"Humans and Other Animals" is a zoology class at
It is widely accepted (i.e. in dictionaries and many biological textbooks) that animals are living things which respond to various stimuli in such a way as to usually produce bodily animation. I acknowledge that there are some plants which respond to stimuli with basic animation, such as the venus fly trap, but the point here is not to focus on classification of flora and fauna. As we are fully aware (at least most of us are) that we are not plants, I intend to contrast fauna with human beings. The public university is attempting to reduce mankind into a status of ontological equivalency with the animal.
What is the nature of the animal?
Animals posses tendencies that are widely accepted by those studying them. These include the strong presence of instincts as well as the capacity for varying degrees of learning through operant and classical conditioning (operant conditioning is using the punishment/consequence system, and classical conditioning is using rewards for good behavior). What is not agreed upon is the nature of certain responses which seemingly appear to be emotion.
I believe the idea that animals can "emote" is simply humans using anthropomorphism in life, or projecting a human emotion onto the animal. For example, when I used to train horses, I received a client's horse that she believed felt hate towards her. When I asked the client to show me what she meant, she got on the horse and passively asked him to move. The horse pitched a fit and refused to walk when the rider lightly tapped him with her heels (trying to get him to walk forward). The problem was diagnosed when the rider promptly stopped asking the horse (to the horse, rewarding it for its patience) and said in an exasperated voice, "You see? He hates me!"
Horses are by nature wired to preserve energy until it becomes necessary to expend it. This horse had simply learned via classical conditioning that he got a reward (rest) by being lazy and "angrily" tolerating his rider's weak taps until she inevitably gave up. The passive rider provided absolutely no reason for him to move. His "temper tantrum" was simply the result of months and months of being classically conditioned to stay at a slow pace and never being operantly conditioned (disciplined). This horse needed (and received) ample reason (operant conditioning) to move in the form of a swat on the rump, and was much better from that point on. He "hated" no one, and certainly did not "feel hate". He simply didn't feel the physical urge to move.
Animals use past information (pain, pleasure, and the associated sources) to make basic decisions in the present time. They do not reflect on experiences, feel human emotion, or consider the future. I am always careful to say that they do not have personalities, but temperaments. In short, they are not self-aware. They are one body ruled by chemical and electrical reactions.
What is the nature of the human being?
If the ontology of mankind was merely that of "a body purely under the control of here-and-now impulses made stronger by past experiences", this essay would be non-existent. In fact, reflective writing in general would be non-existent. There would be no ability to ponder things of a metaphysical and epistemological nature (among other things), as doing so would have nothing to do with our current impulses! Why on earth would we have evolved such a trait? That is, if we merely lived to survive and procreate, the ability to sit and consider abstract concepts such as the self would not be helpful. If it emerged by some fluke, it would have been selected out of the gene pool!
The best explanation for the undeniable and widespread longing for fulfillment far outside the purely physical realm is that mankind is more than just a body. We also have something that as a Christian I call a spirit (this is not to imply that non-Christians do not also recognize the spirit as such, though I would argue that they have an incorrect understanding of it). This is something the human being clearly has that the animal doesn't: a dualistic nature comprised of both body and spirit.
What are the implications of suggesting that we are animals?
If we are not any different than animals, then one of two possible philosophies (in their logical extremes) exists:
1) Animals, like people, have a dualistic nature and therefore deserve treatment equal to humans. This means it is a moral imperative (based on the golden rule) that we do not kill them, eat them, exploit them, or keep them as “pets”. (This view is not consistent with the philosophy of the unguided Darwinist [e.g. the secular university] and is likely to reflect a pantheistic worldview.)
2) Humans are not dualistic and are nothing other than more evolved animals. Therefore, we can theoretically euthanize anyone for any reason, murder unborn babies, act on sheer impulse at any time, and can feasibly experiment on other humans and eat other humans.
While the second possible philosophy is extreme, it reflects the logical progression from the Darwinist view (social Darwinism) where human beings have no purpose in life other than to survive and procreate. There is no need for or reason for the existence of a moral compass in a world such as this. Ethics are simply guidelines for effectively living the lifestyle of the survival of the fittest, if ethics exist at all. We are, like the animals, cosmic accidents and therefore live meaningless lives. For this reason physicalist (non-dualist) Darwinism leads to
Nihilism- a miserable life to lead, especially when the worldview is erroneous.
This worldview is the most common and ardently communicated one in the public schools and secular universities. “Humans and Other Animals” as a class is a lamentable tool for indoctrination into the mindset of the physicalistic Darwinist also known as (students are falsely taught) the “scientist”.