Do turkeys have souls? Some food for thought

Animal spirits often personify moral lessons of good or evil in Native American cultures. Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) are “Give-away eagles” because of their agreeable taste and “great kindness” (or uncanny ability to be fooled by hunters imitating their calls).

Altruistic humans (Homo sapiens) often sacrifice their bodies for the benefit of others, as Christ died for our sins. He said, “Greater love has none than this: to lay down one’s life for another.”

People have even trained dogs to lay down their lives for us, but it’s hard for me to imagine a dog, let alone a turkey, sacrificing itself for me with a higher purpose. At any rate, I’m still not sure if turkeys have souls per se. But if they do, they are among the most generous souls every fourth Thursday of November in the USA.

Then again, I do not believe you have a soul.

You have a body. You are a soul. In other words, your soul has a body and not the other way around. This phenomenon is referred to as human duality or our dual nature.

Knowing you are an eternal soul means you should live life as if there were eternal moral consequences. This might resolve any boredom issues you’ve been having lately and you may need to make some apologies as well as forgive a few people.

According to The Bible, it is impossible to have two masters. So inevitably, we must decide which of our dual natures will dominate our lives. Will you allow your flesh, or your soul to take the reigns? For example, on account of your spiritual life, let’s hope your body doesn’t have a pet soul that it drags along to church once a week out of some dreadful sense of duty.

The word “soul” originates from ancient words referring to the mind or psyche, so be very careful what you think. It seems a soul should be much, much more than a mere calculating brain, doesn’t it? After all, it encompasses our awareness of divinity and love. Many cultures suggest a soul is that part of a person capable of union with God. Proverbs 23:7 is blunt about the connection between heart, mind, and soul, “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”

Soul talk always reminds me of the time a depressed colleague confided in me at the coffee pot at 7 a.m., one morning before class.

“Hi Andy – you’re a scientist and a logical thinker, right?” (I nodded warily.)

“Well, (deep sigh), I’ve just lost both of my parents. I watched helplessly as they shriveled down to skin and bones. In both cases, the last two months I sat next to living skeletons without brainwaves in a hospital bed. It was so raw that the thought occurred to me, ‘Maybe this life is just dust-to-dust and that’s it? Game over.’ It left me with very little faith in an afterlife. Now what I want you to do is give me one good logical reason to believe I’ll ever see my parents again.”

Knowing my earthly wisdom was insufficient I quickly deferred to the Lord and prayed silently for only two seconds: “Please Lord, give me Your Wisdom in this moment.” Then, after pouring coffee into my cup, out of nowhere, God gave me a line and I not only spoke it, but knew exactly where it was leading (an abbreviated version of our conversation follows):

“If something did happen once, then it could happen again, right? That’s logical.”

“Yes,” came the response.

“Good. What year were you born?”

“1950.” A puzzled look appeared on my colleague’s face.

“Okay, if you were born in 1950, where were you in 1948?”

“Well, of course, I didn’t exist.”

“Right, you didn’t physically exist. Then by a miraculous twist of fate you were physically born into your parents’ loving arms. They gave you a wonderful childhood, I presume, and that’s why you want to see them again. When you grew up, fell in love, and got married, you wanted to raise your own family in the same loving manner, right?”

“Yes,” still looking perplexed but nodding.

“And after all of these wonderful years together, your parents’ bodies finally grew weary and expired horribly before your eyes leaving you questioning the meaning of life.”

“That pretty much sums it up.”

“You can’t see the logical precedence because – it is you! I mean your life is the logical precedence you seek. It’s far too obvious like an eye that sees, but cannot see itself.”

We stood astonished by the revelation.

“The gift of life makes us debtors to God and never creditors. None of us did anything to deserve to be born and loved, but the miracle of life happens to us all just the same and it is so beautiful that when it goes away, it hurts a lot. All the same, if the miracle of this life with your loved ones did happen once, then logically, it could happen again.”

“I guess I’ve never thought of it that way.”

“Me neither (with my signature dumb turkey gaze), but I have to go now my class is waiting.”

“Thank you, Andy. I really needed to hear that .”

Pointing up, “I count it a blessing to be able to use my logical brain for something worthwhile.”

At any rate, this Thanksgiving season, regardless of whether you’re a turkey or a person, if you deeply appreciate all of the wonderful love in this life and you have only 10 minutes and two seconds to share it with a soul in need, you may even discover new depths to your own soul.

Happy Thanksgiving Day to you all!