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Religion for ARAs
I can prove to you that animals have souls,
and it's actually not very difficult. There are certain
activities of our mental life that are clearly defined and are
clearly not physical, therefore they cannot reside in our
physical bodies. Those activities include beliefs, intentions,
desires and sensations. In other words, we experience
feelings. We have beliefs about things. Based on those beliefs
we may have a desire that we feel also, and that desire brings
forth an intention to fulfill that desire.
Do Animals Have Souls?
Now an intention or a
belief or a desire or a sensation are not the kind of things
you are going to bump into in the hall. It doesn't have
weight, it doesn't occupy any space. You don't brake for these
things. They are non-physical things, like ideas and numbers
and propositions, and things like that. Since they don't exist
in the physical world they cannot be accessed by the physical
senses. So, since you have beliefs, intentions, desires and
sensations--and you are clearly accessing them, and you are
accessing them in a way that is not physical--then part of you
is not physical either. The part of you that is non-physical
is your soul.
A characteristic of soulish
beings is to have mental activity that consist of beliefs,
intentions, desires, sensations . . .
A characteristic of soulish beings is to have mental
activity that consist of beliefs, intentions, desires,
sensations and one other which I can't recall. The point
being, anything that has beliefs, intentions, desires or
sensations must also have a soul to possess those things.
It doesn't seem to make any sense to say that a plant has
beliefs about its world, or that it has intentions. One would
ask, if it had an intention how would it ever fulfill it? It
doesn't pick things up and eat them. It doesn't move to a new
location where it's more comfortable, therefore it doesn't
seem to have desires about things. It's not even clear that
plants have sensations. Now, when I say a sensation, what I
mean is the felt quality of a thing. It is possible for a
plant to be cut in one portion of it and for another portion
to wither, but because it withers it doesn't mean that it's
experiencing pain. That may be merely a physical response to a
physical stimulus. It is possible to have stimulus response
relationships in non-animate objects, but only animate, living
objects can even have pain. So, if inanimate objects can have
stimulus response kinds of things, then animate objects can
have stimulus response reactions with no felt pain either. So
it may be that there's a physical stimulus that goes through
the plant's system that results in the wilting of the leaves
even though the plant is not consciously feeling any pain. In
any event, it seems to make no sense, given the qualities of
the mental life that I've just mentioned, to talk about plants
having them. And therefore, it does not seem to make sense to
argue that plants have souls. However, it seems to make entire
sense that animals have those things--that animals have
beliefs about things, that they have intentions, that they
have desires, that they have sensations.
When Pavlov rang his famous
bell, the dog salivated because it believed it was about to
get some food. As a result of that belief it set up a response
in its body to produce the saliva. When the dog sees the food
placed before him, it moves toward the food because it has an
intention to eat, and there is desire of hunger inside of it
that motivates the intention. As it eats, it chooses one food
rather than another -- and you cat owners know about that --
because one food tastes better than another to the cat.
Therefore it has sensation, too. In other words, animals have
all of these things that are qualities and characteristics of
the mental life. They have beliefs, they have intentions, they
have desires, they have sensations--or they appear to. Since
these things are not physical things, they are non- physical
things and they must exist in the animal in the non-physical
space that is real. That non-physical place is a soul. Ergo,
animals have souls like human beings have souls.
Also, animals have different
kind of souls than human beings. Human being souls are made
in the image of God and they live forever, they are
everlasting. Animal souls are not made in the image of God,
and we have no evidence that I can tell that they are
But there are different kinds of souls--even in human
beings. I think female souls are different than male souls.
This is what encourages our valid generalizations about the
differences between male and female, because the differences
that we point out are soulish differences, not differences
merely in plumbing or chemistry. Also, animals have different
kind of souls than human beings. Human being souls are made in
the image of God and they live forever, they are everlasting.
Animal souls are not made in the image of God, and we have no
evidence that I can tell that they are everlasting.
Just some fun thinking about the nature of the soul.
This is a transcript of a commentary from the radio show "Stand to
Reason," with Gregory Koukl. It is made available to you at no
charge through the faithful giving of those who support Stand to
Reason. Reproduction permitted for non-commercial use only. --1994
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