We start with the idea that only humans have souls and go on from there. The notion that non-human animals can't think, don't have memory etc is the direct descendent of that, it's sort of like the last gasp of that old hide-bound thinking, trying for a pseudo-scientific justification, in much the same way early geneticists tried to do with the outmoded idea of “race”, and “racial superiority”.
Now I know where you're coming from, that's pretty much all there is too it. One thing you learn in this forum is that when you move from debating ideas and come up against the bounds of someone's knowledge base, it's very hard to get beyond that. Sorry man. :(
Woah woah woah, you are not
going to say “Sorry, but you don't know enough for me to debate this with you, I'm just too smart.” I ask you for proof and you claim that I don't know enough, especially
after you have not bothered to link to these magical articles you're talking about and provide me with some real evidence. That is straight up, grade A Bull shit, and I will not stand by and let you do that. This debate is not fucking finished.Now,
I am not basing this on old theories that animals don't have souls or only humans go to heaven. Animals don't think in the sense that we do. Humans think with words, for one. You can't really comprehend any other kind of thought process because your brain works on such a higher level than that of, for example, a wolf. A wolf probably operates by recognizing a smell, checking to see what the smell means to his brain, then following it, ignoring it, or running from it depending on what he thinks it is. He doesn't remember his first kill, but when faced with a new immediate kill he still knows the feeling of the chase, the pounce, and the meal. They are facts to him, parts of how his world operates. But after eating he doesn't sit back and rest, he is already focused on either finding more food, or someplace safe to sleep. He can't think past that.
Or take a cow in a pasture. She doesn't worry about food because whump there it is. Some part of her brain is always watching out for predators, but even that's just her programming, she's safe now that humans have domesticated her (we're talking about open pasture cattle by the way). She has a baby and the humans help her out in giving birth, and they make sure they milk her if the calf is taken away so that her udders don't get swollen and painful (that and they like the milk). Her routine is eat, eat, eat, eat, poop, eat, get startled, eat, eat, poop, sleep.
Or here's some better proof: Our brain to body mass ratio is the biggest in the animal kingdom. Someone said earlier that a whale's brain is bigger than ours (and I did not just call him stupid and say “I can't talk to you anymore, sorry man :(” ). I told him that it doesn't make a difference. They have a bigger brain because they have a bigger body. We have more brains relative to body than they do.
Honestly I could
stop here because this proves it.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_to_body_mass_ratio
or if you don't trust wikipedia;http://www.tufts.edu/as/wright_center/cosmic_evolution/docs/text/text_cult_3.html
I'm not going to claim victory and stop here though (even though this is pretty much my logic train hitting your face). That would be cheap.
Here's a recent animal study for you.http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/science/06dumb.html?_r=3&pagewanted=1&ref=science&oref=sloginhttp://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2005/12/fruit_flies_and.html
It says that when they got certain flies to learn, they died faster because neurons normally dedicated to life support were busy holding onto information, and when they were needed they couldn't perform. The smarter certain animals get, the more it takes from them.
Humans have, as the article says, taken it to the extreme. Intelligence is not a luxury for our species. It is a necessity. We take risks developing our fancy brains because they are so important to us. What it takes away from us has long ago been taken back by the benefits of our intelligence.
I know I'm not up to date on animal intelligence theories, so I would like to know one thing… is there any evidence that animals can use language symbolically and/or in a triadic manner?
Well monkeys can learn sign language. Elephants can… sort of do that, and they have a pretty varied vocabulary for animals. Dolphins, I read, actually have nicknames for each other. They proved this by recording sounds dolphins made when communicating, then playing the ‘names’ back with a synthesized voice. The same dolphins responded each time, no matter what the voice sounded like. I'll give you some articles next time I stop by here (unlike ozone who says “get them yourself” ). I'd grab them now, but I'm sort of busy.