Thursday, February 19, 2009

Animal Law

After a discussion on the FAIR mailing list about evolution and creationism, I find myself wondering about animals and the gospel. I'm also reminded of a debate I had with my husband several months ago about whether or not animals had laws to obey, whether they could be good or evil, whether they were created or always existed as we have, and so on.

The first thing that came to my mind was that animals must definitely be resurrected because they are present in the afterlife. There are numerous accounts of God sitting on a throne surrounded by animals. D&C 77 also has Joseph Smith mentioning resurrected animals during a Q&A about Revelations.

In Revelation 5:13, it says "[a]nd 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," which leads me to believe that every creature will be resurrected.

What I wonder is where animal spirits come from, what their purpose is here on Earth, and what is the purpose of their interaction with us. Mostly, I wonder if animals have laws that they are able to obey and disobey as we do.

I found an Ensign article that had a Q&A about animals. It says that according to Joseph Fielding Smith, animals do not have a law, and that they are innocent and are not able to disobey.

However, everything I read pertaining to the Gospel and animals suggests that animals are meant to be resurrected and experience joy, just like we are. Also, 2 Nephi 2:10,11,15 says that there must be opposition in all things, and that there can be no happiness unless there is righteousness and there can be no righteousness unless a law is given. Perhaps animals are given laws, but they simply never disobey. This was certainly the case in Numbers 22:21-33 when Balaam's ass refused to disobey the angel, despite being beaten by her rider. Brigham Young says “that the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms—the earth and its fulness—will all, except the children of man, abide their creation—the law by which they were made, and will receive their exaltation.” Also, Helaman 12:7 says that man are even less than the dust of the earth, because it always obeys (unlike us).

Well, either way, I know that we absolutely must be respectful and kind to animals. Thoughtless treatment of the Earth and its creatures that we have been given stewardship over is in contrast to all of the teachings we have been given. Rather than get any more long-winded about it, I'll post one last quote and links to some really good articles on Mankind and Nature.

“In pitching my tent we found three massasaugas or prairie rattlesnakes, which the brethren were about to kill, but I said, ‘Let them alone—don’t hurt them! How will the serpent ever lose his venom, while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to make war upon it? Men must become harmless, before the brute creation; and when men lose their vicious dispositions and cease to destroy the animal race, the lion and the lamb can dwell together, and the sucking child can play with the serpent in safety.’ The brethren took the serpents carefully on sticks and carried them across the creek. I exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent, bird, or an animal of any kind during our journey unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger.” Joseph Smith, (Documentary History of the Church, vol. 2, pp. 71–72.)

Man's Dominion
The Gospel and Animals
Stewardship of Creation


  1. I feel deeply for animals and have always been immersed in them. I was born on a ranch and have helped raise Guide Dogs for the blind. I love animals, but I would never bear an unnecessary risk such as rattle snakes when my family or friends are at stake. The animals follow laws and are mostly governed by instinct when out in the wilds, I would sooner kill the serpent than allow it to sink its fangs into my loved ones.

    Where I would not condemn a man for protecting his family, I would condemn him for doing any harm for any cause less than survival.

  2. Personally, I think animals are here the same reason people are here. Like us they were put on the Earth to be tested. It's pretty much the same with how different peopl are tested in different ways.
    Members are tested by how well they obey God's commandments and spread the gospel, which is what we were sent here to do.
    Someobdy else may be tested by how charitable they are becuase maybe they were put on the Earth to create a charity of some sort.
    Animals are probably tested by how well they fufill their rolls in nature.
    Although, I have to wonder why humans are different. I don't mean to sound prideful, but humans are more important than any other individual species. It says in Genesis 1:26 that man has dominion over the other animals.
    to me, this emans there is something significant seperating humans and animals.
    It says somewhere in Moses that all things are created spiritually before thye were placed on the Earth. Personally, I don't think every animal has it's own soul. If they did then it would just as horrible to kill an animal as it is to kill a human. So how then can all animals have some sort of spirit, but not be equal to humans?
    One theory I've come up with -although I have nothing but my own thoughts to back it up- that it's possible that every species of animal has one soul. This would make some sense since most animals of the same species act pretty much the same. It's probably something like from Madagascar 2 with all the clone-ish zebras.
    And I know I've made my own blog entry here, but I figured you might be mildly interested in my opinion, if not for consideration then at elast for mocking.

  3. Hauntfox - I would probably have killed the snakes, too, unless there was another option. It seems that they carried them across a river, which was probably sufficient in keeping them away. Also, since it was a camp, they wouldn't be in the same place the next day, so I think in this situation, killing them was a needless option.

    However, I would kill an animal if it posed a threat to myself or someone else. I would kill one of my own dogs if I thought they would kill or maim a human being.

    By the way, the fact that you like animals makes you awesome.

    LCB - Grandpa Schindler told me he thought all animals of the same species have the same soul. I disagree, though. I've met animals of the same species that seem vastly different to me. Also, species aren't a cut and dry thing. Given how long animals have been living on this planet and the cornucopia of species that has come forth, some so similar to others, and some evolving into others. I wouldn't know where to draw the line between different species. Of course, it's possible, that's just my opinion.

    I don't see a problem with there being "too many" animal spirits (like when people point out that if every fly has a soul, that's trillions of flies). Since the universe is endless, I don't see a problem with that.