Animal minds Intelligent Design Mind Naturalism

Are animals just as smart as people, but we are unfair to them?

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Michael Egnor looks at such claims. Including apes as co-authors on a primatology research paper created quite a stir—among humans.

Much in the article is of interest, if you can bear it, but I’ll discuss here the first sentence from the abstract, offering a commentary:

“Modern Western society assumes that nonhuman animals do not possess an episteme comparable to humans; this presumption is used to exclude nonhuman species from knowledge-making and practices that intimately affect animal lives.”

Modern Western society assumes that nonhuman animals do not possess an episteme comparable to humans because nonhuman animals do not possess an episteme comparable to humans. The proof of this assumption is simple: nonhuman animals have not taken any position in this debate, nor have they published their own review articles in Project Muse, because, well, they do not possess an episteme comparable to humans.

In plainer language, non-human animals don’t and can’t think abstractly.

Michael Egnor, “Can animal minds rival humans under the right circumstances?” at Mind Matters News

It’s not clear that naturalism commits a person to such an obviously false belief but some are prepared to go that far.

More on animal intelligence:

Do animals truly grieve when other animals die? Yes, but “death” is, in some ways, an abstraction so there are only some things they understand about it. For example, the dog Hachikō’s lifelong devoted vigil at the train station is touching in part because he could not know that his human friend had actually died. (Denyse O’Leary)

The real reason why
only human beings speak. Language is a tool for abstract thinking—a necessary tool for abstraction—and humans are the only animals who think abstractly (Michael Egnor)

The idea that animals think as we do dies hard. But first it can lead us down some strange paths. And it seldom does much for the animals. (Denyse O’Leary)

and

Researchers: Apes are just like us. And we’re not doing the right things to make them start behaving that way… In 2011, we were told in Smithsonian Magazine, “‘Talking’ apes are not just the stuff of science fiction; scientists have taught many apes to use some semblance of language.” Have they? If so, why has it all subsided? What happened? (Denyse O’Leary)

7 Replies to “Are animals just as smart as people, but we are unfair to them?

  1. 1
    AaronS1978 says:

    I have yet to have a chimpanzee or my dog or my cat come up and start testing my intelligence when that happens I will give them a degree of respect

    So whenever my animals start becoming scientist I’ll consider their opinion to be legitimate

  2. 2
    BobRyan says:

    Those who claim animals are on an equal level to humans seek to pull down humanity to the level of animals. Whenever this has happened, the results are never positive. Stalin, Hitler, Mao and a whole host of others believed exactly that and the result was always the same.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note:

    IN THE IMAGE OF GOD – video
    https://vimeo.com/434448524
    Of all the world’s wonders there is perhaps none greater than God’s creation of human life. From physical gifts like our opposable thumbs and the ability to walk upright, to our capacity for self-awareness, speech, creativity and rational thought, we are, to quote the psalmist, “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Yet in the fabric of the human experience, one quality stands alone. We are each made in the image of God. But what does it mean to bear the image and likeness of our Creator? Explore this mystery and its profound implications in this important video.

  4. 4
    Seversky says:

    I’ve never found a satisfactory explanation of what “imago dei” actually means.

    Does it means that God is a bipedal hominoid mammal? Does he have two arms, two legs, a head and all the other human accoutrements? Does he suffer from back pain or the flu “and the thousand natural shocks That Flesh is heir to”? Will he experience the debilitating infirmities of old age?

    Or is it a psychological similarity? Is He capable of love and benevolence but also prey to the Dark Side of anger, jealousy, revenge or hatred? That would go a long way to explain the behavior recounted in the Old Testament.

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  5. 5
    AaronS1978 says:

    @4 use your mind, that’s your answer

  6. 6

    Perhaps this little essay may give you an idea of the wonder of goal driven human design and purpose.

    https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2016/08/05/the-not-so-intelligent-designer/

  7. 7
    Fasteddious says:

    Sev @4: “imago dei” means the image of God of course. Since God is a spirit (non-physical entity), his image is also spiritual. Thus, do not look for physical attributes in God, and what distinguishes humans from animals is our spirits, not our physical form. We were created sinless in God’s image, but of course, we are fallen, so we are now sinful. Our spirits are polluted with sin – you can see evidence for that in any human (including yourself) if you take an honest look. Thus, the image of God in us is distorted, as looking into a warped mirror distorts your physical image. I hope this helps.

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