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« Paul Won!!!!!!!!! | Main | Religion As Ice Cream »

June 18, 2007


Give that dog the brush for a long enough period of time, and perhaps Mary will emerge in the strokes!

I do not mean to sound unkind, especially to our RC brethren that rightly loathe aberrant Mariology. But the dog with the brush is every bit as random as the burned crust of a grilled cheese sandwich, or trapped moisture in a large window.

We cannot assume intentional theology through random processes!

By the way, I think giving the dog the brush and speaking of art is perverse. It is, though, entirely admissible in world views that do not distinguish the between intention and chaos, and building a social ethic that claims one is as foundational as the other - dog gone it!

"Because we intuititvely know the difference in the significance of information and randomness"

If one put a paintbrush into a two year olds hand, the information may be no more than I like blue squiggles and it may or may not be random. Anyone who deals with animals (dogs and primates, etc.), knows that they are individuals with personalities. Dogs, of course, are color blind but asserting the lack of meaning in anything done by a canine, primate or elephant is specist and arbitrary.

"The information in the natural world apparent to all who investigate it is the result of blind, random forces, according to evolutionists."

"There is probably no other statement which is a better indication that the arguer doesn't understand evolution. Chance certainly plays a large part in evolution, but this argument completely ignores the fundamental role of natural selection, and selection is the very opposite of chance."

Some links to our fellow creatures artistic endeavors:

Give enough doggies enough paint brushes for a long enough span of time, and eventually you'll get a picture of a bunch of monkeys banging away on typewriters and producing Shakespeare.


Or not.

Dog’s have minimal consciousness. They don’t pass the Mirror Test. Most gorillas don’t either. But the famous sign language using gorillas Koko and Michael have.

I actually own a documentary on these two. It focused quite a bit on their art production. Their handlers don’t simply tape brushes to their appendages – as is often done with elephants or dogs. Rather, their keeper puts the brush and the paint in front of them and they choose the colors and use sign language to name their drawing.

If you peruse their gallery, it looks like there is some level of higher consciousness and intention at work their. Of course you could never prove this to be the case. But you couldn’t prove I have intention in my art either.

Peeps also might want to checkout the famous lexigrams used by kanzi. He makes some pretty interesting sentences with these.

And the talking parrot Alex who sometimes shows astounding reasoning capability-for such a small cranial capacity. Listen to the audio recording here:

And if you really want something to fry your noodle, you might want to checkout the 15% human chimeric sheep created in Nevada last March.

I have often wondered lately which living constructs on the planet are subject to God’s judgment. This sheep is only 15% human and hence I would assume that the fate of its soul is simply subject to annihilism. But what if it was 80 or 90 or 99.9% percent human? At what point do we stop calling this doctor a “researcher” and start calling him a “baby killer”?

Also, I’ve been trying to figure out that, of this chart here, which creatures are considered “the people of God” and which ones are “just another monkey”

Ah well. What a fascinating time to be alive.

Suggest people read these two very accessible books on biotechnology:
- “Next” by Michael Crichton – has a parrot character modeled after Alex the parrot :)
- “The Second Tree: An Investigation Into Stem Cells, Cloning, and the Quests for Immortality” By Dewar, Elaine – she interviews many of the big biotech players.

there is no such thing as 15% human. Human is an ontological status not amenable to percent completeness. One cannot be 15% pregnant either.

Correct me if I misunderstand, but all we can really say (if it is even accurate) is that sheep and humans have common genetic material.

When a dog can explain to me why I should be interested in its art, or a monkey its communication, I will be glad to listen. Until then, sorry Alan, I am a total gladly guilty of species ism. Humans have more value and than animals.

Hi Patrick, I suppose a human animal who is paralyzed, blind, deaf, and dumb has no value to you.

An ape (there is a difference between monkies and apes) who signs for something (a banana for instance) has explained its communication.

That you value East African Plains Apes higher than other animals is purely arbitrary.

Hi Tony, I saw a dog see its reflection in a mirror and look around the back of the mirror. Seemed to figure something out.

Hi Alan
Okay, you got me on a technicality with the term animal. That is because you and I use that term differently. But my point was obvious.

Only on the theistic world view does the person you describe have value. If you are suggesting humans are apes, then you are merely highlighting the dividing line, and you have no evidence to support it. If you mean primates and human are primates, my distinction is still not arbitrary. The human you describes is worth more than 100 healthy elephants, and I would gladly kill those 100 before the one, if forced to choose between the two, wouldn't you? Or, what would your criteria be for deciding.

Also, you have no idea why the dog looked behind the mirror. Perhaps the surface there smells different than the one on the glass. You are reading anthropomorphically into the animal behavior based on your assumptions. I am not saying that animals do not have intention in varying degrees, but there is not the slightest evidence convict me of any wrong in being a total speciest, relegating non human animals to a status as far below human as the furthest galaxy is from ours.

When the dog can tell me why he cares about what is behind the mirror, then perhaps I will reconsider!

"asserting the lack of meaning in anything done by a canine, primate or elephant is specist and arbitrary."

So what? Is specism wrong? On what grounds?


>> there is no such thing as 15% human.

It all depends on how you define a human. For a Christian, to avoid ambiguity it would probably be best to not use the word at all and refer to the construct in question as an ensouled_child_of_God.

i.e. “You shouldn’t have an abortion because a totipotent cell is an ensouled_child_of_God.”

For Christians it doesn’t have much to do with the components parts.

For example, consider a near future in which an artificial hippocampus has been successfully implanted.

Or consider Amanda Davis whose brain is partially composed of pig neurons

So despite what your body is made of (computer parts, animal parts) a Christian ought to say that the YOU part is “not this crude matter” as Yoda would say. But rather, the vessel of your body is just matter – which was binded to your soul, in a spiritual realm, following the creation of totipotent_1.

So to answer your question – if Christianity is true, there is no such thing as a 50% ensouled_child_of_God. If Christianity is false, it’s all subjective.

Substantial agreement, Tony. I do think there is a significant relationship of body, soul. In other words, the human soul could not "function" in an apes or pigs body.

"If you want to respond that maybe the doggie does have design and meaning in his painting, then I encourage you to contact the seller because you're just the sucker they're looking for."

Let's see where we are now. First one East African Plains Ape misunderstands a basic scientific concept while cruelly mocking a well meaning canine's efforts at artistic self-expression.

"The human you describe is worth more than 100 healthy elephants, and I would gladly kill those 100 before the one..."

Next, in order to prove the worth and special status of EAPA in general, another of the species offers to kill 100 innocent elephants.

Perhaps the problem with specism is that it encourages a false pride ("image of God and all that" Sure) and brings out the worst angels of our nature.

thank you for that poetic avoidance! With all due respect to you, I expected no more from your worldview.

And you really believe the dog was seeking to "express" himself?

Can a two year old EAPA express himself? I was playing with a gibbon awhile back and there seemed to be a level of self-expression. Just because evolution has started us at third base doesn't mean the we hit a triple.

And yet another statement which proceeds from worse than silence. I reject the term ape, it is not one science uses to classify humans, first. Second, you have still avoided my question. Third, there is not a scientist on the planet that ever offered a reason to accept naturalism as true.

Hi Patrick, taxonomic reconsideration is the stuff on which the subject thrives; consider the discussion as to the proper generic place for the domestic apple: prunus or malus.

All I know is that every discussion I have ever heard on the "image of God" thing seems to wind up with someone killing something not human to punctuate the point. Perhaps a little humility would be engendered by a realistic view of our place in the scheme of things; pie in the sky hasn't served us well.

Which question - fire it again and I'll try?

As for your third point, naturalism has built much of the good in the world we presently live in - if you want the bad without the good go back to a pre-naturalistic situation. That it seems to work is good enough for me.

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