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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Do animals have spirits?

[What follows are excerpts from two articles by President Joseph Fielding Smith.  The first is from "Your Question: Do Animals Have Spirits?"  Improvement Era, Jan. 1958, 16-17.  An edited version of this article is found in Answers to Gospel Questions, 2:48-51.  The second is a passage titled "Pre-existence of All Creatures,"  Doctrines of Salvation, 1:62-64.  The original footnotes are included here parenthetically with the text.  All emphasis is in the original.]

DO ANIMALS HAVE SPIRITS?

Do animals have spirits?  Will they obtain the resurrection?  Where will they go?  President Smith discusses simply and succinctly the immortality of the animal world.

QUESTION:  "Do animals have spirits?  If so, will they obtain the resurrection and if so, where will they go?"

ANSWER:  The simple answer is that animals do have spirits and that through the redemption made by our Savior they will come forth in the resurrection to enjoy the blessing of immortal life.  The Bible as it has come to us through numerous translations and copies does not contain the information concerning the immortality of the animal world in the clearness which, without any doubt, it was invested with the pure inspiration of the revelations of the Lord.  However, there are some passages which still remain bearing witness to the eternal nature of the animal world.  Among these are the following:

"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them....

"These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,

"And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew:  for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground."  (Genesis 2:1, 4-5.)

Then, before death came upon the world, the Lord planted a garden for Adam and Eve and placed all manner of cattle and living creatures on the earth, as well as vegetation.  When Adam transgressed the commandment, all things upon the earth became subject to death, as well as Adam and Eve, and the earth itself partook of this fall.

In the restoration of the original scriptures to the Prophet Joseph Smith we are given a clearer picture of conditions both before and after the fall.  This is the account as it was written by Moses:

"And now, behold, I say unto you, that these are the generations of the heaven and of the earth, when they were created, in the day that I, the Lord God, made the heaven and the earth;

"And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew.  For I, the Lord God created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth.  For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth.  And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air;

"But I, the Lord God, spake, and there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground."  (Moses 3:4-6.)

Then to make the matter perfectly clear, the Lord added this:

"And out of the ground made I, the Lord God, to grow every tree, naturally, that is pleasant to the sight of man; and man could behold it.  And it became also a living soul.  For it was spiritual in the day that I created it; for it remaineth in the sphere in which I, God created it, yea, even all things which I prepared for the use of man; and man saw that it was good for food...."  [(Moses 3:9.)]

When the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith many things concerning the millennium and the events which should precede and follow it, he gave the following:

"And again, verily, verily, I say unto you that when the thousand years are ended, and men again begin to deny their God, then will I spare the earth but for a little season;

"And the end shall come, and the heaven and the earth shall be consumed and pass away, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth.

"For all old things shall pass away, and all things shall become new, even the heaven and the earth, and all the fulness thereof, both men and beasts, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea;

"And not one hair, neither mote, shall be lost, for it is the workmanship of mine hand."  (D & C 29:22-25.)

What is meant by "the four beasts"?

While meeting with a group of the members of the Church one day in March 1882, the Prophet Joseph Smith was asked this question:  "What are we to understand by the four beasts, spoken of in the same verse?"  (i.e. Revelation 4:6.)  His answer is as follows:

"They are figurative expressions, used by the Revelator John, in describing heaven, the paradise of God, the happiness of man, and of beasts, and of creeping things, and of the fowls of the air; that which is spiritual being in the likeness of that which is temporal; and that which is temporal in the likeness of that which is spiritual; the spirit of man in the likeness of his person, as also the spirit of the beast, and every other creature which God has created."  (Ibid., 77:2.)

Again when commenting on the Revelation of John, the Prophet said:

"John saw curious looking beasts in heaven, he saw every creature that was in heaven ... actually there, giving glory to God.  How do you prove it?  (See Revelation 5:13.)   ' And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.'

"beings of a thousand forms"

"I suppose John saw beings there of a thousand forms, that had been saved from ten thousand times ten thousand earths like this,—strange beasts of which we have no conception:  all might be seen in heaven.  The grand secret was to show John what there was in heaven.  John learned that God glorified Himself by saving all that His hands had made, whether beasts, fowls, fishes or men; and He will glorify Himself with them.

"Says one,  ' I cannot believe in the salvation of beasts.'  Any man who will tell you that this could not be, would tell you that the revelations are not true.  John heard the words of the beasts giving glory to God, and understood them.  God who made the beasts could understand every language spoken by them.  The four beasts were four of the most noble animals that had filled the measure of their creation, and had been saved from other worlds, because they were perfect:  they were like angels in their sphere.  We are not told where they came from, and I do not know; but they were seen and heard by John praising and glorifying God."  (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 291-292.)

As to where the beasts, birds, and fish, and all other creatures will go after the resurrection we can only express an opinion.  John saw many of them in heaven in the presence of God.  It is very probable that they, like mankind, will be distributed in the various kingdoms, celestial, terrestrial, and telestial We may well believe that in each of these kingdoms such creatures will be assigned.

PRE-EXISTENCE OF ALL CREATURES

ALL LIFE CREATED IN THE SPIRIT.  Every creature had a spiritual existence.  The spirits of men, beasts, and all animal life, existed before the foundations of the earth were laid, and are living entities.  (Moses 3:5-9.)  As death, through the fall, has passed upon all, so the resurrection, through the mission of Jesus Christ, comes to all. (Church News, Feb. 15, 1941, pp. 1, 7: D. & C. 29:22-25.)

ANIMALS CREATED FOR MAN.  I want to give you a little explanation of man's relationship to the animals upon the earth, as the Lord has given it to us by revelation—not as it is taught by man in the world—but the true relationship which exists between man and beast.  Man is the greatest of all the creations of God.  He is his offspring.  We are all his children.  It was made known through the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, who saw it in vision, that the inhabitants of this earth and other worlds are begotten sons and daughters unto God.  (D. & C. 76:24.)  That ought to put an end—so far as Latter-day Saints are concerned—to all this nonsense prevailing in the world regarding the origin of man.

Man, I say, as the offspring of God, is the greatest of all his creations.  He is greater than the moon, the sun, and the stars, which are the work of the fingers of God, and are made for the benefit of man.  It is man's place to rule, and stand at the head of all other dominions, powers, creations, and beings, which the Lord our God has created. (Ps. 8:1-9.)

ANIMALS HAVE SOULS.  The idea prevails in general, I believe, in the religious world where the gospel truth is misunderstood, that man is the only being on the earth that has what is called a soul or a spirit.  We know this is not the case, for the Lord has said that not only has man a spirit, and is thereby a living soul, but likewise the beasts of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea have spirits, and hence are living souls.  But this does not make them kinsmen to the sons and daughters of God.  They are our Father's creations, not his offspring, and that is the great difference between man and beast.

It would be a very strange world where animals were not found.  If, after the resurrection of the dead, we discovered that man was the only living creature with immortality, we would certainly consider it a very strange world.  Yet the idea does prevail that man has a spirit and the animals have not.  Some people think this is the great thing that distinguishes man from all other beings.

FORM OF ANIMAL SPIRITS.  The fish, the fowl, the beasts of the field, lived before they were placed naturally in this earth, and so did the plants that are upon the face of the earth.  The spirits that possess the bodies of the animals are in the similitude of their bodies. In other words, the bodies of animals conform to the spirits which possess them, and which existed before they were placed on the earth; "that which is spiritual being in the likeness of that which is temporal; and that which is temporal in the likeness of that which is spiritual; the spirit of man in the likeness of his person, as also the spirit of the beast, and every other creature which God has created."  (Gen. & Hist. Mag., vol. 17, pp. 152-154; D. & C. 77:2.)

[Above are excerpts from two articles by President Joseph Fielding Smith.  The first is from "Your Question:  Do Animals Have Spirits?"  Improvement Era, Jan. 1958, 16-17.  An edited version of this article is found in Answers to Gospel Questions, 2:48-51.  The second is a passage titled "Pre-existence of All Creatures,"  Doctrines of Salvation, 1:62-64.  The original footnotes are included here parenthetically with the text.  All emphasis is in the original.]

11 Comments:

Blogger John W. Redelfs said...

I found a source online about evolution as taught by the CES that you may already be aware of. In case you are not, check it out at

http://emp.byui.edu/marrottr/OriginOfMan.htm

It is taken from Meservy, Keith H. "Evolution and the Origin of Adam" from Church Educational System Religious Educators' Symposium (August 17-19, 1978)

6/01/2005 08:21:00 PM  
Blogger Jared* said...

It appears to be the webpage of a BYU-Idaho religion professor. The collection of General Authority quotes (with his favorite parts bolded) is one thing, but the stuff at the bottom is...well all I can do is sigh.

For another BYU-Idaho perspective see here.

6/01/2005 09:53:00 PM  
Blogger Jared* said...

Back on topic, one thing I'm interested in, although there is no real answer, is how much flexibility exists in matching spirit and body. The great number of human deformaties alone suggests a fair amount. Can a dog spirit be any kind of dog, or just a specific breed. If any kind of dog, can it be a wolf? Can it be the marsupial version of a dog?

6/01/2005 09:57:00 PM  
Anonymous J. Stapley said...

What about a liger or a mule? Strictly speculating: Seems to me that there almost has to be a spectrum of "intelligence" and when an animal with a certain intelligence value pops up a spirit with a commensurate value goes down. I'm not certain there is a repository of liger spirits destined for infecund crossbreads. Or genetically engineered viruses for that matter.

6/01/2005 11:04:00 PM  
Blogger jeff g said...

One paper I heard presented at a sunstone symposium tried to suggest a kind of spiritual creation for animals where not every individual animal had a spirit, but instead animals of a species shared a 'collective spirit'. This, he thought, helped reconcile things with evolution. I thought just the opposite. Instead of allowing for gradual change in spirits of many generations this guy had adopted essentialism whole sale.

6/02/2005 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger HP said...

Not to beat my dead horse, but it seems to me that the issue isn't whether animals have spirits but rather what does that mean? Are they morally responsible for their actions in the way that humans are or not?

6/03/2005 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

John C.: President Boyd K. Packer stated rather plainly that "Animals are not subject to moral law" (Ensign, May 1992, 67). That settles it for me.

6/04/2005 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jonathan: With respect to the "Condition of Mankind in the Resurrection," President Joseph Fielding Smith said, "It is the will of the Lord that in the restoration of all things there shall come perfection. The physical defects, some of which may have resulted before birth, are defects which are due to some physical and mortal condition and not an inheritance from the spirit world." (Answers to Gospel Questions, 4:189.) I am satisfied that the same principles apply to animals whatever their birth circumstances.

6/04/2005 06:34:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jared: The entire purpose of this blog and its associated web site at http://ndbf.net is to present a point of view contrary to those you've referenced. But thanks for the links.

6/04/2005 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Jeffrey: Your comment about the guy at the sunstone symposium is fascinating. Thanks for the heads up.

6/04/2005 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

John W. Redelfs: Your BYU-Idaho link is extremenly informative and valuable. Thank you.

6/04/2005 06:40:00 PM  

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