Do animals experience the meaningless oblivion that atheists insist await us all or do they transition to another plane as people of faith believe is their own fate after the body fails?
As we observe animals give and receive joy, love, and also suffer true grief over the loss of their offspring or human companions, it is difficult to still hold that they do not have a soul.
But nor is it easy to imagine that, on completion of our life on earth, we transfer to the afterlife to find it teeming with the souls of every biological creature that has ever lived like some overstocked Jurassic Park — tens of millions of years’ worth of T-Rex’s and every other dinosaur that ever lived and died on earth.
The former is hard to accept as we have experience of forming deep and reciprocal loving bonds with animals, and as love is a spiritual element, that would imply there is something spiritual being loved by us and returning love to us.
The latter is hard to accept because it just seems so bizarre that thousands of trillions of animals would pile up in the afterlife as the earth and possibly other planets swarm and crawl with creatures in a continuous generational cycle.
But life and existence itself is bizarre when you think about it. Something cannot be said to be untrue just because it seems bizarre. In any case, the real estate in the afterlife may well accommodate any number of arrivals. However, believing something exists because we have a deep emotional and spiritual relationship with it is quite rational.
“Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth?” (Ecclesiastes 3:21)
The idea that animals do not have souls has no scriptural basis. It’s just something people communally decided. In my view, they did so to artificially accentuate their own importance in the scheme of things and to God. This came from insecurity as it is not actually necessary to establish uniqueness in order to have intrinsic eternal value and to be counted as a child of God. Others need not be excluded so that we can be included. Our status before God is not a zero sum game.