Animal Gods

Hereth, Blake. (Forthcoming) "Animal Gods," in The Lost Sheep in Philosophy of Religion: New Perspectives on Disability, Gender, Race, and Animals, edited by Blake Hereth and Kevin Timpe. NY: Routledge.

Most theists accept an anthropomorphic view of the divine: a God whose cognition and incarnate embodiment closely resembles human cognition and human embodiment. Most theists also accept an Anselmian view of God on which God has the maximal set of ontological (including moral) perfections. This chapter defends the view that Anselmianism entails that the anthropomorphic view of God is false and that some nonhuman animal is divine. Two arguments are given for this position, which we can call zootheism. The first argument, the Power Argument, claims that because nonhuman animals have moral interests, maximal fairness entails a share in power over those interests. This, in turn, entails a direct share of power within the Godhead, which entails that some nonhuman animal is divine. The second argument, the Incarnation Argument, hues closely to Christian arguments for an incarnation: because God loves us, God will share in our suffering and will pursue non-privileged kinds of incarnate embodiments. This naturally motivates incarnating as a nonhuman animal, particularly given the historically privileged status of humans. Moreover, maximal fairness and maximal love entail that God also pre-existed as a nonhuman animal. Thus, God is, and always was, a nonhuman animal.

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