Does God Exist? Look into the Eyes of a Dog
Last night, after my customary evening prayers and climbing into bed, my cocker spaniel Jasper jumped on the bed with me, as he is apt to do, and, then hovering over me like some special guardian surveying his charge, his legs on my chest, looked directly at me with his two adoring brown eyes. It was as if to say: “It’s bed-time, and I wanted to ‘say’ to you ‘please keep safe,’ ‘good night,’ ‘my love and devotion’ for you.”
I know, I know—dogs don’t speak, but they do communicate in so many other ways…in their movements, in their barking and whining, by wagging their tails or moving their paws, but perhaps most effectively with their eyes. Jasper’s eyes were lit with warmth and contentment, but also with a kind of fealty and intimate comradeship that only a person who has had a close canine companion for any length of time can understand and fathom.
As I looked back into those golden globes, I thought: “Here indeed was one of God’s little creatures, a kind of little barking Guardian Angel, a creature whose ancestors began to faithfully accompany man thousands of years ago, at the very origins of civilization.”
Here in this adoring face was in fact a representation of the goodness of the Creator—in a sense, the Face of God Himself exemplified by this canine, composed of an intricate pattern of muscle, organs and tissue, but far more than the sum of his physical parts. Yes, a creation of Nature, the result of a very long line of other canines, but issuing forth in a living being with a unique personality all his own.
For me—and I realize to those with a scientific bent this may seem a bit naïve—that Jasper exists is, in a very special way, a definite sign that not only does God exist, but that He has taken very special effort in devising His creation.
Consider the essential: here is this animal, this creature who breathes, moves, eats, plays with and accompanies me, has emotions (which on close inspection over time I can detect)…and shows them. Here is a creature of extreme complexity physiologically, less so than humans, but still complex. Millions of minute cells programmed to work in harmony, and over them all a distinct, motivating, life-giving personality, and indeed what St. Thomas Aquinas called a living “animal soul.”
I was put in mind of that superb English film, “Dean Spanley” (2008), starring Jeremy Northam, Sir Peter O’Toole, Sam Neill, Judy Parfit, and Bryan Brown; it’s one of my favorite—perhaps my all-time favorite—movies. Based on a short novella by British writer Baron Dunsany it is both whimsical and deeply moving in it message. And it uses dogs to represent the kind of spiritual bond that exists between mankind and canines, but also, more importantly, between Man and other human beings. That bo
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