Published: October 31. 2009 12:01AM
Are there animals in heaven or the afterlife?
We asked readers this month about animals in heaven or the afterlife.
Here is what you had to say:
Oh, how I wish when I die my dog Skippy or mycat Peaches would meet me at the gate and we would go on like we werenever apart. Life would be easier to live if after death we could allmeet in a glorious place and continue on with the people and pets whopassed before us.
Unfortunately, I believe that is not the way itworks. When people and animals die, they are kept alive by our fondmemories of them and, in the case of people, our genes that ourchildren and grandchildren carry. Sadly for all living things, when wedie that is the end.
— Virginia Weaver Sabol, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Erie
Buddhism considers all of life to be evolvingtoward higher consciousness and sees nonhuman life to be divine, justas is human life. Animals are seen to be an evolving kingdom of livingcreatures destined in time to attain perfect enlightenment. Therefore,to harm any living thing is to do injury to the divine. Since animalsare considered to be traveling toward enlightenment just as humans are,neither are they to be harmed, discouraged or hampered in theirprogress.
— Jim Hamilton, Erie Karma Thegsum Choling Tibetan Buddhist Center
I may not be able to prove that animals do ordo not have the necessary souls that would bring them to the afterlife,but I will say that the afterlife will be a very lonely and horribleplace if our dearest friends and “family” were not there to greet uswhen we cross over the veil.
— Grollwynn (Christopher Temple), Whispering Lake Grove, ADF
I do not believe that animals go to heaven whenthey die. The Bible does not teach on whether animals have souls or ifthey can even go to heaven. The first book in the Bible, Genesis,states both man and animals do have the breath of life (Genesis 1:30,6:17, 7:17 and 7:22).
There is a big difference between humans andanimals. The difference is humans are made in God’s likeness and image(Genesis 1:26-27). God also breathed into the nostrils of man thebreath of life (Genesis 2:7). Humans are capable of spirituality, andfuture heaven is promised to mankind but never animals that die(Philippians 3:20, 1 Peter 1:4). Animals are a part of God’s creativeprocess, and God said that they were good (Genesis 1:25). I alsobelieve that animals will be a part of the future kingdom but it isimpossible to say whether they can die and come back to life (Isaiah11:6, 65:25).
— Seth Crowell, Assemblies of God, Erie
I don’t think that much about the afterlife,but it seems to me that without all of those that we have loved (andthat includes the animals who add so much to our lives), that it wouldbe incomplete. So, if Morgaine Imelda, Smokey Joe and all the otherfurry friends aren’t there, I’m not going.
— Mike Mahler, Erie
Of course there are animals in the afterlife. Ican’t imagine God denying us one of his greatest creations. Not a daygoes by that I am not amazed, amused, entertained and loved by one ofGod’s creatures. God did not put animals on this Earth just for food orsport. Instead, he put them here for three other reasons.
The first is to enjoy. Who hasn’t admired abeautiful bird in their yard, and look at the millions of people whoflock to our forests and parks just to catch a glimpse of an elk, deeror even a bear.
We also learn from animals. Every day, sciencediscovers another way we can learn from these creatures. It may be thestudy of the traffic patterns of ants or how bird migration correspondswith the weather.
At last there’s love. That unconditional loveyour pet gives you every day. They don’t care how you look, the moneyyou make or even if your breath is bad. They are there to greet andlove you after your long day.
No, I can’t imagine God not including animals in our afterlife. Without them, we would be missing the “life” in afterlife.
— Cheryl Wenslow, Unity in Edinboro
This may be the easiest question I’ve had allday. Just go to Revelation 6:2,4,5 and 8. I take the Bible at facevalue. I’m sure John knew what a horse looked like, so there would beno mistaking it for something else. Also, God made all living things. Ibelieve he can “talk” to all living things, and they have a way to talkto him. To say otherwise puts limits on God. My God has no limiters.
— Bob Boyd, Immanuel Baptist Church, Erie
The church has no explicit doctrine about animals in heaven or the afterlife. It’s a matter of theological speculation.
However, concerning “last things” the churchteaches about “a new heaven and a new Earth,” that presumably includesanimals (Lumen Gentium,48; Catechism 1042-1050). My wife and I havesimilar discussions about whether or not animals have souls.
According to Aristotle and Aquinas, they do.But they define “soul” very broadly as the “principle of life” or “lifeforce.” Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston College and apopular author, speculates that there must be animals in heaven. Hisopinion can be summarized in this simple syllogism: 1. Heaven is astate of perfect happiness. 2. Animals (including our pets) are part ofour happiness. 3. Therefore, animals are part of heaven.
Jesus didn’t say anything about animals inheaven. But I often wonder what happened to the donkey after Jesus’triumphal entry on Palm Sunday.
— Deacon Dennis Kudlak, Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, Erie
I believe there is a heaven for animals and an afterlife for them.
I act responsibly and lovingly toward all ofGod’s creatures. Acceptance, love, kindness, generosity — all thesequalities can be true of the pets that share our lives.
I bless all animals in my prayers, alwaysacknowledging that they, too, are being divinely cared for and loved bythe same God that protects and loves all.
I give thanks for the pets who keep me andothers company. More than just animals, they are beloved familymembers. These pets never need to be asked for love and acceptance.They are given without question and without thought of return. I givethanks for animal friends and the joy they add to my life.
All creatures proclaim their father’s power andtestify his love. All creatures are miracles and gifts from God, but Ibelieve because I’ve seen the miracle of love. These are theoverflowing riches of his grace. There is a heaven for all of God’screatures. They were here first.
— Rita Trabert, St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, Erie
As Toto was in the land of Oz, so animals will be in heaven.
That’s great news for most people, especiallyto think that in the place of perfection, there will be no moreaccidents on the carpet.
Animals don’t have souls like people, so Idoubt very much that I’ll see my dog again. But animals will be part ofthe new creation of God. What was created in perfection the first timewill be re-created in perfection the second time.
The prophet Isaiah gives us a glimpse into thenext life, where the wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the calf withthe lion. Animals are part of God’s eternal created order.
In Revelation 21, we behold the Lamb, a namefor Jesus Christ. The time frame there is the eternal state. If animalswere not in heaven, no one there would understand what the metaphormeans.
Yes, expect to see animals in heaven. You’ll encounter a zoo there like none on Earth.
— Rev. Al Detter, Grace Church, McKean
“The whole creation eagerly awaits therevelation of the sons of God.” Romans 8:19 “The world itself will befreed from its slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedomof the children of God.” — Romans 8:21
From these statements in the Bible, we can seethat all creation — plants, animals, along with us humans who care forthem on this Earth, are waiting for their freedom.
Remember how God told Noah to take the animalsinto the ark so they would survive the great flood? It was out of hisgreat love for the work of his hands, the innocent animals of which manis the greatest.
Thus, the animals will also be living with us in heaven, as in the garden of paradise, as their creator intended.
Sin entered the world by one man Adam, but byone man, Jesus Christ, we were freed from the curse of sin andcorruption. As we will live in the glory of God in his kingdom, so alsowill the rest of his creation.
God is love, and he wants the best for allthings that he made — all people, trees and plants, cats, dogs andevery kind of living creature. The lion will lie down with the lamb. Inthe kingdom of peace, we will be united with God, and reunited witheach other and with our beloved animals.
— Ann M. Filutze, Order of Secular Discalced Carmelites, St. Joseph Community, Erie
The Bible informs us that God created Adam andEve in his image and likeness. All the creatures of the Earth, theheavens and of the sea were made for our use. They were put here forfood, aiding in labor and providing comforting companionship as pets.
I personally feel animals are to be used andfully appreciated during their life span, but afterlife in heaven justisn’t there for them. Having said that, in all truth I’d rather selectsome pets instead of some of the earthly “human losers” I’ve workedwith over the years to share my eternal reward with, that’s for sure.
But it’s God’s call, not mine.
— Leo Swigonski, Holy Family Catholic Church, Erie
As a Neopagan, specifically an ADF Druid, Ioffer praise to the Three Kindred; the Shining Ones, the Nature Spiritsand the Ancestors. As all living animals are part of the NatureSpirits, when their bodies die and they leave this world, I believethose spirits exist as part of the Ancestors.
The Ancestors are not just of my blood (in thecase of a family member or pet), they are of spirit, too. There areanimals who are now extinct, or those hunted for food (and given thegift of life to others), for those that have gone I offer praise; be itstories, songs, food, to show them I have not forgotten them, that theyare appreciated, honored and shown praise.
So, these beings will exist, as spirits, as part of the dead, as a form of the Ancestors.
Personally, as for an afterlife, I concernmyself with the here and now. If we make virtuous choices, and dothings well now, the next life will be taken care of when we get there.
— Grey (Paul) Whittney, Snow Water Grove, ADF
God said let the Earth bring forth creatures according to their kinds, and God saw it was good (Genesis).
You fall in love with pets and they fill your home with love.
My beloved cat and dogs have been four-legged blessings in my life with their unconditional love for me.
They know when I am happy or sad. They keep my secrets and never betray me.
When my world fell apart, my pet was right atmy side, ready to snuggle, listen and with her eyes say, “Mom, thingswill get better soon!”
Since God created pets to be my very bestfriends and companions in life, I truly believe with all my heart thatGod will greet me with my family and friends along with Lady, Flipper,Pumpkin, Bozo, Turkey-Bird and Rosie.
We will all cross the Rainbow Bridge to be together forever once again in heaven.
— Rebecca Bliley, First Presbyterian Church of Waterford
I do believe that there are animals in heavenor the afterlife. Animals have a life of their own and have some of thesame characteristics a human has. Some people even consider the petthey have as part of the family.
I know plenty of families that have buriedtheir pets and gave them a ceremony just as they would for humans. Justbecause animals look different and are from the wild doesn’t mean theydon’t have feelings.
God said that he created everyone equally. Ibelieve this goes for animals as well. A big reason why I believe thisis because of pain. No one likes the word pain and hates feeling it,and I think that’s how animals feel about it to. They feel pain, justas much as humans do, and it would be wrong to not think animals go toheaven or an afterlife.
— Jeff Slater, Christian
I have always heard about the Rainbow Bridge.It’s the place where all the pets you ever had wait for you in heavenuntil your happy arrival.
Our relationship with animals has evolved overthe years. We used to be the stern master. They were in the doghouse,rain or shine. Gradually, pets moved into our houses, our beds, ourhearts.
Animals have lived with me all of my life, eachone unique and precious. I’ve felt the sting of being ignored by a catfor being gone too long. But also there’s the ecstatic jumping,barking, wagging doggy reception, too.
Jesus left us with the most importantcommandment — to love one another. I don’t know about most people, butpets have unconditional love for their humans.
Animals have exquisite minds, big hearts and, yes, souls. Why wouldn’t they go to heaven?
— Sally Messenkopf, First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, Erie
The subject of animals in heaven, spirit andthe afterlife is one that is very close to my heart. How could anyoneever doubt that which is unconditional love would not transcend thisphysical existence?
Every being is a spark of the divine. Look intothe eyes of your dog, cat, horse and see and sense that inner being.Feel that endless joy and peace that all of our domestic animals bringinto our lives.
I believe that dogs and cats live in theoriginal state of connectedness with being. They are here to help usregain that feeling of oneness with our creator. They remain in a stateof deep awareness with all energy and life around them.
I also believe that animals can become ourspirit guides and guardian angels, and their love truly never dies.They communicate with us telepathically, also with their hearts.
As a medium, I have been honored with theirpresence and communication many times. All animals bring wisdom, loveand peace. Open your heart today and allow that unconditional love intoyour life.
— Rev. Brenda Beck, Namaste’ Center, Meadville