Question:

I have a question regarding animals and souls.  Does the Bible state definitively whether animals have a soul or a spirit?  I was raised in the church of Christ and had always been told that animals (companion dogs specifically) do not have a soul.  However, no one has been able to show me that the Bible states it as such. I found the Scriptures and am wondering what each could mean, specifically the scripture from Job. 

Job 12:7-10
You have only to ask the cattle, for them to instruct you, and the birds of the sky, for them to inform you. The creeping things of earth will give you lessons, and the fish of the sea provide you an explanation: there is not one such creature but will know that the hand of God has arranged things like this! In his hand is the soul of every living thing and the breath of every human being!

You are probably wondering about my question.  I just lost my dog of 11.5 years and some say I will see him again that he has gone to a place that Jesus has prepared, others say that dogs have no soul.  Thank you for your time.


Answer:

The answer becomes much simpler if you understand the difference between soul and spirit. While we sometimes use them as synonyms, they don't have the same meaning. There are two sermon outlines which go through the difference, and I would like you to work your way through them and read all the passages referenced. See: Soul and Spirit.

The similarity between men and animals is that we both have souls, which means "living." But people have something that animals don't have, a spirit, which means "breath or wind," because we were made in the image of God and God is spirit. The passage from Job is saying that animals' behavior shows that God is in control and that man should realize it as well.

Hopefully, by the time you get through the two lessons things will be clearer. If not, let me know what is still confusing you and I'll try to explain it better.

Thank you, I do understand to an extent. Does this mean that animals have a soul but not a spirit? Or rather when they die, they are simply dead and return to the ground? Does the Bible definitely say this? Does it say anything about animals going to another place that has been prepared for them? Thanks!

Animals and men share the common characteristic that we both have life; that is, we have souls. But only men were made in the image of God, being given spirits.

In discussing death, Solomon mentions in Ecclesiastes 3:18-21 that men and animals face the same fate -- we both die. And Solomon notes that though by faith we are certain that men go to heaven, we can't prove this while living in the physical world. "Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth?" (Ecclesiastes 3:21). Though expressed in a form of a question, notice that there are two different fates for men and for animals. Animals return to dust of the world, so do the bodies of men. But the spirits of men return to God. "Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

There is no mention of animals living on beyond death in the Bible.