Letter To The Editor: About Fr. Glenn’s ‘You are gods!’

By TERRY GOLDMAN
Los Alamos

Fr. Glenn states, “…not only do we live and grow and are animate like all animals, but unlike them, we can think, plan, reflect, discern cause and effect …” (link)

As a religious leader, Fr. Glenn is free to make such a statement. As a scientist, I cannot accept it. Yes, it may be correct, but it is a mostly untested assertion, not the conclusion of careful study and analysis of the precise type Fr. Glenn correctly asserts that we are capable of. We do not know, and admittedly perhaps, cannot know, the mental capabilities of many animals. But we need to try very hard before even considering the possibility that Fr. Glenn’s assertions are correct.

Many astonishing examples of animal capabilities have been coming to light recently. Mostly, I think of porpoises (and whales) and their communications and wonder what they might be thinking that they are talking about. They clearly converse although we do not know the language. Also, there is evidence of discernment and even planning that requires thinking, perhaps even reflecting. I agree we don’t know this is happening but neither can anyone, who is committed to science, say definitively that it is not.

Our principal differences are the control of heat (fire), the capability of intricate constructions and to make records that survive independent of individuals (‘books’). Note that before we could do this last, records were orally transmitted from person to person, generation to generation. This has some advantages, but is not fundamentally different from what those porpoises and whales might be doing also. To my mind, that communication is the fundamental element for identifying living ‘gods’.

LOS ALAMOS

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