Question: Do animals have a soul?

    Answer: As a rule, the complete question involves concern about animals, especially pets, being in heaven.

    The original creation. When we visit the original creation, we discover a number of truths. One apparent truth is the uniqueness of man compared to the lower animal creation. Only to man was it said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...." (Gen. 1: 26). Animals are next mentioned in the verse, but from the standpoint of their subservience to man.

    The fate of man and animals. The wise man had much to say regarding man, his birth, life, and destiny. He wrote, "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it" (Eccl. 12: 7). Earlier, he wrote regarding man and the beast: "Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?" (Eccl. 3: 21.) This question is clearly answered in the above noted chapter twelve, verse seven.

    Animals have a soul in the sense that they possess life. A common Hebrew word translated life (soul) is nephesh. Nephesh is used for the life or breath of both animals and man (Gen. 1: 20, 30; 19: 17). Life is that state that is the opposite of death. It is a state of animation, breathing, and awareness. Men and animals alike possess a soul in the sense of breath (nephesh). However, in the sense of possessing a part or element that lives forever, as man possesses, animals do not possess an eternal spirit (cp. Matt. 25: 46). The animal simply and totally returns to the dust, the spirit of man continues to exist (Eccl. 3: 21, cp. 12: 7).

    The fact that animals do not possess an eternal soul in the sense that man does, does not de-emphasize their value as companions to man. Pets can and do become an important part in the lives of millions. Also, in man's charge over the animal kingdom, it behooves man to protect and not abuse the animals (Gen. 1: 26-28).

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