Instinct or Intellect

Written by BG Howard

December 14, 2022

(Originally Published June 2016)

An interesting thing occurred recently when I sat looking out the window at two squirrels playing beneath the pecan tree in my back yard. Except for the fact there aren’t any nuts on the tree at this point, I normally would have been prompted to escort them from the property. Instead, I sat contemplating the lives of those and other creatures that etch out a daily living without the conveniences of electricity, running water or even four walls and a roof.

Species like the squirrel, fox, bear and other animals depend solely on instinct to survive in their respective natural habitats. It’s sometimes fascinating to think how animals know when a heavy rain or storm is coming without having to tune in to the local news or radio station for the daily weather report.

Many studies have been conducted on the method beavers use to build their dens, which incorporates an intricate design that would baffle the average person. Birds build what we, as people, think are simply nests but ornithologists have determined it requires a particular skill set to complete the process. Some bird species even construct nests that have multiple “rooms” and separate living quarters than the area where hatchlings are housed.

Most anyone with minimal natural inclination is aware that salmon swim upstream at spawning season every year. What has come to be known as the salmon run occurs the same time each year when the fish migrate from the ocean to the upper reaches of rivers where they spawn with many of them, instinctively, returning to the very area or specific places of their birth.

Oddly enough, after watching the squirrels and returning to my computer there was a news blog concerning yet another incident during which 28 hostages were killed during an attack at a Bangladesh Restaurant. The restaurant located in the capital of Dhaka was the focus of an Islamist terrorist group that seized the facility Friday evening. Bangladeshi soldiers eventually stormed the restaurant early Saturday morning and freed thirteen of the hostages. Also, there were two senior police officers killed and several others wounded.

Just a few minutes perusing the internet revealed that there were 97 terrorist incidents in January of this year, 68 in February, 108 during March, 150 during the month of April, 197 for May, and 213 total terrorist incidents that occurred in June. These occurrences during just the first half of 2016 account for hundreds of innocent murder victims. That’s only inclusive of those actions classified as acts of terrorism and doesn’t take into consideration the countless burglaries, home invasions, assaults, incidents of child abuse, suicides other brutalities and murders that are logged around the world in the course of a typical day.

This, I maintain, is the result of activities undertaken by man; who is often listed as the most intelligent animal species. We are supposed to be more psychologically advanced and mentally equipped of all God’s creations and inherently designed to be superior to every other being in nature. As the Word (King James Bible) declares, man was made to have dominion over all living things.

Given the statistics logged indicating the senseless acts of violence inflicted by people upon each other, I am compelled to question the overall intellectual capacity if man. There’s the possibility of my having missed the news footage but I’ve never read reports of horses or cattle committing mass murders, fish staging suicide bombings at the local water hole, or a flock of birds flying headlong into buildings to make a religious statement.

Irony lies in the fact that many of the terrorist groups reeking havoc around the world claim affiliation to the nation of Islam. That concept within itself is an oxymoron as the basis of this religious philosophy is, in fact, grounded in peace as the Arabic definition translates to mean submission or surrender. Islam itself is derived from the root word “salam” from which you can also extract “peace” and “safety.” It appears that the leaders of these groups have run dangerously off course in their path of thinking.

I dare not call into question the infinite wisdom of the Creator but, if it were possible for Him to make a mistake, (this is where I go on record to say it’s not) His only error would have been giving man free will. The Word explains in Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV) “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Perhaps it would have been a better option to remove man’s intellectual ability and leave him to instinctive behavior. It seems to be a system that’s working better for the rest of the animals on this planet. I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.

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