice based on anything like that. How would you teach a wolf about Jesus? Christianity was made for humans by humans. Human languages and human capacity for comprehension. Religion could never be taught to animals, because animals are not humans, and do not think or act like us. The animal would have to have a human brain and a basic grasp of human communication to understand things as WE understand them.
Now I certainly believe humans to BE animals, and I’m not saying I know everything about animals. But hell, even pet owners have something even less than rudimentary when it comes to communication with their pet, and most human made things don’t have the ability to break that barrier. Animals have tails and wings and claws and beaks, see in the dark, hear everything, what have you…we have none of that, but we have big ol super brains. Whether or not animals understand more than we think they do, we’re in entirely different ball parks here.

You would also have to teach ALL animals to get along, and uh, well…you know. Is that even possible? Thinking of which, I wonder how the Hell Noah got all the animals to not kill each other up on the Ark.
What’s a wolf going to eat if he can’t hunt anymore? Will eagles become vegetarians? And what about insects? They were here before Christianity was ever invented, and they’ll still be here long after it’s dead…but the point is, TLDR animals don’t have the brains to grasp human subjects, and their wild nature completely eradicates any possibility for adopting religion, even if it was possible for them to understand it.

Hell we can’t even get along between humans, (as I say, we are part of the animal kingdom as well) we might wanna deal with ourselves first, but that’s another story…

SuperMouse's avatar

Teaching dogs or monkeys to tone down their aggressiveness is not moral training – it is conditioning. If they do not bite people, they do not get hit; if they do bite, the get hit. Animals are not capable unable to think morally, they are driven by instict. Humans are the only species with the ability to contemplate such things; the only species aware of its own mortality. It takes an awareness of our finiteness in order to consider things greater than ourselves (such as God or the expanse of the universe), since animals do not have this awareness, it is impossible for them to have any kind of faith.

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

Thank you guys very much for your responses! So what I’m getting here is you guys believe that religion was created solely for humans? Since we are the only ones that can comprehend?

deni's avatar

Absolutely not, I think the thought of it is ridiculous even. Modern religion was created BY humans and is a man made myth, nothing more.

syz's avatar

“religion was created solely for humans”

Religion was created solely by humans.

It’s a construct that allowed us to (largely) leave nomadic lifestyles and become agrarian and social. We needed to create an omniscient authority figure that promised ultimate punishment or reward based on our behavior to allow us to live cheek-and-jowl.

To expect any understanding of or abiding to religious “morality” by other species is nonsensical.

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

@Deni Well that is a view I’m seeing as well I don’t 100 percent agree but it is something I think about. If it was man made you would think that is why it is based and a centered solely around humans. As if nothing else is as important, you know?

tom_g's avatar

Tighten up the question. The details do not appear to support the question title. What exactly are you asking?

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

tom_g Yeah I was worried about confusion and all of my jumbled thoughts lol. It was difficult to get it straight so I had thought a response to any of the questions I asked would be good for me. The last two questions in my details are sort of more what I’m looking for I guess.

glacial's avatar

I wouldn’t say that all religion is “based and a [sic] centered solely around humans”. Consider animism.

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

@glacial that’s true as well. In my question I did add “specifically Christianity.” But it did get jumbled within the details.

tom_g's avatar

Ok. If you are interested in a discussion about morality and how it relates to religion (I don’t think it does) and other species, I believe we’ve hit on this a few times here. We don’t have to get too complex before we start to see altruistic behavior. As for “theological morals” – this is such a different concept from what most of us consider morality. Prescriptions for action by religious texts and traditions are latecomers and they are only included in the discussion because we’re able to apply our moral intuition to such rules.

ucme's avatar

My dog crosses her teats right before she has her bath, she’s never enjoyed the experience.

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

Ahh this question sucked lol. I’ll try to get these thoughts together to make a clearer point. Sorry guys.

tom_g's avatar

^^ No. It was good. Don’t be hard on yourself. But if you clear it up a bit, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the discussion more. Asking a question is difficult – especially if it’s related to religion or ethics.

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

@tom_g Thats true. What I am trying to ask is, does the fact that we are simply a spec of dust in the vastness of the universe make our Religions that more insignificant? Obviously if God is real a relationship with him is important. But how important is the theological morals that consume the Bible?

ragingloli's avatar

Of course not. Cats believe know they are Gods.

wundayatta's avatar

Religion was created by humans for humans, not for animals. In fact, Christianity was created, in part, to help humans feel like they had a right to control animals.

If humans ever decide that religion could help animals, they will change their religion (or create a new one) in which animals play a more controlling role. This will only happen when a significant portion of the population decides that animals are like humans and can think and communicate as humans do. We’re talking probably millions of years of evolution before that comes about.

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

Thanks for the responses however I’m trying to come up with a clearer question right now I’m just about to submit it!

fremen_warrior's avatar

Perhaps the other animals have a better feel for morals then we do, we just don’t get it – how can we tell? Anyway…

To me religion and morality are irrelevant in this context. Coming to terms with your mortality though, and using THAT as a starting point for all your “moral” decisions – i.e. decisions + subjective justifications for having made those particular ones – that’s key.

If you realize – the realization coming from the very depths of your being – that it is only a matter of time till you are dead, and you can come to terms with that, and keep this realization in your mind at all times, if you can do that you have no need of religion, or dogma of any kind.

If other animals besides us can feel and understand this, let’s include them, by all means – maybe they’ll accept us, in return ;-)

I’m sorry, I can’t put this into words all that well either. What I’m trying to say is I’ve learned so far that if there is any arbitrary morality at all in this reality, it can only come from your understanding and acceptance of the fact, that you will die. Sooner rather than later. Life sprouts from death and vice versa. Come to think of it I should have just answered your question with a resounding “MU!”. Great question, though, even if somewhat messed up ;-)

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

Maybe you can understand where I’m coming from on my new question! But great answer nonetheless. Thank you.

ETpro's avatar

How can you be so certain God created the Universe when Abassi, Abira, Adroa, Ahone, Aiomun-Kondi, Alatangana, Allah, Altjira, Amotken, Anansi, Anulap, Aramazd, Ataguju, Awonawilona, Bagadjimbiri, Bai-Ulgan, Baiame, Baiameskyfather, Banaitja, BataraKala, Bathala, Brahma, Bumba, Bunjil, Cagn, Cghene, Chiconahuiehecatl, Chirakan-Ixmucane, Chiuta, Cocijo, Daksha, Damballa, Elkunirsa, Enki, Eskeri, GitcheManitou, God the Father Son and Holy Ghost, GreatSpirit, Gukumatz, Heryshaf, Huracan, Hœnir, Imra, Itherther, Ixpiyacoc, Izanagi, Jah, Kaang, Karora, Khnum, Khonvoum, Kneph, Kuk, Kukulkan, Mangar-kunjer-kunja, Mbere, MelekTaus, Muluku, Nanabozho, Ngai, Nogomain, Noncomala, Numakulla, Obatala, Olelbis, Omai, PachaKamaq, Pangu, Pariacaca, Prajapati, Ptah, Pundjel, Pluga, Qat, Quaoar, Quetzalcoatl, Rod, Ta’aroa, Tabaldak, Tengri, Tezcatlipoca, Tonacatecuhtli, Tupã, Tzacol, Unkulunkulu, Unumbotte, ViliandVé, Viracocha, Wak, Xamaba, Xumucane, Yahweh, YuanshiTianzun, Zamba, to name a few, all claim they did it.

They obviously can’t all be the one true Creator. Only one could possibly be right. Another distinct possibility is the whole lot of them were invented by primitive man in his effort to quell his fear of the vast unknown around him. We know that at least all but one were created thus.

AstroChuck's avatar

@ETpro- You left out Ben and Andrew.

ETpro's avatar

@AstroChuck Ha! Fact is I left out far more than I mentioned. The full list of Creator Gods includes over 3,000 deities.

mattbrowne's avatar

Humans created it for humans. And no, even the most intelligent animals are not capable of this. Elephants do mourn. Dolphins employ smart hunting strategies. Chimps have a photographic memory. But that’s it. We should not turn animals into something they are not. They are not human. Their brains did not develop in a way it did for humans in the past 6 million years. And for good reasons. Large brains are expensive. They require additional energy which is a burden. You need an ROI.

deni's avatar

@JoeyOhSoClever Cause we have little disregard for other living things and mostly only think about ourselves. Look at how we treat the earth, animals habitats, we destroy everything for monetary gain. It’s outrageous.

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

@mattbrowne well we haven’t truly understood exactly the capacity and capabilities of the mind of other animals so we can’t necessarily say they don’t understand things. Hell, we don’t truly understand our own brains capabilities quite yet, so I don’t quite agree with you about the animals but you make good points.

mattbrowne's avatar

@JoeyOhSoClever – We haven’t truly understood quantum gravity, yet we predict solar eclipses and build computer chips based on our quantum physics understanding. Science is always incomplete, but this doesn’t mean we can disregard existing findings on human and animal brains. We can analyze EEG, fMRI, PET and SPECT data and we’ve also begun detailed genome comparisons. Animals can fool our intuition. We like dolphins because they appear to be smiling. We find chimps cute, despite the fact that murder is common behavior. We dislike hyenas because we think they look ugly. We often project human standards onto animals out of a human desire to see animals as something they are not.

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