Do animals have souls?

If evolution and God breathed life into everything does that mean everything considered living have a soul. In the bible it says that the plants praise God. Literally the earth can praise God. I find it amazing that God is going to create a new and a new earth considering that the earth we have now is so complex but includes sin and death. I lean more towards being a naturalist because God wants us to take of His creation. The only way I’m for genetics and everything like that is that it doesn’t replace God or isn’t used for selfish gain. I think when things get to that point is when science is not good.

Friend,

This is a complex topic. What do you mean by “soul”? An imperishable spirit?

Yes! Thank you Joshua!

I don’t believe in souls (i.e. minds that drive bodies like cars and can therefore change bodies like we change cars). But I believe in imperishable spirits (spiritual bodies in 1 Cor 15) created by our choices and yes I believe all living things have them. But that doesn’t mean animal spirits are the same or anywhere near as alive or as sophisticated as human spirits.

Part of the point here in the distinction between souls and spirits is that I don’t think we/animals are alive because bodies are inhabited by “souls,” but that because they are alive and make choices they create something which continues after death.

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It doesn’t really have anything to do with evolution. The Bible talks about living things other than humans having the breath of God. “Soul” as we understand it, along with what people mean by “image of God” in Christian theology are constructs that have developed over time and been influenced by the philosophical milieu in which people were doing theology. They aren’t always strictly biblical concepts.

This podcast had a good discussion of the Hebrew concept of a soul, though I forget which minute mark it came up.

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Joey,

In that case, I would say that I don’t know. There’s been a lot of debate about this through the ages. This is because Scripture isn’t exactly clear one way or the other. I like to think that it is possible, but there isn’t a hard answer, if that’s what you were hoping for.

I know that humans and all other animals, according to Scripture, have been given nephesh. However, humans have a quality that sets them apart from all other animals–they are God’s image bearers. What this looks like is up for debate. If God took the form of a human in Jesus, then it seems reasonable that being made in God’s image is not really a physical characteristic but, rather, other.

It’s possible that this image refers to our reasoning capabilities, but even other animals have some pretty impressive reasoning capabilities, even if those capabilities fall sorely short of our own. It’s also possible that image refers to the relational aspect of humans, specifically their relation with God. No other animals have developed the ability to relate with God, at least not apparently and not in the capacity that humans have.

For this reason, humans may have an imperishable spirit while animals don’t. Of course, depending on your position, there’s nothing innately immortal about humans at all–the only reason humans will get to be immortal is because of the resurrection, and they will not be immortal until that day.

I hope this helps at least a little bit. Blessings to you, friend.

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Short answer: nobody knows.

Slightly longer answer: what is a soul? How do we measure it in humans? Then what experiments can be done to measure the same physical quantity in animals?

My personal take: animals can relate to God in their own way. I know this is poetic but Psalm 104 inspires me:

27 All your creatures wait for you
to provide them with food on a regular basis.
28 You give food to them and they receive it;
you open your hand and they are filled with food.
29 When you ignore them, they panic.
When you take away their life’s breath,
they die and return to dust.
30 When you send your life-giving breath, they are created,
and you replenish the surface of the ground.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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