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Do Animals Have Souls?

By Carl S ~

Theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) thought he had the answer for this question. He said animals have souls, just not “immortal” souls, which he “knew” only humans have. Nowadays, the evidence proves humans share about 98% of their DNA with apes. (If his Catholic Church follows their Doctor Aquinas’ dogma, shouldn't it declare apes eligible for “immortal soul” status?) Aquinas based his arguments on faith and faith is based on ignorance. So what if he passionately, sincerely, believed in those arguments? He was fooled into believing foolish things.

Aquinas didn't accept the obvious: humans are animals. Thomas should have realized this every time he wiped his butt without benefit of toilet paper. His method of teaching was based on the belief that dogmas couldn't possibly be wrong, disregarding the need for evidence. From these he created explanations for assumptions. One assumption is: souls exist. What did he have to work with? Well, he did have the Latin root for soul - “animus,” an ancient belief that something invisible is the life force in all living things. He also had the biblical meaning of soul, where it is defined as “breath,” since the scripture said Yaweh breathed life into Adam, and the fact that breath departed the body at death.

Believers who speak of a soul don't go to theology or dictionaries for their definition. If they did, they'd find the word “animation” derives from the Latin “animus.” Religious believers appear to liken the soul to a cartoon animation, where an assumed god, rather than Chuck Jones, is the animator, both having in common a belief the soul is as indestructible as Wile E. Coyote. When the projectionist stops projecting, so dies the animation. The difference is, they believe the projector starts again, re-animating the “soul” in a distant theater. But, in both scenarios, however convincing, the animation is still an illusion. The projection is in the projector and dies with the animation; and there is no projectionist. “That's all, folks!”

In this belief in immortal souls, each human is endowed with an “animus.” But, if breath enters and leaves the bodies of humans and animals alike, it stands to reason all share common beginnings and ends. It's human fear and arrogance to believe human “souls” will exist post-death. My ex-wife and I had the experience of seeing her dead mother walking 12 feet in front of us, in broad daylight. She asked me if I saw what she saw. The woman was the same weight and height and had her hair fixed the same, but, most convincingly, walked and moved her arms exactly like her mother did. It wasn't until she turned that we saw the difference. Even her clothes were of her mother's taste. People who claim they've seen ghosts always see them clothed, never nude. I wonder: Is their clothing made of spirit- cloth? What people describe as a “soul” is an individual's personality, experiences, expressions, and interactions with others. This also applies to other higher animals. The only “soul” that's popular has to do with feelings of being high-spirited, awe-struck, soulful, dedicated, over-friendly, bluesy, etc.

It's human fear and arrogance to believe human “souls” will exist post-death.Some pet owners will tell you their pets treat them with more attention, not to mention, love, than their spouses. Others prefer them to humans. Wouldn't some insist their pets have immortal souls? Believers in souls might describe the psychopaths their God created “in his image” as “soulless.” Interpretations of soul describe a being with personality, whether human or other higher animal. This includes me, since, without my body, there is no “me.” Without my bodily consciousness of reality, reality doesn't exist for me. And if I were a victim of dementia or Alzheimer’s, I wouldn't be “all here” either. These simple realities disturb faith believers. That's their problem.

I imagine running away from the abyss of death must be like leaving the warm frying pan of existence and jumping into the fire of immortality. Not me. Living “forever” frightens me. (That thought once kept me awake at night.) Now, my having no fear of returning to a state before I was conceived, of re-joining the cosmos from which I came, is to most people, unimaginable, and absolutely unacceptable. So this is why they created belief in an immortal soul which they cling to so strongly they'll die and kill for it! Tragic. I am determined to live life as fully as I can; and never to live as a preparation for dying.

Someone once asked me, “Don't you believe in something greater than yourself?” I answered, “Of course I do. The Universe is greater; in fact, many bacteria are greater, since they can kill me.” She was referring to a her god as “greater,” but that god is tiny compared to Nature and the Universe. She just hadn't thought about that. I'd waste my life if I spent any part of it giving a god my affections or thoughts instead of her.

It's absolutely essential for religions for people to believe they have immortal souls. As one wise man noted, if people didn't, they'd drop their gods immediately; which means they'd drop the clergy. Even after gospel Jesus promised eternal life to anyone who simply believed in him, he changed his tune. He said: Okay. I decided everyone has eternal life, but you must make a choice between how you will spend it - eternally happy or eternally tormented. Oy vey! Now your fate must be decided by whether you can't or won't believe what he and his shills tell you to believe! No thanks. That “immortal soul” belief is really gambling. If you prefer to gamble, then gamble. But remember: Reality always wins.