Animals have soul.
But humans have spirits -- that is, spiritual souls. We are human animals.
Personal beasts, a fascinating intersection from both Heaven and Earth.
The Paradoxical Being
- G.K. Chesterton: Man is always something worse or something better than an animal; and a mere argument from animal perfection never touches him at all. Thus, in sex no animal is either chivalrous or obscene. And thus no animal invented anything so bad as drunkenness— or so good as drink.
- Pascal: Mind finds himself suspended between the poles of infinity and nothingness having the body of a beast and the mind of an angel. Man is acutely aware of his condition as he experiences the threat of nothingness. Man is caught in the paradox of being at the same time homo grandeur and homo misere. Man’s grandeur lies in his ability to contemplate his own existence. But this grandeur is at the same time misery for man can contemplate a better existence than he presently enjoys. Yet he is never able to actualize the possibilities he contemplates.
- Albert Schweitzer: Man is a clever animal who behaves like an imbecile.
- A person who is going to commit an inhuman act invariably excuses himself by saying “I'm only human after all”. Sydney J. Harris
- Storm Jameson: Could anything be absurder than a man—the animal knows everything about himself except why he was born and the meaning of his unique life?
Interestingly, humans aren’t in vogue right now, but animals are.
The irony: when humans become more like animals; animals become more in fashion and humans less in fashion! Of course, people who idolize animals love all animals, except human animals.
So for the rest of this treatment, we'll avoid two extremes that we are either:
not animals or only animals; angels or beasts; spiritual only or physical only.
God loves animals (Psalm 50:10), and especially human animals—enough to unite with them. Amazing. More below.
1. God Loves Animals
- Alfred A Montapert: Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to.
- Winston Churchill: I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
- Seinfeld: Dogs are the leaders of the planet. If you see two life forms, one of them's making a poop, the other one's carrying it for him, who would you assume is in charge?
- Wheras we have a "spiritual soul", animals have a "material soul". Animals have a will, intellect, and emotions; but of animal types. An animal doesn't have a spirit, but can be aware of spirits via the natural soul insofar as the spirit connects to the material world (in the realm of the soul -- e.g., in Numbers 22, Balaam's donkey saw the angel first.)
- “Animals are God’s creatures. . . . By their mere existence they bless Him and give Him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals” (CCC 2416).
- How is it that God loves Tomcats? Read this astounding piece: Love Sees With New Eyes
- Joaquin Phoenix: It takes nothing away from a human to be kind to an animal.
- Jim Wilder (Neurotheology): Animals can detect oxytocin in a human and tell if the human is glad to be around them.
- God loves animals more than we love other people!
2. God Loves the Human Animal
Below is a set of fascinating powers that you and I have.
Don't see these as insults to animals; see them as gifts to you—to help you become a home for God. It's not to lower animals, but to raise our potential. Angels are intrigued with this.
- Philosophers traditionally call man the "rational animal", but because the word "rational" in modern times has been truncated to mere calculation, I prefer to restore the fullness of the old connotation, namely that man is the animal who is rational, religious and romantic; roughly corresponding to the True, Good and Beautiful.
- Being from both the dust of the earth and also breath of God, humans and animals have differences not just in degree but kind. That is, we have a different nature.
- “Imago Dei” -- we are made in the image of God.
- In male and female union we can look each other in the eyes.
- We can know God more intimately, but less adequately than we can know animals, since God is infinite. Aristotle paraphrase: (by natural reason) We can know more about what is less important and less about what is more important.
- Animals are conscious, man is self-conscious. Kreeft: “Man is self-conscious, in the sense that he is both the observer and the observed, both the judging and judged, subject and object." We are self-conscious in that we are aware we are conscious. Immanual Kant: animals cannot put "I think that" in front of their conscious states.
- The reason we can be self-conscious and observe ourselves, is because we do with God; even when we are not committed to Him. This is incredible. It is how and why we can trust our consciece—a place where our spirit merges with God's.
- Some animals can have thoughts, but because humans can know meaning, we can know what a thought is about. The meaning of life is to know God loves you.
- Thus man has recursive experience; i.e., can think about thinking -- called "multiple perspective advantage". (C.S. Lewis: "The knowledge of a thing is not one of the thing‟s parts.") So you are more than all your thoughts —- and always able to have a thought of all your thoughts, mysteriously able to perceive our own perceiving. This is only possible because we are in God's process/story/film—otherwise we could not have a thought about all our previous thoughts.
- We can both view life from within the story, and also look over the Author's shoulder as He writes the story. We have a dual viewpoint. Again, this is what makes a conscience possible.
- A conscience allows us to distinguish between is and ought.
- Another way to put it is that your spirit experiences the world through the soul That is, we are characters in a story experiencing from the timelines of the story (soul), and also the viewpoint of the story from the Author's transcendent viewpoint (spirit). That is how miracles are possible—via the Spirit.
- Because you have this self-reflective ability, you can doubt your own belief, by comparing it to higher, more firm knowledge above ourselves, which is a fantastic power.
- This means man has self-determination and true freedom (like God and via God). And from freedom comes responsibility, which is the foundation ethics. We can be co-creators with God of our own identity. Wow.
- Thus, self- consciousness (man) is a transcendent mere self-awareness (animals). This is why animals are often better at living in the present, whereas we can choose what to focus on—past, present or future—while also being in touch with eternity, which envelops the past, present, and future.
- Notice then that this is why we have the ability to perceive essences/forms/substances; that is, to see the whole thing for what is is, not just the parts. We can see the animal's whole life, not just what's going on now. Same for our lives, because we share in God's larger view. Animals cannot experience their own essence in the present, but not understand it, because they have no view of the timeline. Yet wWe can understand both ours and theirs. Isn't this cool?
The The Areas of the Spiritualized Soul (Will, Mind, Emotions)
1. Freewill—The Human Drama
- Since we have transcendent moral conscience; we experience something directing choices, both from within and above. We are free to follow it or not. I.e., we are free to follow God or not.
- Therefore humans can rise above an instinct or fall below it. We are not ruled by instinct. (Animals react; humans respond. Both humans and animals have stimuli, but humans can have free responses. As Jesus said, what counts is not what happens to you, but your response.)
- Man knows love; that is, can deliberately choose God.
- As Pascal unpacks this freedom paradox by saying: "Man’s greatness comes from knowing he is wretched: a tree does not know it is wretched." [!] We are like dispossessed kings. Man is "fallen" and therefore is directed not just by can, but by should. The word "shoud" is the key to life's meaning. Will we let go and let God love us.
- Therefore, in a false response, man can know shame. Kreeft: "Dogs will cower in the corner only when you're there. They don't really know shame."
- Mark Twain: "Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to."
- Man is capable of guilt; we be both the one who says “I am guilty” and who hears “I am guilty”. Note the dual-ness again.
- Delacroix: Man is a social animal who dislikes his fellow man.
- Mark Twain: “Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it." That is, pain as an end. Pain for the sake of pain.
- Animals do not commit suicide (at least not moral suicide, because they can't be moral or immoral).
- Christopher West: Animals don’t create airplanes or skyscrapers—neither do they fly airplanes into skyscrapers.
- Therefore, being a moral agent, man also has the power to forgive.
- Therefore the fullest love, God love, proceeds only from moral free will. (Animals have a reduced a-moral version of a will, where they choose favorites, but becaues it has not divine dimension of "should" it is not call "free-will".
- It follows that only man can bind himself he can freely commit himself to something higher, like a purpose, by a lifelong promise, esp. of self—with a covenant, such as marriage. Only man can marry: make a total, lifetime, faithful, fruitful covenant with the other.
- In fact, marriage covers three key areas of the spirit (why again shows that animals don't and can't marry): the spirit has a enchanced will, emotions, mind (ethical free choice to marry, sense of aesthetic, can make a lifelong promise).
"Man is the pinnacle of My creation and the human mind is wondrously complex. I risked all by gaining you freedom to think for yourself. This is a god-like privilege, forever setting you apart from animals and robots. I made you in My image, precariously close to deity."
- Homo Sapiens means “man the wise”.
- Man can understand universal abstractions, such as math/logic or cause/effect; make judgments and arrive at deductions. Therefore, unlike man, animals cannot know essences or natures (what Plato called Forms).
- Since animals can't understand universal abstractions, they cannot know about rights, even the limited ones they have from God via our stewardship (e.g., non-cruelty) . Animals rights must come through relation to human animals. (Animals rights are not another version of human rights; animals don't have them by themselves, but as a condequence —this is better for animals—being more secure, via God.)
- Man can even transcend abstractions, in the sense that man can freely choose to be a cause. That is, abstraction (such as numbers) cannot produce effects. You have the power to cause, therefore you are greater than a number.
- JP2: Animals can only be trained; humans can be educated, which involves combining arguments. (Man can have reasons for what he believes. )
- In addition to logic and math, man can abstract across time and transcend it. This is mental time-travel.
- Therefore animals do not tell stories, since storytelling transcends time. Kreeft: "Animals cannot play with time. To play with something you must transcend it. Toys do not play with themselves; people play with them."
- Therefore man can perceive processes and not merely events.
- Animals can instinctively know a goal and work to it, but they cannot work to a final cause, that is, a goal of goals (i.e., Heaven) because that involves recursion.
- From the book Moral Choices: "Animals are pushed by their instincts, which are caused by chemicals, nerves, genes, or electrical charges in their brains. But we are moved by our mind contemplating an ideal. We are pulled by the ideal, not pushed by instinct merely. "
- We are moved from up ahead, not just from behind.
- Note that this set of powers is related for humans: goals, ends, meaning, design, intution, whole, time transcendence (process, not just events), telos, "final cause". (Note in the same way, angels are not divided into time, or purpose, goals, etc. —whereas man can be.)
- Animals can operate on a purpose of theirs, but not a purpose for them. Unlike humans they have no "meta-awareness", no awareness of being aware; consciousness, but not self-consciousness.
- Animals suffer because of human sin, but to some degree God shields them—some studies show that animals lack that portion of the brain which gives "second order" pain awareness. That is, even though they may be in pain, they’re not aware they’re in pain. For relief, animals await our response to God—for their redemption is tied to ours. (Rom 8:22).
- The fact that many people find it easier to love their animals than another person is evidence for the common, broken, sinful state of humanity.
- Similarly, the animal salvation of animals is tied to human salvation, because animals know only means not ends. That is, animals can be justly treated as means or ends by humans, but animals themselves do not know about ends, only means. They do not know "final causes" (goals of goals), only immediate ones (present goals).
- Animals have imaginations that can recall images (such as dreams), but they do not apparently image things never expereienced (e.g., unicorns). That's sensorty imagination vs. creative imagination.
- We can ask why, and can wonder. No dog is in shock upon seeing snow for the first time.
- We can form concepts (not just precepts/facts); and therefore think not just about how the world is, but how it might be. Therefore we can have larger goals.
- Animals can have knowledge, but not the understanding of meaning (spirit goal).
- Animals have signals (a representation), but not signs (a representation of meaning). Kreeft: You point to the sunset and the dog sniffs your finger.
- They have the periphery of meaning, like a dog outside of a married coupde's room, hearing to them kiss, but not really having any idea what's going on.
- Animals can be beautiful, but do not create beauty (i.e., art) or have an aesthetic sense. (No beauty input or output.)
- Greeks: man is the animal with language. Animals have primitive communication, but they can’t invent languages (so no plurality of languages). They seem to have little or no creativity—ordering from a transcendent position.
- Philosophers today say that man has not only the capability to do language, but that he has an appetite for it, a mysterious need for language.
- Man can smile. Animals can be happy, play, silly. But yet they don’t have humor in the technical sense, because it is based on irony, that is, the power to contrast concepts. (Animals don't even have puns, because that involves language).
- Scientists say animals apparently do not have the ability to mock or ridicule.
- Animals (and also computers) can’t be ironic—the contrast perceived between what seems and what is, especially between appearance and reality. (Note: like animals we have sensation; like computers we have calculation.)
- Kreeft: "Descartes thought animals were only complex machines. It would follow then that breaking a lever off a machine, a limb off a tree or a leg off a dog would be essentially the same kind of act!"
- Pascal: "The adding-machine produces effects closer to thought than anything done by the animals, but it does nothing to justify the assertion that it has a will like the animals." Computers cannot obey/disobey, but animals can. And man can obey/disobey God. How are these alike/un-alike? Man: Animal, Computer, Angel
- Josef Pieper: Man only celebrates. Animals can have happiness, but they do not reflect on time, signs or seasons; therefore no culture, no celebrating births, funerals, fasting, feasting, weddings, etc.
- Humans have larger brains, longer childhoods, and require more resources for aging parents.
- We have speech, hands, and the ability to walk upright.
- We have susceptibility to diseases, yet minds that can prevent them.
- Animals tear from extreme pain, but humans are unique in that they tear from any emotional causes, which contain different chemicals. No one knows how this could have evolved.
- Animals do not take advantage of clothing (e.g., jewelry), cooking, tools or fire.
- Philosopher Thomas Hurka says man’s pleasures are more varied and can come from thoughts—being man can think abstractly, unlike animals that have only direct stimuli. So we can feel good about a moral choice, beauty, accomplishment, etc.
- Humans are the mammal that continues to mate, while ceasing to pro-create. Animals don't distinguish.
- Animals do not have pain in childbirth, as we do. Many believe this to be one of the results of the first sin (first break from God). Interesting note: The greatest creativity involves the greatest suffering.
- Discover magazine (Jan 2011): "Human lips are different from those of all other animals because they are everted, meaning that they purse outward." This makes genuine kissing possible (not just bump-tapping).
- CCC 357: Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons. And he is called by grace to a covenant with his Creator, to offer him a response of faith and love that no other creature can give in his stead.
- If we don't see ourselves in God's image, we will necessarily go over into an image of only a higher animal. We only get our identiy from below; instead of both below and above. ("Man was made from the dust of the ground and God's breath.")
- The number for animals is 6. For example, the Beast is represented by 666. On the sixth day, man is merely an animal, until he rests and finds resolution with God on the 7th day. This experience of “divine rest” means satisfaction: He is a being for his own sake, not as a means to another end. (This is one reason why animals can be eaten, but not man.)
- In fact, man is the only thing God created for its own sake.
- JP2: Man distinguishes himself from the animals by giving them names. In Jewish culture knowing a person’s name meant you had power over them, as when Jesus commands the demon to reveal its name.
- Because of this, some Jews will not pronounce God's name; but in Jesus then reveals who God is and thus shockingly invites all to begin to share in his power.
- To get there, we can worship, with our capacity for religion (i.e., relationship), ultimate reality, desire for Heaven.
- Via Christ, God became a human animal. We are invited to unite with God. Yup.
- Augustine: "Capax Dei"— we are capable of God, which is staggering.
God the "Divine Animal"
That may sound like a strange phrase, but it's interesting how many times Christ images himself that way: the Lamb of God, the Lion of Judah, etc.
Perhaps God is more organic than we think. He certainly loves His creation.