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Animals and plants - have they souls?


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#21 John Craford

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 04:44 PM

[/quote]This question was sent in directly by John, the young theologian from New Zealand (who asked the previous question): Do animals go to heaven to be with God?
Answer
Dear John
Thank you for your letter and especially for your question about whether animals go to Heaven.
From the time that Adam and Eve were created and until Jesus comes again, only people’s souls continue to live after the body dies. So that means that, for the time being, animal souls do not go to heaven – they are waiting for Jesus’ return.
Some big saints, like St Simeon the New Theologian, teach that when Jesus comes again, the whole world with all the people and animals, as well as the moon and the sun, and all the planets and stars, will all change suddenly. Everything will be better and prettier. At that time the animals, and the birds and the fish will all be brought back, and they will all be friendly and loving.
God wanted things to be that way from the beginning when He created the world, but because Adam and Eve (and everybody afterwards) disobeyed God, and stopped loving Him, everything deteriorated – got worse. This is what happens when people stop loving God, but the good thing is that God never stops loving us, as well as everything else that He created.
St Basil the Great, who lived 1600 years ago, wrote the following prayer for animals.
“O GOD, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our little brothers to whom Thou hast given this earth as their home in common with us.
May we realise that they live not for us alone, but for themselves and for Thee, and that they love the sweetness of life even as we do, and serve Thee better in their place than we do in ours.”
Ask mum to explain some of the complicated words in the prayer.
One more thing, there is a nice book that you will enjoy reading. It is called:
“Animals and Man: A State of Blessedness,” by Joanne Stefanatos. We will try to get you a copy soon.[/quote]

This I found on this site: http://mc2.vicnet.ne.../child_ask.html

Does this means that animals and plants don't go neither to Heaven or hell, but at the Second Coming of our Lord they will be ressurected too (even our home animals and plants?)?

#22 John Craford

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 07:10 PM

If I may ask, do animals and plants (all of them) have sins?

#23 Nina

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 07:26 PM

If I may ask, do animals and plants (all of them) have sins?


As far as I know they do not. It is said (can't recall where) that at the moment Adam sinned, the entire creation wanted to tear him to pieces, but God did not allow it. The rest of the creation was actually grateful to God, way more than humans. We are so wretched.

#24 Isaac Crabtree

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 03:02 PM

I want to suggest a different sort of direction in all of this. I don't know if the consensus of the Church is that animals and plants were not subject to corruption before Adam's fall. Here is probably the most succinct treatment of nature's decay in the Scriptures:

"The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God." (Romans 8:19-21)

It does not echo St. Paul's earlier assertion that "therefore death passed to all men, because all have sinned" (Rom. 5:12). Rather, St. Paul says that nature will be made incorruptible, but that it awaits the revelation of the sons of God to do so. Further, creation was subjected to "frustration" or "futility" "by the will of the one who subjected it"-- God.

The fathers do speak of Eden as being "between corruption and incorruption" where plants died but they gave off fragrant smells. Animal behavior in the Garden was also peaceful. But the Garden wasn't the whole world, in fact the Garden had a gate and was bordered by rivers. Maybe Adam's role as the head of the visible world was to attain theosis and through him the universe itself would be changed. Until then, Adam was placed in a special part of creation where he himself was protected from things that were good for the universe and our world, but were not for us.

I know of VERY traditional ROCOR Bishops (like Bishop Alexander Mileant, of blessed memory) who believed this. To argue that animals were not subject to death before Adam's own fall into mortality is dangerous (in my opinion) because many many animals appear to be designed for violence, self-defense, and death. Or perhaps the T-rex also ate straw with the oxen?

St. Augustine and many other fathers did not see animal struggle as evil at all, but as spiritual lessons for our salvation. Even the suffering of wounded, blind gazelles is a gift from the Creator to soften our own hearts so that we too will cry out to Heaven for mercy.

But will animals be resurrected from the dead? Possibly. It's not revealed to us in Scripture, but then again our own resurrection from the dead was not immediately revealed either, in the first books of the Bible. Whoever said on this list that animals don't have "souls" is wrong-- Genesis uses "soul" for animals created on the sixth day, just not the "living soul" that Adam receives when the Lord God breathed into his nostrils. St. Seraphim of Sarov said that Adam's soul was like an animal's until the Lord breathed into His nostrils.

Ok, lots of rambling (sorry), but just wanted to get a few of those things out there to see what people say.

#25 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 03:50 PM

Were there not two Falls? The fall of Satan preceded that of Adam, and this first fall would have corrupted Creation which was why, presumably, the Garden of Eden was separate from the rest of the world and not the whole world (if that is right).

#26 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 06:14 PM

Creation definitely suffers the results of the Fall- ie violence and death. But because they were not willing participants in this but rather suffered the results caused by us the creation has a degree of innocence. Thus for example even if an animal is violent or is disobedient to our command we do not refer to them as sinful.

In other words in the Patristic understanding sin is connected to and inseparable from human free will. Or to present this whole scenario of man's sin and creation's falleness the other way around: creation awaits man's deliverance from sin to find its own restoration. Man's path like a hub at the centre of a wheel will always affect the rest of creation for better or worse.

A number of Fathers speak of animals and soul.

Thus:

St Anthony the Great:

Because some people impiously dare to say that plants and vegetables have a soul, I will briefly write about this for the guidance of the simple. Plants have a natural life, but they do not have a soul. Man is called an intelligent animal because he has intellect and is capable of acquiring knowledge. The other animals and the birds can make sounds because they possess breath and soul. All things that are subject to growth and decline are alive; but the fact that they live and grow does not necessarily mean that they all have souls.

There are four categories of living beings. the first are immortal and have souls, such as angels. The second have intellect, soul and breath, such as men. The third have breath and soul, such as animals. The fourth have only life, such as plants. The life of plants is without soul, breath, intellect or immortality. These four attributes, on the other hand, presuppose the possession of life.



St Maximus the Confessor then considerably refines this to say:

The soul has three powers: first, the power of nourishment and growth; the second, that of imagination and instinct; third, that of intelligence and intellect. Plants share only in the first of these powers, animals share in the first and second only, and men share in all three.



Also:

from St Augustine:

If I say there are other creatures made by God, some are less excellent than the soul, and some equal to it. The soul of a brute animal, for instance, is less excellent, and that of an angel equal; but nothing is better than the soul. And if at any time any of these is better, that is the result of the soul's sin, not of its nature. Still, sin does not make the human so inferior that the soul of a brute animal is to be preferred to it or even compared to it.



In Christ- Fr Raphael

#27 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 02 December 2007 - 11:20 PM

Dear all,

I very much enjoyed Fr Raphael's recent post in this thread.

The standard reading of the fathers is that creation follows its lord (kyrios), the human creature, in both its righteousness and its corruption. The sins of man echo through the cosmos, but so to his virtues, and the fruit of his redemption in Christ.

St Maximus the Confessor describes this unique lot of the human race as residing in man's nature as 'microcosm' of the whole of creation. In the human person are brought together all the diverse realms of creation of which all other orders have only a share: materiality, soul, spirit, irrationality, rationality, temporality, eternity, etc. In the human person lie all the ties that govern the cosmos.

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#28 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 12:01 PM

There is a BBC News item today about a nine-month-old dog going for a walk with its owner who collapsed. The dog stayed with her and barked the alarm until someone heard the barking and got help. It is said the dog's action in barking for attention saved the woman's life.

My in-laws in Moscow have two dogs. One likes the wintry weather, the other doesn't. The latter, when told it's time for walkies, slides under the table and pretends to be asleep. It also doesn't like a ringing telephone to be ignored but goes to someone and barks at them to answer the 'phone. When we visit Moscow, we take a toy for this dog. When we arrive at the apartment, after greeting us, it goes to our suitcase, waits for it to be opened and then rummages through the contents until it finds the expected toy.

In Russian, animals are not referred to impersonally as 'it'. This led to some confusion when my wife first came here because she would remark, 'there's someone in the back garden'! Rushing to confront an intruder, I would find instead next door's cat.

#29 Justin Farr

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 10:51 PM

This has been an extremely enlightening thread! I have always been terribly concerned on the issue; I love my dog, my sister, beyond words. Yes she is my dog, but I fully consider her my sister as well.

This thread has been a real comfort to me. Thanks. :)

The Russian tidbit was very fascinating as well. ^_^

#30 John W.

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Posted 05 February 2008 - 10:52 PM

This has been an extremely enlightening thread! I have always been terribly concerned on the issue; I love my dog, my sister, beyond words. Yes she is my dog, but I fully consider her my sister as well.


Abba Xanthias said, ""A dog is better than I am, for he has love and he does not judge."

Check out this old Monachos thread (http://www.monachos....hias dog&page=3)


From: History is Full of 'Smart Animals' by Richard Holdgreve, in the Delphos Herald


Faithful Companion in the Bible

In the Old Testament Book of Tobit, Tobias sets off on a trek to collect a debt to help his blind father. He is accompanied on his journey by the angel Raphael and a small dog. After all the adventures have finished, he returns home, the dog running ahead* to announce his arrival. Tradition maintains that this dog even proceeded Tobias into heaven. It is this story that accounts for the sustained popularity of the name Toby for dogs.

["Then the dog, which had been with them in the way, ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail." Tobit 11:9 (Douay Rheims) ]


St. Patrick

Patrick MacAlpern’s life was strangely entwined with dogs. Around A.D. 400, at age sixteen, Patrick was abducted by Irish marauders. He was enslaved and kept as a shepherd for six years, his sole companion being a dog. In response to a dream, he made his way to the coast, where he found the ship that the dream foretold would return him to his own land.

The ship was from Gaul, and the master had put into Irish waters in order to get a cargo of hunting hounds, which were bringing fabulous prices on European markets. Not surprisingly, as a penniless runaway slave, Patrick was received unsympathetically when he tried to gain passage. However, just as he was leaving, he was suddenly called back. Over one hundred great Irish wolfhounds now packed the holds and filled the deck of the ship. Taken from their masters and their familiar surroundings, the giant dogs were frantic and furious, ready to attack anyone who came near. Some of the sailors had noticed that during Patrick’s brief visit to the ship, he had spoken with some of the dogs and seemed to have a calming effect on them. Therefore, in exchange for feeding, cleaning up after, and otherwise caring for the dogs — Patrick received passage to the continent.

The ship was badly underprovisioned and reached a ruined and deserted section of Gaul with nothing left to feed dogs or men. Because the dogs were worth more than the ship, the crew abandoned the ship, and set off on foot, heading inland. With no inhabitants or food in the area, the dogs and men were soon in jeopardy of dying of starvation. The shipmaster, who had learned that Patrick was a Christian, turned to him and in a taunting manner said, “If your god is so great, then pray to him to send us food.” Patrick did so, and the story goes, a miracle occurred. A herd of wild pigs appeared, seemingly from nowhere. Instead of bolting and running, as one might have expected, the swine stayed long enough for the starving men, with the assistance of the dogs, to kill some of them, providing meat for all. Patrick’s reputation rose considerably, and, after the dogs were marketed, the crew made a gift to him of some food and money to help him on his way.

Many years later, he returned to Ireland, and his goal was to preach Christianity. It seems the news that a strange ship had just landed, from which emerged white-robed men with clean shaved heads who chanted in a strange tongue, prompted an Irish prince named to go to the coast to investigate the situation. He was accompanied by his favorite large hunting dog. Observing St. Patrick’s missionary group, Dichie decided that the best course was to kill these odd clerics and be done with it. With a shout he set his dog at Patrick. The dog lept forward in full fury, but when Patrick uttered a short prayer, the dog halted, grew quiet, and then approached Patrick and nuzzled his hand. Dichie was so touched by this scene that he aided Patrick’s mission in Ireland in many ways.

The point of these stories seems to be that the dogs could somehow sense or respond to Patrick’s piety. According to Irish folklore, Patrick repaid dogs for their deference to him by allowing the legendary character Oissain, to take hounds to heaven with him when he died, where we can suppose that they are keeping Tobias’s little dog company.

#31 John W.

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Posted 05 February 2008 - 11:16 PM

In the Old Testament Book of Tobit, Tobias sets off on a trek to collect a debt to help his blind father. He is accompanied on his journey by the angel Raphael and a small dog. After all the adventures have finished, he returns home, the dog running ahead* to announce his arrival. Tradition maintains that this dog even proceeded Tobias into heaven. It is this story that accounts for the sustained popularity of the name Toby for dogs.

["Then the dog, which had been with them in the way, ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail." Tobit 11:9 (Douay Rheims) ]


Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon has an interesting take in The Wide World of Tobit (http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=12-02-036-f):

The resemblance of Tobit to the Odyssey in particular was not lost on that great student of literature, Jerome, as is evident in a single detail of his Latin translation of Tobit in the Vulgate. Intrigued by the literary merit of Tobit, but rejecting its canonicity, the jocose and sometimes prankish Jerome felt free to insert into his version an item straight out of the Odyssey—namely, the wagging of the dog’s tail on arriving home with Tobias in 11:9—Tunc praecucurrit canis, qui simul fuerat in via, et quasi nuntius adveniens blandimento suae caudae gaudebat—“Then the dog, which had been with them in the way, ran before, and coming as if it had brought the news, showed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail.” No other ancient version of Tobit mentions either the tail or the wagging, but Jerome, ever the classicist, was confident his readers would remember the faithful but feeble old hound Argus, as the final act of his life, greeting the return of Odysseus to the home of his father: “he endeavored to wag his tail” (Odyssey 17.302). And to think that we owe this delightful gem to Jerome’s rejection of Tobit’s canonicity!

Thus, when young Tobias made his trip to Ecbatana and then, like Odysseus, journeyed back to the home of his father, he traveled with a vast company of classical pilgrims. He was neither the first nor the last to decide: “I will arise and return to my father.” On that trip, moreover, Tobias enjoyed the fellowship of an angel and a dog, symbolically representing the two worlds of spirits and beasts, both associated with Paradise and both mysteriously joined together in the human being that they accompany.


Here's his footnote on "the two worlds of spirits and beasts":

Angels and beasts are also the companions of Jesus in the desert; see Mark 1:13 along with the comment of Euthymius Zigabenus, In Marcum (PG 129.776C). Particularly in our hagiography, this motif of angelic and animal companionship is ubiquitous. Cf. Joanne Stephanatos, Animals and Man: A State of Blessedness, Minneapolis: Light and Life, 1992.



#32 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 08:40 AM

I posted this on another thread but I believe it is also pertinent to this thread.

""Love all God's creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of God's light! Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything you will perceive the divine mystery in things. And once you have pereeived it you will begin to comprehend it ceaselessly, more and more every day. And you will at last come to love the whole world with an abiding universal love. Love the animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and untroubled joy. Do not therefore, trouble it, do not torture them, do not deprive them of their joy, do not go against God's intent. " Starets Zosima in the novel The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky

"Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden, and there he put the man he had formed And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground - trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." From the book of Genesis

#33 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 22 June 2008 - 06:20 AM

My little dog died two days ago and I have been feeling sad and have been thinking about him continuously. He was such a gentle creature, giving us his love and loyalty. What does the Orthodox religion believe about animals and souls? Where did all the love in this dog come from? He didn't give us this love just because we fed him and provided shelter for him.

I'm curious because this is the first time I have ever loved an animal so much.

Effie

Perhaps the subject of animals and souls is a little off-topic but I felt that it might fit in a little in this discussion.

I posted a picture of him in my albums section.

Edited by Effie Ganatsios, 22 June 2008 - 06:40 AM.


#34 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 22 June 2008 - 06:27 AM

Actually, according to St Basil the Great and others, animals do have souls and in that way are significantly different from plants which have only a body. The animal soul, however, is inferior to the human soul in that it is mortal and ceases to exist when the body dies. Neither is the animal soul in any way spiritual in nature and thus animals, as you note, do not participate in the spiritual life or theosis in any way.

Fr David Moser


Just read this message. Thank you Father David.

Two prayers for animals by St. Basil :


The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof.

O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our brothers the animals to whom Thou gavest the earth as their home in common with us.

We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to Thee in song has been a groan of travail.

May we realize that they live not for us alone, but for themselves and for Thee and that they love the sweetness of life even as we, and serve Thee better in their place than we in ours. (3)

For those, O Lord, the humble beasts, that bear with us the burden and heat of day, and offer their guileless lives for the well-being of mankind; and for the wild creatures, whom Thou hast made wise, strong, and beautiful, we supplicate for them Thy great tenderness of heart, for Thou hast promised to save both man and beast, and great is Thy loving kindness, O Master, Saviour of the world. (3)

#35 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 22 June 2008 - 06:35 AM

St. Theophan the Recluse says:

Letter 9 - Just what is the spirit? It is that force which God breathed into man when He created him. The earth bore all species of earthly creatures by God's command. From the earth also came every kind of living creatures soul. The human soul, although it resembles the animal soul in its lowest part, in incomparably superior to it in its highest part. That it is this way in man is because of it's bonding with the soul. The spirit, breathed by God, combined with it and raised it far above every nonhuman soul. That is why we note within ourselves, in addition to what we see in the animals, that which is peculiar to the spiritualized soul of man, and even higher, that which is peculiar only to the spirit.

Letter 11 - I will take up where I left off, that is, with what happened to the soul as a result of its union with the spirit, which is from God. From this union, the entire soul was transformed from being an animal soul, which it is by nature, into a human soul... The human soul, being such as described, displays aspirations above all this and rises a step further, because it is an inspired soul... (man) is the high priest in the sense that the voices of all creation praise God instinctively, while man raises praise to the Creator Above All with rational song. (13)




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