Published: October 31. 2009 12:01AM
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 my cat Peaches would meet me at the gate and we would go on like we were never apart. Life would be easier to live if after death we could all meet in a glorious place and continue on with the people and pets who passed before us.
Unfortunately, I believe that is not the way it works. When people and animals die, they are kept alive by our fond memories of them and, in the case of people, our genes that our children and grandchildren carry. Sadly for all living things, when we die that is the end.
— Virginia Weaver Sabol, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Erie
Buddhism considers all of life to be evolving toward higher consciousness and sees nonhuman life to be divine, just as is human life. Animals are seen to be an evolving kingdom of living creatures destined in time to attain perfect enlightenment. Therefore,to harm any living thing is to do injury to the divine. Since animals are considered to be traveling toward enlightenment just as humans are,neither are they to be harmed, discouraged or hampered in their progress.
— Jim Hamilton, Erie Karma Thegsum Choling Tibetan Buddhist Center
I may not be able to prove that animals do or do 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 horrible place if our dearest friends and “family” were not there to greet us when we cross over the veil.
— Grollwynn (Christopher Temple), Whispering Lake Grove, ADF
I do not believe that animals go to heaven when they die. The Bible does not teach on whether animals have souls or if they 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 and animals. The difference is humans are made in God’s likeness and image(Genesis 1:26-27). God also breathed into the nostrils of man the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). Humans are capable of spirituality, and future heaven is promised to mankind but never animals that die (Philippians 3:20, 1 Peter 1:4). Animals are a part of God’s creative process, and God said that they were good (Genesis 1:25). I also believe that animals will be a part of the future kingdom but it is impossible to say whether they can die and come back to life (Isaiah 11:6, 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 (and that includes the animals who add so much to our lives), that it would be incomplete. So, if Morgaine Imelda, Smokey Joe and all the other furry friends aren’t there, I’m not going.
— Mike Mahler, Erie
Of course there are animals in the afterlife. I can’t imagine God denying us one of his greatest creations. Not a day goes by that I am not amazed, amused, entertained and loved by one of God’s creatures. God did not put animals on this Earth just for food or sport. Instead, he put them here for three other reasons.
The first is to enjoy. Who hasn’t admired a beautiful bird in their yard, and look at the millions of people who flock to our forests and parks just to catch a glimpse of an elk, deer or even a bear.
We also learn from animals. Every day, science discovers another way we can learn from these creatures. It may be the study of the traffic patterns of ants or how bird migration corresponds with the weather.
At last there’s love. That unconditional love your pet gives you every day. They don’t care how you look, the money you make or even if your breath is bad. They are there to greet and love 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 all day. Just go to Revelation 6:2,4,5 and 8. I take the Bible at face value. I’m sure John knew what a horse looked like, so there would be no mistaking it for something else. Also, God made all living things. I believe he can “talk” to all living things, and they have a way to talk to him. To say otherwise puts limits on God. My God has no limits.
— 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 church teaches about “a new heaven and a new Earth,” that presumably includes animals (Lumen Gentium,48; Catechism 1042-1050). My wife and I have similar 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 “life-force.” Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston College and a popular author, speculates that there must be animals in heaven. His opinion can be summarized in this simple syllogism: 1. Heaven is a state of perfect happiness. 2. Animals (including our pets) are part of our happiness. 3. Therefore, animals are part of heaven.
Jesus didn’t say anything about animals in heaven. 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 of God’s creatures. Acceptance, love, kindness, generosity — all these qualities can be true of the pets that share our lives.
I bless all animals in my prayers, always acknowledging that they, too, are being divinely cared for and loved by the same God that protects and loves all.
I give thanks for the pets who keep me and others company. More than just animals, they are beloved family members. These pets never need to be asked for love and acceptance.They are given without question and without thought of return. I give thanks for animal friends and the joy they add to my life.
All creatures proclaim their father’s power and testify his love. All creatures are miracles and gifts from God, but I believe because I’ve seen the miracle of love. These are the overflowing riches of his grace. There is a heaven for all of God’s creatures. 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, especially to think that in the place of perfection, there will be no more accidents on the carpet.
Animals don’t have souls like people, so I doubt very much that I’ll see my dog again. But animals will be part of the new creation of God. What was created in perfection the first time will be re-created in perfection the second time.
The prophet Isaiah gives us a glimpse into the next life, where the wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the calf with the lion. Animals are part of God’s eternal created order.
In Revelation 21, we behold the Lamb, a name for Jesus Christ. The time frame there is the eternal state. If animals were not in heaven, no one there would understand what the metaphor means.
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 the revelation of the sons of God.” Romans 8:19 “The world itself will be freed from its slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.” — Romans 8:21
From these statements in the Bible, we can see that all creation — plants, animals, along with us humans who care for them on this Earth, are waiting for their freedom.
Remember how God told Noah to take the animals into the ark so they would survive the great flood? It was out of his great love for the work of his hands, the innocent animals of which man is 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 by one man, Jesus Christ, we were freed from the curse of sin and corruption. As we will live in the glory of God in his kingdom, so also will the rest of his creation.
God is love, and he wants the best for all things that he made — all people, trees and plants, cats, dogs and every kind of living creature. The lion will lie down with the lamb. In the kingdom of peace, we will be united with God, and reunited with each other and with our beloved animals.
— Ann M. Filutze, Order of Secular Disclosed Carmelites, St. Joseph Community, Erie
The Bible informs us that God created Adam and Eve in his image and likeness. All the creatures of the Earth, the heavens and of the sea were made for our use. They were put here for food, aiding in labor and providing comforting companionship as pets.
I personally feel animals are to be used and fully appreciated during their life span, but afterlife in heaven just isn’t there for them. Having said that, in all truth I’d rather select some pets instead of some of the earthly “human losers” I’ve worked with 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, I offer praise to the Three Kindred; the Shining Ones, the Nature Spirits and the Ancestors. As all living animals are part of the Nature Spirits, when their bodies die and they leave this world, I believe those spirits exist as part of the Ancestors.
The Ancestors are not just of my blood (in the case of a family member or pet), they are of spirit, too. There are animals who are now extinct, or those hunted for food (and given the gift of life to others), for those that have gone I offer praise; be it stories, songs, food, to show them I have not forgotten them, that they are 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 concern myself with the here and now. If we make virtuous choices, and do things 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 at my side, ready to snuggle, listen and with her eyes say, “Mom, things will get better soon!”
Since God created pets to be my very best friends and companions in life, I truly believe with all my heart that God 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 heaven or the afterlife. Animals have a life of their own and have some of the same characteristics a human has. Some people even consider the pet they have as part of the family.
I know plenty of families that have buried their pets and gave them a ceremony just as they would for humans. Just because animals look different and are from the wild doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings.
God said that he created everyone equally. I believe this goes for animals as well. A big reason why I believe this is 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, just as much as humans do, and it would be wrong to not think animals go to heaven 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 heaven until your happy arrival.
Our relationship with animals has evolved over the years. We used to be the stern master. They were in the doghouse, rain or shine. Gradually, pets moved into our houses, our beds, our hearts.
Animals have lived with me all of my life, each one unique and precious. I’ve felt the sting of being ignored by a cat for being gone too long. But also there’s the ecstatic jumping,barking, wagging doggy reception, too.
Jesus left us with the most important commandment — to love one another. I don’t know about most people, but pets 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 and the afterlife is one that is very close to my heart. How could anyone ever doubt that which is unconditional love would not transcend this physical existence?
Every being is a spark of the divine. Look into the 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 bring into our lives.
I believe that dogs and cats live in the original state of connectedness with being. They are here to help us regain that feeling of oneness with our creator. They remain in a state of deep awareness with all energy and life around them.
I also believe that animals can become our spirit 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 their presence and communication many times. All animals bring wisdom, love and peace. Open your heart today and allow that unconditional love into your life.
— Rev. Brenda Beck, Namaste’ Center, Meadville