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

From: Woodward Norm Civ WRALC/TIEDM (
Date: Tue Feb 05 2002 - 13:51:38 EST

  • Next message: Moorad Alexanian: "Re: Do animals ever "sin" (was something else)"

    If my assumption that animals have but one Divine Law to obey, the
    Preservation of Self and Species, is correct, then if the chimp had not at
    least attempted to copulate with the female, and to avoid corporal
    punishment for his act, he would have "sinned."

    However, I am disturbed at the concept of "thus is the kingdom of Heaven..."

    Norm Woodward
    Warner Robins

    -----Original Message-----
    From: Moorad Alexanian []
    Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2002 1:14 PM
    Subject: 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 -----
    From: <>
    To: <>
    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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