Neuroscientist Christof Koch was troubled as a child by the Catholic tradition that dogs like his beloved Purzel did not go to heaven:
In recent articles, we’ve discussed well-known neuroscientist Christof Koch’s Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of consciousness which, as he acknowledges, takes a panpsychist (everything is conscious to some degree) approach to the mind. He has explained his reasoning at MIT Press Reader: Materialists must see human consciousness as an illusion — but then whose illusion is it? Panpsychism allows humans to have actual consciousness but, he says, “experience may not even be restricted to biological entities but might extend to non-evolved physical systems previously assumed to be mindless — a pleasing and parsimonious conclusion about the makeup of the universe.” His perspective is gaining popularity in science…
One, perhaps unexpected, factor that he mentions as shaping his overall approach was youthful dissatisfaction with Catholic Church teachings about the immortality of animals…
A well-known Christian scholar and writer of the mid-twentieth century, C.S. Lewis (1898–1963), took a more complex view of the question. Lewis, in no way a pantheist, offers a tentative case for some animal immortality — based precisely on the human exceptionalism that Koch finds objectionable.News, “Do any dogs go to heaven? If so, why?” at Mind Matters News
Takehome: Ironically, human exceptionalism, which Koch decries, holds out the possibility that some beloved animals may indeed share immortality with humans.
See also: Why would a neuroscientist choose panpsychism over materialism? It seems to have come down to a choice between “nothing is conscious” and “everything is conscious.” Materialism becomes incoherent when it requires us to believe that we only imagine we are conscious — that’s a basic error in logic.
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