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NerdyKeith's avatar

Do you believe non-human animals have some sort of beliefs?

Asked by NerdyKeith (5464points) February 27th, 2016

Either a belief system or some sort of spirituality?

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26 Answers

Here2_4's avatar

Hard to say… but elephants mourn their dead long after they are gone, so there is that.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Some animals believe in revenge.

tinyfaery's avatar

I think their too smart for that. But when I see an animal gaze at the sunset or care for another being I cannot help but think that they can be in awe of the universe and something bigger than their individual survival.

ibstubro's avatar

I do not believe animals have an innate sense of spirituality.

ragingloli's avatar

cats clearly know they are gods.

Cruiser's avatar

My dawg definitely believes in the higher power of rawhide and late night walks. I watch her pray in earnest to these Deities of hers every day. When you see puppy dog eyes that means they are praying.

Cruiser's avatar

@ragingloli That is because most pet cats have not met up with a pet turtle. Only a real pet God would be born with an armor shell as opposed to cuddly fur.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Animals such as whales, porpoises, horses and elephants certainly show a sophisticated sense of communication, social organization, loyalty to and empathy for one another and even other species, but I think that is as far as it goes. I have a border collie pup that started a whaling, yapping, and barking fit when he saw one of the sheep roll off a cliff. He got really frantic and it wasn’t just to get my attention, he was losing it, jumping around yelping in panic until I could show the little guy that the sheep was unhurt. After that he nuzzled the sheep and whimpered to it and stuck next to it for the rest of the afternoon as if to make sure it was OK. My adult border collie, on the other hand, stood by on point barking during the event in order to get my attention, which is his job. He didn’t seem all that upset. Afterward Sam, the adult, did a head-to-toe sniff job on the pup as if to make sure he was OK—then snorted and walked away, ignoring the sheep who was no longer in trouble. But my pup was actually trembling afterward. I was pretty impressed by the whole thing. A little Pastorae Dramaticus.

I haven’t caught any of my animals praying yet, though.

ucme's avatar

Wildebeest believe themselves to be sacrificial lambs, which would explain why they have lion food branded on their skinny arses.

imrainmaker's avatar

Only belief they have is for survival. They know for sure they ain’t getting any food by praying or don’t know what prayer is I guess..))

SavoirFaire's avatar

There are nearly 1.4 million animal species on the planet—most of which are either insects or fish—and you are asking about all but one of them. I don’t think we can generalize to such a heterogeneous group. If we had to, though, it would seem most accurate to say “no” if only because most animals don’t even have the physical structures required for intentionality (including propositional attitudes, of which belief is one example).

Some animals surely do have the requisite physical structures, and they almost certainly have beliefs. Koko the gorilla, for instance, was able to answer questions that presupposed she had beliefs that weren’t instilled in her. But there is no evidence of such animals having any sort of spirituality. They certainly don’t have anything like the shared cultural system of behaviors, practices, world views, ethics, and social organization that characterize a religion.

filmfann's avatar

Q: Do you believe non-human animals have some sort of beliefs?

A: Only the ones advanced enough to make fire.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

^^ I thought for sure you were going to write:

Q: Do you believe non-human animals have some sort of beliefs?

A: Only the ones advanced enough to get elected.

kritiper's avatar

Animals don’t think. They only react.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Isn’t language necessary before “beliefs” become possible?

cazzie's avatar

Animals definitely have a sense of fairness and jealousy and trust.

Cruiser's avatar

@stanleybmanly How quickly you forget you are a mere Jellyfish and that when you joined here you clicked that little box that you agreed all your thoughts (and beliefs) would be translated into English. Silly Cnidaria…

Here2_4's avatar

This one does
Also, there are animals with language, such as apes, and marine mammals, and lots of animals have ceremonies.
Sunflowers exalt the sun god.

ibstubro's avatar

I guess humans associate killing prey with some sort of compassion, @ragingloli. Seems it’s more for convenience…as long as you can hold the prey tight enough it’s fresher if you eat it alive.

yankeetooter's avatar

We all know spiders have evil intent towards us and that they plan to give us heart attacks when they come out of nowhere!

flutherother's avatar

Just about everything humans have can be found in the animal kingdom except maybe pride.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@flutherother What about lions? ~

flutherother's avatar

Lol, I hadn’t thought of that. Well the animal kingdom does have everything then.

Here2_4's avatar

Shall we take it one step further? Could it be some animals believe humans are gods? Numerous times sick or injured wildlife have presented themselves to humans for help.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

About pride: I think my dogs have self-esteem, which is easily affected by how I react to their performance. I had to get rid of a flock of sheep last September and it left my older border collie, Sam, out of work. He went around the house going nuts, just like a guy who loves his job but has been fired or forcefully retired. He lost his identity and his position in the pecking order on the plantation because he was no longer able to work sheep. He actually got depressed. I half expected to find him out back of the stalls nursing a bottle of Jack Daniels. We got a new load of sheep in and he snapped out of it immediately. I submit that this is the result of a form of pride

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