War, Rape & Prostitution Among Animals

Dear Mr. Bloom,

Some more gems of ignorance for the ignorant from your website:

2) The Christian doctrine is not that humans are better than other animals. In reality, our behavior often shows us to be worse than them. No other animal has been guilty of war,

Even ants engage in "wars"--that is, organized fighting between groups of social animals. (http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2006/4/17/194059/296)

rape,

(From the Wikipedia article on non-human sexuality:) A notable example is bottlenose dolphins, where at times, gangs of bachelor males 'corner' females. The behavior is also common in some arachnids (spiders), notably those whose females eat the males during sex if not tricked with food and tied down with threads, and in some herbivorous herd species or species where males and females are very different in size, where the male dominates sexually by sheer force and size. Other animals which appear to combine sexual intercourse with apparent violent assault, also include some species of bird such as ducks and geese. (also see same page for examples of non-human homosexuality, although I wouldn't consider homosexuality "evil" as you might)

prostitution,

(From http://www.calacademy.org/calwild/2004spring/stories/materialgirls.html) Adelie penguins regularly steal stones from fellow nest-builders to fortify their own, even though they get pecked and chased in the process. More surprising yet is the recent discovery that some females resort to peddling their bodies in exchange for the precious pebbles.

terrorism, (this could be uniquely human, but I wouldn't bet on it...)

etc. While such miserable behavior does not give us anything to be proud of, it does illustrate the huge gap between other animals and us. This tendency to evil acts does not come from our animal nature, which in itself is good.

"our animal nature, which in itself is good"? What on earth does this mean?

So far no one has offered a better explanation for our twisted tendencies than the Christian doctrine of Original Sin (Genesis, Chapter 3, illustrates the primeval Fall. Cf. Romans 5:12ff.).

Almost any considered explanation is better than the Original Sin nonsense; one example explanation is evolution by natural selection (which also explains our collective morality). How about actually doing some observation of animal behaviour? Is an ignorant Catholic a happy one? Still, If Mr. Ratzinger says it's true then who are we to question it?

Best Wishes,

Stuart Mason

**********

Dear Stuart,

Point taken. In fact, I am posting your email as a helpful correction to the over-statement in my article. I acknowledge that certain animal behavior does deserve to be called "savage" and "bestial." At least on the surface, it seems comparable to some of the horrendous things humans do to each other. Still, I find myself more in sympathy with Zvi Kolitz's observation about the Nazis:

"The beasts of the field in their freedom and gentleness seem to be so lovable and dear that I feel a deep pain whenever I hear the evil fiends that lord it over Europe referred to as beasts. It is untrue that the tyrant who rules over Europe now has something of the beast in him. He is a typical child of modern man; mankind as a whole spawned him and reared him."

Similarly, when I think about the Serbian soldiers who gang raped Moslem women, I would be revolted if someone said, "Well, they are just acting like bottlenose dolphins." Wouldn't such an assertion also disgust you, Stuart? Or if someone said the bombing of Dresden was different from ant warfare only in degree? Chesterton said it best when he noted that the difference between animal savagery and human evil is not merely a question of degree but of "division and disproportion." Do you see what he means?

Sincerely,

Fr. Bloom

response