Of rats and men

Do rats have “regrets?”

I was taken aback that anyone would even propose such a question, but they have. Some now believe that rats are capable of “feeling regret about their own actions,” an “emotion” previously attributed only to humans.

Researchers have set up a test called “Restaurant Row,” in which rats had to choose how long they would wait for food.

“It’s like waiting in line at the restaurant,” said Professor David Redish, of Minnesota University. “If the line is too long at the Chinese restaurant, then you give up and go to the Indian restaurant across the street.”

Some rats “decided” to move on from one “restaurant” that offered good food, but the wait was too long; however, the second restaurant offered “a less popular dish,” which caused the rats to “look back” at the previous place with a renewed desire to “wait longer for something nice.”

Professor Redish was careful to monitor “signs of regret and not just disappointment.” He admitted that the two were difficult to distinguish, defining the latter as “when things aren’t as good as you hoped.”

Regret, however, “is the recognition that you made a mistake.” Now this is really “revolutionary,” seeing that choices border on moral precepts of conscience. This has always been relegated to humans alone, not animals. While animals operate on instinct, people have “the law” written in their hearts.

Significantly, the evolutionary theorem continues to rub out the line between animals and humans. We are not, as they say, the highest form of the animal kingdom, but human beings, created in God’s image.

Our outward similarities simply point to a common Creator. Our inner soul grants us self-consciousness and the ability to sense God, which uniquely sets us apart from animals -yes, even rats!

I think it safe to say that animals have a limited thinking process; I believe they “think,” but never “think about what they think.” That’s why they don’t generally suffer from “ulcers” and colitis, etc., like humans do.

We, in turn, possess a sophisticated thinking process, making constant choices, right or wrong. This capability often results in negative “emotions” like worry and depression. Mental disorders abound among humans, and the consumption of psychiatric medication is off the charts!

That’s not the case with our pets, wild animals, and even the “rats!”

I think it’s really a disservice to the rats to attempt to place them in the human category. They’re rats, doing what rats do – let them alone!

The same God who made us human, to reflect His image, made them rats. Don’t lay the “moral imperative” on creatures that operate on instinct and simply do what they were created to do. Without a conscience, they will die in peace with no “regrets,” and thus no judgment.

Man, on the other hand, will one day answer for his sinful choices before God. Unlike animals, this judgment is sure. The Christmas story of Christ’s coming to eventually die on the Cross was God’s remedy for man’s sin. This scenario pertains only to “man” (humans), not animals.

Let’s stop pushing the evolution “button,” and leave the rats to do their thing.

Significantly, animals are basically content in their arena of life since they carry out God’s function for them. Fish, for example, are happy in water – their habitat. A “fish out of water” dies!

Man seems to be the only “rebel” in creation, refusing to line up with God’s purpose; thus he needs a Savior. In fact, theoretically it would be much better to die as a rat, than die as a man without God. The latter would be “regretful” indeed.