Do all dogs actually go to heaven? This age old question has been asked by many concerned animal-lovers as well as the curious minded. But what is the answer? Do animals sin? Do they have souls? Do they simply cease to exist after death? People love their pets, and some even love them more than a lot of humans they know. So it’s pretty natural to ask these types of questions when worried about their potential eternal state. After all, we’ve all seen people who’ve love their pet so much that when that pet dies, the owner is absolutely devastated. Most come to the conclusion that all animals go to heaven (with the exception of rats of course) as a way to give them some sort of comfort. But is there a definite answer? Though the Bible doesn’t have a clear answer when it comes to this question, it is possible to gather clues and come to a rational conclusion.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HUMANS AND ANIMALS
From the very beginning of time we can see God made animals very different from mankind. The main difference being, we are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27). Though no one actually knows the whole definition of what it means to be made in the image of God, it is safe to say that whatever is contained in the meaning, makes up all the differences of man and animals. Such things include having emotion, a will, intellect, the right to rule, a relationship with God, etc… Yes, you can train a dog to do tricks, and yes, they can be happy when you come home from work, but it can’t be compared with what humans are capable of. Mankind can choose from right and wrong and whether or not they want to follow God, using the reason and logic they possess. Animals don’t have the intellect to reason or possess logic.
Additionally, God’s plan of salvation is only for man, not animals. Not only is this because animals don’t sin, but it’s also because mankind was given a soul. This means we have an eternal existence even after we’ve been long since dead on this earth. Though man has a choice to either be saved and live with God forever, or to suffer in hell forever, this doesn’t mean that they cease to exist. God makes this clear as Matthew 25:46 says “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” This would highly suggest that in contrast to humans, animals will cease to exist when they die on earth.
Our Creator created us with souls that last forever, much like God Himself lasts forever. This is not to say that we are basically a miniature version of God, but there are certain characteristics we share with Him because He chose to give them to us. These are called the “communicable attributes” of God. Things like love, wisdom, knowledge, goodness, patience, holiness, and living forever are attributes we share with God, making us in His image and likeness. Though we don’t have these attributes to the full infinite extent that God does, we share them nonetheless. This helps us better define what it means to be made in the image of God.
ARE ANIMALS CAPABLE OF SINNING?
Animals are definitely affected by sin in the world, but they are not capable of sinning. If they could sin, all animals would have a one-way ticket to hell. As it is, however, they cannot sin because they didn’t make the choice to rebel against their Creator. According to the Bible, sin is rebellion against the will of God by not doing what Jesus said to do, or by doing what He said not to do. This can be in thought, word, or in deed (1 John 3:15; Matthew 5:22; Romans 1:32). Since animals aren’t capable of doing these things, they therefore, cannot sin.
Furthermore, animals don’t have God’s law written on their heart like mankind does. Man is responsible for the sinful choices they make because they have the ability to make choices. When people sin, it’s due to the fact that they have a desire that starts within their very soul. We are free moral agents, meaning, we make moral decisions based on our notion of what right and wrong is, and as a result, bear the responsibility for those decisions. God specifically gave us the law, making us the sole bearers of keeping its commands.
WILL THERE BE ANIMALS IN HEAVEN?
There are some arguments out there that defend the probability of animals existing in heaven. However, whether or not one of the animals will be your beloved dog Spot is something different. After God made the animals, He said it was good (Genesis 1:25). So it is very likely that there will be animals in heaven, perhaps totally different from what ever existed on this earth. But we must concede to the fact that the Bible doesn’t say one way or the other; we can only guess based on probable evidence. We know that in heaven, some things will be different from what we experience now, such as the fact that there won’t be any marriage in heaven (besides Christ and the Church (Revelation 19:7-9)). Therefore with that in mind, it is also entirely possible for there to be no animals in heaven as well, even though Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25 seems to suggest otherwise. We just won’t know for sure till we get there!