Sunday, 12 June 2011

Do dogs have souls? (Part fourteen)

I was delighted to hear on Church Mouse that Mandy, a devout Yorkshire Terrier, has received a blessing  from the Bishop of Wakefield, Stephen Platten after thirteen years attendance at St Anne in the Grove, Southowram in Halifax. Some people get all upset about this sort of thing (or at least I think they do - maybe it is just when they get baptised...confirmed...admitted to communion...consecrated as bishops...) I never understand why anyone gets upset at  the blessing of  an animal , I am sure there have been blessing of inanimate objects such as new church toilets, for example.

I think I  might start taking Bessie along on Sunday mornings. After all, she takes me to the pub...


  1. I was pondering this ongoing question of theology, that you have been asking, while I was pegging out the washing the other day. I came to the conclusion that if such things as souls exist (and they seem to be a Greek (and possibly Egyptian) import into later Judaism, Christianity and through these to Islam) then dogs themselves present convincing arguments for being in possession of one. The idea of a soul implies so notion of both a personality and a sense of self. Most of us can agree that many animals have a personality that is unique itself – even if we try and stay away from the clouded vision anthropomorphism affords us. Even bee hives have different ‘personalities’ – on occasion I have removed a queen and replaced her with another because the hive was becoming too aggressive or slovenly.

    What I think is particularly telling with dogs is that they dream – hence they have a consciousness of self that is not limited to the here and now of immediate stimuli; their sense of self continues when they are asleep. This is does raise awkward questions about only humans having a highly developed notion of ‘self’. With the higher primates it is obvious they have a very real sense of self... The idea that humanity is unique in this respect is just arrogance. A quote I like from Douglas Adams is: “Man has always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much...the wheel, New York, wars and so on...while all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man...for precisely the same reason.”


  2. Descartes has a lot to answer for.