"A tool in your hands I am dear God, the sweetest instrument you have shaped my being into. What makes me now complete-
feeling the soul of every creature against my heart. Does every creature have a soul? Surely they do; for everything God has touched will have life forever. And all creatures he has held." - St. Francis of Assisi
When I came across this quote from St. Francis it reminded me of the loss of our dear dog, Rocky, about a year ago. He had only been with our family for two years when he was taken suddenly from us due to an undiagnosed congenital condition. It was a tragedy for, as with many, our pets are very much part of our family.
I remember afterwards posting a poll on my facebook page, asking whether or not people thought animals had souls. I didn't get too many responses, but would love to maybe get some of my reader's thoughts here on this blog. I'm no expert in theology, as the intro of my blog mentions, but I do have my own thoughts towards this subject...before sharing them, I'd like to share some quotes from a site I found. Most sites I went to flat out denied the reality of animals having souls, but this one did provide some interesting verses to ponder and a slightly different perspective.:
Most interpreters of the Bible assume that man’s likeness to God and animals’ subservience to man implies that animals may have the "breath of life," nephesh in Hebrew, but not an immortal soul in the same sense as man’s.
Even so, the prophet Isaiah says God will include animals in the new heavens and new earth:
"The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, says the LORD." (Isaiah 65: 25, NIV)
In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, the Apostle John’s vision of heaven also included animals, showing Christ and the armies of heaven "riding on white horses." (Revelation 19:14, NIV)
I remember attending a law conference at Pace University several years ago where I was blessed with the opportunity to hear Jane Goodall speak. She shared many of her personal experiences she had living with and studying chimpanzees. It is no longer a mystery that animals are sentient-they experience feelings very similar to ours. Sadness, joy, fear even depression. For this reason I have been demonstrating against circuses that use animals for over twelve years. I'm also a vegetarian.I don't feel that man has any right to inflict any unnecessary suffering on animals...they have the right to live out their natural lives without any unnecessary fear or suffering or pain inflicted on them by man. So animals have emotions like us...they experience loss, some of them have been recorded to mourn their dead and actually shed tears...but do they have souls?
One thing that meditation has really provided me with is a deep sense of the interconnectedness that we share with all of life. When I meditate I feel God all around me, in everything, sustaining life, breathing life into the world. As God is eternal, I believe His breath is as well...and the breath of life that sustains the lives of creatures does not die when the physical creature does, but goes on into eternity. Does that mean pets or other animals have a place in heaven? I'm not sure...but I do believe that means they have souls that are, indeed, eternal.
We thank You for the wonders of creation that You have blessed us with that fill us with awe and reverence for You. Thank you for the diversity of creatures and life that surround us in the world that You made for us. That oftentimes enrich our lives, bringing us joy and blessed memories. Forgive us for sometimes taking for granted the blessings You've given us and at times, abusing them. Mankind has not proven to be the best of stewards of creation that You called us to be. Help plant the seeds of compassion in mankind so that we might extend compassion and love to all of life, human and nonhuman.
We give you all honor, glory and praise. Thank you for Your mercy and Your great love.
In Jesus' precious name,