I was poking around online for post ideas and came by a page at News 24. This particular part of their site is open to users to pose questions and other users to comment on them. The user writing this particular article/letter posed the question, do animals have a religion?
People wondered where the first human came from. The best anwser would be a mighty HUMAN like GOD figure who created the first human on earth ADAM. And created all the animals as well.
So the best explenation for early man would be that there was the great BIG HUMAN CHIEF in the begenning.
People have brains, the brain is inquisitive and and curious. Early mans curiosity of how things began led to this idea.
Wait a minute, Animals have brains too!!
Therefore, by whatever logic this writer uses, animals also have to have religion. Author is willing to ponder the possibility of atheist animals at the end, though. Whatever. Let’s pretend this author asked a serious question. (Perhaps he or she meant to.) There are a lot of options for direction to take this kind of thought experiment. Add your own ideas in the comments.
Dolphins name themselves and refer to others by their own specially selected whistles. Elephants appear to mourn the dead. A lot of research over the years has shown that many animals beyond orangutans, chimps and gorillas have their own clever thought processes. Dogs may feel something akin to jealousy in certain situations. Crows are very adept at utilizing tools, including this one, who figured out how to toboggan and rides it down a steep roof for no apparent reason beyond enjoyment. Presumably.
It’s hard enough to determine if animals really feel emotions the way humans do. Is there too much anthropomorphizing going on in certain situations? The jury’s still out.
Belief in higher powers, though? I think it’s unlikely. Even if they did, we as humans lack the ability to understand most animals as it is.
There’s a video making the rounds featuring an orangutan, sign language, and a plea to stop cutting down their forests for palm oil production. If it turned out they believed in a god of some sort, would we stop wrecking their habitat for our own delicious gains? Would Christians hike out in droves to teach them all sign language so they could know Jesus and thus be saved from a hell they never heard of until Christians turned up and told them about it?
We automatically credit animal behaviours (even the seemingly compassionate, merciful or empathic ones) as an evolutionary advantage rather than as evidence that their god wants them to be nice to others once in a while.
What if our ability to believe is also some kind of evolutionary advantage, one that gives us an edge over other animal species? We already know we can make pigeons superstitious if the chance of getting food becomes enough of a gamble. What if some human parts of religion just derived from our own superstitious natures?