On Animals and Souls
In the ABC News last evening
(July 20, 2001) we saw a woman in profound grief, saying good-bye to her
deceased dog which was neatly laid in an elegant coffin. She placed a flower on
the pet in peace, along with what seemed like a little velvety
bag, filled perhaps with beef-biscuits. Tears rolled down her eyes in
profusion even as sympathetic friends and relatives tried to console her aching
Another person in the news
declared something to the effect that if anybody deserved to go to heaven, it
was his very faithful and loving Labrador. Yet another expressed the judgment
that Heaven wouldn't be Heaven if there were no dogs there.
Among the ancients, Pythagoras and company (like their Hindu cousins) had little doubt that, not just dogs, but all animals have souls: indeed that some of these could well have inhabited other human beings in previous terrestrial trips. On the other hand, Christianity/Islam deny entry into Heaven for animals and non-Christians: to the former because they have no souls, to the latter because they have not accepted the only Savior/Messenger of God there every was or will be. Descartes gave a death blow to beastly dignity by declaring those lowly creatures to be mere automata.