Do Animals Have Souls?


Sound AsleepLittle Man Cuddling with Jonny

Last week I posted to Facebook that I had a dream about Little Man.  I lost him just six months ago, but of course the pain is still very much alive, especially around this time of year.  The outpouring of support was truly overwhelming, and the comments to my Facebook post all indicated the same thing:  Little Man is not really gone; he’s just “away.”

But is that really true?

The answer is, yes, it is.  But how do we know?

The following is an excerpt from the last chapter of my book, Mighty Little Man:  My Story, His Story, Our Story.  Although Little Man survived the ordeal about which I wrote in the book and a picture of him taken a year after the event is on the book’s front cover, I felt compelled to include the last chapter because I knew it would provide comfort to others whose pets have passed on.  I offer a portion of that chapter here for the same reason.

Please note that the Hebrew words, written in English, were taken from James Strong’s The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Thomas Nelson, 1996.

Here’s the excerpt:

The difficulty in answering this question is due partly to the confusion resulting from attempts to define the words soul and spirit, among others. Even modern dictionaries provide definitions in terms of each other, and in many cases of modern usage, they are used interchangeably.  However, a study of Scripture with regard to the soul and spirit of man and beast and an understanding of how these terms are used in Scripture are more important than any definitions which man can conceive.

Consider the following verses from the King James Version of the Holy Bible in reference to the word spirit:

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Gen. 1:2)

For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast: for all is vanity. (Eccl. 3:19)

In the first verse above, Moses refers to “the Spirit of God.” In the second verse, King Solomon refers to both man and animals and states, “they have all one breath.” The words in bold font, Spirit from the first verse and breath from the second, were both translated into English from the same Hebrew word, ruwach. Therefore, the Bible provides clear evidence that both man and animals have a spirit.

Now consider these verses in reference to the word soul:

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Gen. 2:7)

And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. (Gen. 2:19)

In the first verse above, Moses states, “and man became a living soul.” In the second verse, he refers to animals as “every living creature.” However, the words in bold font, soul from the first verse and creature from the second, were both translated from the same Hebrew word, nephesh. Therefore, the Bible provides clear evidence that both man and animals were created from the dust of the earth and are souls.

More about this is included in the last chapter of the book, but for now, this will do.  However, there is one other thing I’d like to address.

The title of this blog is, “Do Animals Have Souls?”  Technically speaking, the answer to this question is, no.

I know what you’re thinking:  “What?!?!  Didn’t you just explain the opposite?”

No, not really.  The truth is that animals don’t have souls, they are souls, just like you and me.

I like to think that the soul is that part of us that makes us who we are.  It’s how we think, how we behave, how we feel.  The spirit is that part of us that is life.  It is that part that God gave us of Himself so that we may live.

So now I’m going to have to take another line from my own book, originally written for others, and apply it to myself in the here and now.  Of course, I’ll have to change a word or two from what was published in the book.  Believe it or not, it does give me comfort:

“Rest assured, Jonny, and have no fear.  Your Little Man is with God now.”

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