Do Animals Have Souls?

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Ivellious
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Do Animals Have Souls?

#1

Post by Ivellious » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:36 am

This question recently came up on the Discovery Channel in passing, so I thought I'd bring it up here.

It's been a long held belief in Christianity (I'm sure in other religions as well) that humans are special, and by that token other animals do not have souls. Now, I'n not really sure how you could quantify a "soul", but throughout history religious leaders have pointed to the "fact" that humans possess traits that animals to not: distinct personalities, emotions, intelligence, etc.

These days, science and a greater emphasis on studying the other species of animals around us has led to the shattering of those "facts". In particular, studies of other primates (particularly the apes), dolphins, and elephants have shed some light on the once-radical idea that other animals do in fact have a great capacity for traits that we used to think made us "human."

So, what are your thoughts on this? Is it possible that other animals have souls? If they don't, then why do they possess these traits that are so human?

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Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

#2

Post by RickD » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:41 am

Ivellious wrote:This question recently came up on the Discovery Channel in passing, so I thought I'd bring it up here.

It's been a long held belief in Christianity (I'm sure in other religions as well) that humans are special, and by that token other animals do not have souls. Now, I'n not really sure how you could quantify a "soul", but throughout history religious leaders have pointed to the "fact" that humans possess traits that animals to not: distinct personalities, emotions, intelligence, etc.

These days, science and a greater emphasis on studying the other species of animals around us has led to the shattering of those "facts". In particular, studies of other primates (particularly the apes), dolphins, and elephants have shed some light on the once-radical idea that other animals do in fact have a great capacity for traits that we used to think made us "human."

So, what are your thoughts on this? Is it possible that other animals have souls? If they don't, then why do they possess these traits that are so human?
I believe certain animals do have souls. I believe a soul is mind, will, and emotions. God created certain animals with a soul, so they could have a relationship with humans. Anyone with a dog can clearly see what I mean. Sometimes people may get "soul" and "spirit" confused. I believe humans are the only creature with a spirit. God gave humans alone, a spirit, so humans could have a relationship with God. Just my 2 cents.

Here's an article from Reasons.org:http://www.reasons.org/articles/origin- ... sh-animals
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Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

#3

Post by Byblos » Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:53 am

I think I talked about this in another thread but can't recall where.

I believe every living thing has a soul but there are 3 different types of souls: 1) Non-sentient soul like plants, 2) Sentient but not rational souls like all animals, and 3) sentient, rational souls and those are the ones that were made in the image of God.
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Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

#4

Post by Ivellious » Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:14 pm

What defines rational? Is emotion rational?

Elephants care for their sick and elderly. They revisit the resting sites of their dead family members. They demonstrate changes in behavior consistent with humans in response to emotional events. Technically speaking, these types of things are totally irrational from a survival perspective, but we pin our "humanity" on things like that...So is the sheer intellectual difference (which actually might not be nearly as great as we once thought) enough to say that despite all our similarities, elephants are a lower life form?

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Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

#5

Post by Jac3510 » Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:48 pm

If the soul is the form of the body (and I think it is), then yes, animals have souls.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

#6

Post by RickD » Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:57 pm

Ivellious wrote:What defines rational? Is emotion rational?

Elephants care for their sick and elderly. They revisit the resting sites of their dead family members. They demonstrate changes in behavior consistent with humans in response to emotional events. Technically speaking, these types of things are totally irrational from a survival perspective, but we pin our "humanity" on things like that...So is the sheer intellectual difference (which actually might not be nearly as great as we once thought) enough to say that despite all our similarities, elephants are a lower life form?
Ivellious, I would say that any animal without a spirit, is a lower life form. That would mean any animal, besides Humans.
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Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

#7

Post by Canuckster1127 » Sun Feb 26, 2012 2:36 pm

It does go to definition. I believe certainly that there are animals that are of a higher order in terms of intelligence, emotions and social interaction. In that regard some animals can be said to have souls. The delineating factor in a Christian view between animals and humans would be the "imageo dei" or image of God that is unique to humanity. In that regard, humanity is separate from animals and not just a higher form of animal.
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Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

#8

Post by Jac3510 » Sun Feb 26, 2012 3:00 pm

By the way, Ivellious, you made an incorrect claim in your OP:
You wrote:It's been a long held belief in Christianity (I'm sure in other religions as well) that humans are special, and by that token other animals do not have souls.
This is not true. The notion that animals do not have souls is of a relatively recent origin, and I would even suggest is only really held by those who have never studied the issue. We can make a proper distinction between an "official" religion and a folk-version of that religion. For instance, many Christians hold that when we die, we become angels, but no version of Christianity (that I am aware of) has ever taught as much. It's just an idea found in the popular culture.

So, again, it is not true that it is "a long held belief in Christianity . . . that . . . animals do not have souls." Forget the fact that it hasn't been long held. It's never been formally held, so far as I know. If the Discovery Channel made that claim, then their "scholarship" is simply poor, to put it charitably.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

#9

Post by Ivellious » Sun Feb 26, 2012 3:15 pm

The discovery Channel made no mention of Christianity, rather it simply pointed out how throughout history animals have been held as lower life forms because they apparently were simplistic in all respects compared to humans.

I think you are wrong on the point about Christians always having been kind toward animals and holding them in high regard. The BBC has entire page, full with references to ancient and modern writings, and it is extremely clear that the exact opposite of what you say is true.

Throughout history, Christian theologians and leaders looked upon animals as things to be used by humans, no more, no less. They were to be treated with respect, but no more respect than the inanimate objects that God gave us to use. Animals were regarded as tools and property, just like anything else you can buy. Here are some highlights of the page:
The traditional Christian view

When early theologians looked at "nature red in tooth and claw" they concluded that it was a natural law of the universe that animals should be preyed on and eaten by others. This was reflected in their theology.

Christian thinking downgraded animals for three main reasons:

God had created animals for the use of human beings and human beings were therefore entitled to use them in any way they want
Animals were distinctively inferior to human beings and were worth little if any moral consideration, because:
humans have souls and animals don't
humans have reason and animals don't
Christian thought was heavily humano-centric and only considered animals in relation to human beings, and not on their own terms
For most of its history Christianity regarded animals without much compassion.

Early Christians regarded human beings as greatly superior to all other animals. After all, human beings were made in the image of God, and God chose human form for his earthly life. Furthermore, God clearly decreed that human beings should have power over non-human animals.

Augustine

Leading thinkers such as Augustine reinforced ideas of animal inferiority, concluding that animals existed entirely for the benefit of humanity.

Human beings are rational
Rational beings are entitled to rule irrational beings
Human beings can tame animals - animals can't tame human beings
Animals are not rational
Animals don't even know that they are alive
Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas was equally unconcerned with the welfare of animals.

Aquinas made the following points:

Animals were created to be used by human beings
Animals do not have the ability to reason, and are therefore inferior to human beings
The status of animals is shown by the fact that the punishment for killing someone else's animal is a punishment for misusing that person's property, not for killing the animal
He taught that the universe was a hierarchy with God at the top. Each layer in the hierarchy existed to serve the layers above it. Humanity came above the animals, so animals existed to serve humankind.

Aquinas also reinforced the view that animals didn't have immortal souls.

Barth

In modern times, Karl Barth, the greatest theologian of the 20th century, taught that God's choice of human form for his incarnation showed that human beings are more important than non-human animals.

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Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

#10

Post by Jac3510 » Sun Feb 26, 2012 3:37 pm

With respect, you don't know what you're looking at. To take just two of your examples, both Aquinas and Augustine explicitly taught animals have souls. You are confusing "being of equal value to humans" with "having souls." See Byblos' comments on the traditional distinction between the types of souls there are.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

#11

Post by Ivellious » Sun Feb 26, 2012 3:50 pm

That wasn't all that was on the page: here's the link for you to examine.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions ... ls_1.shtml

Besides, the issue isn't solely about an abstract concept of what a soul is or is not (as I've been researching I've found numerous different definitions and a general lack of consensus on what a soul is/means, because the Bible is not totally clear).

Rather, this is what I wanted to point out: Christianity has taught that animals are emotionless, Godless tools for our usage. We are to have dominion over them because they are temporary and lack the essential mental/emotional/spiritual capabilities of humans. Most points that have been used to justify that stance have since been refuted by modern science and understanding.

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Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

#12

Post by RickD » Sun Feb 26, 2012 4:36 pm

Ivellious wrote:That wasn't all that was on the page: here's the link for you to examine.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions ... ls_1.shtml

Besides, the issue isn't solely about an abstract concept of what a soul is or is not (as I've been researching I've found numerous different definitions and a general lack of consensus on what a soul is/means, because the Bible is not totally clear).

Rather, this is what I wanted to point out: Christianity has taught that animals are emotionless, Godless tools for our usage. We are to have dominion over them because they are temporary and lack the essential mental/emotional/spiritual capabilities of humans. Most points that have been used to justify that stance have since been refuted by modern science and understanding.
Ivellious, I really don't know how to answer this. There was a time, not too long ago, that certain "Christians" thought West Africans weren't human, and they could be owned as property, and be used for whatever they wanted. Obviously, scripture in no way, supports chattel slavery. My point is, that just because what you call "Christianity" having taught that animals were this or that, what does scripture say? Shepherds in the bible, risked their lives for their flock. Many animals were created with a mind, will, and emotions, to have a relationship with humans. My dog, for example, is like a little kid. he follows us around the house, wherever we go. He gets depressed, and won't eat when we go on vacation. Sounds like a pretty good mental and emotional capacity, to me. y:-?
John 5:24
24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

Kenny wrote:
"You don’t need faith, logic, reason, proof, or anything else to be atheist, all you need to do is reject what someone told you."



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Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

#13

Post by Danieltwotwenty » Sun Feb 26, 2012 4:42 pm

Rather, this is what I wanted to point out: Christianity has taught that animals are emotionless
I have never read where it says that in the Bible could you please point out the verse and when you asy Christianity what do you mean, is it in reference to Christ's teachings or to the Bible or to somthing else?
Godless tools for our usage.
What do you mean by Godless, do you mean that they do not have a creator or that God doesn't care about the rest of creation?
We are to have dominion over them because they are temporary and lack the essential mental/emotional/spiritual capabilities of humans.


Again please provide scriptual reference for the above statement, we are to take care of the world God has created as custodians and that includes animals, plants and the earth.
Most points that have been used to justify that stance have since been refuted by modern science and understanding.
I don't see anything that has been "refuted" as the Bible to the best of my knowlage does not speak of these things.

Here is a link to a site that has Bible references on how God wants us to treat and care for his creation. http://www.earthcareonline.org/bibleverses.html

Dan
1Tim1:15-17
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.Amen.

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Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

#14

Post by Jac3510 » Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:16 pm

RickD wrote:
Ivellious wrote:That wasn't all that was on the page: here's the link for you to examine.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions ... ls_1.shtml

Besides, the issue isn't solely about an abstract concept of what a soul is or is not (as I've been researching I've found numerous different definitions and a general lack of consensus on what a soul is/means, because the Bible is not totally clear).

Rather, this is what I wanted to point out: Christianity has taught that animals are emotionless, Godless tools for our usage. We are to have dominion over them because they are temporary and lack the essential mental/emotional/spiritual capabilities of humans. Most points that have been used to justify that stance have since been refuted by modern science and understanding.
Ivellious, I really don't know how to answer this. There was a time, not too long ago, that certain "Christians" thought West Africans weren't human, and they could be owned as property, and be used for whatever they wanted. Obviously, scripture in no way, supports chattel slavery. My point is, that just because what you call "Christianity" having taught that animals were this or that, what does scripture say? Shepherds in the bible, risked their lives for their flock. Many animals were created with a mind, will, and emotions, to have a relationship with humans. My dog, for example, is like a little kid. he follows us around the house, wherever we go. He gets depressed, and won't eat when we go on vacation. Sounds like a pretty good mental and emotional capacity, to me. y:-?
Now you are making a different claim entirely. Whether or not animals have souls is a completely different question than on the proper relationship between the Christian and the animal. Without question, the biblical teaching is that man has dominion over animals. What is in question is precisely in what sense that is true. I've no problem believing that some have used that as a license to mistreat them. I'd even have no problem believing that some have taken that as a mandate to essentially become the servant of the animals (I've heard such arguments). I'm not sure what your point here is, then.

edit: btw, the classical Christian tradition would absolutely insist that animals have varying degrees of emotional and mental capacities. I refer you back to Byblos' three-fold distinction in the types of soul one can have.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

#15

Post by Kurieuo » Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:25 pm

Byblos wrote:I think I talked about this in another thread but can't recall where.

I believe every living thing has a soul but there are 3 different types of souls: 1) Non-sentient soul like plants, 2) Sentient but not rational souls like all animals, and 3) sentient, rational souls and those are the ones that were made in the image of God.
What about shoes? :P

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