Re: Do animals ever "sin" (was something else)

From: Moorad Alexanian (
Date: Tue Feb 05 2002 - 13:14:00 EST

  • Next message: Woodward Norm Civ WRALC/TIEDM: "RE: Do animals ever "sin" (was something else)"

    The very act of intercourse between humans and between animals is a purely
    physical act. However, the human act is heavily laden with moral issues,
    whereas I am sure moral issues are totally lacking amongst animals. In the
    former case one has human awareness of a superior being, whereas in the
    latter the act is purely physically driven. I am sure animals know, as
    humans do, of punishment if caught in some forbidden act. However, the
    source of punishment is totally different in humans and animals. I am sure a
    chimp is not even aware of a superior being but merely fears the leader of
    his clan. Moorad

    ----- Original Message -----
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    Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2002 12:34 PM
    Subject: Re: Do animals ever "sin" (was something else)

    > Richard Kouchoo wrote:
    > [...]
    > > And this is what separates us from other animals. There is a huge
    > > gulf between humans and animals in terms of _results_ of actions
    > > and meditative abilities. The young monkey would perceive 'interesting'
    > > results from his harassment of the adult but he would not be able to
    > > post-meditate his actions in terms of Good and Evil. Hence he cannot
    > [...]
    > I'm not convinced that chimps lack capabilities for pre- or post-
    > meditative thought. I recall hearing about a case where a lower-ranking
    > chimp male that had just copulated with another female tried to hide
    > its erections from the male leader of the group. It clearly knew that
    > it had done something "wrong" (within the context of the group) and
    > could be punished if the behavior was discovered. It also knew that
    > there was evidence that could expose its infraction. Finally, it
    > knew how to cover up the evidence, albeit somewhat comically. In
    > species where success in navigating social interactions is the key
    > to survival, I do think that the ability to weigh the consequences
    > of actions in more than a "stimulus -> response mode" can arise.
    > I agree that there is a gulf (perhaps large) between adult humans and
    > chimps in the relative ability to contemplate actions and their
    > consequences. However, I'm not so sure whether that gap is quite so
    > wide between human infants/toddlers (up to about 2 years old) and
    > chimps. With respect to understanding the consequences of one's
    > actions, the overlap with some humans suggests that either chimps can
    > indeed sin like some humans, or that most young or mentally impaired
    > humans cannot sin. Of course, if "sin" is defined exclusively within
    > the confines of a _particular_ relationship between say, humans and a
    > god, in contrast to a set of operational criteria based on behavior
    > alone, then one could claim that animals cannot sin whereas infants
    > can. The same applies to the questions of what organisms might posses
    > souls, or even which individuals _within_ a species might lack souls (or
    > be capable of sin).
    > Regards,
    > Tim Ikeda
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