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The year is 2050. Bio-printers have just gotten approved for sale to the general public for printing food, polymers, fuels, wood, medicines, etc. Unknown sources released the source code of viruses that can convert humans into a number of animal-like beings. They retain their minds, can walk, talk, and have thumbs.

Companies encourage it, because they can start more companies to sell accessories, services, and more to cater to non-humans. Conspiracy theorists believe that the printer-companies built the viruses to start a new consumer boom in a world where people are not consuming anymore. Either way, "furry" becomes the next big thing. Arguments have begin in political chambers for how to handle this. Then, religious lobbyists walk in...

What religious arguments (for, against, neutral) and ramifications would be in play?


A couple of clarifications. As for what religion I had in mind, I imagined Christianity. Bonus points if other religions can be brought in. These beings are not mutants. They are a sentient species based on the animals in which they appear. As a result of the virus turning the human into a furry, say... a tiger, then they are genetically an anthropomorphic tiger, and can only breed with another anthropomorphic tiger. Such would look like a Bengal Tiger, except walking on 2 feet, having thumbs, wearing clothes, and talking.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by rek, kingledion, AngelPray, sphennings, Secespitus Jan 3 '18 at 10:37

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ The question is a little vague and very open-ended. Which religions? Are these animal-like humans still genetically human? Are they just mutants? The less assumptions we have to make, the better. $\endgroup$ – DMQ Jan 3 '18 at 2:41
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    $\begingroup$ Bioethics is a topic that is addressed by at least one Christian denomination. You can read Dignitas Personae, from the Catholic Church, yourself. If you have questions about Dignitas Personae or any other religious document, those should be addressed on Christianity.SE, or another religion-appropriate site. Since I think this belongs on a different site, I think this is off-topic here, and I am voting to close. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Jan 3 '18 at 3:52
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    $\begingroup$ "These beings are not mutants": obviously; they are Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). "Christianity" is a wide and diverse family of religions. Moreover, the actual practice of these many and diverse religions varies very widely. Second moreover, in most "western(-ized)" countries religious matters are of very very little political importance. (And then you must keep in mind that unlike men, who produce spermatozoa continuously, women are born with all their eggs preformed, thus making it rather tricky to affect the germline with a simple over-the-counter drug/potion/retrovirus.) $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jan 3 '18 at 4:32
  • $\begingroup$ By "next big thing" more likely a few nutters do it and the whole world watches. $\endgroup$ – Donald Hobson Jan 3 '18 at 23:36
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, Daniel 4:33 basically makes it impossible for a Christian to do that in good faith, "Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird." $\endgroup$ – Amoeba Feb 19 '18 at 7:07
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For simplicity, I'm going to refer to the anthro-furries by their animal name; in other words, an tiger in this answer is really referring to an anthro-tiger unless explicitly identified otherwise.

A tiger which has retained a human mind is not really a tiger as it would not have the instincts of a [REAL] tiger, and additionally one would expect the conventional societal inhibitions of humans to be retained with the human mind. That said, I'm assuming that a tiger is still predominately carnivorous. So, what happens when it comes into contact with a rabbit?

If a tiger kills a rabbit, it's no longer homicide (the killing of a member of the same species) as these two can't interbreed. Before you get to the religious concerns, you have a legal minefield waiting for you. For the sake of argument though, let's assume that our society is enlightened enough to consider this murder. Ultimately, Christianity would consider it the same thing (more or less), but there would still be complications.

Christianity claims that humans are a special case in that they have dominion over all the animals on the earth. This was given to them as they have intelligence and free will. Presumably, they would still have both by retaining their human minds, but Christianity in particular would struggle with this new manifestation as it confuses the issue. Ultimately, being born human would mean that according to most Christian belief structures, you would also retain a soul, but there would have to be some ambiguity over your future progeny. After all, are your children human? They haven't really been born as such.

Religion of all forms don't really do change if they can avoid it, but they're very good at interpreting their own doctrines with exceptional clarity and precision. In this case, the virus would likely be seen as an abomination within Christianity and expressly forbidden. I would suspect that even infecting someone against their will would be seen as a mortal sin, as it (possibly) jeapordises the soul of the victim.

Judaism and Islam are the other two Abrahamic religions (with far more in common with Christianity than either generally like to admit) and both would likely take a very similar view because the Abrahamic religions' common origins all would see the anthros as something less than human, seeing as humans have been deliberately set apart by God.

Of far more interest would be the reaction of the Hindu faith and (by extension) Buddhism. Many of the Hindu Sects would probably embrace this as a form of self-depreciation that enhances Karma next time around. Buddhism on the other hand would be uncomfortable with it as it would appear to them to be a step backwards on the path to enlightenment.

All in all, this kind of technology would be on a par with identifying alien life as far as religion is concerned; it would call too much of their existing doctrine into question for their comfort and as such it can be expected by many faiths to be completely rejected as a lifestyle choice. I think that the social, legal, and cultural issues with it would also cause massive chaos unless the idea was introduced very slowly, giving society a chance to adapt to the concept. Believe it or not, religion may be one of your lesser concerns. In Australia for instance, shooting [REAL] Kangaroos is entirely legal provided you have the right permits and the like (they are considered pests by most farmers). Does that mean anthro-Kangas are fair game?

What hasn't been covered yet is whether or not something like this would be reversible. If so, you could have a whole new minefield of legal and cultural considerations. What would happen if you go Tiger to have kids, then change back? Are the Tiger cubs 'treatable' to make them human again?

Of course, based on your premise about interbreeding, there's a very compelling reason NOT to take on the virus; if you're looking for a partner, you're effectively limiting your options to those who also want to be tigers, when in fact you might miss out on the perfect match because he or she wants to be a panda. Just saying.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't know much about Hindu or Buddhism, but your brief opinions don't seem very well sourced to me. I would be wary about making un-evidenced proclamations about a religion you don't personally follow. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Jan 3 '18 at 4:00
  • $\begingroup$ I understand your concern but trust me, I've researched these religions in the past, like Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc. I've tried to be brief in my answer because it was already too long winded for most; but the Hindu ascetic beliefs seek almost totally to build Karma for their next reincarnation. Given the Hindu belief that poor Karma leads to being reincarnated as some form of animal, one can extrapolate that this may be seen as an opportunity to balance out poor Karma within this life, thus increasing the chances of a second human reincarnation. $\endgroup$ – Tim B II Jan 3 '18 at 4:07
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There are over 1,000 Christian sects. The vast majority reject significant tattooing, body piercings, etc as a defacement of the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).

It has been difficult enough for Christian congregations to accept same-sex marriage (or same-sex anything) with their basic argument coming back to the same issue. The political and social beliefs of members are changing faster than religious tradition. Bear in mind, homosexuality has as its premise that it is involuntary.

Your furries are not involuntary. It's difficult to believe that any but the most liberal of Christian congregations would ever accept the choice to change your species. It represents a fundamental betrayal of God's gift of life.

What about other churches?

A 2006 article in U.K.'s The Register offers the following list of religions and their membership. My own comments follow each entry.

  • Christianity (2.1 billion) — would reject
  • Islam (1.3 billion) — would execute
  • Nonreligious (Secular/Agnostic/Atheist) (1.1 billion) — maybe accepting
  • Hinduism (900 million) — Accepting
  • Chinese traditional religion (394 million) — Current politics: rejecting
  • Buddhism 376 million — Uncomfortable, probably rejecting
  • Primal-indigenous (300 million) — Good question, some tribes might embrace, others might hunt for food.
  • African traditional and Diasporic (100 million) — Ditto
  • Sikhism (23 million) — violently rejecting
  • Juche (19 million) — I can't believe they'd accept
  • Spiritism (15 million) — I don't know
  • Judaism (14 million) — reject for same reasons as Christians (original source of belief)

That's more than 2/3 the world's population.

Personally, this question reflects what I might consider to be the ultimate form of selfishness. Being Christian myself, the decision represents turning away from one of the greatest gifts of God, but it would also mean turning away from my face, from my wife's face, it's a rejection of the entire family tree that brought the child into the world. It would be difficult to justify the change in a way that doesn't sound like "I don't care about God, or you, or mom, or my family ... I only care about myself. The rest of you can hang.

It's very difficult to believe this ability would ever become fully accepted in the world at large. Please note that my assessments, above, were my personal beliefs. If any aspect of my personal beliefs are reflected by humanity in common, then the entire list degrades (people are less accepting). Maybe centuries after first contact and a whole lot of interbreeding with extraterrestrials such that the everyday experience is one of fantastic proportions... but if it happened today? Teens would think it's the ultimate cool. Adults wouldn't. Just my two cents.

Which means when you say becoming a furry is "the next big thing," I find that assessment wholly unbelievable. It would only be believable if it's completely reversible. If I recall from your last question, it isn't.

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  • $\begingroup$ I voted to close this question, but I also linked the Vatican's official take on the matter of bioethics. The US Council of Bishops has additional information on cloning. While not representative of all Christianity, I imagine most of the more conservative sects would take the same approach and this can give you some references for this answer. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Jan 3 '18 at 3:58
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What religious arguments (for, against, neutral) and ramifications would be in play?

Theologically, Christianity teaches that only human beings possess an immortal soul capable of reaching heaven or suffering in hell. If a mysterious, completely optional virus therapy gave rise to a species of honest to goodness furries, there would probably be a few key issues that would arise. However, I can't really imagine an angry mob of Christians taking to the streets denouncing furries of their human(?) rights simply because the Bible doesn't support their existence, but there would be a collective "shunning" of them, especially if you become one for the sake of vanity or because "this body is what I relate to".

Human Soul

The Bible teaches, if I recall, that the human soul is known to God before being placed into an earthly body, which itself is grown in a mothers womb. This is where the root of "killing embryo's is bad" comes from. The cluster of cells, no matter how small or insignificant biologically, already has a human soul assigned to it. If these furries rose from wild animals, they would not have a soul assigned to them, at least not Biblically. If they were genetically altered humans then yes, they would have a soul in a Biblical sense and would be subject to God's rules as everyone else is.

Mankinds Folly

These new species wouldn't be hated by Christian groups, but frowned upon. It would be seen as another monument to mankind's arrogance. Many modern beleiver's dislike even minor body modification even though the actual "Biblical legality" of it is up for debate as different groups teach different thoughts on the matter. Ultimately, tt is seen as tampering with God's perfect image of you, like you think you know whats best for you instead of God. Anyone who undergoes this process to become a furry would definately be viewed in a negative "lost child" kind of way, even if it was a huge societal craze.

Traditional Values

Choosing to become an anthropomorphic animal would definitely not be something the Church would support. Conservative groups consistently lobby against scientific institutions for their work on stem cells and even same-sex marriage, something the population at large believes strongly in overall. Regardless of how popular something is, if it conflicts with the form God gave to you, it wouldn't be accepted.

So in response to your overall question, voluntarily changing ones form to become a furry would be the equivalent of telling God you aren't satisfied with the perfect image he gave you. It would be insulting. If you lose a limb and need a prosthetic, or lose your body and need to become a crime-fighting cyborg, great, that's one thing. But replacing your form for the sake of vanity or personal preference is another entirely. Then there's the psychological aspects to look at, the intent behind the change. If it was done to broaden sexual horizons or to give yourself psychological freedom by detaching yourself from core human values, then it would be seen as quite damning indeed.

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I would suggest you consider religious attitudes to tattoos and body modification generally to inform a likely outcome, combined with beliefs about the value of animal life, and humanity's place within the animal kingdom. I'll speak about tattoos as a baseline because body modification is a similar theme.

Abrahamic faiths generally disapprove, the most obvious reason is this:

(Leviticus 19:28): "You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves: I am the Lord."

This can be taken literally, and in the case of furryism probably metaphorically too. Depending on how the process works, "incise any marks on yourself" may be applicable. More generally this prohibition is consistent with a general theme of bodily purity.

Christians can focus more specifically on verses like Corinthians 18-20:

"18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."

Here the point is that a person can sin against their own body, that their body is not their property, and that their body is a temple for honouring God. None of this is compatible with body modifications.

Judaism (especially), Christianity, and Islam are not fond of tattoos or body modification for similar reasons. Though in Shia Islam tattoos are not forbidden, strictly speaking, just discouraged. Shia Islam is also unusual in that sex reassignment surgery is state-sanctioned in the Islamic Republic of Iran, justified along a rather curious line that Allah permits man to process grain into bread; therefore transforming someone so their sexuality aligns with their gender is preferable to them being homosexual.

Generally the point is this: these religions consider body modification to be sinful because it rejects God's design. Furthermore, God created humans in his image, and only humans have immortal souls or the chance of passing into heaven. To choose to become a beast of sorts would be a spiritual degeneration, making yourself unclean.

In Islam the point is even more explicit: Allah made everything in the world perfectly. Consequently when people try to create artistic works from life this insults Allah, as no one could hope to match the perfection of creation - they would only ever produce a mockery of it; satirising and thus disrespecting the creator.

If you look to the art created by fundamentalist Muslims, it is almost always simple geometric patterns, calligraphy, and generally abstract things. Shia Islam is far less strict about this, and even has little problem with paintings of their prophet. But even then... there's no way body modification to the extent of furryism would be acceptable in Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. It would be a mortal, perhaps unforgivable, sin.

All religions tend to be obsessed with notions of purity and human supremacy, so even if we consider Buddhism and Hinduism to be more likely to be tolerant because they have a greater respect for life generally than Abrahamic religions, they still have a set of values which gives meaning to the form one's existence takes. In Buddhism and Hinduism reincarnation is a natural and purposeful cosmic balancing. So if one is human there's a reason for that. To change species may be seen as a perversion of that natural order.

Buddhism is not keen on beautification, as this is evidence of attachment; which is contrary to the aims of the religion. Buddhists want to realise non-existence, that their individual ego is an illusion, and to break the cycle of reincarnation which happens because of emotional attachment to the physical world which creates suffering.

Furryism in this context is sinful because it works to enforce the illusion of the self, who makes this decision selfishly for self expression or beautification. Whatever the reason, the outcome reinforces the things Buddhism seeks to escape: attachment to self, attachment to the physical, the creation of suffering by indulging in desire. So the fact Buddhists have a great deal of respect for all life, and would not want to hurt someone who did this, is actually besides the point.

Hinduism is less clear cut, but I suspect it's not going to be much different. Feel free to correct me, but given how Hindu fundamentalists tend to be violently intolerant of homosexuality, they will likely disapprove for a plethora of reasons already stated. But I don't know for sure.

Shinto may be the only religion which tolerates furryism. Japan's native syncretic religion is grounded in the existence of nature spirits, which must be respected. Tattooing, though recently something of a taboo for its associations with organised crime families, is not considered sinful. Combine this with the breadth of their spiritual perception, and it doesn't seem likely that Shinto would reject furryism in the same way or for the same reasons as the other religions mentioned. In the same way as tattoos in Japanese history sometimes have spiritual significance, furryism may be considered similarly; a form of spiritual self-expression.

Bottom line: With the possible exception of Shinto, this will be considered sinful. It violates the sanctity of creation, indulges selfishness, or just attempts to usurp the natural order.

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