Do Animals Have Souls?

We love animals, and they were entrusted to us by God from the beginning. But does that mean they have souls? Contributing Writer
Updated Sep 13, 2023
Do Animals Have Souls?

Pet owners may well wonder whether animals have souls or humans are the only creatures with that attribute.

As humans, we do not inhabit this earth alone. We live with other creations that were made by God for us to take care of. Animals are one of the most important creations by God that was entrusted to us. We even have pets that give us companionship, love, and joy.

For example, dogs are considered man’s best friend because it seems as though this type of animal knows what his human master is thinking. Dogs, like any animal, have a certain consciousness that is unique to other living things and that is why we have a particular heart for them.

However, despite their consciousness, they remain soulless or that they do not have spirits. For this reason, when they die, they do not enter into an afterlife. In other words, they will not live in eternity with us.

The reason for this is because they are not created by the image and likeness of God. They do not have the body, soul, and spirit — and for this reason, they do not go to heaven or hell like us.

In Ecclesiastes 3:18, we can read what the Bible says about the destination of man and animals. The difference is emphasized in verses 18-22, as it is written.

I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?

However, the debate remains as to whether animals have souls or not even now. For this reason, let us try to understand the differences between man and animals to give us a clear picture as to why animals do not have souls.

What Does the Nature of Animals Tell Us about Whether They Have Souls?

Animals are dichotomous beings. This means that they do have bodies and a particular kind of soul, which gives them consciousness, but they do not have free will. The knowledge of free will gives man the knowledge of what is good and what is evil.

Animals, however, do not have this. Instead, animals do actions based on their “animal instinct” and the “circle of life” where there is a predator and a prey. Because of their lack of free will, God has entrusted humans to have dominion over animals as stated in Genesis 1:28,

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Man, on the other hand, is made in the image and likeness of God. We are made with three parts, the body, the soul, and the spirit. 

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:26-27).

This means that man is trichotomous as compared to animals that are dichotomous. We are triune in nature because we have our worldly physical body, our souls, which is the outer layer of our relationship with God and the Spirit, who is our direct connection with God and the one that gives us guidance to do good works for the glory of Our God.

This means that we are unique among all creations because we have the gift of Jesus Christ in our lives. Animals do not have this luxury because they were not made from His image and likeness.

What Roles Do Animals Have in God’s Creation If They Don’t Have Souls?

Despite the soullessness of animals, it is written that they do play a role in the earthly lives of humans. One of which is that they are to be livestock so that humans may sustain and have descendants from generation to generation.

“I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you — the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you — every living creature on earth” (Genesis 9:9-10).

Animals are also written to be preserved by humans and for this to be written, we should take care of them. They may not have souls like us and may not have the gift of salvation, but they depend on us humans to survive because they have been entrusted by God to us.

Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals (Psalm 36:6).

Part of us preserving animals is to make them close to us such as taking care of us, our dogs or cats, or our other pets.

What Do the Bible’s Words about Animals and Souls Mean for How We Treat Them?

Animals do not have souls, but they have a certain kind of consciousness. They do not understand right and wrong, but they depend on us for preservation. We must love animals as how God loves us because they are entrusted to us.

Bible Verses about How to Care to Animals

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:20-21)

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:25-25)

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:26-30)

For further reading:

How Are We Created in the Image of God?

Do Animals Go to Heaven?

Do Dogs Go to Heaven?

What Happened on Each Day of Creation?

What Does the Bible Say about Caring for Animals?

Bible Verses about Animals

What Is the Difference Between a Soul and a Spirit?

How Can I Recognize the Guidance of the Holy Spirit?

Who Was Noah in the Bible? Meaning and Symbols of the Story of Noah

What Does it Mean That Jesus Took Our Place?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Eva Blanco

Glory Dy has been a content creator for more than 10 years. She lives in a quiet suburb with her family and four cats.


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