Friday, July 18, 2008

Acculturation, love, animal souls

This moving (for animal lovers) viral video was brought to my attention by an email from What is enlightenment? magazine. They referenced this video for the purposes of examining the prospect of animal souls. I still think that the people at WIE are oblivious to evolutionary theory. Seems they take animal affection to somehow insinuate a soul. But then here is the crux of the issue. The fact that an animal can clearly be acculturated into the affections of a human family argues for the universality of these emotions from an evolutionary point of view. To the WIE crowd it may argue for some sort of evolving state of realization through reincarnation. I am constantly struck by how much the WIE crowd "doesn't get it". They *are* the ID crowd, only from a non-Christian slant.

The acculturation of the normally wild lion strikes me as being very similar to the acculturation of the wild human born into modern society. Are we all savages that merely mold ourselves to the level of societal advancement we happen to be raised in?

The video linked by WIE was overwhelmingly cheesy. I am linking to a more palatable one.
My dog greets me like this every time I see her (which is far less often than when I raised her).

This is the fascinating fleshed out story of Christian, his life in England and how he was introduced back into the wild by George Adamson (the third man in the video) who was tragically murdered by bandits along with his wife 14 years later.

This is the full grown Christian. He was wild but still in friendly contact with George Adamson. More.


upinVermont said...

It's cheesy but it's meaningful. I sometimes wonder what we would find on an exo-earth populated by creatures of a complexity comparable to that of mammals (or maybe Dinosaurs - they may have possessed a very similar intelligence).

My hunch is that we would find the same sort of intelligences and emotions. I suspect that all life, everywhere, is really far more alike (in its intelligence and emotional makeup) than any behaviorist would dare to posit - and I this would be the case if only because the evolutionary forces would probably be almost identical.

On the other hand, if this is evidence for a soul, (which it could be) then the evidence is as elusive and evasive as ever.

Interesting stuff to think about...

upinVermont said...


When I watch this video it seems too good to be true. For some reason my skeptic's spidey-sense is sending up alarms.

I wonder if the whole story is being told or if it's an out & out hoax?

Aaron said...

I think you are right. I remember in Daniel Dennett's book "Darwins dangerous idea" he talks about the limiting factors of evolution- that there are probably not infinite ways that things can evolve. You can look at sequestered places in evolutionary history like Madagascar and Australia that while creating very different fauna, evolved animals which were strikingly similar to unrelated animals elsewhere.

Aaron said...

No it is true. However, the lions were slowly brought into the wild by George Adamson, the old man that walks down the hill. He spent his life rescuing lions and reintroducing them into the wild. They certainly did not just release them willy nilly back onto the savanna. Christian was completely wild as the leader of his own pride and had wandered away from the reserve and was no longer seen. They were able to find him when they came back a year later.