Do Animals Have Souls?

Do animals have souls? I think that every parent has had to deal with their child losing a pet.  The question that naturally follows is “Is my pet in heaven now?”.  This is a difficult question to answer.  We want our children to be comforted, but not at the expense of truth.

So, do animals have souls? Yes, I believe they do. Genesis 1:20, 24, 30; 9:12, 15-16 all use the Hebrew word nepes is used to describe the animals.  This word means “possessing life” and is used for both humans and animals.  

What Kind Of Souls Do Animals Have?

And I believe our common experience with certain animals should lead us to believe they have souls. If you’ve ever had a dog or a cat, you know that they have personalities.  These characteristics exceed what can be explained by evolutionary processes.  Why does one dog like a certain type of food, but not another?  Why do animals raised in the same house prefer one human over another? 

That being said, animals don’t have the same type of souls as humans.  Animals are not capable of moral reasoning. When Zeva the apologetic wonder dog steals the cat food in our house, we don’t put her on trial and sentence her to 30 days in her kennel.  Because animals lack moral awareness, they are not morally accountable for their actions. Thus, they would not fall under the grace of the cross.  

Will They Be In Heaven?

It seems a bit unclear then what this means as far as heaven goes. It’s never directly addressed in the Bible.  Scripture does seem to clearly indicate that animals will be in the resurrection with us. Isaiah 11:6 says:

            “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,

The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,

The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;

And a little child shall lead them.[1]

Some of the greatest Christian thinkers, including C.S. Lewis and Peter Kreft, believe that our pets specifically will be with us in the resurrection.  I am content to rely on these scholars’ opinions.  I do believe our pets will be with us in the resurrection. Prepare for lots of games of fetch!   

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[1]The New King James Version. (1982). (Is 11:6). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.