Origin of Soulish Animals

by Dr. Hugh Ross

Ongoing debates over the origin of life have focused only on the origin of the physical attributes of life. The origins of the “soulish” and spiritual aspects of Earth’s higher life-forms remain largely ignored. However, two recently published papers, one in Behavioral and Brain Sciences and the other in Nature, now alert the scientific community to the severe challenges the origins of soulishness and spirituality pose to naturalistic models for life.

On three occasions in the Genesis 1 creation account God claims to perform a transcendent creation miracle. (A transcendent creation miracle occurs when God creates something brand new that never existed before, independent of, or from outside of, any of the material components of the universe, including the laws of physics and the spacetime dimensions of the universe. Transcendent miracles are distinguished from transformational miracles where God takes something He already created [for example, the dust of the Earth] and transforms or manufactures it into something far more complex [the body of Adam].)

Genesis 1 describes three transcendent miracles: the creation of the universe in verse 1, the creation of “soulish” animals in verse 21, and the creation of human beings “in the image of God” in verse 27. These passages represent the only ones in Genesis 1 where the Hebrew verb, bara (“create”), appears. They imply that the origin of life has three components: the origin of physical life, the origin of soulish life, and the origin of spiritual life.

According to the Bible, soulish life includes creatures in which God endowed mind, will, and emotions so that they can form relationships with members of their own species as well as with human beings. God designed soulish animals so that each kind serves and/or pleases humanity in its own distinct way. The Bible claims that before humans even existed soulish animals were preprogrammed by God to relate to and to serve and please human beings.1

The Bible defines spiritual life as a God-given capacity in creatures to discover and to form a relationship with Him. In the same manner that He designed soulish animals to serve and please humanity, He made humans to serve and please Him.

Secular scientific literature has paid scant attention to the origin of humanity’s spiritual attributes, and virtually no research considers the origin of the soulish features observed in the higher animals, particularly birds and mammals. From a philosophical perspective, avoiding the origin of soulishness and spirituality makes perfect sense. For Darwinian explanations of life both issues are dangerous minefields…

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