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Old Jun 16th 2011, 07:49 PM
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Default Do Animals Have Souls?

I just finished C. S. Lewis' The Problem of Pain--a wonderful book--and towards the end, an obvious animal lover, he has a chapter called "Animal Pain" Among some of his quotes:



I have been warned not even to raise the question of animal immortality, lest I find myself "in company with all the old maids."...



It is certainly difficult to suppose that the apes, the elephant, and the higher domestic animals, have not, in some degree, a self or soul which connects experiences and gives rise to rudimentary individuality.



And finally,


If there is a rudimentary Leonine self, to that also God can give a "body" as it pleases Him--a body no longer living..., yet richly Leonine in the sense that it also expresses whatever energy and splendour and exulting power dwelled within the visible lion on this earth.

Here, here. My last dog was the best one I ever had. She was happy, TOO friendly, and as easy and affectionate as the day is long. When I pray for the people in my life who have passed away, I always mention Emma. This is one of those subjects which I have pointedly never discussed with a priest, because frankly, I am leery of the answer I would get. (I try not to be a cafeteria Catholic, and I try to see the Church's points, but I've seen a lot of suffering in homes where women could not divorce their husbands or practice birth control, and I lived as a young woman in this country in pre-safe abortion days, so my experience skews some of my beliefs.)

Anyway, my rationale with Emma is that she was a creature who gave so much joy and love to people--I can't believe that kind of love and spirit just dies--just ends. I believe that somehow, in some way, I'll meet her again.

Do animals have souls? What do you all think?
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Last edited by nanacat; Jun 16th 2011 at 07:53 PM.
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Old Jun 16th 2011, 07:55 PM
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Default Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

What are we calling a soul though?
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Old Jun 16th 2011, 08:04 PM
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Default Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

Great new thread nanacat!

Indeed, I've been expecting this topic to come up soon enough.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nanacat View Post
Do animals have souls? What do you all think?
I believe I've previously opined that 'if souls exist' then it is rational to assume that other mammals besides humans have one.

That being said, as Donkey noted above, I don't think we've achieved a forum consensus on a working definition of the human soul - and that does tend to complicate the question.

I might (hopefully) be mistaken about a definitional consensus...
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Old Jun 16th 2011, 08:05 PM
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Default Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

Donkey--the essence of one's self--the spirit, for lack of a better word--which does not die with our bodies, but goes on. To heaven, to God, I'm not sure. But does not die.
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Old Jun 16th 2011, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by nanacat View Post
Donkey--the essence of one's self--the spirit, for lack of a better word--which does not die with our bodies, but goes on. To heaven, to God, I'm not sure. But does not die.
Well I no longer believe in the immortal soul. But I see no reason that animals wouldn't have them if they existed.
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Old Jun 16th 2011, 08:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donkey View Post
Well I no longer believe in the immortal soul. But I see no reason that animals wouldn't have them if they existed.
You would concede to animals what you wouldn't concede to man?

Okay, why not. I've only been up since 4am. ... Let's talk about the "soul," and / or what happens when you die..... I believe there is a part of us that is sacred, that goes on despite our physical deaths. Lewis talked about it, saying how we've all had glimpses of "heaven," of something we recognized and wanted, but could never quite grasp. Wordsworth talked about it in "Intimations of Immortality."

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting:
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God who is our home....



If you've experienced people in your life dying, what did you feel? Do you really believe the connection is severed totally and forever? Despite all my Catholic upbringing, I was probably in my 30's when my friend's father passed away very suddenly, very tragically. I had lost my grandparents, my own parents, and my faith wasn't particularly strong at the time. But I remember feeling--knowing--that we would see Nate again. It wasn't wishful thinking or a desire to comfort my friend, it was a believing, deep in *my* soul. I've had it several times since then as well. There is a heaven, there is an eternity, and we're part of it.

What if what we call dreaming is really reality and THIS, which we call life, is the dream? (Not an original thought, just can't remember where I read it.)
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Old Jun 16th 2011, 09:11 PM
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Default Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

Quote:
Originally Posted by nanacat View Post
You would concede to animals what you wouldn't concede to man?

Okay, why not. I've only been up since 4am. ... Let's talk about the "soul," and / or what happens when you die..... I believe there is a part of us that is sacred, that goes on despite our physical deaths. Lewis talked about it, saying how we've all had glimpses of "heaven," of something we recognized and wanted, but could never quite grasp. Wordsworth talked about it in "Intimations of Immortality."

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting:
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God who is our home....



If you've experienced people in your life dying, what did you feel? Do you really believe the connection is severed totally and forever? Despite all my Catholic upbringing, I was probably in my 30's when my friend's father passed away very suddenly, very tragically. I had lost my grandparents, my own parents, and my faith wasn't particularly strong at the time. But I remember feeling--knowing--that we would see Nate again. It wasn't wishful thinking or a desire to comfort my friend, it was a believing, deep in *my* soul. I've had it several times since then as well. There is a heaven, there is an eternity, and we're part of it.

What if what we call dreaming is really reality and THIS, which we call life, is the dream? (Not an original thought, just can't remember where I read it.)
Personally, I don't believe in an immortal soul, either. However, I use the term frequently and openly because it's the best way to communicate my idea of individual consciousness. I didn't really speak up in the recent thread when the question of animal consciousness arose, but I believe strongly that animals are conscious on a different level than we humans. Just because an animal doesn't have the cognitive capacity to carry a conversation doesn't mean that it cannot recognize its own existence. A cat knows when it's hungry and a gorilla knows when it's angry.

Not to be cruel, but to say an animal has no consciousness is the same as saying a mentally handicapped person has no consciousness. I was took care of a man who was mentally handicapped, blind, and deaf, yet he still knew when he was hungry and needed to go to the restroom. He was conscious of his body and therefore his existence. The ability to contemplate the meaning of existence, in my opinion, has nothing to do with consciousness. As my dear Mr. Vonnegut would say, it's just another dangerous side effect of our obscenely large brains.

So, back to point....my vision of "soul" is one's ability to recognize it's existence and that it's existence is separate from others (as proven by interaction such as playing or verbal and nonverbal communication). With this definition, I think it's obvious that animals have souls.
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Old Jun 16th 2011, 11:11 PM
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Default Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

Quote:
Originally Posted by nanacat View Post
You would concede to animals what you wouldn't concede to man?
No, no. If I believed in "the soul," humans would have them. Other animals would too, in their own way.

Quote:
Okay, why not. I've only been up since 4am. ... Let's talk about the "soul," and / or what happens when you die..... I believe there is a part of us that is sacred, that goes on despite our physical deaths. Lewis talked about it, saying how we've all had glimpses of "heaven," of something we recognized and wanted, but could never quite grasp. Wordsworth talked about it in "Intimations of Immortality."

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting:
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God who is our home....



If you've experienced people in your life dying, what did you feel? Do you really believe the connection is severed totally and forever? Despite all my Catholic upbringing, I was probably in my 30's when my friend's father passed away very suddenly, very tragically. I had lost my grandparents, my own parents, and my faith wasn't particularly strong at the time. But I remember feeling--knowing--that we would see Nate again. It wasn't wishful thinking or a desire to comfort my friend, it was a believing, deep in *my* soul. I've had it several times since then as well. There is a heaven, there is an eternity, and we're part of it.

What if what we call dreaming is really reality and THIS, which we call life, is the dream? (Not an original thought, just can't remember where I read it.)
And I respect those beliefs, I just no longer share them. I believe that when the body dies, the soul, consciousness, individual self awareness, whatever you want to call it, ceases.


Edit: Maybe we should bring Hindu theology into it.
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Last edited by Donkey; Jun 16th 2011 at 11:15 PM.
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Old Jun 17th 2011, 12:41 AM
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Default Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

Animals try to avoid pain, so that proves to me that they have characters, and I consider a character to be the same as a soul.
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Old Jun 18th 2011, 01:14 AM
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Default Re: Do Animals Have Souls?

Animals, plants, fungi, I believe all life has one - it is what brings us to life and lingers thereafter. I don't believe I will or can truly understand the nature of it until I experience death. Neither do I expect I can or will understand the soul of a tree anymore than I can, as a human, understand having the body of a tree. However, I have glimpsed it as my father passed over into death by my side and I have heard the bone-chilling call of the Sėth and I have had my very atheist friend by my side as he ran indoors when it called. As amazing as is the experience of life perpetuating life, so is the passing of life into death, as pagans put it 'beyond the veil'.

Some prefer to dismiss their encounters with their own souls as other natural phenomena. I believe this is because we are taught to do that in our culture because we are a life-obsessed culture. Despite the many images of death in our popular media (and I will certainly agree that their expressive has seen a massive increase in the past 50 years in popular culture) we fight endlessly to prolong life beyond its evolved ranged. Believing in a soul is almost inextricably linked with believing in an afterlife and this, though a different topic, requires a level of comfort with accepting that possibility. Rational thought doesn't mesh well with the idea of continual, potentially everlasting, existence. The reason for the linkage between the two is likely because of the discomfort that comes with the thought of no afterlife combined with the existence of a soul. Death becomes a double wammy. The loss of the physical self and the loss of the soul. An unsettling thought indeed.
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