My friend Megan believes animals have the same right to a long life that we do. She understands the circle of life, but believes that as people we have options that the rest of nature doesn’t. A lion doesn’t have a choice in whether or not to take the life of an animal to eat, but we do. She has made the choice not to.
I respect her right to make that choice. Totally respect it. And I can appreciate how someone could come to that conclusion, but it’s a point that we disagree on. I don’t agree that people and animals were created as equals, or that over time, we’ve evolved into equals. And I don’t think any less of Megan for her stand on this subject. That’s probably the thing I’ve most come away with through this whole discussion. This mutual respect for opposing ideas and we seem to come across less and less these days.
As a part of learning more about social networking, via places like facebook, twitter, wordpress, etc, I’ve found a lot of intolerance on both side of the animal debate. And some of the folks on our side of the debate scare me easily as much as the people on the fringe of the other side. It is easy to write off the extreme animal right faction when they go right to the “stupid redneck hick” putdowns, but we can easily miss a lot of really neat people but ignoring this whole group because of the wack jobs.
But to the question of souls. I asked Megan if she thought animals had souls. Her answer was yes, they have souls, as well as the ability to think, feel pain or express emotions. “Just because animals aren’t as intelligent as humans , does not mean that they are soulless. So if a soul is defined by the presence of life love, and emotions, which is as well as I can define it, then yes, animals most certainly have souls.”
I’m not sure how to argue with that point. But I know it made me think. It even made me do a little research that surprised me a little bit. I had always (mistakenly) thought death and the eating of animals happened right after Adam and Eve got kicked out of the Garden of Eden. I was off by a couple of generations. Nine generations I think. The permission to use animals as food happens curiously enough, when Noah leaves the ark. Not what I thought, but pretty interesting. Genesis 9:3,”Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, now I give you everything.” So eating meat wasn’t a direct result of the fall. Hmmmm…….
One of the cool things about the conversation that Megan and I have been having, is we haven’t tried to “fix” each other. Our ideas and opinions have been respected, questioned, supported and questioned again. And I think I can speak for Megan when I say we’ve both learned a few things.