Our very old dog died last night--after so many years of giving on this earth-I would like to think she is in heaven with family that have passed.I have heard animals have no soul--maybe they do.Heaven surly has room for tender hearted creatures.
As a Taoist i have always believed that all life possess a soul and will be with us in the afterlife. I love animals and i know my dog jack and my cat tigger know when i am not feeling well and even try to help me when i have had low blood sugars. I know they have souls and that they understand and relate to us so there is no doubt in my mind that their spirits will commune with ours.
Lately, I've been reading a lot on natural theology-- that is, theology supported by science and not dependent on miracles, because let's be honest, there is nothing scientific (that we know of) about miracles. But, science, and its ever-changing clasp, has the ability to point out distinctions that prove how vast this universe truly is, shrinking us down to a nominal state, and at the same time, show how intricate human beings can be, rebuilding that fragile ego. How beautiful! A defense of this, with regard to the idea of the soul, is that all life has energy. This is a fact, and our bodies reflect that fact. But, does a tree not have the same energy coursing through it? Does it not operate at a very similar operational state to survive, using this energy for function and purpose? And if it is true of plants, then animals certainly carry a similar energy, even closer to ours. But, this energy can change often, as can weather patterns. I think animals are in tune to that because their senses work differently. On a whole, we work better most of the time, but we certainly can't hold that against them, can we? I think it a little sad that animals have been left out of the energy equation for so long. Everything natural on this Earth serves a purpose.
Though, the idea of an afterlife is a little troubling. I often subscribe to a philosophy of collective conscience, but where does that leave us now? If who you are is, effectively, a matter of hormones and electrical impulses built on the mind (the way your body moves those impulses and hormones) you've built, then what place does this have going somewhere else once our bodies, made of the same materials, has ceased to function?
This sounds like the classic mind/body question in philosophy. My professor in college posed an interesting question that helped me resolve the question in my mind. When i was seven and went into a diabetic coma my conciousness was absent from my body so how could be sure that the same person(conciouness) i was before the coma was the same person that was in my body when i came out of my coma. The problem with the biological aspects of the question is its need of emperical evidence to support its claims and therefore justify its conclusions. It first has to assume that our conciousness is nothing more then synaptic and biological responses in the brain and body. It also has to ignore aspects of quantum mechanics and physics which shows how energy changes and tranforms into different states. The structure of matter and energy at its most basic levels is something that is quite lucid and adaptable. Most life on earth consists of a carbon based nature, both in structure and in energy. Yet even carbon at the atomic level is subject to transmutation and is subject to being altered into another form or state. I know you are saying where does the mind and conciousness factor into all this. The mind even in its physical state requires energy and to function and operate. This energy exists all around us in various states and courses through our bodies. The arguement of a soul or the possiblity of a afterlife is not something that is definable in emperical means of evidence. It can only be outlined in the way matter, energy and form alter and change into various states. So the only solid conclusion we can draw about the evidence of a soul, conciouness or universal energy its that all forms of matter in the universe are in a constant phase of change and therefore cycles or progress through different states of existence. My mind , my thoughts, my conciousness, actions and intentions are just these forms in different states of transition both physically and meta-physically. A good website that covers the basics of this kind of thinking is www.spaceandmotion.com . I think you will find it stimulating. As we say in alchemy it is not where your going but rather what you are changing into. As a Taoist I believe in a natural order and cylce of progression in the universe. The Tao, the source, the primal energy of source code of all in the universe that ties and bonds everything togther. Einstein called it realivity, Astronomers call it the Big Bang. It has been refereed to as Nirvana, Heaven , Limbo, the Tao, the Void, all are just names we give the same thing with our own prespectives on it. Semantics is you ask me.
Very well put, Michael. I strive to learn a little something each day, so thank you for showing me this.
I'll get back to you once I've perused that website for a little while.