Well, the only questions I have to answer have to do with animals in heaven and evil animals. 🙂 Good thing those topics aren’t at all controversial . . .

Okay–this is probably one of those occasions where the things of God will seem like foolishness to those who don’t believe, but I have based most of the following opinions on Scripture. You’re free to look ’em up.

Can animals be evil? I believe they have a will, and they can certainly choose to do wrong. All you have to do is look at the dog who’s lying on the sofa and knows he’s not supposed to be there. If that doesn’t cut it for you, Dr. Penny Patterson tells the story of when Koko was using a stick to pry a window open. (I think I also used this with Sema.) When she was caught, Koko quickly used the stick as a “cigarette” and pretended to smoke it. Ah! Deception!

So yes, I believe some animals have at least a basic knowledge of good and evil and can choose between the two. Not nearly as well-developed as man’s of course, and we’ll probably only see this in higher animals. (I don’t know–do soldier ants whip lazy worker ants into submission? I know ants can use tools.)

I also believe that animals can be used of God–and by Satan. Satan used the serpent to tempt Eve. God used Balaam’s donkey to speak to Balaam. God also used two bears to devour a group of boys who called Elisha “baldie” (look it up, 2 Kings 2:24).

I suppose we could also say that God used frogs and locusts and flies in the plagues of Egypt.

If you think of animals as servants, I think we begin to see their rightful position. Not that the position of servant is to be disdained–Jesus said HE came as a servant, after all. God gave man dominion over the animals. They serve us, but we are to be benevolent rulers. “Blessed,” says the Scripture, “is the man who regards the life of his beast.”

Animals originally lived in peace with man in the Garden–and man was apparently vegan. But after man’s fall, God used animals to provide Adam and Eve with clothing. After that, God told man to use animals for food and sacrifice as well.

Notice Genesis 9–a lot about animals in this chapter. First, notice that animals who kill people are to be condemned to death (evil animals?) verse five.

Second, notice verses 8-10: animals are included in the Noahic covenant. They are included in the promise that God will never again destroy the earth by flood.

Third, notice verse 2: for the first time, God says, “All the wild animals, large and small, and all the birds and fish will be afraid of you. I have placed them in your power. I have given them to you for food, just as I have given you grain and vegetables.”

Apparently animals weren’t naturally afraid of man until this point–and they will return to this fearlessness at some point in the future, perhaps when the lion lays down with the lamb, i.e., in the Millennium or on the New Earth, depending upon your eschatology.

The fact that all the animals came willingly to Noah before the flood is interesting when you realize that this natural fear didn’t appear until after the flood.

Aside–did you know they’re making Bruce Almighty 2? From the previews I’ve seen, looks like there’s a Noah thing going on.

In the story of Jonah, notice that the king of Ninevah (Jonah 3:7) had even the ANIMALS fast when the people repented. And later, when God chided Jonah for his recalcitrant attitude, God said, “Ninevah has more than 120,0000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

God counts animals, too.

Finally: while I don’t agree with Native Americans’ pantheism, I do think they had one thing right–I’ve heard that whenever an Indian brave killed a deer, for instance, he would thank the deer for providing food for his family and giving of his strength. I actually think that’s the right attitude toward animals. God has given them to us for our sustenance. So we should be thankful, not domineering or cruel.

For this reason I am not a vegetarian, but neither do I support those horrible farms where pigs and lambs are raised in tiny little boxes, or any inhumane butchering of livestock. I DESPISE the hunting of endangered species and animals’ heads hung on walls for show . . . but do not condemn a hunter who kills a deer for food. But those people who go to Africa and shoot elephants and lions who’ve been penned in . . . don’t get me started. My blood pressure begins to boil.

I like elephants. I’m going to write about them one of these days.

Well, enough of my animal ravings. If you’re interested in reading more, read DOMINION: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy, by Matthew Scully. It’ll open your eyes.



  1. Angela

    I’ve become aware of a question about animals and souls–the Bible uses the Hebrew word nephesh for animals and for people. It refers to the “breath of life.”

    We know that animals do not have human souls. I’ve never suggested that animals get “saved” in the same way that people do. The Hebrew word nephesh and the Greek word psyche are often translated “soul” when referring to humans. Yet those same words are used when referring to animals, too. So they have some kind of soul.

    Randy Alcorn points out that Gary Habermas and J.P. Moreland (certainly not intellectual slouches) have written in their book BEYOND DEATH, “It wasn’t until the advent of seventeenth-century Enlightenment . . . that the existence of animal souls was even questioned in Western civilization. Throughout the history of the church, the classic understanding of living things has included the doctrine that animals, as well as humans, have souls.”


  2. BJ

    Fascinating stuff, Angie. This is a subject that’s always intrigued me.


  3. lisa s.

    Oh, Angie, you’ve hit a spot that weighs on my heart too. I’d love to be a vegetarian, but I like my meat too much. I saw the very beginnings of a film on how inhumane the practice of butchering (particularly beef) is. I’m not the animal lover you are (Folks, Angie’ll start crying if you just say, “I heard the saddest thing about a dog the other day.”) but this horrified me. I believe it’s ethically okay to eat meat, but to cruelly kill these animals goes against God’s love for His creation. I’ve stopped buying beef in the grocery store now. (Not only that, all the beef/sickness problems come from these facilities. There’s never been a problem with organic beef. But I digress.) And we’ve found local farms that raise, butcher, and pack it right there on their farms. If you order in bulk, the price isn’t much more than the grocery store and you’re getting higher quality, lower fat, no hormones or antibiotics, meat which is so much better for your family. AND . . . you’re supporting a local farmer. This issue of local sustainability is something we’ve become really interested in, as of late, and buying your meat local works for everyone.

  4. Kay

    So, Angie, what is the definition of the word “soul”? I have heard it defined differently. I have heard some say we are made of Body Mind and Soul. Others say Body, Soul and Spirit, in which case the soul(or mind) is referring to our seat of emotions and intellect.
    That is what animals have. I do not believe the are triune in their make-up are they? Isn’t that part of what makes us in the image of God?
    So if they have only Body and Mind, or Body and Soul they lack the third part -Soul or Spirit, (I call it Spirit) which is the part that Christ indwells upon salvation.
    I also read something that said only the Word of God can divide or discern where the body and soul seperate, (the verse about the Word being sharper than a two edged sword).
    Am I completely off base? And I am as clear as mud?
    I guess my point is, if we are triune in nature and animals are not – then maybe the soul they have is not the same thing we think of when we think of soul??
    Sorry. This is supposed to be about your book! LOL

  5. Angela

    The idea that man has three parts (tripartite) comes from the Greeks, and deviates from the biblical view. The Bible usually speaks of man as bipartite–body and soul (and soul is usually used interchangeably with spirit).

    “Soul” comes from the Hebrew nephesh and Greek psyche, and “spirit” from Heb. rauch and Greek pneuma, but look at John 12:27: Jesus said his soul was troubled but in John 13:21 Jesus was troubled in “spirit.” Luke 1:46-47: Mary uses soul and spirit as an example of Hebrew parallelism. The departed souls/spirits are Heb 12:23 or Rev. 6:9. Both terms are used to express the same thing.

    Notice that Jesus said (Matt 10:28) that we are body and soul. Paul said so, too: 1 Cor. 5:5.

    Those who believe that man is three parts often quote 1 Thess 5:23or Hebrews 4:12, but those verses are simply piling on words for emphasis. For instance, look at Mark 12:30: Love the Lord with all your heart, your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. Does that mean man is four separate parts?

    When we did, the spirit/soul goes to be with the Lord, and at the resurrection (Rapture), we are again reunited with our bodies, which are raised as supernatural bodies. We will dwell in heaven and on the new earth in these supernatural bodies–except we will have no sin nature and our planet will no longer be corrupted.

    The Bible isn’t clear on animal makeup, and I think it’d be wrong to be dogmatic about it. (no pun intended.) They do have a type of soul–the Bible says so–but it’s not a human soul. Furthermore, we are their overseer; we are responsible for them, so when we fell, they fell. When we are redeemed, they will be redeemed. Scripture tells us that the entire creation groans in anticipation of that day.

    As to how this works? God knows. I can only state with certainty what the Bible says. And in most cases, spirit/soul are used interchangeably. I could go into more detail, but this little box has filled up nicely. 🙂


  6. Nicole

    (That giraffe picture is sooo cute, I could almost cry!)

  7. Dana

    I really like reading all this deep discussion and then getting to Nicole’s post. 🙂

  8. Anonymous

    God also gave us the earth but rocks and trees don’t have souls. To say that an animal has a soul would be saying that a Gorilla was created in the image of God. Christ was sacrificed for man and not animal. You need to do more research for God doesn’t like it when his children get mislead by anyone especially a bible scholar.

  9. Angela

    Dear Anon:

    I specifically said that animals are NOT created in the image of God as man is. And I’ve done lots of research.

    For instance, look at Ecc. 3:19-20: “For humans and animals both breathe the same air, and both die. . . Both go to the same place–the dust from which they came and to which they must return. For who can prove that the human spirit goes upward and the spirit of animals goes downward into the earth?”

    Please don’t take my comments out of their context or make assumptions. I think I’ve been very clear.



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