Humans have been created as images of God, animals have not. Humans have souls and spirits, but do animals lack both or which one? I have´nt yet heard a good explanation on this and my understanding of this so far tells me at least some animals, which have distinct personalities and higher intelligence, ought to have a soul but lack spirits. I have a hard time fully understanding and explaining this, what´s your take on this?

Answer:  The Bible consistently describes human beings as essentially different than animals.  We are made in God’s image.  This obviously does not mean God has a nose and ten toes.  We are like God in that we are spiritual beings.  Animals do not have a soul or a spirit.  Eastern religion differs with Christianity on this.  Hinduism and, arguably, Buddhism ascribe a kind of soul to all living beings, as these are pantheistic religions.  I will admit that I cannot show you a specific passage that actually says that animals do not have a soul.  What I will say is that animals are temporary.  When they are dead, they are dead like Rover, dead all over.  Anyone claiming a soul or spirit for animals will not find any evidence for this in the Bible.  A possible (but dubious) exception is Ecclesiastes 3:21 in which Solomon asks the rhetorical/philosophical question, "Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth."  Here, Solomon is not making a doctrinal statement that animals have spirit but talking about the futility of life lived without God.  The Bible describes the soul of humans as eternal.  What can man give in exchange for his soul? (Mark 8:36-37).  There is no evidence that animals have a soul which needs saving or which is eternal. Having a soul has nothing to do with intelligence or even a "personality" such as dogs, cats and dolphins.  Intelligence is a result of brain function and is determined largely by genetics, but intelligence has nothing to do with spirituality or soul.  The facts that bees can learn to find their way back to the hive does not mean that they are spiritual. One could argue that the Bible does not ever say the exact words:  "Man has a soul but animals do not."  Therefore perhaps we ought to be a bit careful to make overly strong statements, so let it suffice to say that there is no evidence in the Bible that animals have a spiritual nature or that they possess a soul.  John Oakes


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