Philosophical and scriptural proofs that brutes have souls as well as men

Philosophical and scriptural proofs that brutes have souls as well as men  (1825) 

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Scriptural Proofs












Deus est anima brutorum.

"The creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption ino the glorious liberty of the Sons of God." Rom. viii. 21.


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The Reverend Mr. Thompson, Preacher of this City, in a Sermon from Romans, 8th chap. 22nd. verse, supported the immortality of the Souls of Brutes, without, however, going fully into the merits of the subject. The question thus started, Mr. Todd, Druggist, a young man of some ability, gave a Lecture on the opposite and present orthodox dogma, that Brutes have no Souls. This Lecture brought an overflowing house, to speak Theatrically, so much so that hundreds went away without admission; and would have come off with greater eclat, it is said, had he not gone out of his way in search of foolish witticisms and uncharitable epithets.—All dogmas ought to be freely and temperately discussed, from which truth has nothing to fear, and the people every thing to gain relative to knowledge; for it must be admitted, that what is held as orthodox now may not be held as such fifty years hence. It will not be expected by the reader that a tradesman who is obliged to labour six days in the week and has only one for his own employment, can spare time to enquire into the subject equal to the Clergy, who have six days in the week for their own employment, (gossiping) and only one little day to labour. They are the lillies of the valley, "they toil not, neither do they spin!!! It will therefore be the principal care of the writer to avoid prolixity,—to give much information in few words, and shewing distinctly and clearly, from both ancient and modern Philosophers, as well as the Scriptures, that the argument which establishes the Soul in Man, also proves not only the Soul in Brutes, but in all animated beings.

"’Tis surely God
Whose unremitting energy pervades,
Adjusts, sustains, and agitates the whole.
He ceaseless works alone; and yet alone
Seems not to work: with such perfection fram’d
Is this complex stupendous state of things."

The opinions of the Ancients relative to the Soul.

The Ancients considered the Sun as the brain of the Universe, and that it is from analogy that the human skull is round like that planet, the seat of intelligence. They always took the word "Soul" in a general sense, the same as Jupiter, or the primitive combinations that composed the Universe.—The proper name of Jupiter is Youpiter—Existence,—the Soul or heart of the World,—the Sun. Plutarch says, the Egyptians call the east the face, the north the right-side, and the south the left-side of the world, because there the heart is placed. The Ancients therefore considered the world, with all the animated beings, &c. thereon as God, eternally at work, composing and decomposing, causing a perpetual resurrection. They divided the great Whole into two principles—a good and a bad; the one always undoing what the other had done.

"The sacred seer, with scientific truth,
In Grecian temples taught the attentive youth,
With ceaseless change how restless atoms pass
From life to life, a transmigrating mass;
Whence drew the enlighten’d sage the moral plan,
That man should ever be the friend of man,
Should eye with tenderness all living forms,
His brother emmets, and his sister worms!"

These principles were afterwards personified, and known to the Ancients by the names of Oromaze and Arumanes; and to the Moderns by God and Devil. Hence, all mankind are Manichees, believing in the doctrine of two principles, which fully elucidates the dogma of our Devil, and his "going about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour,"—i.e. destroying the works of the Good principle.

Sufficient has now been said to prove, that the Ancients considered Man as indivisible; and the scientific Priestly held it as pure doctrine, that the soul was conceived with the body—grows with the body—dies with the body—and cannot rise but with the body—both, he believed, would rise together—the soul being "part or parcel" of the body, as Judge Best would say. All the Eastern nations apply to the Soul, the same word they use to express Life—and after their example the Romans understood the word anima, to signify the life of animals in general. The Greeks called the breath the Soul, and that opinion continued till the time of Pythagorous, the desciple of Perecydes. Again the Romans translated the word breath by spiritus,—the French, esprit—hence the word spirit or soul found amongst all modern nations. Indeed, the great Locke seldom makes use of the word Soul; and when he does, it only stands for intellect or mind, which all Brutes possess as well as Man—and, in many cases, in a superior degree, there being neither visionaries nor idiots found among them; it is man alone that possess these inestimable qualities. Therefore, again, I say, the argument that proves a Soul in Man, also proves the Soul of Brutes, Birds, Reptiles, &c.

Those who insist that God gives us a Soul or Being independant of, and distinct from the mind or intellect, are surely not aware that blasphemy must be the consequence of such an hypothesis. To shew this, let us suppose a case in point.—If when an act of adultery or incest is consummated, would it not be making the Deity a party to the Crime, by thus confering a soul on this work of iniquity? Away with such delusion! Nothing but pride and ignorance on the part of the people, and riches and power on the part of the priesthood, could have propogated such an inconsistent doctrine.

"Your Reason:—let it not be oversway’d
By tyrannous threats to force you into faith
’Gainst all external sense and inward feeling:
Think and indure,—and form an inward world
In your own bosom—where the outward fails;
So shall you nearer be the spiritual
Nature, and war triumphant with your own."

The primitive Jews made no difference between the Soul and Body, declaring that "Men and Brutes went all to one place," and that "there was no distinction." And in order to remove every doubt respecting the opinions of Moses being indentified with those of the heathen theologians,—we give the following passage from the learned Geographer and Philosopher Strabo:

"Moses, who was one of the Egyptian priests, taught his followers, that it was an egregious error to represent the Deity under the form of animals, as the Egyptians did, or in the shape of man, as was the practise of the Greeks and Africans. That alone is the Deity, said he, which constitutes heaven, earth, and every living thing; that which we call the world, the sum of all things, nature; and no reasonable person will think of representing such a being by the image of any one of the objects around us. It is for this reason, that, rejecting every species of images or idols, Moses wished the Deity to be worshipped without emblems, and according to his proper nature; he accordingly ordered a temple worthy of him to be erected, &c." Geograh, lia. 16. p. 1104.

The theology of Moses has, been, different in no respect from that of his followers, that is to say, from that of the Stoics and Epicureans, who consider the Deity as the soul of the world. This philosophy appears to have taken birth, or to have been disseminated when Abraham came into Egypt (200 years before Moses,) since he quitted his system of idols for that of the God Yahouh; so that we may place its

promulgation about the seventeenth or eighteenth century before Christ.

"To me be Nature’s volume broad display’d;
And to peruse its all instructing page,
My whole delight."

By a careful perusal of the Scriptures of the Old Testament, (but there are few that read, and fewer that consider what they do read) and consulting the learned and candid Philo; they may also, if their patience allow them, cast their eyes over a volume or two of the tedious and partial Josephus,—from these it will appear evident, that the Jews knew nothing of the Soul farther than as the intellect or mind, till their return from Babylon. It was there they imbibed the idea of aerial beings. The Babylonians having personified the names of their months into beings or angels with wings at their backs, in imitation of the twelve Decans of the Egyptians, who are said to have created the World in twelve months; this furnished the Jews with an addition to their theology, and no doubt they were eager not to lose the main chance of carrying away a few of those gentry, like a bundle of old clothes in a bag (and of the same value too, we may suppose,) dressing them out afterwards, Jews a-la-mode, only retaining their names, that they might not be thought ungrateful to their Mamas and Papas for their former kindness, which are Gabriel, Michael, Yar, Nisan, &c.

The Jews began now to divide themselves into two sects, the Sadducees and Pharisees, the former adhering to the ancient theology, and believing only in the five books of Moses, denying the being of angels and spirits, the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection of the body; and the latter following the new theology, which increased but little until the days of Plato, the divine visionary, who first founded the doctrine of the Trinity, known by the epithets of Demiourgos, the Logos, and the Spirit; these are beautifully illustrated by Macrobius, from whom we have taken the following quotation:—

The epithet piter, or father, Soul of the world, having been applied to the demi ourgos of Plato, gave rise to an ambiguity which caused an enquiry to be made respecting the son of this father. In the opinion of the philosophers the son was understanding, Nons and Logos, from which the Latins made their Verbum. And thus we clearly perceive the origin to the eternal father and of the Verbum his son, proceeding from him (Mens ex Deo nata, says Macrobius): the anima or spiritus mundi was the Holy Ghost; and it is for this reason that Manes, Basilides, Valentinius, and other pretended heretics of the first age, who traced things to their source, said, that God the Father was the supreme inaccessible light (that of the heaven, the primrum moble, or the aplanes); the Son the secondary light resident in the sun, and the Holy Ghost the atmosphere of the earth (See Beausob. Vol II p. 586): hence, among the Syrians, the representation of the Holy Ghost by a dove, the bird of Venus Urania, that is, of the air.

Having now traced the various opinions of the ancients down to Plato, relative to the Soul in general, we will just give a view of what the moderns consider constitutes the Soul in Men, Brutes, Birds, Reptiles, &c. enjoyed by them respectively in a greater or lesser degree, as they stand located in the great chain of Creation. If then we shall compare this concatonation to the Roman Alphabet, dare we say, that, because Y and Z are the last in the list, they are not of equal importance with A and B in ornamenting the Languages,—surely not. Cogent proofs can be shewn that men and all animated beings are derived from, and composed of Fluids or water.

"Water restrain’d gives birth
To grass and plants, and thickens into earth:
Diffus’d it tises in a higher sphere,
Dilates its drops, and softens into air:
Those finer parts of air again aspire,
Move into warmth, and brighten into fire:
That fire once more, by denser air o’ercome,
And downward forced, in earth’s capacious womb,
Alters in particles, is fire no more.
But lies metallic dust, or pond’rous ore."

Water is composed of two Gases, Oxygen and Hydrogen, the most inflammable of all the Gases. Oxygen not only supports combustion but the vital principle of life, which corresponds in a remarkable degree with that beautiful passage in the first chapter of Genesis, second verse, "And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." This corroborates, in an essential manner, that all matter is the same, only differing in its various modifications. It is now pretty evident therefore, that the Soul is only a modification of those more fine and subtile particles found in the Brain, the Seat of the nervous system,—where they all unite, each acting a part in the government of the Body, by their joint agent, the Mind or Soul; produced, nourished, and upheld by them Now, as all Brutes, &c. have bodies with brains thus organized, it follows that they have minds or souls as well as man—equally extensive in proportion to the Link each holds in Nature’s Chain.

"Hence, when a monarch or a mushroom dies,
Awhile extinct the organic matter lies;
But, as a few short hours or years revolve,
Alchemic powers the changing mass disolve;
Emerging matter from the grave returns,
Feels new desires, with new sensations burrs;
With youth’s first bloom a finer sense acquires.
And Loves and Pleasures fan the rising fires"

The experiment of pressing the brain with the fingers, after the skull had been opened by a trapan, had the effect of rendering the person insensible to all sensation, or passing events;—the Mind or Soul, in this case, is the same as in that of a drowned person, not conscious of its own existence. This result I was assured of, by a Medical gentleman of Aberdeen, who had often seen the experiment tried, in a conversation we had on the phenomena of the mind, in its various ramifications. Still, however, to make a further illustration of what we have advanced, give the following passage, quoted from the Works of the learned Dr. Laurance, Professor of Anatomy, in London:—

"The same kind of facts, the same reasoning, the same sort of evidence altogether, which shows digestion to be the function, of the alimentary canal, motion of the muscles, the various secretions of their respective glands, prove that sensation, perception, memory, judgement, reasoning, thought, in a word, all the manifestations called mental or intellectual, are the animal functions of their appropriate organic apparatus; the central organ of the nervous system. The instrument of knowledge and reflection, the part by which we feel, perceive, judge, think, reason, the organ or organs connecting us with the external world, and executing the moral and intellectual department in our economy, claim our first attention. In spite of metaphisieal subtility, of all the chimeras and fancies about immaterial agencies, etherial fluids, and the like, and all the real or pretended alarms, so carefully connected with this subject, the truth that the phenomena of mind are to be regarded, physiologically, merely as the functions of the organic apparatus contained in the head, is proved by such overwhelming evidence, that Physiologists and Zoologists have been led, almost in spite of themselves, to show their belief in it, by the great attention they have paid to this part."

This, to every reasonable mind, we would be led to think, should be conclusive in proving, as far as experiments, supported by reason, can prove, our hypothesis, that Brutes have all the requisites that form the Soul as well as Men, in the scale of gradation, from the Great Creator of the Universe to the least Animacula;—but we must not neglect this opportunity to inform the reader, that the learned Professor, did not, in thus giving to the world the result of his Anatomical experiments, meet with that reward of generous approbation which he had a right to expect, from his researches in the cause of TRUTH. No! he, like the learned and ingenious Galileo, was dragged before the Inquisition of the Vice Society, and there had either to renounce his reason and the opinions he was necessiated to adopt, arising from conviction, or lose the Professor’s chair.—He kept the chair, knowing well, that "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush;" but so worded his recantation, that nothing, in reality, was given up—the same was the case with Galileo. The crime of Galileo was, his applying geometry to the doctrine of motion, and making the evidence of the Copernican system more sensible, viz.—that the Sun is the centre of the World, and immoveable, and that the Earth moves even with a diurnal motion,—which system is now held as orthodox over the enlightened world.

"Serene philosophy,
Effusive source of evidence and truth?
Without thee, what were urenlighten’d man?
A savage roaming through the woods and wilds,
Rough clad, devoid of every finer art
And elegance of life."

Having now gone through the ancient and modern Philosophers, whose opinions all tend to show that, the same demonstrable truths which point out the Soul in Man, establishes the Souls of Brutes, &c.

For the further proof that Brutes have Souls, and are not only an emanation from the Deity, but under his peculiar care, just as much as Man, we will apply to the Scriptures, as a winder up of the subject.

Solomon seems to have been of our opinion, and could not see the differance between the Souls of Men and Brutes.

Eccl iii 18. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea they have all one breath; so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast. All go unto one place, all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

Such doctrines had, no doubt, been the talk of the learned in Solomon’s time as well as now,—and he very properly comes to the point:

Eccl. iii. 21. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of beast that goeth downward to the earth?

The vulgar error of Souls going up and down still holds its ground. The centripetal and centrifugal forces, to and from a centre, which maintain the Planets in their orbits, may explain the idea of the Righteous going up to Heaven, and the Wicked down to Hell,—the centre of the earth.

That the Apostle Paul was firmly in the belief that Brutes would share in the glorious resurrection, read the 8th chap, of Romans, beginning at the 19th verse.


This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.