Ecclesiastes 3:19-21: A View of the Souls and Spirits of Humans and Animals
By Robert - 10 Mar 2005
I read your articles with interest.
I come at this question from a slightly different angle. I believe that consciousness and the soul are inextricably linked, so if one believes animals are conscious you must also believe they have souls. Those souls must be immortal, as God would otherwise be the cause of unnecessary suffering. God could after all have simply made animals as biological machines instead.
It seems clear to me that the Bible teaches that animals are conscious, although some may argue that statements such as Genesis 9:2 are merely there to tell us how animals will react towards us. Proverbs 12:10, however, seems incontrovertible. Here, we are told that ‘the righteous man has regard for the life (soul) of his animal, but the compassions of the wicked are cruel.’
The purpose of this proverb was clearly to contrast the actions of the righteous and the wicked man. It only makes sense, therefore, if the good man’s behaviour is an act of compassion: it cannot simply be an example of good husbandry. If it is an act of compassion, however, then his animal must be conscious. It is impossible to be compassionate towards something that is unconscious and incapable of suffering!
I was less convinced by your arguments about Ecclesiastes. I've always understood this to be a reductio ad absurdum, showing how empty everything is without God. I think if you say otherwise, you would have to believe that the Scriptures teach that 'everything is vanity' and I am sure that it does not do this.
If you can think of any other verses that clear show animal consciousness, however, I would be interested.
God bless you,