Interesting topic. I'm a Christian and have an extensive religious education for a layperson (I am a lifelong Episcopalian and am fairly active in church matters). So I'm speaking here from that standpoint and I do not intend to push my ideas onto others, just merely state them...
I believe in the afterlife (actually "after" is a misnomer -- life eternal begins at awareness and continues into the next plane) but a person may choose to "die" by denying the gift of eternity and simply winking out. Anyway...
I thought for years that when we love a pet, we "transfer" a portion of our immortal spirits to that animal and therefore imbue that pet with immortality, too.
Some years later, reading the great writer and Christian apologist C.S. Lewis, I found that he believed the same sort of thing. So I was in good company with my own idea.
I also believe that our souls are immortal because as a scientist, I know that there is energy in our life and our spirit, and that energy cannot just "cease to exist" because that violates principles of conservation of energy. That our soul is energy that does not disappear when our physical bodies give out.
I'm of course not the only person to think this -- such "scientifically religious" concepts have been around in one form or another for centuries. In Eastern religions, the "Atman" (similar to a soul) flows back into the "great sea" when we die. But Christians (and others) have it more personal, that the individual spirit or soul continues always.
That's my personal belief, some of it mainstream (although mostly Anglican) Christianity, and some personal "tweaks" on this.
I do believe that our beloved pets are "gifted" eternal spirits or souls, given to them by us, as part of our "bargain" with God, we being suzerain (rulers by fief) over the Earth and all within.
You can look over a thread I started recently about my big fuzzball "RJ" whom I had to euthanize July 5, with great regret but with prayerful resolve. Were I not to believe that RJ is running happy and free at the Rainbow Bridge, I don't think I could endure it. But I do believe it. I really do.
Last edited by doodlebug; 07-12-2014 at 11:49 PM.
Reason: We don't need a lecture about not lecturing.