Tuesday, 7 December 2010

"Do Animals go to heaven?"

"Do Animals go to heaven?"

Caution: may get you debating yourself into a confused state. I like confusion and debate; they do not restrict my faith!

I wrote a massive assignment on salvation as part of my doctrine course and it was mighty challenging.   Here are just some of the questions I debated, laboured over, worried over and got in an emotional state over:
- Are we really born sinners? 
- Is salvation only for Christians? 
- what about those unaware of Christianity?
- How does this fit with "God is love"?
- how about Jesus' resurrection forgiving all through all time?  
- So Mike is damned? 
- And what about my miscarried babies?
- and how about animals?

I could of course undertake a load more theological research and analysis around these questions, but I'd rather ponder and hear from others.  So why has this been picked as the first subject of ponder? Mainly because a 10 year old out and out asked me today "do you believe that my pets have gone to heaven?". I knew what to say, I know what I believe, I told him that yes I do believe pets go to heaven.  And bingo, I was back pondering the issue.

So what are the issues?
- what does the bible say?
- it is the soul that goes to heaven; do animals have souls?
- when did Humans get their "souls"?
- is there space? Think of all the cockroaches!
- if animals go to heaven then how about any extra terrestrials?

[b]what does the bible say?[/b]
There are mentions of animals as a key part of creation, as saved by Noah and to be cared for but nothing linking animals and the afterlife.  In fact there are some mentions of those people who don't live correctly being no more than animals which hints one way. But would God have saved all the animals from the flood if he didn't value them equally as humans?

[b]it is the soul that goes to heaven; do animals have souls?[/b]
Elephants mourn their dead.
Dolphins search for lost family.
Dogs need social interactions to thrive.
Chimps, gorillas, orang utangs and other apes grieve the loss of family.

Certainly animals have intelligence, social structure and emotionality of varying degrees; but it would seem that "soul" is a word reserved for humans.

[b]when did humans get their souls?[/b]
First let me declare: I know evolution to be scientifically true, explained in layman terms by Genesis. 

We are descended from Neanderthal man, early man, preman (etc), apes, smaller mammals, amphibians, fish...single cell organisms. (please excuse my biological summary and see Darwin "on the origin of species" for more detail.)

So when did we cease to be a mere animal without a soul (as we understand it for us), and become humans with souls? When did that evolutionary leap happen?

This, for me, tells us that animals have souls as much as we do, we are after all just one genetic step from them.

[b]is there space? Think about all the cockroaches![/b]
It's a good job that God is omniscient and omnipresent because our minds can not conceive of all it must be in Heaven.  There will be space, I'm sure of it.  Although I'd quite like a cockroach free, spider free, scorpion free zone!

[b]if animals go to heaven then how about any extra terrestrials?[/b]
So, how about it?
It seems statistically likely that there will be life elsewhere in the universe. So how does this lifeform(s) fit into our understanding?

I know God to be bigger that all time and space, this just include the universe.  So surely that would mean that any ETs would be included in His love and would reside after death in His heaven.

Think, debate, enjoy and please feed back to me. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting post, and a question that everyone will get asked, at least once. Personally, I'm a little sceptical about animals 'going to heaven', but am open to being convinced.

A couple of thoughts....You write that it is the 'soul' that goes to heaven, but I think this is more the influence of Greek thought, which pictures the soul almost as if it is trapped by the sinful body and then released at death. Paul in 1 Cor. 15 talks about the resurrection body, which implies something more than just a disembodied 'soul'.

Also, there's the new earth to consider as well. Is heaven our final destination, or is the recreated and redeemed new earth? If creation is to be part of the new earth then there's every possibility that animals will be part of the new earth.

Just a couple of thoughts.