Religion and Animal Sentience

Quote taken from kurt9 at Secular Right:

What I don’t understand is the reluctance on the part of the religious right to accept that sentience is what separates humans from animals. They seem to down play the significance of sentience itself.

Lacking the trait themselves, they don’t wish it to be perceived as important.

In all seriousness, religion is heavily dependent on folk concepts and judgment-by-feeling. Most people do not reach conclusions by rational analysis, but by considering how they feel about different options. Religions, which by and large are not viable when analyzed rationally, survive only because they can get people to accept premises and then maintain them from a sense of familiarity.

The people who object the most to the idea that people are just another type of animal are usually the ones least dissimilar to animals, in rather the same way that the poorest low-class whites tended to support slavery and the subhuman status of blacks most vehemently. They could always tell themselves that despite being white trash, they were at least better than the Negroes – so they had the most to lose, psychologically speaking, from considering them as potential equals.

Everyone wants to be superior to something. No one wants to be inferior to everyone. So inferior people look for, and sometimes create, things they can be superior to.


2 Responses to “Religion and Animal Sentience”

  1. Humans are animals.

    I remember “sentience” being a big deal in SimEarth. Now I don’t see it as being very meaningful. I don’t even view humans as being terribly different from plants in that regard.

  2. In my experience, very few people actually believe that “animals are conscious”, and actually treat the idea as ludicrous. And I’m not talking about white trash here, but above average intellectual people with college educations. This despite them being pet owners and well aware of how to treat a pet well, and the importance of doing so. They just don’t see the inherent contradiction there.

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