Re: Do animals go to heaven?

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Posted by Brett Zamir ( on May 10, 2002 at 21:16:14:

In Reply to: Re: Do animals go to heaven? posted by Brent Reed on May 10, 2002 at 16:10:46:

The Writings only circumscribe their infallibility in the sense that it has been conferred upon them, rather than being part of their inherent nature (like the moon reflecting the light of the sun, rather than generating light in and of itself--See "Some Answered Questions" for more on this discussion and analogy). In the case of Shoghi Effendi, for example--the case of the Master is more of a mystery--this implies that he could not be omniscient at will--he required information. Nevertheless, when speaking about the Cause (and the Writings confirm that the beloved Guardian himself would confirm if he were speaking outside of this sphere), he was infallible. In other words, he was free from error in his writings.

There is certainly some room for Baha'is who accept the Covenant to try to analyze more deeply the meaning of infallibility and remain open to nuances in its nature (e.g., a reference of Baha'u'llah in the Kitab-i-Iqan to the "Fourth Heaven", being used as a term according to the understanding of the people of the time, rather than an objective reality). However, given the repeated and explicit interpretations of man being distinct from animals in having a soul, I can hardly see room for discussion on this point. If you have any specific interpretations to offer, or can elaborate on the nature of the debate you refer to on the nature of infallibility, please share them. However, it should be said that the criterion for a Baha'i is the Writings' authority, not some "scholars"' "critical" studies which will negate the role of infallibility by making it subject to personal interpretation. Again, there IS some room for personal interpretation, but the whole sanctity of this religion is based largely on the role of personal interpretation being circumscribed (and guided) by a clear Covenant.

My reference to cuteness of animals was a tangential comment unrelated to the question of eternal existence. I was merely stating that in an age when people spend thousands of dollars on grooming their pets, etc., while people are hungry, there is clearly a misappropriation of priorities. There is nothing wrong with enjoying animals' cuteness. It is the failure of people to recognize their purpose in this life in overcoming such attachments to the more crucial needs of human beings to which I was referring. (This was not to in any way minimize the feelings of loss for someone losing a pet, to negate the enjoyment animals provide, etc.)

"The Guardian fully sympathizes with your repulsion against any torture to animals. However, he feels that as there are human beings being tortured much worse than animals all over the world, often physically, and more often mentally, that it is more important for the Baha'is to concentrate on what will free man from the cruelty and injustice which oppress him, rather than animals. Once we change human hearts, there will be no more cruelty to animals, and medical research will be carried out in a way which will eliminate as much suffering in experiments as possible." (On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Lights of Guidance, vol. iii, p. 293, no. 994)

And though one could argue that it is more "natural" to have an affinity for dogs than pigs (like 'Abdu'l-Baha is attributed to have argued that it was more natural to want to preserve the body after death than hasten its destruction--despite cultural practices to the contrary), it seems fruitless to dwell negatively on another culture's practices, not only given that our own culture holds a double standard (as I mentioned, the eating of pig, cow, etc.), but also because it is nonessential from a Baha'i point of view (the Baha'i Writings do not restrict the eating of animal meat in this Dispensation).

And though the West has refined materialism to an art (I am from the West if that gives me more credentials to say so) and the Baha'i Writings also indicate this is so--though praising some of its good qualities, the rest of the world is surely not immune from materialism. (Even on this topic of animals being equated with people, some Muslims even believe that animals have souls (and will be physically resurrected).)

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