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Do Animals Have Souls?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
This is something that I found on another website recently that I wanted to share. It's long but it's worth reading.

Do Animals Have Souls?
by Stacy Mantle

I was talking with a coworker the other day and he informed me that animals do not have emotions. This is just after he told me (the day that I put my dog of 17 yrs down) that animals do not have souls and therefore will never enjoy the concept of heaven. Now, this coworker has the disadvantage of being, what I refer to, as a "bible-thumper." He is, in fact, a born-again Christian. please bear in mind that I have nothing against Christians, nor do I have anything against religion in general. I do, however, have a problem with this coworker passing along faulty information.

Animals do have emotions and they also have souls, and I'll tell you how I know that. In over twenty years of working with animals, I have never seen a kitten duct-tape a live human baby to a freeway. I also have never seen a cat find enjoyment from setting a human on fire. I've never gone hiking in the desert to find a child that dogs have left tied to a stake, without food and water, subjecting it to a painful death in the desert heat. I have never seen a chicken force two unwilling humans to fight in a ring with razor blades attached to their feet while the chickens place bets on who will be the first to die. I haven't seen a puppy place eight children in a gunnysack and drown them in a river. Neither have I seen an eagle aim a shotgun at an unarmed human. I have yet to see a bear kill a human simply to place a head on the wall of their cave. And to this day, I have not seen a pigeon drive a car down the road and aim for humans who were walking around the park.

Let me tell you what I have seen. I have seen my own cats sleep next to me so they may keep me a little warmer while I was ill. I've seen my dogs play games with me just to force a smile to my face. I have seen a cat rush into a burning home not once, not twice, but six times to save her kittens, nearly losing her own life in the process. I have seen a ferret pull a frightened kitten out of a deep hole in the ground. I have seen a coyote fetch another dog so that it may get the proper medical care that it needs. I've seen monkeys scream in empathy when one of their own were injured. I've seen puppies whine all night long when they were separated from their mothers. I've seen a dog pull a child away from a fire.

These are only a few of the things that I've seen. To list them all would take a lifetime, and I think you get my point. As for the soul thing? Well, it is my humble opinion that if you have emotions, any kind of emotions, then you have a soul. Ironically, the pope of the Roman Catholic Church recently stated that he feels the same way.

Now, I can't prove that animals have souls. But then, I can't prove that you or I have one either. And for all those people who firmly believe that animals don't have souls - well, I suppose if there really is a heaven, you'll probably have the job of cleaning out all the litter boxes...
post #2 of 25
I really do think they have thoughts,emotions and souls. When I was 12 and My German Shepherd died, I used to talk to her every night before I went to sleep. It helped me to think that she could hear me and that I loved her very much.
post #3 of 25
I think I remember this debate surfacing once before.

All I'll say is that they seem to have more of a soul than some people I've met along the way.
post #4 of 25
I know animals have emotions. I can't believe that even came up as a point of discussion. The fellow who said it must never have had a pet.

As for a soul, well, as a Catholic I'm with the Pope. I think the idea was, having a soul is what makes man in the image of God, but these days I lean toward the idea of free will serving that function.

I think animals cannot sin, because they do not have free will. They live primarily by instinct and a certain amount of knowledge, but they did not eat from "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" as Adam and Eve did. They do sometimes do things that are unpleasant but they don't choose to do things for no reason eg. they do hunt to eat, but they don't hunt for sport. (Disclaimer: I have known hunters and have some in my family, but the ones I've known have eaten their kills, not taken the head and left the meat.)

So, sin is what separates us from God and animals do not sin, so they are not separated from God. Therefore when they die they go to Heaven, where God is, rather than Hell, where God is not.

I am speaking here about my own beliefs, not about the official RC doctrine, which I am not certain about in this case.

But I think it's an interesting question, whether animals have souls and what the implications of that would be.
post #5 of 25
Well, I know I'm in the minority here on this subject. I don't believe animals have souls because they weren't created in the image of God. However, I have to admit, the Bible does not say one way or the other on this topic, so even though I have my own opinion, I won't know till I get to heaven. I'd love for animals to be there though...
post #6 of 25
Dawn, not that long ago you'd have been in the majority. Funny how ideas go in and out of fashion.

I happen to think that the soul is what gives life to what is otherwise a collection of chemicals. So for me, anything that is alive has a soul of some kind, though perhaps not the same as my human one. Animals, which are certainly alive, would therefore possess souls.

What do you think is the purpose or function of a soul? Curious, not critical. Because I think would make a difference in determining whether animals had souls or not.
post #7 of 25
That is a wiccan principle, that every living thing has its own 'energy'. So I suspect its not a widely accepted idea in religious circles
post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
So, sin is what separates us from God and animals do not sin, so they are not separated from God. Therefore when they die they go to Heaven, where God is, rather than Hell, where God is not.
I agree, my own personal beliefs are very similar to what I quoted from your post.
post #9 of 25
I'll have to agree with Deb; that's pretty grim...but then are some people.
post #10 of 25

It occurs to me that wiccans would be offended that you don't include them in "religious circles". Christianity is not the only religion, after all, and wiccans, as well as other pagans and non-Christians, often consider their beliefs religion. {amused}

I can hardly say what wiccans do or do not believe, since I am not one. I gather many Buddhists have a similar view, but I am not one of them either.

I understand from my small study of quantum physics that matter and energy are mostly interchangeable, that on the level of atomic particles there is pretty much only energy, and that everything made up of atoms (which is everything, as far as I know) has some sort of energy associated with it. It vibrates with the motion of subatomic particles. Which does not mean it is alive. My Bible says that God spoke the universe into being. Speech is a release of energy, you know, sound is vibration. So a universe that is made of different forms of vibrating energy makes sense in my theology.

I think a soul is what gives something life. At least, we believe the soul has left the body of a dead person, and we don't speak of the soul of, say, my sofa, which is not alive. But my cat is alive. What differentiates him from my sofa, if not his soul? For that matter, are Angels alive in the sense that humans are, and do they possess souls?

It's a legitimate question, if a philosophical one. And I'm open to suggestions, if you have any.

For me, this is a serious line of inquiry and one I have pursued for quite some time. I might not be reaching orthodox conclusions, but I'm not pulling things out of thin air either.
post #11 of 25
Oops, my fault, I wasn't clear on what I meant. I meant to say 'certain religious circles'. I would never infer that Wicca is not a valid relgion , my best friend is Wiccan

I'm not really sure what to think of the 'do animals have souls' thing. I certainly know they show emotion and individual perosnality. I'm not sure if that is to be attributed to a soul or not? Everyone has their own theories, and really we'll never know for sure.
post #12 of 25
I think any living thing should have a soul..... And, I think that my cats have one! Like Melissa said, they do have emotions & their own personalities. Why shouldn't an animal have a soul? The probably give more love than a human could possibly give, if you ask me. If you are sad, they will listen to you, and sniff at your tears; if you are mad, they listen to you. They don't tell you if you are ugly, fat, mean, etc.....
post #13 of 25
Absolutly they do!!!
post #14 of 25
Hmmm interesting question...personlly I think it depends on what you consider the soul to be. I think of it as energy, and to be honest I don't believe the soul goes to heaven, I do believe though that God give us this "energy" - life-force, and when we die, he takes it back, like for example an electrical appliance that is plugged in to work and when it is un-plugged the power goes back to the doesn't stay in the appliance.
As for whether animals have feelings, I certainly think they do!! They can obviously feel love, trust, fear, pain, etc.....
post #15 of 25
I am not a religious person. I do not follow any form of religion.
But I am a spiritual person.

I believe everything on this planet has a soul. People, trees, rocks, mountains, plants, and yes, ANIMALS...

I cannot understand how a person could look at or own an animal of any kind, and think they don't have a soul. This is my humble opinion. I am not trying to preach, just my belief.

I know, when I look into a cat or dogs eyes, I can sseeeeeeee the soul there, (frankly I can't always see it with humans, although I know they have one)....LOL

Anyway, of COURSE animals have emotions, feelings, fears, joys, and how could any living thing have those without a soul?
post #16 of 25
They do most definately and so does everything else that we consider alive!
post #17 of 25
Here it is!
post #18 of 25
I believe it is in Ecclesiastes..For the fate of the sons of man and the fate of beasts is the same;as one dies so dies the other. They all have the same breath,and man has no advantage over the beasts;for all is vanity.

I personally believe that whatever knows love has a soul and will go to a better place where love will rule. I only hope they let me visit.
post #19 of 25
I don't believe animals have souls, however, I'm an atheist so I don't believe anyone has a soul. However, I think animals definatly have emotions, anyone who's dealt with animals knows that. The mother kitty who got burnt so bad saving her kittens from the fire, it is obvious she felt love for her babies, as any human mother would. People just want to think they are so superior over animals, when animals act much more moral than us. The first girl who posted, talking about all teh bad things people do to animals, that is so true. Why is it humans think we are the only ones with intelligence and emotions and the ability to love one another? It's depressing.
post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 
Why is it humans think we are the only ones with intelligence and emotions and the ability to love one another?
It's possible that people who think like this have never had any type of animal as a pet and don't understand them. Maybe they think that an animal's brain is too small and primative to carry out more than basic functions. They want to think that animals are far too inferior to have anything as complicated as intelligence, and the ability feel love and other emotions.
post #21 of 25
Blessed Vegan,

I love your quote from Winnie C. My daughter continues to be amazed that there are very few bugs that get in the house that I kill. Of course, the cats get a bunch of them. But usually I trap it with a disposable cup and a piece of paper and put it outside. I think respect for life begins with small things. Actually I think a lot of virtues begin with noticing the little things.
post #22 of 25
Just because I don't believe that animals have souls as humans do, that doesn't mean that I don't think they have feelings. I know for a fact that animals have feelings and feel many of the things that people do.
post #23 of 25
Sunlion..I will say one thing does not pay to be the only person living in my apartment who does'nt kill bugs..that means my roomates either always try to kill them or i awake in the middl eof hte night to screams of "there's a spider in my room!" so i have to go save it. I even save the roaches and I hate roaches. Spiders I usually just let go and don't even bother to trap and remove outside, because I don't think they do any harm being inside. Ah it's hard being the compasionate one in the house hehe. And Lorie D. I agree with seems like anyone who hangs out with animals for very long would relieze they are intelligent and loving. Oh welllllll.
post #24 of 25

This has been quite a cool Thread. I love reading all the different beliefs, and I must say that I'm a bug resucer also. No matter what I will save it ...yes, even the palmetto bugs that I totally abhor. :laughing2

Now, I don't know about bugs having souls...but I stick to my belief that animals DO! Wayne, that was "AWESOME" and says it all! (except you will be there, not just visiting silly!)

Helen, that pic was darling!

Love & Peace,
post #25 of 25
Thread Starter 
You can really see the soul in that kitten's eyes!!!!
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