The debate about whether or not animals have souls has been around for as long as philosophers and theologians can remember. It is a question rooted deeply in religious ideals and values, and with a new age of science, researchers are starting to look at the soul in general, whether it be human or any other animal. People who tend to believe in a Christian faith believe animals do not have souls. Theologians say animals do not have souls and through that man is created superior to animals and cannot be equal. Furthermore, interpreters of the Bible believe animals have “the breath of life” from God, but not an immortal soul. On the other hand, the prophet Isaiah says that God will include animals in heaven and John, the apostle, views heaven as including all animals of the Earth.
Another point to the argument that animals do have souls is through personal experience. Kimberlee Berlin from The Guardian reminisces about one of the times she believes she saw a soul in her animal friend. “For months, whenever I would find myself crying, clutching my belly, Gracie would rush over to me, rest her head on my lap and look up at me with kind eyes that understood. She definitely had a soul which spoke to mine, and I would get down on the floor with her and hold her, the warmth of her furry body calming me down.”
One can argue that animals do not have souls through logic. The soul is the principle of life. Since animals and plants are living things, they have souls, but not in the sense in which human beings have souls. Our souls are rational, theirs aren’t, and ours are rational because they’re spiritual, not material. Animals and plants can’t do anything which transcends the limitations of matter. Although some animals seem clever, they don’t actually possess conceptional intelligence. They can’t, for instance, conceive of the abstract notion of justice. One might even argue that other creatures are more cognizant of feelings than humans are, because they possess a primary form of consciousness: they are aware of themselves and their environment but are less burdened by complexities such as reflection and rumination that typify human consciousness. Animals that express gratitude, play, contemplate nature, act to save a fellow creature, or react mournfully to the loss of family members or other close companions, are all, in my view, demonstrating aspects of connectedness. Such connectedness is the root of spirituality – with the capacity to feel and emote being central.
Then, there is the timeless argument of science. There aren’t many findings on the soul scientifically, because of the soul’s abstractness, however, one article puts into words the recent research and findings on such an abstract ideal. Whether person or flea, the experimental findings of quantum theory suggest that the content of the mind is the ultimate reality, paramount and limitless. Without consciousness, space and time are nothing. From this viewpoint, by virtue of being a living creature, you and your soul can never die. And the same thing goes for animals.
So, do you believe animals have souls and why?