Animals In Print
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February 5, 2012

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Do Animals Have Souls? Do Humans?

An editorial writer in the Oregon Daily Barometer newspaper offered this opinion:

Though animals do have feelings...they do not have souls. My dog Eddie feels excited when I play with him, he feels sleepy when he is tired, and he feels hungry when I haven't fed him. However, Eddie cannot recognize himself in a mirror...

There is no concrete evidence that humans have souls, but let's assume, for argument sake, that we do. Dogs have much to teach us. They live in the "now." We see the seven colors of a rainbow. They see nine (ultra-violet and infra-red).

Canines hear higher and lower tones and pitches than humans do, and smell sadness, heightened human sexual drives, menstruating women, and emotional signals which leave people clueless. So far as dogs are concerned, they have knowledge about us that we lack about them.

Do all dogs go to heaven, believing that humans have no souls? On a scale of animal intelligence, dogs do not sit atop the list. Pigs, elephants, dolphins, and primates have greater intelligence than do dogs. Most people can relate to dogs. Primates such as chimpanzees and gorillas can indeed recognize themselves in a mirror.

Is that the Oregon Daily Barometer's defining line between those without souls?

From Robert Cohen

Jane Goodall's 30 years of studying chimpanzee behavior has taught humans that chimps use tools and display human-like sets of values and emotions. Yet, scientists continue to isolate these sentient creatures in research labs. Many cultures eat primates for dinner. Does an animal who displays human-like traits merit such treatment?

If dogs have no souls, is it morally right to eat them in China and Korea? Is it morally right to break their legs and then mend their broken bodies so that pre-med students may practice surgical skills? If Chimpanzees do have souls, is it ethically and spiritually right for humans to implant electrodes into their primate brains? We eat both cows and their children in America, yet 1 billion Indians believe that cows have souls. Should we not treat all living creatures with dignity? By accepting that all
creatures have souls, we can do no less. Those who willingly deliver pain to any living creature demonstrate that they are the ones without souls.

Regarding the subject of a man's soul, Plutarch once wrote:

Can you really ask what reason Pythagoras had for abstaining from flesh? For my part I rather wonder both by what accident and in what state of soul or mind the first man did so, touched his mouth to gore and brought his lips to the flesh of a dead creature, he who set forth tables of dead, stale bodies and ventured to call food and nourishment the parts that had a
little before bellowed and cried, moved and lived. How could his eyes endure the slaughter when throats were slit and hides flayed and limbs torn from limb? How could his nose endure the stench? How was it that the pollution did not turn away his taste, which made contact with the sores of others and sucked juices and serums from mortal wounds?"

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Go on to Truck full of dogs crammed into tiny cages and bound for Chinese restaurants is intercepted by animal lovers
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