Animals with Souls


#1

How can i explain to an agnostic that animals do NOT have souls yet humans do (an explaination without biblical support)? His argument is that animals can have reason as we do and we are basically no different than animals in our needs to survive on food, water, etc.


#2

[quote=JohnAnthony]How can i explain to an agnostic that animals do NOT have souls yet humans do (an explaination without biblical support)? His argument is that animals can have reason as we do and we are basically no different than animals in our needs to survive on food, water, etc.
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You can’t, because it’s not true. According to Aristotle, the “soul” is the form of a body having life potentially within it. The soul is the difference between bodies that have life and bodies that don’t.

There are three kinds of souls: vegetable, animal, and rational. The difference pertains to the kinds of movement pertaining to each kind of soul. For example, vegetable souls have motion in the form of nutrition and generation, and animal souls also have locomotion.

Animals do not have reason as we do; they are not conscious.

For more details, see Aristotle’s treatise De Anima (On the Soul). I am sure you could find a good introductory commentary online.


#3

To add to the above reply regarding all living things having souls, which is excellent, in the order of creation only humans have spiritual souls.

Humans are made in the image of God, meaning our souls are also a spirit-- we possess the faculties of knowing and loving.

I recommend Frank Sheed (Theology for Beginners) on the topic.


#4

And angels, being spiritual creatures only, are rational creatures, but do not have souls – because they do not have bodies.


#5

Aristotle is well and good, but not exactly a Catholic perspective on things. The Chatechism teaches that our immortal soul is our defining characteristic, “…that by which he is most especially in God’s image…” (para 363).

Part of the problem is defining exactly what is meant by the word “soul.” Even the Chatechism acknowledges its different uses.

I don’t know if you can explain this to an agnostic is without bilical support. Some animals do demonstrate problem solving intelligence and sacrificial love (especially domesticated species like dogs). It is the Bible which makes it clear that we are unique in God’s eyes through a special gift of God. If there is no God, there is no reason to believe that we are distinct from other animals.


#6

[quote=Lapsed]Aristotle is well and good,
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Yeah, apparently St. Thomas Aquinas thought so…


#7

[quote=Lapsed]Aristotle is well and good, but not exactly a Catholic perspective on things. The Chatechism teaches that our immortal soul is our defining characteristic, “…that by which he is most especially in God’s image…” (para 363).

Part of the problem is defining exactly what is meant by the word “soul.” Even the Chatechism acknowledges its different uses.

I don’t know if you can explain this to an agnostic is without bilical support. Some animals do demonstrate problem solving intelligence and sacrificial love (especially domesticated species like dogs). It is the Bible which makes it clear that we are unique in God’s eyes through a special gift of God. If there is no God, there is no reason to believe that we are distinct from other animals.
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Please, it’s “Catechism”, not “Chatechism”.

At any rate, you are correct in that we need to define the term. I take “soul” to mean “animating principle” when using it in regards to animals. A dead animal is materially the same (meaning, it has the same matter) as a live one, but its animating principle—it’s “soul”, if you will—is gone. Our souls, however, are different from animals’ souls.


#8

The Church teaches that animals DO have souls, and I think you can refer to Sherlock’s post on that point as she summed it up well.

But human beings have IMMORTAL souls…in other words, although our bodies die and return to dust, we go on. Animals, though, have mortal souls. When they die, it’s done.

I think you will have a difficult time explaining this to an Agnostic, but if they’re not outright Atheist and defining themselves incorrectly you might have a chance.

The question isn’t really about souls, in regards to animals and human beings…it’s about immortality. It’s about the fact that we are created to a higher standard. Animals have instinct; we have rationality and reason. Animals “do what comes naturally”, Human beings have the ability to control their baser instincts.

The list goes on. If you think about it, you can come up with quite a bit, I’ll bet.


#9

Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to state that animals have “anima” or spirit? I think having a soul involves the ability to distinguish between good and evil.


#10

[quote=Sherlock]Please, it’s “Catechism”, not “Chatechism”.
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I have no idea where that extra “h” came from. :whistle:

Hey, if you’re picking on my spelling, does this mean I get start in on folks who don’t seem to know the difference between “alter” and “altar” because that one drives me nuts. :wink:

I’ll now leave this thread to its original topic.


#11

Any teachings on animals not having immortal souls comes from Aquinas, which is all simply theological speculation.

The best answer is that we simply don’t know. I do still hold that the animals will be a part of the new earth someday, not just a big ball of mud (as some have speculated).


#12

[quote=brotherhrolf]Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to state that animals have “anima” or spirit? I think having a soul involves the ability to distinguish between good and evil.
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I think the danger there is that you’re getting into Freudian archetypes. Whenever I see the term “anima”, I automatically associate that with Freud and automatically dismiss it as Psychology 101…important to know in ref to Psy history, but nothing to do with rational theological understanding.

A lot of people already use the terms “spirit” or “soul” interchangeably, but this does not address the immortality of the human soul.

I agree that as a higher lifeform, we have the ability to distinguish between good an evil, and quite honestly, my dogs, the cats I’ve had and the horses I have ridden do NOT have this ability. That is a GREAT distinction between animals and humans, and one which can be used by the OP and the Agnostic.

Right ON! :thumbsup:


#13

I agree that as a higher lifeform, we have the ability to distinguish between good an evil, and quite honestly, my dogs, the cats I’ve had and the horses I have ridden do NOT have this ability. That is a GREAT distinction between animals and humans, and one which can be used by the OP and the Agnostic.

The problem with this notion is that the severely mentally handicapped can’t distinguish between good and evil, nor can people with certain types of brain damage.

Peace and God bless!


#14

[quote=5-Decades-a-Day]Animals do not have reason as we do; they are not conscious.
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I have to disagree with one-half of this statement. Some animals are conscious, which means that they are aware. But they are not self-conscious; they are not self-aware; they are not conscious of their consciousness. The ability for self-reflexive consciousness is limited to those with rational souls, that is–humans, and angels.

A rational soul is spiritual in nature.
An animal soul is material.

The word soul simply refers to the animating principle of a living being. It may be material, or spiritual.

I had a friend once who argued strenuously that dolphins were equally as conscious and civilized as humans. “OK, I said, where is all the great dolphin literature? Where are the dolphin dramas, and the dolphin philosophers?” But he insisted. “Dolphins,” he said, “don’t need books! They have a civilization without books!” That’s probably why they never contribute to internet forums.


#15

These responses are excellent, I’m really impressed. :thumbsup:

[quote=Penitus]The best answer is that we simply don’t know. I do still hold that the animals will be a part of the new earth someday, not just a big ball of mud (as some have speculated).
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Who knows—but if the New Earth has flora and fauna (there’s no reason to think it won’t) these will not have the same soul as those now living, because animal/plant souls do not persist past the death of the body. A dead dog doesn’t have an immortal soul that goes to heaven, but God can re-create him later–body and soul.

[quote=Ghosty]The problem with this notion is that the severely mentally handicapped can’t distinguish between good and evil, nor can people with certain types of brain damage.
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Right–we should always affirm that any human, regardless of the rational capabilities demonstrated, has a soul. Which is why, in another thread, we discussed that human clones must also have a soul, or at least we should err on the affirmative.


#16

Every living material creature has a soul. A soul is what animates otherwise lifeless matter.

Without a soul, a material creature could not be alive. If it is alive, it has a soul. The question then becomes, what are the differences in the souls.

Aquinas defined 3 types of souls

Vegatiative - The soul of plants and simple life, it provides basic animation, such as metabolism and simple movement

Sensative - The ability to relate and interact with the senses. This is the soul of animals.

Rational - The soul of humans.

ONLY the RATIONAL soul is Immortal. The souls of plants and animals cease to exist at their death.

The soul of humans, being Spiritual, lives beyond the death of the body it animates.

Any teachings on animals not having immortal souls comes from Aquinas, which is all simply theological speculation.

The best answer is that we simply don’t know. I do still hold that the animals will be a part of the new earth someday, not just a big ball of mud (as some have speculated).

While not an infallible teaching, it still is the prevailiant teaching of the Church.

And the teaching does not exclude animals being present in the New Earth, in fact, it almost requires it.

The New Earth is a replenishment of the old Eden. God say fit that animals exist with pre-Fallen Man, there is no reason not to believe that animals will exist with the Risen Man.

But they will most likely be new creations, not ‘Fido’ and ‘Fluffy’ Risen from the dead.


#17

[quote=JohnAnthony]How can i explain to an agnostic that animals do NOT have souls yet humans do (an explaination without biblical support)? His argument is that animals can have reason as we do and we are basically no different than animals in our needs to survive on food, water, etc.
[/quote]

JohnAnthony:

All animals have souls and so do plants, however they are finite souls that die with the host. There function is to establish and maintain life for the organism during it’s life on earth.

Andy


#18

That’s probably why they never contribute to internet forums.

Hey, I’m a dolphin! Enough of this Catholic specism!


#19

Someone once pointed out that the Armies of heaven are on horses in Revelation, so horses must go to heaven.

I have had occasion to mention that to my horses, pointing out that if good horses can go to heaven, bad horses can go to hell, too.http://forums.catholic.com/images/icons/icon12.gif


#20

[quote=vern humphrey]Someone once pointed out that the Armies of heaven are on horses in Revelation, so horses must go to heaven.

I have had occasion to mention that to my horses, pointing out that if good horses can go to heaven, bad horses can go to hell, too.http://forums.catholic.com/images/icons/icon12.gif
[/quote]

Sheep go to Heaven, goats go to Hell. This is a Biblical FACT! :wink:


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