^ It isn’t light reading, but this article discusses the topic of “Heaven”. If you scroll roughly halfway down, the subsection “Supernatural character of heaven and the beatific vision” is the most relevant. The Beatific Vision is a supernatural state of communion with the Holy Trinity, where the blessed see God face to face, visione intuitivâ et etiam faciali, and by default, this requires a soul with the supernaturally imbued faculty to freely accept or reject it .
Yes, you are right. But the Church does change her opinion on things that are not dogma, such as Limbo. My grandmother used to tell me that all unbaptized babies go to a place called “Limbo.” Made me very sad. Now, the Church has abandoned that idea as false.
Animals may not live on in the way humans do, but I believe they will be part of the “New Earth.” The same animals we knew and loved in life.
No, either do I. It doesn’t help at all. People could ask first, me included, or phrase it differently, as you did. And thank you for that. And you were right when you said I did not really believe what I had written. It came from an emotional place, not an intellectual one.
Actually, they don’t. The Virgin Birth and the Eucharist do, and I very firmly believe in those things. But God, no, God’s existence does not contradict physics or common sense. I refer you to a book called:
New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy. Written by Robert J. Spitzer.
And, though I have my issues with the Catholic Church, I am a baptized Catholic, who is not an atheist and never has been. Even had I been, I don’t see how anyone could be after reading and thinking about that book.
It’s interesting that the Hebrew word for “soul” in Genesis is “Nefesh”. The same word is used to describe the souls of people as well as animals, with no distinction. I don’t see anywhere in scripture which speaks about different kinds of souls. So I personally agree with you.
As far as souls needing redemption–Jesus came to redeem mankind. Mankind was the only one of God’s creation that sinned…thus the only one needing redemption. Never does the scripture record that God gave the law to animals. And as St. Paul says, “where there is no law, there is no sin.” (Romans 4:15) So saying that animals don’t have an afterlife because God didn’t redeem them, just doesn’t make sense to me. How can the two be logically connected when there is no connection? Animals do not need redeeming…but that doesn’t mean they don’t have an afterlife. Will animals share the beatific vision with people? In other words…will there be animals running around the throne room? I don’t think so…but I personally think they will have their own place in the afterlife.
So I would agree with you and with the others who believe that there will be an afterlife for animals as well. But I don’t think that anyone knows for sure. For this question I think the scripture itself is appropriate: Ecclesiastes 3:21 – “Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth?” I don’t think this has been specifically revealed to mankind.
All is just speculation.
And I’ll agree with that statement, that such a thing has not (cannot) be ruled out entirely.
However, that’s not really what we’re discussing here. The topic is about whether individual animals, more narrowly our own pets, are going to heaven after they die.
Frankly, it’s not even a serious topic, theologically speaking. For one thing, the issue is entirely settled and has been for about 1600 years now, going back to the early days of the ‘Christological controversies’ which is the time of the early ecumenical councils. It truly is settled dogma (not just doctrine but dogma) that only human nature was assumed at the Incarnation. Anything which contradicts that would make the entirety of our understanding of the Incarnation fall flat on its face. We would have to literally go back to the beginning and re-think the very dogma of Salvation itself. To a Catholic, that’s just unthinkable; or at least it should be.
The other reality here is that all these thoughts about animals going to heaven is purely emotional. It speaks much more about our modern concept of having pets as companions and treating them “like members of the family” than it does about any kind of sensible discussion of what is ultimately a theological question. Again, it’s a theological question, not an emotional one. I’ve had dogs in my life (though not currently), and yes, I’ve treated those dogs like family members, although thankfully I never had to deal with difficult decisions like spending several thousands of dollars on vet bills or considering the alternative. Pets are great and I can’t wait for the day when I can adopt a new dog.
In any other society, less obsessed with treating animals like humans, this entire conversation would be absurd. See, that’s the problem here. People are not really asking “what does our Christian faith have to say on this matter?” but instead are expecting that God will have that same, spiritually unhealthy, obsession of treating pets like humans that they have.
If animals went to heaven, we’d all have to be vegetarians. So much for Christ allowing the fishermen to catch and kill (and even EAT) all those fish.