The human brain is quite elaborate. It employs electrochemical mechanisms and triggers physiological responses so complex that even science has struggled to understand it all. Many scientists would, in fact, categorize the human brain as a “final frontier.” The depths of outer space, the depths of the ocean, and the depths of corporate greed are other frontiers similarly designated. Animals, of course, have brains too, but their brains tend to be adept at merely driving self-preservation and the continuation of their species
So let’s agree for a moment that the scope of the human brain goes beyond that of animals. And let’s narrow and simplify the argument by suggesting that, independent of intelligence and the ability to reason, the basic framework of the human brain differs substantially from that of the animal brain. Humans are, after all, unpredictable. We often act in a manner contradictory to the primal programming that governs the behavior of animals, the programming to, above all, survive and reproduce. Unlike animals, members of our species ride motorcycles and wear condoms.
Of course, humans sometimes exhibit behavior consistent with the animal instincts to reproduce and self-preserve. Many people aggressively seek sex. For most humans though, the focus is to enjoy the act and not reproduce. Is the desire to have sex the same as the instinct to reproduce, if, as is the case with humans, the subjects purposely avoid reproducing? The answer to that question is obvious enough! Reproduction may receive focus during a human sexual encounter of this variety, but only as a perceived threat to the success of the encounter.
In addition to reproduction, the threat of disease may be considered during human sexual encounters (though often, as is true with the pregnancy threat, the concern doesn’t arise until after unprotected orgasm). The principle and practice of safe sex is not self-preservation though; rather, it is simply an indoctrination forced upon all our young people that, incidentally, includes an overdose of sexual content in all mass media.
Some stubborn, short-sighted people will continue to argue, however, that a willingness to protect oneself from disease involves the animal self-preservation instinct. They, of course, are uninformed and/or mistaken. Let me explain. We know that humans often experience a desire for sex. Now, do some humans fulfill this desire and engage in sex despite the threat of health risks? Why, yes they do! So, once again, we cannot draw parallels between the behavior of intelligent humans and that of animals.
Some people argue that humans and animals are both discriminatory when selecting mates; and they assert that this tendency involves the reproductive instinct. This line of thinking is faulty though. First of all, let’s challenge the notion that animals are as selective as humans. In the animal kingdom, a stray dog in heat will settle for whatever is available. Of course, sometimes a garish female will only accept an alpha male who aggressively competes for her. And sometimes animals are drawn to, or scared off by, loud calls or seductive mating signals or thick fur. But obviously human partner selection is more intricate than what I have just described. Human partner selection involves more variables. One of those variables, alcohol, may render humans quite indiscriminate, however. And money is a variable that abridges the selection process by trumping, or diminishing the importance of, all other variables. Even so, humans select mates carefully and in an entirely different fashion than animals. And, while an animal’s only goal is to reproduce, the human relationship and courting ritual, even if two people merely engage in a one-night romance initiated at closing time, are more complex. And so, we’ve identified another clear divergence between human and animal behavior, and hence, their respective brains.
Out of fairness to animals in this argument though, let’s explore further the supposed connection between sex and reproduction. Does the human desire for sex stem from the animal instinct to reproduce? Sex, after all, is required to reproduce. Or is it? No, it is not! Artificial insemination can be used, thereby obliterating the link between sex and reproduction! God, I should’ve been a lawyer. Except, I guess, artificial insemination is used to create not only humans, but horses and other animals like goats. Yes, but animals don’t request the procedure whereas humans do. Horses don’t have the same complicated issues with fertility and sexual partners. Well, they may have issues; but humans—who, because of superior intelligence, are the doctors in both cases—do not seek to identify, or acknowledge if identified, a female horse’s desire to have a same-sex partner and a baby. Of course, artificial insemination is perfect for such a horse. And fertility/impotence issues may be diagnosed and treated in, say, a Kentucky Derby winner. But, I still maintain that there is quite a large difference between humans and horses.
All animals, horses and rabid dogs included, act predictably and according to a simple, clearly defined cerebral algorithm. This is not true of humans—unless, it is only fair to mention, and as I indicated in one example, they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But I contend, as summarized in this writing, that there are underlying fundamental differences between the brains of humans and those of animals, differences independent of intelligence, the ability to reason, and a dog’s cruel desire to bite a child (when all I wanted to do was pet the animal).