Is Having a Soul Morally Relevant?
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Is Having a Soul Morally Relevant?

Many defend harmful exploitation of animals on the grounds that humans have a soul and nonhumans do not. Assuming that it is true that only humans have a soul, is this morally relevant?
If only humans have a soul that continues to exist after the body dies, then arguably we should be especially concerned about animal welfare, since this earthly existence is all they have. Our brief stint on earth is relatively irrelevant compared to the everlasting life of the soul. We should have much more concern for the earthly pains and pleasures of nonhumans than our own.
Some people regard human life as important insofar as our activities determine whether we enjoy a pleasant eternal afterlife. If our eternal destiny relates to the morality of our choices, it behooves us to refrain from unnecessarily harming nonhumans, since the Bible and nearly all ethical systems condemn cruelty to animals.
Justifying animal abuse on the grounds that only humans have souls strikes me as rather convenient and self-serving. Next essay, I will argue that the Bible actually supports the notion that nonhumans have souls.

Go on to: According to the Bible, do Animals Have Souls?
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