Originally Posted by Lemur 6
Sometimes I wonder... those people who have been hurt by criminals, hurt to the point where they bear such a malice to wish death or worse on a person, and then to feel relief or even satisfaction from a person's demise or to see them suffer. Are they any better than the criminal? It brings me back to my original point... good and bad are truly relative and arbitrary...
But anyway, sorry for the thread jack. Went quite a ways off topic.
So, this is mainly a question for those of you who believe pets have an afterlife.... if pets have an afterlife, that means all animals have an afterlife right? Bears, koalas, sharks, slugs, bugs, and worms and bacteria are animals too right? So they have an afterlife? And plants? They're alive right? They have an afterlife? What about viruses that just border on being an organism? These animals, do they know the difference between good and bad? Viruses and bacteria are bad right? Do they all go to hell? What about plants? They don't do anything, they just sit there and grow, where do they go?
Sorry, feeling mischievous
Wow! Lots to respond to in that
While of course we all feel the heartbreak of the families of murder victims, I agree completely
that if they stand out in front of the prison deathhouse and cheer when they hear the execution has occurred, they have stooped just about as low as the killer. This is one of the many, many reasons why I oppose the death penalty: because it panders to the very worst
aspects of human nature.
But are good and bad really arbitrary? I don't think so. I think some things are cosmically, empirically
Good or Bad. What fluctuates are the mores of societies in different times and places.
For example: we know that incest is bad
, because it leads to birth defects and gradually weakens the genetic line -- not to mention distorting natural familial relationships and being distasteful in the extreme. But as recently as the 19th century, it was perfectly acceptable for first cousins to marry! Still, the fact that it was acceptable
didn't make it Good.
It just made it part of the way of life in that time and place.
Y'know, it's like the definition of a weed: if a rosebush grows in the middle of a cornfield, it's considered a weed. But the rosebush is still beautiful! Part II:
Now, about animal afterlives: someone here said that any creature that feels emotions has a soul, and I think that's probably a pretty good place to draw the line. So obviously, cats and dogs have souls. Certainly all simians, too, our very close DNA relatives. Dolphins and whales. I think if an animal can develop a bond beyond mere instinct, that indicates the possession of a soul, and that probably includes the majority of mammals. Maybe even all of them. I don't know much about birds, but as intelligent as many of them are, I'd be very surprised if they didn't also have emotions.
But when you get down to reptiles and fish, I begin to have my doubts. Their brains are so minimal that it seems unlikely they could support anything beyond survival instinct. And I certainly don't expect to find much sentimentality in a cockroach or an earthworm.
As for plants, they are clearly an entirely different thing, not possessed of consciousness. And although I am not religious, I do feel that in the great scheme of things, there must always be a "right answer" -- and if plants were thinking, feeling creatures, what would be left for Earthlings to eat without guilt?
As an aside: I know you're joking about bacteria going to Hell, but actually, not all bacteria are bad! Many of them serve a very useful purpose -- without them, landfills would not decay as they need to, for example, and our own digestive tracts would not work properly. Why, we wouldn't even have bread
without bacteria! And I seem to recall that there are some viruses that are at least benign,
causing beneficial mutations in plants. And genetic medicine uses viruses to carry beneficial elements to the right places in our bodies. So even they
are not always
With regard to the question of whether good and bad are arbitrary... someone told me once that the Sufis say "the only mortal sin is separation from God, and the only venal sin is separation." Again, I'm not religious -- but there's some wisdom in that. What I take from it is that whenever we act for our own benefit alone, rather than for the good of all, then we are committing a wrong.
Sometimes that Sufi saying has come in handy when the difference between Good and Bad seems blurry.