Saturday, June 6, 2015

Do Animals Have Souls?




For a millennia the debate has raged among man: Do animals have souls?

In order to answer this question, we have to determine why the debate is raging and what makes a soul.

In high school (back in the dark ages), a Buddhist monk came to visit my History of Religion class.

The monk stood in front of our class and said that Christians were confused about the placement of the soul. He said that our souls were in our brains, where all the thought processes occur. And then he asked everybody where they thought there souls were.

All the Droids in the class pointed at their heads like good little robots... Except this dumb writer, who pointed at her chest.

He looked at me like I was stupid, and said: "Your soul is in your boobs?"

I just smiled at him. He didn't seem to realize that I was just pointing at myself, not my brain (or boobs). I have always believed that my entirety is my soul.

Science has proved me right (raspberry to the Buddhist).

Studies on individuals with paralysis have shown that if they are put on a treadmill and held in an upright position, their legs will move and walk (ref Rob Summers/Christopher Reeves Foundation May 20, 2011). This is due to stimulation of the spinal cord.

Science also shows that every action we take is not necessarily an action suggested by the brain.

When a person is sitting at a desk and rapidly tapping his foot, or biting his nails. These are impulses and/or habits that the body does without brain activity, but the spinal cord is constantly firing.

These actions imply that there is more than just the brain to our souls.

I sincerely believe that the original thought behind pointing at the chest for our souls was not at the heart, but at the entire being.

If most humans really thought about it, and decided that animals did have souls, then eating meat would become a rarity. One can't say that one or two specific animals have souls, but the rest are lacking.

It's either all or none with me.

I must confess, I am not a vegan. I have had my days as a vegetarian, and it didn't kill me. I don't mind tofu, and I have never had a problem eating eggs.

I hate chickens. After spending a summer with my grandparents and having to gather eggs, with those malicious beasts pecking at my hands, I can quite honestly say I have no problem eating chicken, and by default, other birds.

But on the other side of the coin, after reading Bob Tarte's "Enslaved by Ducks", one has to recognize that each and every animal has their own personality. Case in point, was Bob Tarte's hero duck, Peggy, who sacrificed herself to the Raccoon Beasts so that her buddies could escape.

But the idea behind animals not having souls might come from Ecclesiastes 3:21: Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth.

To Christians, this is God's way of approving setting meat at the table. If an animal/beast doesn't have a soul, then there shouldn't be any problem with eating it.

Now I would like to deviate from my stated path and point out that Hebrews 1 says that Angels are just servants sent to attend man, the chosen heirs of salvation.

Quite a thought there. If we take this literally, angels don't have souls either.

I must confess, I fall on the side of those who believe that animals have souls. But I am okay with those that say they don't.

About 20 years ago, I lost my first pet.

Her name was Jonsi, and she was a handful. She was a bearded collie that owned my life. She even had her own song. When she sat on my lap (and yes, she was a huge lapdog) she wouldn't start cuddling until I sang "And I Love You So". She even went so far as to infringe on my shower once when she heard me singing it.

I had two cats that grew up believing that she was their mother. One of them, Hobbs, wouldn't purr for anyone but Jonsi. He would sit quietly on my lap for hours, letting me pet him. Not a purr emitted from his precious body. And then Jonsi would walk by and he would jump up from my lap and purr and rub up against her (much to her irritation).

When she passed away, my heart was shredded. I was catatonic at work. I would lay in bed and cry.

There were two things that brought me to a point of starting the healing process:

One was something that someone said to me. He said that he believed that our pets were just angels sent down to watch over us. When they had earned their wings, God called them back to heaven.

This would imply that no, animals don't have souls, but they do serve a higher purpose.

The second thing that happened about two months after Jonsi died.

I was laying in bed, bawling my eyes out, when Hobbs jumped up on my bed and laid down on my chest and began purring.

After that night, he never let me sleep alone. He would watch me sleep. When I rolled over, he would move over to the side of the bed where I was facing.

As Hobbs grew older, he taught himself phrases, like "Hello" and "I love you". I had a connection with him that could have proven either argument. Yes, he was an angel, but he had a personality that went with a soul of Mother Theresa.

There is no right or wrong way to apply this thought. You can say that animals have souls, and you are probably right. They have individual personalities and quirks that can justify that argument to the bitter end.

But you can say they don't have a soul, and know with confidence, that they were put on this earth for a higher purpose in your life.


  1. I'm a follower of Jesus, and I believe our beloved pets will be with us in heaven - I can't imagine a place of peace would exclude out furry BFFs especially if it's our heart's desire to see them again. I look into my pets' eyes and see love and deep emotion. Soul, spirit. I'm no expert because those are separate things. But I absolutely believe they'll be with us.

    I struggle with eating meat lately too, the more I see how inhumanely they are treated so we can eat them. The Bible gives instruction on the humane killing of animals, respect due, so they don't suffer, but that's most often not followed - chickens in cages, the people handling the animals kick and punch them. Heartbreaking.

    I enjoyed this post and your heart for fur babies.

  2. Thank you! I love my little demon! Keeps me on my toes and breathing! If you are going to kill an animal for food, kill it quickly!