I had a discussion with a British military person based on the fact that he asked me why God places more value on human life than other lifeforms on this earth and how can that be right. He also wanted to know why animals are considered inferior when they can intercommunicate like we do with each other. What happens to their souls once they die, are they judged like people? Animals commit terrible acts, such as taking other animal life and not always for food purposes, so how will they pay for these actions like people have to do? To me, these were very strange questions but I answered from the Scriptures that this is how God ordered things in Genesis, that mankind was to rule over the animals of the earth. How would you respond to these types of questions? Thank you very much and may the Lord help you in this.
God is sovereign over His creation
What right does God have to make the animals inferior to mankind? Since God created the world and all that is in it and the fact that He is God, He has the right to set up whatever order He chooses. He is the Potter and we are the clay. We cannot tell God what to do and how to do it. We are to be grateful that He has created us and given us an immortal soul, as opposed to the animals. The Apostle Paul, knowing that some of the members of the church in Rome were going to be bold enough to question God’s sovereignty, wrote to them the following:
20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God ? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use ? (Romans 9)
The second important fact on the difference between animals and mankind is . . .
Mankind was created according to God’s own image and likeness
When the Bible explains the things created during the sixth day, we find the following:
24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind : cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind “; and it was so. 25 God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind ; and God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness ; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1)
I would like to draw attention to some specific differences between mankind and animals:
- The animals were created after their own kind while mankind was created according to the image and likeness of God
- The animals were placed in mankind’s rule by God
What happens to animals’ souls when they die?
First we must realize that the souls of animals and mankind are categorized very differently. Mankind’s souls are eternal while the souls of animals are not. There is not mention anywhere in the Bible that the souls of animals will experience judgment. There is a passage in the Bible that explains how animals will pay for their actions when they kill humans.
5 “Surely I will require your lifeblood ; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man. (Genesis 9)
This text indicates the actions that man must take when an animal takes a human’s life, that is, man must put the animal to death.
Animals were created by God for mankind, yet mankind, God’s crowing achievement in creation, is to take care of the animals that God has placed under his rule. The Bible says the following:
10 A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, But even the compassion of the wicked is cruel. (Proverbs 12)
We have two cats of our own that hang around our yard. The neighborhood cats began to hang out in our yard more than at their own homes. We do not really like this and would prefer that the other cats would remain in their own yards instead of ours. The cats do not seem to agree with our way of thinking though. I do not know why they think that they bring us more joy by being in our yard than bringing their own masters’ joy by staying at home, but that is the way that it is. Right now we are in the middle of winter and the other night it was -16 degrees F. outside so we gave our cats a warm place to sleep for the night. The next night, all of the other cats showed up with sad eyes looking for a warm place to sleep too. We had mercy on them and allowed them to sleep in the warm place as well. Now it is morning and they are all meowing, wanting us to let them out so that they can run around.
Translation by: Erik Brewer