“You’d be surprised how many times vets tell me the same! People phone up and cancel their appointments. On being asked why, they say, ‘Oh, but we can’t find Tabby. She’s disappeared. She must have sensed we were going to bring her to you.'”
So said the Scientist being interviewed on a recent BBC programme. He had been working on the strange behaviour of cats and dogs for some time, collecting information about those traits which cannot be rationally accounted for, things like pre-cognition, mind-reading, knowledge-at-a-distance, and so on.
“Our experiments have shown that dogs know when their masters are near to coming home. Even half an hour before they get there. And it’s not because of regularity. That’s an easy one to answer. No, we’ve seen it in cases where the man is never sure when he’ll be back, but his dog knows! He’ll start getting excited, wagging his tail, standing near the front door, scratching it with his paw, and sure enough he will be found to be right. How does he know?”
“We find this higher echelon of mental activity to be present in cats, dogs, parrots, mina birds (who often tell you what they know in understandable language), but so far we haven’t seen any evidence in guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, fish or stick insects.” [But we have been caring for our daughter’s guinea pigs, and they know when she is about to return. They whistle excitedly before she’s even out of her car, and before we are aware she’s come home.]
“The Chinese use the behaviour of cats and dogs to warn them of the imminence of earthquakes. How do they know? The strain in the earth isn’t the answer because the build-up occurs over a vast period of time. But the animals sense when it is about to break.”
“Pigeons know where to go. Some people believe it’s due to the earth’s magnetism, but that would only tell them the direction of North. What is the origin of the homing instinct?”
As I listened to this fascinating programme, it brought to mind a book I’d read recently, entitled “The Secret Life of Plants,” by Peter Tomkins and Christopher Bird. The authors had amassed a wealth of information about plant behaviour which bears strange similarities to the type of animal behaviour mentioned above. Experiments had been performed by attaching electrodes to the leaves of certain plants, and monitoring the electrical changes using hyper-sensitive galvanometers attached to pen recorders. One may liken the result to that of a lie-detector attached to a human being.
Backster used specimens of Dracaena masangeana and Philodendron cordatum for his work. The leaves were eminently suited to the application of electrodes without causing damage. These specimens were in his own collection. He’d had them for a while, and tended them carefully. On a certain New Year’s Eve in New York City he went out into the bedlam of Times Square armed with a notebook and stopwatch. Mingling with the crowd, he noted his various actions, such as running, nearly getting run over, and a mild fracas with a newspaper seller. Back at the laboratory he found that each of the plants, monitored independently, showed similar reactions to his adventures.
What kind of energy wave was responsible? He encased the plants in a wire mesh known as a Faraday Cage (which prevented the entrance of electromagnetic waves), and also a lead container. But still the plants responded, regardless of these or any other form of shield. Furthermore, distance was no object. The “carrier wave” was oblivious to the well-known “inverse square law” so often found in Physics. Plants that “belonged” to people, those who tended them and cared for them, built up a relationship with their “owners” in this strange and unexpected fashion.
I could write at greater length about these strange phenomena, but will leave it at that. What concerns us all is the origin and meaning of this information. Human beings have a tendency to think of themselves as the masters of the world, and that animals and plants are here to be used, or provide us with pleasure, at will. But it seems these very servants of man possess faculties of a higher order than any of us, so much so that we cannot even understand it. Science has no answers, only an increasing pile of awkward and embarrassing facts.
The Apostle Paul tells us (in Romans 1) that the creation reflects the divinity of God, so that we are without excuse if we do not accept the evidence all around us, every day, and in every place. Animals and plants are not “fallen” in the sense of Adamic kind. Have they been allowed to retain something that Adam had originally, and which we have now all but lost? Just occasionally it crops up in things like telepathy between identical twins, but for the most part our highly organised, technologically dependent lifestyle robs us of knowing even the little that may be left of this ability.
I wonder whether our prayer life is dulled as a result, and our ability to hear that “still small voice” made more difficult. Perhaps in this New Year we should aim at simplicity rather than complexity.