Do animals have souls?

2009/01/25

A while ago, I asked several coworkers, separately, whether they thought animals had souls. The two Mormons among them claimed that all living things all the way to prokaryotes and viruses had eternal spirits along with their physical bodies. The two Catholics argued that humans alone possessed minds and souls. All of them seemed somewhat confident in their responses so I thought I could generalize these respective beliefs to all Mormons and Catholics. Does any other faith stand elsewhere on the continuum between the all-inclusive Mormons and the soul-grudging Catholics? Do any creeds proclaim, for example, that only mammals have souls, but not reptiles and plants? — I think I could provide a few neurophysiological arguments to justify that position. Dog owners, for example, whatever their faith, will vouch for the existence of their best friend’s soul. Thus we make a testable prediction: any Catholic will disavow her faith after getting a puppy. I realize Catholics have grown quite diverse in their beliefs post-Vatican II. I must have simply run into the non-dog-owning kind — sampling error again.

Finally, who has the correct answer?

To answer these questions, I consult the preeminent objective source on all things spiritual and scientific, the Conservapedia. In its current article on the brain, Conservapedia cites the work of one René Descartes and his conclusion that the etherial soul controls the physical brain through the pineal gland. Conservapedia’s authors express doubts about the more modern and less satisfying descriptions of the function of the brain and the pineal gland in particular as they do not specifically provide room for free will and the eternal soul. The answer becomes clear: creatures that have a pineal gland also have souls while those that don’t, don’t.

Then let’s simply enumerate all animals that have a pineal gland and those that don’t. It turns out, all chordates have a form of the pineal gland or epiphysis and it contains cells homologous to retinal cells specific to chordates. Human embryos, clearly, don’t have a pineal gland and do not have souls, until at least the time when the epiphysis begins to develop in the fetus around the seventh week of gestation.

Ah, it feels great to finally have the answers — lampreys, fish, mice, and sheep have souls whereas bananas, insects, octopuses, and human embryos don’t. Next topic!

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5 Responses to “Do animals have souls?”

  1. ditchu Says:

    In the Celtic Cultural Beleif system everything has a spirit. This is not limmited to moving speaking or thinking subjects, but even a Tree, a River, and a Rock have Spirits. The question is what is a Soul? Is it the meeting of a Spirit with a body? Is it the contousness that is to exist beyond death?

    I as a Celtic Desendant hold to this Philosophy, which coexists with that which I learned as a “Mormon” that before anything was created in the flesh (Physical form) It existed in a Spirit Form, thus everything that has ever existed in Physical form, without exception, has a soul.

    -D

  2. extellireader Says:

    Does anything not have a spirit then? What about a dead body? What about a living neuron extracted from a mouse?

    When I look in the microscope and see neurons that fire action potentials and cause other neurons to fire, does the spirit intervene in their firing patterns or is it all simply physics? If I model a neuron in a computer and behaves the same way as a living neuron, does my computer model have a spirit?

  3. ditchu Says:

    Here is a deeper view that you are grasping at.

    a part of one person shares the same spirit as the rest of that person. so the Rat neuron shares in the same spirit as that rat. Here is the thing that will blow your mind, Thought or cognition is not necessary for something to have a spirit, thus even a computer sitting there not running any model or any programining at all still has a spirit. In fact since it takes a lot of elements from nature to create the computer it’s essance is a combination of many previously seperate sprirts, thus we have a new spirit that is the combination of the part of other spirit essences that made up the computer.

    A dead body was once living, and that life was a force that we cannot seperate from spirit, so a body dead or alive has a spirit but when dead the debate is if it is still connected with that spirit. My view is that there is a small connection yet but not a cognitive one, I personally believe that there is yet an essance of the person after the body dies that remainds, theologically this maybe supported by the reserection.

  4. extellireader Says:

    Thank you for the very detailed reply. How did you come to these conclusions?

  5. ditchu Says:

    Over the course of my (real) life I have studied many things and have been noted as an authority in the Celtic Culture, after several textual and archlogical sources and many other authorities in both the archological and folklore feilds of Celtic Study, I have come to mu conclusions about many aspects of the diverse culture and the mainstreem ideals of the philosophy of the Celtic Peoples. On record I have studies General Folklore for 4 solid years and the Celtic People and Places for over 10 years.

    The time periods for my studies include both post and pre-christian influance in the northern and southern Celtic lands (Modern Day: Britian to Itily). My conclusions are more prevelant in the Pre-Christian Influence to the time of St. Patrick (who killed the Druid Preists and burned their libaries). After that time the Philosophy of the people chance towards that of Rome (thus in a way the Celtic philosophy ceses to be prevelant in the society) until the Religous split with the the birth of the Church of England.


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