The Norman Transcript

Religion

January 4, 2013

Voices of faith:Do animals have souls?

NORMAN — Subject to karma

Lama Chuck Stanford, Rime Buddhist Center & Monastery: From the Buddhist perspective all sentient beings (beings with a consciousness) are subject to the laws of karma and rebirth. This is true of all beings from humans and animals right down the food chain to the smallest insect. Therefore, animals would indeed have a subtle continuum of consciousness that is reborn. However, animals are ruled by instinct, and those who are carnivorous inflict terrible suffering on one another and therefore continue to generate negative karma for themselves. So it is very difficult, if not impossible, for many animals to advance along the spiritual path.

On the other hand, we have all seen or heard on the news how some domesticated pets have done amazing things to save the lives of their owners. So, clearly animals have feelings and emotions.

Some people feel that, as humans, we have some superiority over animals and therefore have the right to mistreat or harm them. We need to recognize that on a fundamental level, animals, just like us, simply want to be happy and avoid suffering.

So, if we believe that animals are sentient beings subject to karma and rebirth, we should be able to see the vast web of interconnectedness of all sentient beings. Through this realization, hopefully we will want to do our best not to harm our fellow sentient beings or do anything to cause them to suffer.

Humans are distinct

Pastor Emeritus Raymond Davis Jr., Greater Corinthian Church of the Christ: According to the biblical text of Genesis 2:7, soul is the life principle of created man — “God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” From this text God made soul a distinct spiritual property of man. Therefore, the Bible does not treat soul in any other manner except when talking about man, not about animals. There are reasons, consider:

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