From Discovery News/Discovery.com:
Animals Said To Have Spiritual Experiences


  • A neurologist and other scientists argue animals are capable of having spiritual experiences.
  • The researchers hold that spiritual experiences originate within primitive parts of the human brain, structures shared by animals.
  • The challenge lies in proving what animals experience.

Seriously cool. And plausible, as evidenced by my own Diablo:

Tags: animals, brain, cat, dog, gene, god, neurology

Views: 46

Replies to This Discussion

Not news to me. I asked my dog what he thought the afterlife was like and he said "RUFF!"
@ Hugh: *GROAN* really, really huge *GROAN*

;-)
It could be worse. I asked my cat what she thought of the concept of the afterlife and she dismissed it with a "phht!"
I've never worried about the existential crisies of my pets. But I can guess that their "god" is a magical being that lives in the food bin, providing delicious kibble and chicken flavored strips. Heathens go to the kennel, where balloons are popped randomly.
Don't forget all the umbrellas that get opened.
"Our father who art in ... SQUIRREL!"
"Our father who art in ... SQUIRREL!"

HA!

"Up" was a fabulous movie. Made exponentially more fabulous by Dug the Dog and the dogs' voice translators.

Shamelessly stealing this as my comment as I post this to my FB page. ;-)
Yeah, I really need to pick it up on DVD. I've only seen it twice in theaters.
That is seriously awesome.
One of my favorite commentaries ever on religion came from an Atheist friend as we stood on my porch one rainy day, eating vanilla wafers and talking about whatever. Why we decided to stand outside in the rain for 2 hours to have our conversation, I don't remember, but it seemed to make sense at the time.

Anyway, my dog was inside and audibly upset that the humans were outside ignoring her. My friend shoved a vanilla wafer through the mail slot. The barking abruptly stopped, followed by sniffing, followed by the pitter-patter of the dog running upstairs (presumably with the cookie).

My friend said to me: "Right now, all the dog knows is that manna has magically come down to her from heaven. And her little doggie brain is working overtime trying to work out exactly what she did to so please the vanilla wafer gods so that she can make it happen again. Your dog has just discovered religion."

;-)
It's true that animals have been shown to have superstition, with something similar to the reward that appears once in awhile, and they try to figure out ways to behave that they think will result in getting more reward. Other than that, I'd think that the difference between animals and people is that animals will just say "ooh, a cookie" and not really think where they came from, but how would I know?

I read a book called When Elephants Weep which was about emotional lives of animals. The author (Jeffrey Masson) wrote about animals experiencing happiness, sadness, love, and appreciation for beauty, but thought that coming up with spirituality was something that separated humans from animals. But if it's true that spirituality comes from a primitive part of the brain, it's debatable whether animals have "spirituality". (Or maybe it is the same as the appreciation of beauty). I don't think they make up religions, although in some science fiction books (Stephen Baxter's books about woolly mammoths) they have made up mythical creation tales. They probably have NDE and they can also get intoxicated and have hallucinations.
Jo Jerome, I loved your story about the vanilla wafer.

Prog Rock Girl - Millions of years ago when I was 16 years old, I was in my room smoking a joint with a friend. My cat was sitting on the floor looking up at us just staring as usual. We said "Hey, lets get the cat high". We blew the smoke in her face. She never flinched, I swear to Gawd, except after a few blows of smoke in her face, her eye lids lowered half way and she continued to stare at us. I swear it was one of the funniest things ever.

FYI - I don't smoke pot anymore - just sayin lol.

I guess you had to be there :) (oh and maybe high at the same time)

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