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  1. Interesting discussion. My question for people who believe there’s a place for humans in an afterlife is what about all the animals? Dogs of course are going to heaven, but other mammals we don’t like? Rats? Less related animals like lizards? Dinosaurs? Even further distant like spiders? Amoebae? Bacteria? Viruses?

    We were made by the same process as all these other things. We’ve evolved to be more logical, but we’re not that different. People who believe in an afterlife tend to think it’s a special place for humans to have all the things they liked on earth. I think it’s a type of arrogance, which, of course, is a predictable result of evolution.

  2. Great comment Justen! Most theology is anthropocentric, which is to say that when we imagine ourselves to have been created in God’s image, we also necessarily imagine our gods to be like us (and to look like us, and to be primarily concerned with us), as opposed to other species. I think you’re right that this is a type of arrogance.

    We like to think that if there is a Heaven, it will be populated with humans, and it will be designed for humans. And we like to think that if any animals are exalted, they will be the ones that we personally like–as you mentioned, “all dogs go to Heaven.”

    Even when I was a more believing/practicing Mormon, I remember thinking a lot about the First Vision account and its anthropocentric ramifications. Mormonism’s emphatically embodied, humanoid vision of god(head) is directly linked to this origin story. But what if Joseph Smith saw God as a man not because God *is* a man, but because *Joseph Smith* is a man? Put another way: if Joseph Smith were a giraffe, I wondered if maybe God would have appeared in the form of a giraffe?

    A fun side note: “All Dogs Go To Heaven” isn’t just the title of a 1989 Don Bluth film; it’s also the name of a really lovely Stephen Cope song! Stephen Cope is the Provo-based post-Mormon musician behind the artist “Officer Jenny;” you may be familiar with their song “Everything Stays,” as sampled in the intro/outro of our podcast. If you’re in the mood for some beautifully melancholy music, check out Cope’s canine eulogy at https://songdog.bandcamp.com/track/all-dogs-go-to-heaven

    Anyway. I actually talk a bit more about this topic–this theological (or, in some cases, atheological) anthropocentrism–in an upcoming episode (an interview with an atheist friend of mine, a budding ecological philosopher named Russell Hatch). Stay tuned!

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