Rev. Dr. Scott Peddie

Conjectures of an Eclectic Christian

Death in dolphins: do they understand they are mortal? – life – 01 September 2011 – New Scientist.

A fascinating article dealing with a very profound issue.  How do cetaceans, complex and highly intelligent animals that they are, deal with death?  It may be impossible to determine how an animal comprehends death, but behavioural observations can sometimes be instructive (whilst also paying due attention to the oft-cited anthropomorphism caveat).   In highly social animals, such as elephants and gorillas, behavior akin to mourning in humans has been extensively documented.

This raises the question – are there theological implications arising from this scientific research?   It seems to me that we should be asking ourselves some profound questions about how we relate to the rest of creation, and the theological assumptions that underpin this relationship. For too long, Christians have fallen short in this respect – how, for example, can the concept of dominion be reconciled with a highly intelligent animal that exhibits what comes close to what some may describe as a  ‘moral’ behaviour…………?


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