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Dumb Animals?

I guess I was very impressionable when I was in grade school.  It was a christian school and I was thoroughly indoctrinated.  I didn’t know what I believed, but I knew what I was supposed to believe.  Being raised in the church and having the added experience of a religious education, was not totally a bad thing as it was there I learned about values and how to live my life in a way that considered others as well as myself.  It was from this advantage point that I developed my concepts of why we are in this world and what our purpose in life was.  As a result, I am not an atheist.  Unfortunately not everything I learned was helpful.

As I have said in another post, teachers often give their own point of view on the subject that they are teaching and children especially can easily accept their words as law.  Hopefully when they grow up they will find out that some of the things the teacher said did not represent the “gospel truth.”  I did, but not before making a few incorrect conclusions based on these teachings.  One belief I kept for a long time was that animals were dumb, not intelligent like humans, and their behavior was only based on instinct.  Also I thought humans were superior to animals in every way and that there was nothing an animal did that a human couldn’t do better.  I also believed that animals didn’t really deserve a place in God’s kingdom like man did.

When I first studied psychology, I learned that animals were acceptable substitutes for humans in experiments studying the origins and expressions of many behaviors.  Certain animals were more appropriate for use in such experiments than others depending on their similarity to humans. At the time animals were not considered to be intelligent like humans and could be used in ways that could not be used on humans. Recently (or at least since I was a student) we have learned that at least some animals can think (not everything they do is because of instinct) and/or use language which we used to think was reserved for humans. Also animals are special creatures that can do things that humans can’t do or do as well. I strongly suspect that as time goes on, we will find this to be more true rather than less.

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