According to the Bible, do Animals Have Souls?
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


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

According to the Bible, do Animals Have Souls?

The Bible describes humans have a special role as caretakers of God’s Creation, but it also makes clear that humans and nonhumans are fundamentally the same. This is expressed well in Ecclesiastes, which described the similar essence and the common fate of all living beings: "All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down to the earth?" (3:20-21)
One may discern from the Bible several possible reasons that God cares about animals, but one likely explanation has largely been lost in translation. The Hebrew Scriptures describe humans and animals as having the same essence: nephesh. Yet in Genesis, translators have called nephesh "soul" (King James Version) or "being" (Revised Standard Version) for humans (2:7) and "creature" for animals (2:19, KJV and RSV).
Humans and animals both being nephesh may account for animals’ presence in eternity (Revelation 5:13) and the Bible's affirmation that God preserves animals (Psalms 36:6; Ephesians 1:10; Colossians 1:20). The Bible does not forbid animal exploitation in all circumstances, but it does encourage people to show compassion and concern for animals. Indeed, the Bible states that God created Adam in God's own image. "Created in God's image" surely does not refer to physical attributes, and I think it means that humans have the capacity to reflect God's love and compassion. 

On free will – where does it come from (materialism vs. mentalism = mind/body problem.

We should live and behave as if we have free will – accountable for our actions.

Yet, questions about whether we have free will should make us hesitant to engage in vengeance.

Do nonhumans have free will? Probably, if we do.

Go on to: On Free Will, part 1: Definition
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents

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