Sunday, March 1, 2009

Do Spiders Have Souls?

In my most recent post I stated that I don't believe in a soul. I would like to expand on that a bit by saying I would like to believe in the concept of a soul, I just have not had any proof yet that a soul does indeed exist. The very fact of life itself is a miracle, and one that most of us really don't understand. I respect life, and if I see a spider in my bathtub or a fly on my living room wall, I don't swat them dead. I prefer instead to catch them on a piece of paper and put them outside. The very fact that they are living creatures makes them unique, perhaps in all the universe. The same chemical reaction in the primordial soup that created life created their lives as well as our own.

Again, this is my opinion only, based on my own beliefs. Please don't lambast me and tell me to do research first. I am not a scientist, nor am I a university-educated intellectual, I am just a person who thinks about these things, and I am probably as well as informed, or uninformed, as most of the rest of us on this particular topic.

However...

If a life form has life, does it also have a soul, or is that unique to the human race only? And if so ... why?

What is a soul? If we have souls, when were our souls created? Before we were born? When we were born? Were our souls created at the very beginning of time, when the universe was born? If our souls are timeless, and we pass on into eternity, why do our souls not remember the eternity we dwelled in before we were born?

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

... Shakespeare, The Tempest

I would love to believe in a soul. I would like to think that the essence of my mother and my father still lives on, perhaps in Heaven, perhaps in some other dimension. I miss them every day. When my mother was alive, I used to telephone her regularly and we would chat for a few minutes. One day recently I called her number -- don't ask me why -- and the phone rang at the other end. A woman picked it up, "Hello?" She sounded just like my mother, and for a moment I was suspended in time, like in the Twilight Zone. It felt as if my soul were connecting with my mother's, and I let the moment last as long as possible before I replied, "Oh, I'm sorry, I have the wrong number". In reality, I knew it was just someone who had been re-assigned my mother's telephone number.

I often wonder, do the spiders in the bathtub and the flies on the wall have souls? They are life forms, and closer to us in chemical makeup than we realize.

Naïve thoughts, perhaps, but something to think about nevertheless...

39 comments:

Carl said...

Well. Those questions have kept the philosophers in business for thousands of years right.

I am in favor of any theory that people adopt that allows them to be kind to other people (and creatures) as far as i am concerned that is all that really counts.

Thanks for this thoughtful post.
Carl

jay dee said...

Some religions believe every creature has a soul.But just like you Jo I often wonder if that applies to insects as well as the higher life forms such as ourselves,if I see a spider in the bath I lift it out if I can or use a piece of paper,at that moment I don't think of it as having a soul I just see a creature that is trapped.If we do indeed have a soul where in our bodies does it reside as far as we are told it is an invisible entity that is released when we die and passes on to another realm,I guess we will just have to wait until then to find out.

marain said...

I think everything is connected and everything is an aspect of the divine, even rocks (I sometimes wonder about the quartz crystal in my watch - if it is tortured by the electrical impulse from the battery - but I need my watch and there's no way to test the quartz crystal to see if it is in pain).

I think it's really nice that you save spiders. I have observed that spiders seem to experience fear - they try to run away and hide when people or animals come near - which would indicate that they have some sort of consciousness.

I really like what Carl said.

jackc50 said...

whether souls or heaven or god exists is just another mystery. i'm not sure we could ever really prove any of the above. and if we could, whether we would like the answers. but it does keep the mind busy on a cold sunday in march. take care jo and keep writing your blog, jc

Pauline said...

Life is life. We can define it however we want (and most of us do) but who can say with certainty what the "soul" is or what the purpose of life is or whether there is a divine spark in us. We can't conceive of nothing so we have to start with something. Right now we call that something God. And because we're self aware, why not give God some of our better attributes? Or for that matter, some of our worst. If you die before me and find out these things, come tell me and I will do the same for you...

Lover of Life said...

It sounds like all the same questions I had before I began a spiritual search many years ago. I think you have to answer that question for yourself. We all have our own theory. I believe we have souls, but I'm not sure about insects. I think it says much about us, however, if we regard them with respect for life.

TheChicGeek said...

Nice post, Jo. I agree with Carl that this question has kept philosophers in business for thousands of years. I believe we do have souls but I'm not sure about the insects. I do believe we should treat all living things with respect and kindness. I think all living things feel happiness, comfort, hunger, pain...that's just being a living organism. None of us ever really know for sure until the end and in the meantime I just have faith in God as my creator. I think life is too miraculous to be random.
Have a Great Day!

DUTA said...

The soul is not physical. It's the spiritual, immaterial self that lives after a person's death.

At our parents' graves we pray for their souls and ask the souls to pray to God in Heaven for us ,as we believe they are closer to GOD than we mortals are.

As for insects ,I am also in a very big dilemma and feel awful after having to dispose of them.

Russell said...

When I was a child and attended Catholic catechism classes, I could have answered this question quickly and easily -- and, of course, without giving the matter any thought!

As a child I felt I knew the answers to life's most difficult questions. As an adult I realize I do not.

BeNC said...

Hey Jo, you miss your mother very much indeed, and probably due to that, it propels you to ask such question?

Well, just try to make some points here... Scientifically, (I forgot who did that research though...) there was one experiment did by a scientist years ago, he had used certain methods to measure the weights, before and after of criminals who were later sentenced to death. And surprisingly, there was a slight different between the weight before the criminals died and after they dead.

After that, scientists were making all sorts of postulations about the lost weight, they even went to an extent of doing researches in the perspective of enzyme activities, cell degeneration, stuffs like that, but nothing they did seem to be logical, since those scientific consequences take time before they could happen, but in the other hand, the weight-loss incident happened right after they breathed their last breath.

Following such situation, many people as well as some of the scientists involved believed that it was the soul, which carried of the weight. Soul has its own weight within us... That's quite ironic and it was quite a speculation in a way eh?

But well, I don't know...

Cyth said...

I think that this is one of your more interesting questions. And I think that we'll not ever get a definitive answer. The World has been grappling with the question from the beginning of OUR consciousness, as it is possible that there never has been a true "begining".
As for me , I believe that there is a "spark" , an indefinable something that connects us to each other, to all "things" and beings, animals, insects , smaller components of life, like molecules, atoms, and who knows how small a particle of LIFE , AND to the Origin, whether we call that God or Spirit or whatever. I believe that it is that spark of life that is Soul. So I guess I would say that yes , spiders have souls.......
Oh I'm afraid that I could go on for days about this. But I would probably just confuse you as I do myself sometimes.
Blessings,Cyth

Just Breathe said...

Good questions, Jo!
I believe that the concept of 'soul' is quite interesting also. My belief is that because we are able to think back on those beings that affected our life, become sad, happy and experience emotions pertaining to those beings. . .we have nurtured their soul into 'existence'. In effect, if a being has left an imprint on someone's life, good or bad, it has a soul. I don't know about you but I don't mourn that darn mosquito I swatted and I am sure that his buds aren't losing sleep over it either ;-) Cats/dogs/apes/ducks/rats/bats have been documented to mourn loss.
To make a long story short, i HAVE to believe souls exist. My Mom and Sister have no mortal coil but every time I think upon them they are there. I can hear their voices plain as day in my own, see their smiles on my children's faces. . .
Bless you Jo! You always make me think :-)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I believe that if we humans have souls, then all living beings do as well.

Sometimes I ask myself if my belief in a soul is merely a security blanket protecting me from the knowledge that when we die, that's it. Still, I persist in this belief.

I was not raised in a religion, so I was not spoon-fed this idea or any other. It simply seems more likely that we would live many times, learning specific lessons each incarnation, than that the amazing material that composes us would be wasted on just one lifetime.

And I absolutely believe that it is human arrogance to imagine that we of all creatures are alone endowed with an enduring soul. Either we all have one, or none of us does. We are not as elevated as we believe, just because the other creatures don't argue philosophy with us.

introspection said...

To Jo the philosopher,

In simple words, whatever it is that puts life into our bodies and then takes it away from us, is according to me 'The Soul' You can call it soul, Almighty god's creation, or progeny: Whatever.
I also believe that soul exists, coz without something BIG (call it soul or anything) a lot of questions about life/death remain unanswered. To make life simple we must call it "soul". When you lose a dear one, it saddens you, but if murderer gets death sentence you dont get that sad. This power of deciphering what is it that makes you feel different is what "soul" controls. I dont know know why it does not reappear ever again after death is a mystery still unresolved. When ever I think of my departed parents, there is so much love, affection, sorrow of loss, and a million other feelings of longing. I certainly feel that the power of feeling this way is bcoz of our 'soul'. Atleast I would like to believe that is how it is, Jo. I would'nt like to feel any other way.

I also believe that all living creatures do have a soul. Remember your own post about the bird who lost it's mate in the middle of the road? what beautiful pictures of sorrow. Soulful, indeed.

The most powerful thing about soul seems to be the ability to love. Love of parents, children, friends, and other creatures. (I would only like to exclude cockroaches from this list as I cannot stand a cockroach, it's too creepy)...!

Untill we have proof otherwise, lets believe in soul....! Does any one agree.?

nomore said...

Guess so the spiders have their own souls i think...I can understand well what you said it from... and perfectly I agree with you....So many times,I'v been discussed about these issues with some Philosophsophists?(during my drinking beer...) through my life times...What is the soul? What is the body? What is the ESP? etc................But i could not make the suitable a result or definitions at all yet...
'Philosophy of thoughts' and the 'Philosophical of thoughts' are diffrent with each other i think...
I love to read your blogs and especially of your these topics...

Ruby Isabella said...

Cyth and heartinsanfrancisco have said pretty much everything I was going to say. I would just add that we don't remember our past lives or between lives because we are here to learn lessons and knowing these things would interfere with our learning.

Lidia said...

I think it depends on how you define soul. For me, I see the human soul as being eternal. In animals - yes they have souls too but I'm not sure of they're of an eternal nature. This is just my own thought - no proof on this but it's something I feel.

Veronica said...

Hi Jo, As always you have written a thought provoking post here... but yes, I do believe in souls and I do believe that we come back to experience and learn - whether it's 'lessons' or to just enjoy the physical experience of life on this planet. I also believe in animals having souls - I believe that my dear dog Bear (Troy) has come back to be with me once more.

Of course I have no definitive proof of all of this but equally I have no proof to the contrary. But to refer to an earlier post of yours, I guess it's part and parcel (for me anyway) of the half full glass - it's a theory that makes my life richer and more enjoyable....

with warm wishes to you V xx

Mona said...

here are some questions to consider: do you believe in love? if yes, can you prove love?

i don't know how to define a soul...i don't know how to define god either...but i do believe that all living beings have a soul...not just human.

i do bellieve in reincarnation...mainly because i choose to...one life is too short to live (: so given that, i do believe my soul was part of this universe before my body and will continue after my body dies.

why don't we remember? actually, some people do remember...though most of us don't seem to remember...i think not remembering frees us to create a new life...like starting a new job frees us from doing things the same way as we've always done or moving to a new city allows frees us to recreate our daily life.

i am reading a book titled "Kingdom of Light" by Barbara Martin. she says that when we die, our soul leaves us through our crown chakra...interesting...food for thought...

the walking man said...

The questioning is good, very good but the answer remains the same "It doesn't matter what I believe, because truth is as it knows itself to be."

The Hebrew word in Genesis translated as "soul" is Nephesh which is also translated as "breath life"...

personally I think any creature with a body that exchanges air has a soul.

The spirit...now that is a different question for a different day eh?

Firefly said...

You seem to be having one deep weekend. And I have to say that the comments are digging deep as well. I won't go into all the whole soul discussion today. I will just say: HAVE AN AWESOME WEEK!

deandean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sally's World said...

Great posts the last couple of days, thought provoking as usual. I like the way you write, I can almost hear the conversations you had with yourself about this.

I don’t think being a scientist or doing any amount of research will answer the question of a soul. I’m sure scientists ask these questions of themselves too(otherwise they wouldn’t be scientists).

I think it’s about belief really, its about believing whatever it is you need to believe in order to be a kind loving person. We all believe in things we can’t see, so the soul is that for me!

The fact that you miss the people you love and maybe feel them with you sometimes is the answer. For me, I have to believe there is something after the physical. I like to think of the people I love being around me….I’m going to get mushy now…I think of my son as a orb of glowing light, a bright star, mainly because that burst of love I feel when I think of him, isn’t something measurable for me, its my soul connecting with his…anyway…just my thoughts, and hey! Whatever it takes to get through stuff right!!!

I do feel my son around me all the time, and I think that’s where the love is, the soul, all mixed up being present still after the physical body has gone!

And while we can measure so many things, even pain, feelings, we cannot measure everything. And I guess until the day we die, we will never know what happens to our soul, and if we’re wrong…who can we tell!!!

I read a great book called ‘physics of the soul’ and it asks many of your questions…brilliant book, I think you’d like it!

Take care

Sal x

Butler and Bagman said...

I, too, think everything is connected and it is not so much that we have individual disconnected but thinking of my soul, I am thinking of the connectedness of myself to life.

Deedee said...

I definitely think there is an unseen world, beyond this finite, material one. I do believe in what we call the soul. I think it is our true essence, the life force. It is eternal and continues on after the body dies. The energy that animates all living things doesn't die-it can only change into another form.

Kimberly said...

I think we are taught that we are the only living creature that has a soul. When it is acquired? I would say at the moment of conception. Possibly all of our souls are the same when they are issued. It is then up to us whether we have a dark or loving one. I imagine visually a soul looks transparent with an illuminating light and there is no deciphering of gender. Of course all of this is purely my own opinion.

Deedee said...

P.S. - I scoop up bugs and put them outside too. :)

Dr.John said...

The Church is not sure you have a soul. The Creed says that we believe in the Resurrection of the Body. If we had a soul which had gone to heaven why we would we need the old body?

XUP said...

Humans have a very high opinion of themselves and so assign all sorts of magical, mystical, arrogant properties to their humanness. In reality we are but a speck in the grand scheme of things. As I just mentioned on someone else's blog, Earth is a grain of sand in the solar system, we are an even smaller grain of sand on earth. Did you know that dinosaurs were on the earth 44,000 times longer than man has been on Earth? So, what makes us so special?

Mclndesm said...

I do believe in the soul. I think it is what connects us as human beings,animals,bugs,birds,flowers etc. These are all living things. Now am I superior because I have the power to reason? No I don't believe that. I believe all living things have a right on this earth (even though I may not like it (ie:ticks,wasps,hornets,sociopaths,psychopaths etc) I definitely believe there is so much more Good than Evil. Evil just gets a lot of our attention (temporarily) because most of us do not live that way therefore it is an abberation. I do believe Evil is mainly a physical defect of the brain but it certainly can be active and strongly affected by enviroment and familial experiences. Having said that, when I think of 9/11 I think of a soul sickness. A soul sickness that was constantly maintained and fed by "Religion".
I have battled depression all my life and it is rampant on both sides of my family. I think how strong a stigma is attached to any illness of the mind depends on what generation one has grown up in. I have a brother and sister who both have attempted suicide (my sister is adopted)and I myself have attempted as well, Thank God none of us were successful because the joy and creativity and intelligence that we all bring to the table would have never been manifested and shared and that would have been a tradegy.
I do take meds for depression because of genetics and extreme abuse as a child caused my brain to develop in a "crisis" mode, meaning I cannot maintain my serotonin levels at an optimum level and as much as I dislike the Pharmaceutical companies, I am ever so grateful for having a medication that retains what I need to function above the din and despair of depression.
I believe the soul is the essence of one's being and never dies.
I remember a story that I heard from a family friend. She had a 4 year old daughter at the time and her daughter asked her "when am I going to be little again?" Well my friend said "No,honey you aren't going to get little, you are going to get bigger and grow up". Her daughter was very upset with that answer. My friend then asked her "why do you want to be little again?" Her daughter looked at her and said "because I have almost forgot what God's face looks like"

Ruth W. said...

Jo, I really don't think we do know the answer to this question til it becomes out time to find out.

All I can say is when I was sitting with my 98 year old father before he passed on, is that he was definitely seeing his wife (my mother) and saying how he will be joining her soon. There was a peace I have never felt before and was so happy he was thinking of her.

I'm no saying it was her spirit or soul he saw, but I was very pleased it made him so happy.

Carla said...

This is such an interesting post. And I've enjoyed reading all the thoughtful comments.

I puzzle over the same things that you do, Jo.

I really appreciate your compassion for all living things. This is what Dr. Albert Schweitzer meant when he spoke of "Reverence for Life."

Doublebanker said...

Gotta give the philosophers something to do right..

Daily Gif Blog

DB

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Cyth is right. The divine spark that separates us, however minutely, biologically speaking, from the apes.
Otherwise through plain teleological evolution, there'd be a lot of monkeys on a lot of typewriters, and it would all come out gigog.

Arley said...

Hi Jo- I just taught this very subject to my 6 year old in Religion class last month. Every human Being has a soul. Your soul is a Spirit and helps you to think, laugh, and love. Though your body dies, your soul lives forever. Our soul is made in the image and likeness of God.

commoncents said...

Nice post and nice blog.

Would you like to exchange links?

Steve
COMMON CENTS
http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

Jo said...

Carl, yes, whatever helps us to keep our centre, right?

Jay Dee, that's what my Dad used to say -- wait and see. :-)

Marain, oh, yes, we are all connected. I believe everything in the universe is connected. And more closely than we think!

Jackc50, yes, I do think some deep thoughts on a cold day in March, and there is no way to prove my theory.

Pauline, "We can't conceive of nothing so we have to start with something." I agree! We invent something.

LoverOfLife, I sort of believe that everything with life has a soul, if one exists. A soul would be the essence of life.

TheChicGeek, life is miraculous, isn't it? It would be very weird if it were random, but what else could it be?

DUTA, yes, it has been proven that prayer actually works, so there must be something to it.

Russell, yes, we learn the answers by rote, and then as we get older we start to question them, and realize we don't have the answers!

BeNC, yes I read about that experiment. In fact, they were actually able to measure the weight of the "soul" or whatever left their bodies when they died. I was amazed!

Cyth, it is an interesting question to ponder, isn't it? I believe the universe is one organism, and we are all part of it.

JustBreathe, yes, you know -- sometimes I can feel my Mom and Dad's presence, and sometimes I can even smell my Mom's perfect. Their essence must still exist somewhere!

Hearts, "And I absolutely believe that it is human arrogance to imagine that we of all creatures are alone endowed with an enduring soul." I totally agree with you. Absolutely!

Introspection, yes! (And I can't stand cockroaches either. :-) But there is some lifeforce that connects us all, during life and after death. It's mysterious!

Nomore, what a good question -- what is ESP? I have experienced ESP so many times, and I know it exists. It is part of our spiritual being, definitely!

Ruby, that is a very interesting point. I had not thought of that. Yes!

Lidia, I sometimes wonder, though, if the soul is eternal, when did it begin?

Veronica, it is better to think on the positive side, isn't it? The glass half full... To think of nothingness is just too awful.

Mona, I tend to believe in reincarnation too -- simply because I can remember things that I should not be able to remember. Interesting!

Mark, aha! Yes, I think you're right -- there is a difference between spirit and soul. Another interesting comment!

Firefly, *heh* yes, sometimes I start to think deep thoughts, and my mind runs away with me. :-)

Sally, you are so right. Love does not die when the body dies. I can still feel the love of my parents, even though they are gone. Very much so! I know you can feel your son's presence!

Butler and Bagman, yes ... ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee...

DeeDee, "The energy that animates all living things doesn't die-it can only change into another form." Einstein used to believe that too. I tend to agree.

Kimberly, wow! What an interesting idea. I guess that is sort of like a ghost. Would a ghost be a soul?

Dr. John, I have often wondered about that myself. Interesting!

XUP, yes, I think what we think makes us special is our ego. Humans are the only animals to have an ego!

McIndesm, omigoodness! Thank you for sharing that. The human being and the human condition is so complex, isn't it? There should NEVER be any stigma attached to any illness. I am so glad your suicide attempt was not successful...!!!! Goodness!

Ruth, you know, I have heard so many people say that can "see" someone who has passed on before them, at the time of their death. It's as if their loved one has come for them.

Carla, everyone should have reverence for life, and I feel so bad for those folks who don't. All life is sacred, isn't it?

Doublebanker, oh, but where would we be without the philosophers?

Ivan, humans and apes share 99% of their DNA. We are very close in many ways...!

Arley, I hope that is true. I guess we will never know until the time comes. :-)

Commncents, thanks! :-)

kat said...

Well said Jo.

I love life... Life... the miracle that every living being is and the connectedness of us all.

I have reverence for the processes that brought them into being and is ever at work in crafting this world... all worlds.

Man's explanations throughout all history and cultures is his attempt to understand and explain it but all to often it has been to place himself at the center of it all and for whom it was all put there for....It is an egocentric notion that he has yet to rise above.... and no doubt there was an evolutionary advantage in maintaining a cohesive society .... but now we sorely need more intelligent discourse on the urgent issues facing all peoples.... real understanding of the problems facing this global world and all peoples.... the 'afterworld' should be the least of our concerns and energy... 'our immortality' should be of less importance than the very real and present futures of our children and living species everywhere...

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