It says so, right here on the Internet itself! So it must be true, right?

No. They are not. One of the countless evidences of this is the fact that no tree has published a study demonstrating that humans have evidence of intelligence comparable to trees, nor a study on anything else. Only humans undertake to project on to utter silence their own thoughts and feelings and, when challenged, say things like, “You can’t prove it isn’t true”.

I don’t have to prove it isn’t true. You have to prove it is. And the evidence is pretty thin on the ground.

“Oh yeah? Well define ‘intelligence’, Mr. Smart Guy!”

I will, for the purposes of our discussion here, define intelligence as having at least some tiny interest in or ability to perceive intelligence. So, for instance, I will grant that both the cat and the mouse have some sort of intelligence since you need to have a bit of smarts to ask, “How do I catch and eat me that mouse?”, just as you likewise need some intelligence to try to outwit the cat who wants to eat you. But neither cat nor mouse have the slightest interest in ever defining the question “How do you define ‘intelligence’?” That’s because neither are as smart as humans, who long ago caught and domesticated both of them, who can code their entire genome without breaking a sweat, and who, alone in the known universe ever so much as bother defining “intelligence”.

But plants? No. They are not “intelligent” and they are absolutely not “as intelligent” as humans.

We are a species alone in the known physical universe in our magnitude of intelligence and imagination–and spend part of that intelligence and imagination projecting our sentience on to non-sentient things. Angels possess intelligence, according to revelation, but we seldom encounter them and only know what revelation tells us about them, which is not a great deal. No creature on this earth is “just as intelligent” as homo sapiens. That’s not arrogance. It’s just fact.


23 Responses

  1. “I don’t have to prove it isn’t true. You have to prove it is. And the evidence is pretty thin on the ground.”

    If you apply that same standard in the context of God and/or religion, that’s pretty much the entirety of atheism is in a nutshell.

    1. (1) There’s not such thing as “religion”—only specific religions. Christianity is not Islam is not Hinduism is not Olympian Paganism is not Mormonism is not Scientology.

      (2) If you’re asking for evidence for the Abrahamic God as though he’s a being within the universe to be discovered like Zeus or Thor, you’re already barking up the wrong tree.

      1. How do you believe your religion makes sense while all the others don’t? Simple! Just decree that *your* god is not subject to evidence, while all the others still are. Done!

      2. Do you in fact know that Benjamin believes what you tell him he believes without even the courtesy of asking him if he believes that? I don’t think “my religion makes sense while all the others don’t”. I doubt most reasonable Catholics do (reactionaries and fundamentalists are another story). The trouble with many atheists is that they are fundamentalists themselves and commit the same blunders as the religious flavor, but in a photo negative. Try asking people what they think instead of telling them and refuting the fantasy you yourself created.

      3. I don’t need to ask him what he thinks when he says it himself quite plainly:

        “If you’re asking for evidence for the Abrahamic God as though he’s a being within the universe to be discovered like Zeus or Thor, you’re already barking up the wrong tree.”

      4. @ mark

        Goshes! We atheists have Exactly the same problem!

        You insist there is no God. No I don’t.

        You hate God. No I don’t.

        You are in rebellion against God. Nah.

        Atheist don’t have any morals. Even Dave Armstrong doesn’t believe that.

        Atheist can’t have consistent morals. Dave Armstrong does believe that.

        you hate Christians. Nope. Some of my best friends…

        you want to destroy the church because it stands in the way of your gross immorality. It doesn’t even stand in the way of its own.

        And so on.

      5. Whataboutism is not a becoming look for you. Since nobody here is doing that, but Joel *is* in fact putting word in Benjamin’s mouth, it would do you more credit to rebuke that than to deflect.

      6. @ mark

        No, no one is doing it here, now. And i didn’t say anyone was. But it is certainly happened in the past, here among other places. I even mentioned one of them.

        But it’ not whataboutism. You made a fairly categorical statement, ABOUT ATHEISTS. “The trouble with many atheists is that they are fundamentalists themselves…”

      7. No. A categorical statement would begin “The trouble with atheists…”. I chose the word “many” for a reason. And yes, you are Whatabouting.

  2. Then human brain is the only known brain in the universe with the capacity to wonder about study itself.

    Intelligence and sentience is a scale—not a binary as you rightly point out. Dolphins chimps and parrots can pass the famed
    “mirror test” just as human toddlers can while no other known species can. But they don’t have the capacity or potential for that kind of self-knowledge and self-awareness/

  3. Oh no! If that was at all true, we would all starve to death! There are enough people already who object eating animals because they can feel pain, etc… What if we could no longer eat plants too?
    On the other hand, there are probably humans with less intelligence than even plants, but they would not be considered as the “norm”.

  4. Mark’s definition of intelligence is speciesist – or maybe phylumist, or kingdomist!

  5. Hmmm. I almost want it to be true in a certain sense. I love the idea of plant life being revered as sacred instead of just appreciated part of the time.

    For those who believe they are that intelligent–they must feel guilty all of the time. A trip to the grocery store must be devastating. Most of us don’t have the time to sit under a tree waiting for her to release her baby to us.

    Vegans will have nowhere to turn.

  6. Just because you can’t speak the language of the trees or comprehend the means by which they publish and distribute their tree-reviewed scholarly works doesn’t mean they are unintelligent.

  7. @Mark

    My take on other religions–would be not that they’re false really, I think that’s a bad framing, but that they’re not as full an expression of the truth as Christianity is (c.f. Acts 17: 22-34).

    You can find this in just about every religion, amazingly enough. They all have *something* true in them that’s present more fully in Christianity (and connected in whole and in context to other spiritual truths).

    Even something that was downright demonic like the Aztec sacrifice cult got a part of the truth–that someone needs to be sacrificed for our salvation. Even something as obviously fabricated as Scientology gets something right–that human beings are broken and in need of salvation.

    Obviously when you move onto something like Hinduism there are more things in common, and you get a ton in common when you move onto the other two Abrahamic religions.

    1. This seems sensible to me. I’ve always agreed with CS. Lewis who said that when he was an atheist he was absolutely bound to think that nearly the entire human race was utterly and totally wrong about the thing that matter to them most, but when he became a Christian he was free to think that every religious tradition, no matter how odd, had a partial grasp of the truth. This seems to me to be the obvious way in which the Catholic tradition, ever since Paul preached on the Areopagus, regards other religious traditions. It is fundamentalism, whether atheistic or
      Christian, that (ironically) take a Manichaean view things and projects on to the Faith its own simplistic black and white thinking. For Pete’s sake, Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel honors the pagan sybils alongside the OT prophets. Hardly a Fundamentalist take on pagan religion.

      1. Yes, and because there’s some truth present in every non-Christian religion, even if they don’t have the fullness of truth, it also means their culture is amenable to being Christianized. No culture is *essentially* more Christian than any other. This, too, stated in Acts when it turns out you don’t have to be culturally Jewish to be Christian.

        At some point in the early modern period, though, Christianizing a culture got confused with *Westernizing* a culture. As an easy example from my part of Christianity, Protestant missionaries in the United States making Native Americans dress up in western clothing, changing their names, forgetting their language, changing their hairstyles, and erasing any and all of their original culture, not just those parts actually truly incompatible with a Christian life.

        Or in the Church of Rome, the Vatican ordering the Jesuits in China to stop dressing like Chinese scholars and telling the Chinese they were evangelizing that well actually, yes, there are many things Confucius said that are true and good, and yes the “Lord of Heaven” does sound an awful lot like the God of Abraham. That was a mighty big own-goal.

    2. “They all have *something* true in them that’s present more fully in Christianity”

      Is it possible that a given religion might also have something (even just one or two things) that is more fully present within it, than within Christianity?

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