1. And don’t forget the talking trees and thorn vines used in parables in the old testament.

  2. notleia says:

    My kitties speak mostly in body language, the major exception being when the ones who hate each other play a round of “She’s LOOKING AT ME” (I do not like this game.)

    One of them will give funny little complaint-squeaks when I follow her around telling her “no” about the scratching choices she makes. “Don’t you talk back to me,” I say to her.

  3. C. S. Lewis has a poem called “Impenitence” where he declares that he will never repent for reading stories about talking animals. He discusses what talking are in literature and why we so delight in reading about them. It’s in his volume of collected poems, and though it was probably written to simply be funny, it is–like a lot of Lewis’s poetry–a critical and theoretical statement.

  4. This is exactly the kind of quality theological debate I’m here for. 10/10

  5. First off, lemme say that oh yeah do animals communicate, yes, and sometimes clearly enough that I could transcribe into English. 🙂 Even jokes.

    Secondly, I am constantly amazed at some of the questions that come up, such as that someone might worry whether talking animals are biblical. We are not constrained to only concrete entities specifically mentioned in the Bible. Space shuttles are not “biblical” but are real. Ancient South America is not in the Bible but is real. And the Tooth Fairy is not in the Bible, is not real, but is still fun to talk about.

    Bring on the talking animals! 😀

  6. Steve Smith says:

    “…riding down the road with the top down on his donkey.” Awesome line.

  7. I’m almost done writing a story similar to yours, that deals with a fictional version of Nephilim. I’ll get plenty of flak for fictionalized them for the story instead of applying existing theological theories about what Nephilim are. So that will take some heat off of you. ?
    I consider Jesus’ parables examples of fantasy stories. Who would believe that a Jewish son would ever ask his father for his inheritance before his father dies? Let alone that the father gives it instead of disowning him for his rude request? And when the rich man and Lazarus are seen in the afterlife, is that a true event featuring the Lazarus we know before Jesus raised him? We don’t know, but the point of the story is not whether it’s true, but whether its meaning is true. Parables are earthly stories with heavenly meanings. Our stories might not be parables, but what matters is their meaning. Not whether those truths come through a talking donkey.

  8. Karen says:

    THIS is what “Christians” spend their time worrying about? Come ON!

    • To be honest, talking animals in stories are usually not a big deal for Christians, so it’s probably more that we’re ‘wondering’ or ‘contemplating’ rather than ‘worrying’.

    • Down, gentle reader. 🙂 It’s just a discussion for fun. And why the word “Christians” in quotes? That seems strikingly odd. Even judgmental in a wrong sense. Unless you can provide a better explanation for the quotes other than, “Real Christians ought not talk about this sort of thing.”

      • I tried submitting to some print mags a while back. One absolutely prohibited stories about talking animals and “other occult” themes. So, yes, it is an issue for some.

  9. Brie Donning says:

    Hmm, I’m inclined to think animals couldn’t talk any more before the fall than afterwards. Some of them are certainly created to communicate with humans though, and they can understand quite a lot, but they’re not like us. They don’t think on the same level as us, so even if real animals could talk, I don’t think they would talk like we do.
    Also based on anatomy, I don’t think most animals should be able to talk. They simply can’t make the sounds. (That donkey and that snake included. It wasn’t exactly them talking.)

    I’m quite okay with talking animals in books. My dad had an idea though, that humanizing animals can contribute to people seeing real animals as more like us than they really are, as possibly more important than people. After all, in the world’s view, we’re not any more than highly intelligent (or maybe not so intelligent) animals. I believe(As I’m sure most of you do) that in our world, the life of a person is worth so much more than the life of an animal.
    But just because the world is all topsy-turvy and mixing up animals and people, doesn’t mean we should have animals that can talk in our stories. It’s speculative, we’re asking what if, and I see nor harm in that.

    • notleia says:

      Anthropomorphizing is an issue, but I think the non-animal-rights people overestimate whether/how much animal-rights people value animals over humans. Except for extremist bungholes like PETA, most of them are not really either/or types, but also-too types. Like, we can save the children and also too these endangered speckled whatthehecks by preserving their habitat.

      • Brie Donning says:

        A few of those extreme people write for our local paper and compared thinning out animal populations to genocide.
        And then there are the people who want to give animals equal rights with humans.
        And now I almost sound like I don’t care enough. I don’t want anything killed unnecessarily, and I’m squeamish.

        And I still like talking animals.

        • notleia says:

          You’ve got some grade-A, swivel-eyed corkers right there. I don’t think most of them realize that nature’s solution for population control is largely inhumane, by means of infant mortality, starvation, and disease.

          I like to think I’d earn a little credit because I’m willing to murder my own meat. Have done, too.

      • C.S. Lewis was not a vegetarian. In Narnia there are talking and non-talking animals. The talking beasts have souls because Aslan selected them during Narnia’s creation and breathed His life into them. So, Lewis would not have supported PETA’s nonsense, though he did oppose vivisection. A very cruel, pointless experiment on animals. I think it’s illegal now.

  10. I love talking animals in stories, so they end up in a lot of my writings. Non human characters in general can be good for social issues and exploring Christian morals. At the very least, the fact that animals are so different than us can open up a good dialogue about how to handle a society where everyone is different from each other. (Assuming it’s a society where multiple species are living together.) Which, of course, can help us understand and figure out our society today.

    Some of my recent favorite animal stories are Wings of Fire by Tui T Sutherland, Off White (http://off-white.eu/comic/prologue-page-1-2/), and The Blackblood Alliance (https://www.deviantart.com/kayfedewa#_=_)

    Those three aren’t Christian, but they’re still pretty cool.

  11. Travis Perry says:

    While I think it’s true serpents could talk in the Garden of Eden–at least one definitely could (and I’ve noticed the context specifically tells us how intelligent serpents were back then), having spoken language is one of the great dividers between being made in the image of God and not being so made (as opposed to what human beings physically look like). So I rather doubt that animals could ever talk, barring a miracle like the one that allowed Balaam’s donkey to speak.

    Though animals do communicate non-verbally, sure.

    Though I don’t think anybody I ever knew seriously stressed about this issue. In fact, Christians are probably more interested in talking animals than non-Christians, since Christians are influenced by Narnia…and a lot of people who may not like Narnia think talking animals are overly cute.

    I myself always wanted to be a talking bear when I was a kid. I thought it would be cool. You’ve got talking animals in your story. Very cool.

  12. notleia says:

    Fun fact: some members of the dolphin family, like bottlenose and orcas, have something resembling a language, and orcas even have dialects. Or “dialects,” because there is still debate about what minimum requirements for language is. When I was watching some animal docus while I was crocheting, some scientists created a pidgin with new vocab that wild bottlenose would pick up (with some pronunciation issues) in order to play a game with the humans.

  13. Wonderful article, CJ. I know this wasn’t your main point, but I think animals and humans could communicate from the beginning, too. But I think the change happened after the flood, when the animals became afraid of humans (which is Biblical) and of one another. Interesting to speculate. 😉


  14. Jim Slone says:

    Good piece. It made me smile and think at the same moment. A difficult task for me. Thanks and good writing to you.

  15. Don’t forgot those heroic rabbits in Watership Down!
    Some folks just dislike fantasy. That’s okay as long as they don’t make it an article of faith. High in conscientiousness but very low in openness.
    You need to have worldbuilding “Rules” from the start. C.S. Lewis had animals acting like people. They tended to avoid human tools in favor of teeth and claws during battle. They also married. (The Horse and His Boy mentions Bree the horse marrying at the end of the book.)

  16. Vicki Strickland says:

    It has been a few years since anyone has commented on this topic, but see what has happened in the meantime by checking out the YouTube page “What About Bunny?”. She is a dog who is talking, not with a voice, but through a system of buttons developed for humans unable to speak. She is way ahead of the pack, but lots of other dogs and cats are learning it also. And she doesn’t just ask for food or toys. She forms complex thoughts.

What do you think?