Some Pandeists believe that there is an afterlife wherein all things return to oneness with our Creator, in which all of the thoughts and experiences of existence may be shared.* I was recently asked whether Pandeists believe that animals experience this proposed afterlife experience.

There does not seem to be a principled way to make a distinction. After all, man came from the animals-- at what point did 'ape' become 'man,' even? To a Universe-spanning deity, would there even be that much difference between ape and man? It would seem that every person, every animal, plant, even every stone and speck of dust, would be part of the sum total experience in the end. But most of those things, perhaps even most orders of animals, have no qualitative experience of existence at all. Neither do our own individual bodily cells or organs, even. Our brain cells, taken one or a few at a time, don't have cognizable thoughts or feelings.

It helps to remember why it would make sense for our minds to continue being sustained as independent entities within the mind of our Creator. Because such minds, in sharing the immeasurable aspects contained within the oneness of our Creator, could continue generating new contemplations and new experiences, essentially eternally. Might our Creator be interested in experiencing the contemplations of lower-order minds? To think what a cow thinks, or how a cow feels when it is butchered? Or a crocodile, when it feeds? Or what a cow thinks of experiencing existence as a crocodile? Well, possibly. Why not? But there must be a practical bottom, a level below which no fruitful and useful thought is generated.

Saint Augustine objected to pantheistic notions of our Creator being in all things on experiential grounds. If our Creator is in all things, he plead, then when a man beats a beast, our Creator must feel the blows. But in this more conventional notions of God-- is our Creator not aware of the experience of animal life? Does it not know, as well, their perceptions? Is that not simply a form of knowledge? Indeed, isn't the most profound form of knowledge that of experience? For this reason, Pandeism does speak, in a sense, to the treatment of animals. Would you butcher animals (or have them butchered, even distantly), if the price for it was that you would have to share in the experience of everything felt by every animal you've eaten? And, especially, to do so having the knowledge that, whatever suffering it may have endured and in which you would share, was on your account? (So what about plants?, you might ask. Well, having no nociceptive nervous structure (the kinds of nerves which feel pain), nor a brain to process feelings, I'd have no discomfort with sharing their null experience of existence.)

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*The afterlife proposition is not a Universal pandeistic belief. It is simply a logical extrapolation from a Universe which seems to some to be designed to bring us about in the first place.

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