Do animals go to heaven? How do they differ from humans?

Hi Bala,
Our family dog has died, and while this is a difficult time, it has caused my daughter (15) to ask some very good questions such as:
Will we see our dog in heaven?
How are animals different than humans?
We are able to have some deep conversations on how to deal with suffering, how suffering can point us to heaven because ‘somehow death and suffering is wrong’. It’s also interesting as we try to comfort just how different God has made men and ladies - we think differently, we grieve differently. I’ve learnt to not try to ‘fix it’ but just listen and be there. :slight_smile:

On an unrelated note: I’m currently reading through Tim Keller’s book ‘Walking with God through pain and suffering’ - only up to chapter 3. I’m learning that in Western culture, we shield ourselves away from any suffering and secular humanism is the least equiped to deal with suffering. Life is about pleasure, and when suffering gets in the way of that, then meaning is lost and there is no hope.

A pastor once mused to me long ago that he wonders if God has designed dog’s lives to be about 1/5 of our lives so we are gently reminded that we will not last forever either.

My question is, as you have studied both Veterinary Science, and Philosophy and Religion I wondered if you had mused on any of the following points

  1. Why does it seem on normal TV in documentaries that it is ‘assumed knowledge’ that evolution is true, and that we are just monkeys - and by evolution I mean without any Creator.
    David Attenborough, for example constantly is amazed at how Nature using evolution designs animals to work so well. It seems that he is blind to what he is saying: unguided processes + time + chance = amazing design that works perfectly

  2. According to Genesis, we humans are created in God’s image, and we exclusively get to decide on the value of one animal over another. I’ve often wondered why do we humans put so much value in a ‘good animal’ such as a family dog, cat, pet etc. But then we, without even thinking about it, squash a scorpion, or poison rats, or spray spiders and insects with pesticide. We as a society, assign great value to say a dolphin because it is highly intelligent and it should be saved as a ‘moral right’ thing to do… Interestingly, a Christian would have the exact same conclusion as an atheist in this area. A Christian is called to be a good steward of God’s creation. An atheist thinks this planet is all we’ve got so we need to save it to ensure our species survival.

  3. It seems that there are great efforts to prove that we have the almost the same DNA as say monkeys, but when looking at the plain facts - there appears to be a very vast difference between humans and animals. The line (of difference) between animal kingdom and humans appears very wide.

  4. I’ve watched a series with my family recently on Netflix called Animal Hoarders, where it appears that people who have been through either loss of close family members by death, struggle to deal with a deal of a child of their own and unable to have more, or have a severely traumatised childhood (distant abusive parents, foster care) - collect animals over time in a somewhat addictive behaviour.
    I find it interesting in several episodes that the people having to have their animals removed always say that ‘the animals give me unconditional love’, and that ‘humans can’t be trusted because they let you down’, and in particular ‘the animals need me and I’m not going to let them down like I’ve been let down’.
    I wonder, if they are filling their deep longing for relationship - which we all have. I think our deep desire is to know and to be known deeply by another or other people but in fact our deepest desire is to know God and be known by Him.

Sorry this is long - I tried to be brief - and understand that I’ve raised 4 large areas of discussion and even if you had time to talk about one that would be appreciated. :slight_smile:
Thank you for your ministry at RZIM as an itinerate speaker - I’m personally very blessed by this ministry.

All the best to you and your family in the year ahead.
Kind regards
Matt

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Hi Matt,

Wishing you and your family too a blessed new year.

Well, I am so sorry to hear about your dog. During the course of my Veterinary practice, I have met many who have gone through similar experiences. So I understand the feeling. Thank you for raising the question.

First of all, as a matter of fact, all animals are conscious living beings. They were created with capacities such as emotions e.g., fear, desires etc. Of course they vary from one to the other. Also the degree of expressions may also vary. Some may appear more intelligent that the others (depending upon training) as in the case of dogs and dolphins etc. However, there are certain capacities that they do not seem to have. Especially, when you compare (all the creatures that God has created) them with man (the Imago Dei as described in Gen. 1:26-28).

The soul of man is not only different but also unique from the rest of God’s creation particularly animals. From a Biblical point of view, man is not only unique but also has a destiny. No wonder Christ in the incarnation became a God-man (and not God-animal (Narishimha) as is often described in the Hindu mythology). Man is uniquely created with the capacity to have a relationship with God. So much so that when man goes astray from God’s blueprint, he is warned not to become like the ‘horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you’ (Psalm 32:9). Man (unlike the beast) would not simply perish but have a future (Psalm 49:20). We clearly se the distinction between man and the animals.

To your question, “will we see our pets in heaven?”

Well, all I can say is, if at all they (animals or in this case pets) are there in the new Heaven and the new Earth as mentioned in Isaiah 11: 6-8, then there presence is not necessarily in the same sense as man. For man’s presence in heaven would be through the resurrection by the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is God’s desire that man’s delight should be only in God and nothing else. In our spiritual pursuit we ought to be cautious as to ensure that nothing else (except God) takes a prominent place in our heart to be our delight for eternity.

Concerning your first question, here is a link (https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/9284-faith-and-science) a write-up titled ‘Faith and Science’ wherein I have written to answer three important questions:

  1. Does belief in God make sense in an age of Science?
  2. The case for the creator
  3. The case for Biblical creation.
    They are just one page each and through these write-up I have tried to deal with the issues you have raised. Once you read it, please feel free to ask me any follow up questions if you have.

Thank you.

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