Registered: 1176666567 Posts: 251
Hello everyone. I am struck by the religious tone of so many of your messages. (I am not judging anyone…. I am religious, but not a church goer. I am French, divorced, was married to an American once, and am now leaving in Ireland with my two sons- 20 and 17. I was raised as a catholic by a family for whom religion is more a tradition than some firmly held beliefs. Funny to think that I am so religious considering this background, but that’s another topic, although growing up in the country with my paternal grand parents, in the company of animals and in a beautiful environment, I think, played a great role indeed in that) I would be interested to hear of some people, either atheists or agnostics, who also love animals. Is there religiosity in loving animals? I’d like to read reflections on this…. Here’s one piece of reflection for you all. Not that long ago, I was reading a book written by French author François Cavanna. Cavanna (now in his early eighties, and he’s a man too) is an open atheist, a firm believer in evolution. And, he loves animals too, and has kept many of them (dogs, cats, poultry…) . He supports animal shelters and campaigns for several causes (fur trade, bull fighting, hunting, etc. all things he absolutely abhors) As Cavanna talks of the animals he had as companions, he also reflects on why he loves them. Certainly, his experience in eastern Europe during the last war made a long lasting impression on him, and horrified him - for life - at cruelty, death and violence, and at the stupidity of people for inflecting so much suffering on other living creatures, human or not. He also talks of one first ‘secret’ cat he had as a kid, starting by saying: ‘I don’t remember having a teddy bear when I was a kid. Maybe that’s why I was longing for something warm and soft to the touch….’ He also talks of his father who loved dogs and somehow gave it to him (Cavanna’s mother would not let his family have pets) In substance, Cavanna says… ‘dont’ tell me about St. Francis of Assissi .. I have no heaven to gain’ ‘why do we have to consider our species as coming first, why do we care so much about US , humans, always US…. before any other species? We only have time for animals who prove to be sweet looking.... or eatable….’ ‘I know some people think animal welfare should not be taken seriously but… animals can’t talk for themselves, when we talk and talk about ourselves all the time….’ ‘Animals are just that, and are happy with such. They remind me that we are just that, as well, but a lot less comfortable with being JUST animals…’ So what are your thoughts on the subjet?
Registered: 1157206612 Posts: 1,604
I feel sorry for him, for his must be a particularly empty existence. If there were no God, what would be the point of our existence? Why should we show compassion for any living being if there were no God? The compassion that moves us to be kind comes from the Source of compassion: God. Cavanna refuses to believe in God, but that does not in any way change the *reality* of God's existence. Some people believe that all life ends at death; that's their right (and their sorrow), but it does not even begin to affect the *reality* of the Afterlife, of Eternity.
What is the guiding principle if it is not the Superior Being instilling in us what is right and good? What is the source of Cavanna's compassion if it is not the Superior Being, Allah, Jehovah, God?? Cavanna's compassion did In short: nonbelief does not affect reality.
Registered: 1173691426 Posts: 126
I expect there is a fair mix of people on this forum, with differing views on religion, afterlife, etc. An atheist can grieve over the death of a pet just like anyone else; the main difference is that the atheist has no hope (in his own mind, at least) of ever seeing his pet again. Also, non-believers can love their pets just like anyone else, but that love ends at death (in their eyes), and the pet simply becomes part of their history, as far as they are concerned.
My father was an atheist. He believed in oblivion. We had family dogs, but when they died he seemed to just treat their passing as one of life's inescapable events, and that was it....finito. There was never any talk in the house about meeting them again in a new life. I, on the other hand, chose not to follow my father's atheist views, because my gut feelings told me that there was more to life than just earthly flesh and blood. No-one preached to me as a child; no-one made me go to church; I have just always "known". I can't get inside a non-believer's head. I find it impossible to consider oblivion as being my ultimate end. Scientists in many professions reject the idea of afterlife because it can't be "proven" by scientific means. I was once also in a scientific career, but it never changed my feelings about it all. If a person wishes to subscribe to non-belief, then that is their choice. You should not, however, be surprised at the religious touches in the forum messages, since I think you'll find that the greater percentage of people are this way.
Registered: 1176762179 Posts: 18
I think this is an interesting topic for discussion. As far as my own religious beliefs go, I'm a Christian who feels that all religions are different paths to the same God and regards members of other religions as Bothers and Sisters in Faith. I find a lot of wisdom in other religions and I'm glad I haven't limited myself by not studing other traditions and beliefs. I was raised Methodist, don't attend church regularly, but I pray every day. I personally don't get a lot out of organized religion, but I respect those who do. I consider myself a very spiritual person.
I think that the reason that you have observed so many spiritual/religious sentiments on this site is because most of the people here believe in some sort of afterlife and that their beloved pet has a soul. An atheist would believe that when someone or something dies, they die and thats it. I have had many conversations with self-described atheists and agnostics and have found that a lot of them are more likely to have issues with organized religion, problems with authority or have had bad experiences in church or with their parents than to really, honestly not believe in God at all. They often have trouble separating religion from spirituality. I believe that God gave us the gift of the relationship we have with our pets to teach us the lesson of unconditional love, the love he has for us, like the love our pets have for us. I'm sure that people who don't believe in God can love animals, but I don't know how anyone could look into the eyes of their beloved pet and not know that there is a God. I think that to look into the eyes of a trusted pet is to look upon the Divine. Sharen
Registered: 1166397751 Posts: 217
I guess I am just VERY thankful that I BELIEVE...I can not imagine having to deal with everything in this life and thinking that this is all there is. Sad and scary...C
Registered: 1173988280 Posts: 126
I choose to believe that there is a God and that there is life after death. I am convinced that I am walking on this earth today because there is a God. I know in my heart that not all people see 'the after-life' as I do - which is there 'God-given' right, since He gave us Free Will.
With all the Traumas I have been subjected to in my life - and there have been so many - I wouldn't be alive today if God hadn't intervened. That is just my personal experience. I just do not think that "Religiosity" has much to do with animals. I believe that all humans should respect all living things. It is a touchy subject - but I don't believe in Religion as anything other than one's belief in God (whatever they call their God). I do not consider myself "religious" but follow my God, Jesus Christ. I also think that you must believe in God to be an atheist. Atheists believe there is a God - they just choose not to follow him. I will continue to pray to God for all the people who have lost their furrbabies and for all the people on this website...believers or not. Have a fantastic day. TWP (Mo's mama)
Registered: 1164162392 Posts: 1,910
My goodness, here's a topic that has been debated for literally thousands of years. Wouldn't it be neat if we could resolve it here on this message board!
I do not consider myself a religious person. I go to church or temple only for weddings, funerals, and one Bar Mitzvah. Um, I have read about 500 books on metaphysical and spiritual things and could submit quotes from the Bible, Koran,done all kinds of meditations and studies, etc., but won't write a young novel here. Over the years I've known people who said they didn't believe in God nor an afterlife or a soul nor any of that stuff, who were nevertheless the most warmhearted, tolerant and caring people as you could ever hope to meet. There have also been a number of religious bigots who claimed theirs was was the *only* way, and anyone who thought differently didn't really count as even sentient. Frankly, I consider the ones who best follow the precept of the Golden Rule (which is found in Native American, Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, etc.) philosophy to be the most spiritual and advanced people, regardless how they label themselves. Over the last half century, I have lived with a number of incredibly loving furred ones (all feline). I can posit no mechanism except a soul by which love can be both given and received. Albert Einstein proved that energy cannot be destroyed- who am I to argue with him(!). So, a soul exists whether or not it is in a physical body, which implies some kind of afterlife. So I talk about my kitties being at the Rainbow Bridge or in heaven. To my way of thinking there isn't much difference between a humanitarian who, like Cavanna who says he is atheist, actively seeks to make life better for all sentient beings, and a self-labeled religious person who believes in the sanctity of all life. St. Francis of Asissi comes to mind. At the end of the day, both have made the world a better place. The biggest difference, rather a sad one, is that the atheist doesn't expect to see the animals once loved ever again. I betcha Cavanna has a big surprise coming!! Your original question was whether atheists could be animal lovers, and you commented on the religious tone of so many posts here. I brought in the notion of soul which you hadn't queried, just because I think that matters, too in discussion such as this. Strictly speaking to your original post, I'd say that love is love, the labels and whyfores don't matter, every positive thing adds to the world.
Registered: 1162372902 Posts: 150
Well,I was a devout christian all my life,until a little over two years ago.I believed that my god could do anything.I still believe that he can do anything,but my devotion no longer exists.It's too long a story to go into today,but I lost faith in gods love for me when he took my baby from me.I've never asked for much out of life,and never rebelled when my few prayers for my needs were not answered the way I would have liked.I just accepted it and went on.My prayers were almost always for the needs of others.I still feel I must serve animals and humans,as I always felt that was the reason I was put on earth.There is a god,yes,but I don't consider him a friend any longer.He has the power to do so much,yet those who love and trust him are tested and punished to a point where they give up,feeling there are no right answers.If we're faithful we're tested by every cruelty there is,if we get angry we're punished.Either way it's a tug of war between the forces of good and evil,with us in the middle as the rope.We get mauled no matter what.So guess what,I don't want to play their game anymore.I'll stand aside and hope they leave me out of their power struggle.
Registered: 1162335502 Posts: 460
I believe that our Creator is a benevolant God, and that animals were created to be companions to us. Look at all the loving messages on this website; everyone on here has had their lives touched by some sweet animal. Thousands of messages, every day! Indeed, so many of us have been touched by God's love for us, in the form of pets. Having pets is God's gift to us: There are times in our lives when there is not one human who can give us comfort. Fortunately, pets are always there for us, always love us- even when we are at our most unloveable- and never judge. I have been blessed to always have multiple pets, and to have started a wildlife rehabilitation organization in our county, along with my husband. Speaking of husband, that is why I chose my husband. When we were dating, he had a dog that he loved dearly, and he took such good care of him. I thought, "If this dear man takes such good care of his dog, he would probably love and take care of a family." I was SO RIGHT. We have been married 45 years, he has devoted himself to me, our kids and our critters, and the love of animals has always been a given, with us. Pets are blessings. God's little blessings, to give and receive love, and to remind us of our humanity. I thank God every day for the blessings He has given me, my husband, my kids, my grandkids, my sweet animals, my home, my job. I hope you are finding answers to your questions. If you wish to contact me, I can be reached at email@example.com. Please mention RAINBOW BRIDGE in subject, so I do not delete. Thanks, Pat
Registered: 1176666567 Posts: 251
to basic texan: I can understand some of your thinking. because I am revolted by the extent of suffering we have to go through in our lives.
even though I am a believer, or rather because of it, i dont' understand why so much suffering is dished out to us. Is god blind? why does he/she/it give us animals only to take them away from us? this question (the meaning of suffering) is, to me, one major stumbling block of (all?) religion (s). I can't square that one out to me. but i also feel that to stiffen permanently in anger is no answer, for we will only hurt ourselves. so i live with this big unanswered question in my daily life. losing lookie indeed when she was not that old is, at the very least, unfair (as david my 20 year old son put it. david is my eldest son, and an atheist, or so i believe he is)
Registered: 1169489783 Posts: 138
I attend a Baptist church - I love the Lord and try to live the kindof life the Lord wants me too. I beleive that pets are a wonderful blessing from the Lord - he allows us this blessing here on earth, so I'm sure that there will be animals in the after life. Many people disagree with this and say that animals have no souls so therefore will have no afterlife. All religion is about Faith and what and how you have been taught - SO ............ it's like anything and will have many different views.
Registered: 1169369778 Posts: 41
Whether you're Catholic or Protestant, your family at some time in history had to be Catholic until the Protestant Reformation. I hope this helps: An important affirmation of John Paul II has raised a great clamour all round the world The Pope Has Said: "Animals Too Have Souls, Just Like Men" During a public audience the Holy Father affirmed that the animals, like men, were given the 'breath of life' by God. The Vatican squarely confronted this concept for the first time. At the Pope's statement, Monsignor Canciani, who welcome dogs and cats into his Church in Rome, said he had "experienced a great joy. Now I sincerely hope that other priests will follow my example.." by Mimmo Pacifici Rome, January 1990 Translated by Piera Smith from Genre Magazine and Man/Nature/Animals, January 1990.
"When the Pope stated that 'also the animals possess a soul and that men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren', I felt greatly moved. At last my work for the world of animals had been rewarded. I have welcomed my parishioners into Church for Mass accompanied by their dogs, cats and other faithful animal friends for a number of years because I have long recognized the justice in maintaining that all God's creatures have the right to approach their Creator. My decision has at times caused controversy. But now that the Holy Father has affirmed that the animals are as "near to God as men are", those people who have criticized me must surely change their opinion."
The speaker is Monsignor Canciani, 60 years old, Vicar of the Roman Church, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, already well-known the world over for having opened his church doors to animals and because he also specially blesses them together with his parishioners twice a year. Monsignor Canciani is happy because in a homily given at the Vatican during a recent weekly audience the Pope made a number of important statements about the creation of animals and their relationship with men and with God. The Pontiff in fact stated that all animals are "fruit of the creative action of the Holy Spirit and merit respect."
So what did the Holy Father actually say about animals, and why are these words considered to be so important? Let us read together extracts from his homily.
John Paul II quoting from several verses of Genesis spoke of the Divine creative action of the Holy Spirit and said: "...in the account of the Creation, the way in which man was created suggests a relationship with the spirit or 'breath' of God. And one reads that after having created man from the dust of the earth, the Lord God "breathed life into his nostrils and man became a living soul".
The Holy Scriptures thereby make clear that God intervened by means of His breath of life or Spirit to make man a living soul. In man there is the "breath of life" which came from the "breath" of God Himself. In him lives breath which is similar to the very breath of God.
Then the Pontiff spoke of the creation of the animals and said: "In Genesis, Chapter 2, where there is reference to the creation of the animals, there is not given a similar account of their relationship with the divine spirit of God as is given of that relationship with man. From the previous chapter we learn that "Man was created in the image and likeness of God".
THE DIVINE SPARK OF LIFE "However, other texts state that animals have the breath of life and were given it by God. In this respect man, created by the hand of God, is identical with all other living creatures. And so in Psalm 103* there is no distinction between man and beasts when it reads, addressing God: "...These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat** in due course. That thou givest them, they gather: thou openest thy hand, they are filled with good."
The psalmist continues: "Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth." The existence therefore of all living creatures depends on the living spirit/breath of God that not only creates but also sustains and renews the face of the earth."
This affirmation of the Pontiff has aroused enormous interest the world over and has overjoyed many thousands of Catholics who for many years have been deeply concerned that the Church should reiterate and give back to animals the proper respect and moral dignity due to the animal world which is often discriminated against and long been considered inferior to that of men.
"This discourse by Pope Wojtyla is very important and significant" explains the distinguished theologian Carlo Molari who for many years has been Professor of Theology and Dogma at the University of Urbino. "It is a 'sign of the times' because it demonstrates the Church's desire and deep concern to clarify present confused thinking and attitudes towards the animal kingdom. There should be no need, but the Pontiff in reiterating that the animals came into being because of the direct action of the "breath" of God wanted to say that also these creatures as well as man are possessed of the divine spark of life and that living quality that is the soul. And are therefore
not inferior beings or only of a purely material reality." TRANSCENDENT BEINGS "If one goes on to contemplate that the word "animal" is derived from that of 'anima' or soul, one understands, as the Pope explains, that animals are indeed "touched" by the first principle of life which is the Holy Spirit. But the intention of the Pope when he defines the animals as being composed of both body and soul is not only meant to convey their value in a metaphysical sense, but above all also in a moral sense specifically that we must respect all the creatures of God. Clearly therefore because the animal possesses the same "breath" of life as man, men must demonstrate proper and total solidarity with the creatures that surround him. He must keep in his mind that there is an animal life around him and at the same time must try to love and respect it. And perhaps the profound and true message of the Pontiff is that we must live in close harmony, and with love towards animals and all of nature surrounding us."
"However", concludes theologian Carlo Molari, "it must be restated that there remains a distinction between the soul of an animal and that of man. According to Scripture the animal is destined to perish. It is mortal by definition, unlike man who continues his existence beyond earthly life. So far as we understand now there is no possibility that we will find other creatures in the Hereafter. However, it's one thing to expound according to the theology and philosophy we have studied and quite another for us to comprehend Divine reality--both future and distant--which remains mysterious and difficult to grasp within our limited capabilities."
Having now listened to the views of a theologian interpreting in his opinion John Paul II's declaration upon the great spiritual "communion" between men and animals, let us turn again to Monsignor Canciani's words, the priest who in his genuine concern for animals, had anticipated the Church's new solidarity with our 'faithful friends'.
"Yes, the Pope's words made me very happy" says Monsignor Canciani, who as well as actively assisting the needy in his parish, and helping animals, is also a writer and member of the (Vatican) Council. "The words strengthen even more my love for animals which for years I have welcomed into my church together with the faithful. Just think, after the Pope proclaimed publicly his own love of animals, I received hundreds of phone calls from all over Italy. It was a wonderful experience: I would pick up the receiver and at the other end of the line people would all be complimenting me: "Did you hear, Monsignor? You were right all along! The Pope has said we must all love animals. That they too have souls and belong to God just like men. We do hope now that in our own parish too we will be able to take our animals to Church. It would be wonderful to be able to pray with them beside us." In fact I was on the phone all day and at last I was able to answer that single question that everyone kept asking. The Pope had made it easy for me when he had affirmed that man must live in solidarity with animals, because to live in community with them is the first principle of existence. And now that the Catholic Church officially is showing herself more attentive to the needs of animals, lots of small memories come crowding in on me, that day after day had impressed themselves upon me and increased my respect for the animals which often save the lives of human beings."
"I remember for example, the story of an old lady, who living alone in the solitude of her home, to keep loneliness and sadness at bay, had depended strongly on the love and friendship of a little white dog, old like herself and rather worn. One day the old lady, no longer able to care for herself had been forced to enter a Hospice. With her suitcase and the little dog in her arms she presented herself at the door of the Hospice. But of course dogs were not allowed in the Hospice and the old lady became terribly upset. She cried and despaired and would not be parted from her faithful friend who had shared so many years of her life. Finally knowing my love for animals she decided to phone me to ask for help. I rushed immediately over to the Hospice and tried hard to calm her telling her that I would look after her dog and we would both visit her together frequently. However, day after day the situation got worse. Both the dog and the old lady, not able to accept the situation seemed to want only to die. The little dog pined in my study, refusing food and whining. The old lady sat alone in dignified silence while her health visibly deteriorated. So I finally decided to talk to the Director of the Hospice. "Does it seem right to you that two creatures who love each other and are reaching the last few years of their lives should be made to cruelly suffer in this way? Why not, in the name of love can't we ignore the regulations". After much heart- searching the Director allowed the little dog to be returned to its owner. I can never forget the expression of pure joy on the woman's face when she saw her little dog again and knew she could keep him once more. It is written in the Bible that "God exists not only in man but in everything that lives." And I, seeing the happiness of those two reunited, understood that animals also do have souls, an interior tension with which they interact with God and with men."
"When did you decide to open the door of your Church to animals?"
"It was a spontaneous decision that sprang from mature reading of the Scriptures which teach that Jesus dying redeemed not only man but the whole of creation: and therefore animals too. I still remember clearly the very first time that, assailed with many doubts, I decided to let a dog enter the Church for a religious ceremony. Two of my older parishioners asked me to celebrate a Mass for their 25th wedding anniversary and rather tentatively the asked whether not only all their family and friends but their dog also, could participate in the celebration as a kind of very affectionate member of the family. 'Without our dog, it would seem as though our family were not complete and that in fact we would not all really be united for such an important celebration.'
"I thought about this strange proposition for some time before I agreed to their request. And it was a most beautiful and solemn ceremony. It was most moving to see, close to the children, cousins, nephews and nieces of the couple, that quiet gentle animal, waiting patiently with the family. I understood that their dog represented symbolically to the congregation the qualities of friendship and faithfulness of those two people which, among other things, had kept the couple lovingly together."
AN INFALLIBLE METHOD "From that experience I opened my Church to animals, and people can enter whenever they wish with their faithful friends, not only during a private arrangement but whenever they come to confess or take part in the Holy Mass. And I now bless animals and their owners twice a year during a special Mass because all creatures have the right to feel loved by God and be near Him."
"I have also learned to make use of the sensitivity and love animals have for people to solve the most disparate and desperate cases. I have helped back to happy everyday life many cases of drug dependency when the addicts could find no way out of the tunnel, as well as both old and young people who have been through periods of deep depression and feelings of worthlessness unable to find any sense in their lives. I have been able to do this with an infallible method which I now always use: I present myself at their door with a kitten or puppy in my arm together with a small bag of food for the creature. I knock and ask: "Can you do me an enormous favour? I have to leave and won't be back for a week. There's no-one who can look after this little animal. Can you possibly help?" The response is usually one of indifference, even distaste and the door is sometimes almost closed in my face. But seeing how insistent I am they agree to do me this small favour. Upon my return the situation is usually completely different. A different person stands before me. No longer apathetic and desperate, because the little animal in its innocence and trusting dependence drew out hidden depths of buried affection. This indicates that man will truly find genuine happiness if he will learn to trust again in the love and companionship of animals."
(*Note: Douai Version; Ps 104 in the Authorised Version) (**'meat' in the Bible means 'food' not the flesh of animals or man which when referred to is called 'flesh')
Registered: 1176666567 Posts: 251
animals have souls... that is not something commonly said in catholicism
( and i grew up in that religion)
Registered: 1173624382 Posts: 183
I believe that like Earth, all life exists in a delicate balance between good and evil. God gave us free choice to choose which side we want to be on. When the balance is broken by too much evil, we will be destroyed. I am Catholic but not a devout churchgoer. Much of the rules of the church were made by man, not God, so are therefore fallible.
God does not give us the problems that we face in life. They exist as a part of life, part of being alive. We only have a choice in how we deal with them. That is the only control we have. Just as a plant is subject to the weather, the insects, the animals that pluck it and eat it, we are subject to the others around us, diseases, accidents, and events. We think ourselves far too important than we really are.
Animals are part of the picture. More alive to us than plants, we share the events of our lives with them. We are all here together. There is no reason why we should not enjoy their company. If anything, I would think that an Athiest would be more in tune with enjoying every day to its fullest, including the joy of animal friends. If he or she feels this is a one-shot deal, why not make the most of it.
For me, the question of whether there is life after death, or a God, or anything else, was answered when I became pregnant. Anyone who has felt life inside them can understand that it is beyond words. I felt a spirituality and a connection with God that I have never had before or since. But it was real. If we can feel this, animals, who are so like us, must also have that divine spark.
Registered: 1176666567 Posts: 251
can animals feel a link to spirituality when they are pregnant then? how can we know?
Registered: 1176666567 Posts: 251
http://www.answers.com/topic/fran-ois-cavanna here's a link in english on author Francois Cavanna, mentioned earlier on in this post. unfortunatly i dont' think his work has been transalted into english - I read his 4 autobiographical books. the one where he reflects on animals and tells the reader of the animals he has had as pets is the last and fourth of the series. i suppose to go back on the starting question, I felt that love & compassion are indeed values associated with a religious way of thinking - but maybe I am wrong here - and that awe at the sight of animals and nature is also a religious feeling. So i wondered what could bring someone thinking in a non religious way to have this sort of feeling. interestingly, quite a few of you related the love between humans and animals to the the love between god and humans. here's something else I had not considered previously.
Registered: 1175185691 Posts: 104
Hello. I am not religious and don't think I am lacking something because of that. I don't think I or anyone should be sneered at for not having a God. I respect people of different beleifs and those that have none. I think we should all be more tolerant of eachother (religions seem to be quite intolerant at times and things carried out in the name of peoples Gods are not always good from Christian crusades to Islamic terrorists etc). There are plenty of
good atheists, bad vicars and vice versa. I think that all religions are inventions of primitive men to explain the unexplanable at that time in history and to control their behaviour - but if people find comfort in their faiths and lead better lives for having them, then that is a good thing. I had trouble in school as subjects would be contradictory, and feel that people should be able to choose their religion when they are old enough to make a decision for themselves. I do lots of good things for people an animals, but not because I seek reward in an afterlife or fear a hell etc - just because it is the right thing to do. Maybe because I have suffered some awful circumstances and am now MORE grateful for the smallest of nice things that happen than I might otherwise be. I know what it is like to be starving, beaten, near death .. on more than one occasion over the years ... so therefore could not let anyone or anything feel like that - or just feel unwanted. I am compassionate and have empathy sometimes too much for my own good - as I am often reduced to tears by things that people do to eachother and animals - and often have gone without myself or made do - to help others. I have a thirst for knowledge of all kinds, and am in awe of all nature - it can be both creative and destructive (like people). Most of all I love and respect animals. I respect all animals more than I do people as a species (although i have people that special to me) because although there are some good people, there are quite a few bad ones, beating up grannies for money, terrorists, tiger farming, bullfighting etc ..... and animals do not have the some of the motives, plain greed, perversity, selfishness etc ... they do some mean things to survive but that is nature and they do not have the choices we have - a lot of them are endangered or extinct because of our (species) behaviour and that is really sad. Some religious people have been understanding and helpful in dealing with loss and others not so - but its about the same for non-religious too. Either saying when bad things happen, that it is my own fault for not being religious or praying enough (at four?) or if I spent more time at church that I would be given a baby (defying medical science) or that my cat did not have a soul and wouldn't be in heaven anyway .... than there are the non-religious who say what goes around comes around, it was just a cat ... Thank you. I wish you peace. Claire