Do Penguins Who Steal Go to Hell?

Day 3 of 30 of Writing Challenge

Today’s post is inspired by a YouTube video I found today. The video is a clip about male penguin nest building habits. In the video clip you learn that in order for male penguins to attract mates they have to build nests made out of rocks. It’s pretty cute how the penguins waddle over to a pebble or rock, pick it up with their beaks, and then waddle back to their future nest and deposit it onto the growing pile. Whoever builds the best nest will attract a mate. The camera follows one industrious penguin as he labors to build his nest one rock at a time. The camera then pans over the should of this to reveal another penguin watching him. After the busy penguin drops off a rock and turns his back to find another rock the other penguin dashes over to his nests and steals a rock from his nest and brings it back to his nest. This stealing goes on for about 3 or 4 times.

I’m not an expert at reading penguin body language, but there was something human about the stealing that was going on. He looked for lack of a better word, shady, almost sinister. After the thief dropped off his stolen rock he’d wait by his nest casually watching the other hard working penguin. He had a look of guilt. As he tried to steal more rocks from that same penguin another penguin tried to steal a rock from his nest. However, he was a lot more cautious and he caught the other guy and chased him off. He had learned not to trust other penguins.

This whole penguin thievery exchange got me thinking. What would Christians say about penguins or other animals who steal or cheat? Would they be condemned to hell? They could argue that animals don’t go to hell, only humans. But then they would have to explain to me what makes a human not an animal.

Interestingly stealing for the penguin is probably an evolutionary developed behavior. The penguins who piggybacked off the harder working penguins were able to survive and raise children who also watched and learned from their thieving father.  Of course only the good thieves would survive to teach these skills to the next generation. If you take out the morality of stealing it really is just survival of the fittest at the end of the day.

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