As I was out last night wandering the neighborhood getting snacks I saw a woman and her dog. The dog is a white and black american pit bull, and last night she was standing with it. Pit bulls can have incredibly sweet personalities, if they're raised right, and this woman seemed to be lucky enough to have found one of those. Last night, she stood above the dog while he gazed off into the night, the both of them watching the people and dogs and cars pass by in front of the apartment building. She leaned over and kissed the dog on the top of his broad, flat head, and he wagged his tail and smiled.
Again, this morning, I'm out in the early morning haze, before it gets really hot but where you can feel the heat winding up to really smash the day to pieces, and I see the same woman walking her dog. She looked bored, and just waking up, but he looked perky and happy to be out, his long pink tongue lolling out of his enormous square jaws. It suddenly struck me, in that moment, that she had really lifted that dog up, in an evolutionary sense. Pit bulls can be dumb and mean and scared, and they have an incredible capacity for destruction. This dog, however, seemed well-adjusted and quite intelligent, and I know from experience that that has as much to do with the raising as with the temperment of the dog.
I thought of one of my favorite books growing up, Startide Rising by David Brin, which talks a lot about humans evolving animals in our biosphere through the application of technology - chimps and dolphins are electronically and biologically augmented to be able to speak and reason with humans. I have always thought that is is the job of humans to help the animals we interact with become more conscious, more intelligent. This, in turn led me to think of the story of Adam and his responsibility to "name" all the animals. Why is he given this job?
In pre-lapsarian times (we're speaking mythically, now. Don't start spreading rumors that I'm a literalist) Adam's job, given him by God, was to name all the animals. But really what does that mean? Of course, it's nice to have names for things. It allows us to communicate with each other, without having to constantly resort to "That thing. Over there. No, over there. The other one!" But if you take a moment to consider, there was no one but God, and Adam. This implies another reason for the names. Perhaps names were given in order that the things themselves might learn them. We see, in this story, a hint of the function of humanity. Being conscious, it is our gift to bring consciousness to the world, to make the world more conscious. God, being in all things present, is awakened through our agency. And not big daddy thunder god, but God, consciousness, light.
The story goes that God made everthing, and on the seventh day, he rested. I would posit that, until the world knows itself (and not just animals, but all things) creation is not completed. As it says in the Bible, "For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God." Romans 8:19
In order for us to create the world, we must become fully concious, ourselves. Until we awaken, the world lies before us, dead as science has always supposed it to be, inert matter. We must make the world live. Spiritual work is not selfish or world-denying. It is the primary reason for which we have come here.