by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1999. All rights reserved.
More than 90 years ago the author Anatole France wrote a novel titled 'Penguin Island' in which a blind monk baptizes a flock of penguins, mistaking them for a group of small people.
The monk's error creates a crisis in heaven, as God and his advisors debate whether birds should be given souls. They struggle with the pros and cons of the idea before finally accepting Saint Catherine's recommendation that birds be given souls, but only small ones.
Personally, I've never thought much about the souls of birds or fish or reptiles. Like most folks, I suppose, I've accepted the idea that these are "lower life forms" incapable of the kinds of thoughts and feelings we have in common with mammals. We humans stand at the top of the pile, according to our philosophies, with dominion over all the other creatures.
Dominion, however, implies responsibility. We can have our way with animals, but are we really free to do with them as we like?
Continued at... Small Souls
The Nature Pages
Artwork: Nature's Harmony