Are animals morally conscious?

Author: BibleAsk Team


Automatic Transcript Generated:

Speaker 1

Alright, so Robert is asking what does the Bible say about animals consciousness? Are they morally conscious? What’s the difference between theirs and humans being pet lovers? This is kind of a fun question because oh my goodness, these cats that we have really keep us in check.

Speaker 2

Yeah, I can’t necessarily speak to the part of it. The Bible is written to humans, so it’s teaching morality to us and helping us to understand morality, our relationship to God and our relationship to each other. So on that end, I can’t say to what extent animals or moral actors, what extent animals will be judged, if at all. But when it comes to animal consciousness, it is really fascinating because if you go to the Old Testament, if you go to Genesis two when it talks about how God made Adam and it says he became a living soul. So the word there for soul is nefesh. That word nephesh is used repeatedly in the Old Testament to refer to not just humans, but also all the creatures NESH nephesh like the destruction of the animals at the flood that referred to there as nefesh. When it comes to then the word that we often translate as spirit ruach, that word often is used not just with regard to humans having a spirit having a rua, but also repeatedly the animals having the rua. And there’s an interesting verse in Ecclesiastes, actually, where Salman talks about asking is there actually a difference between a human life and an animal life?

Speaker 2

Do you know what one that was, Tina? Otherwise I’ll try to find my study.

Speaker 3

No, but it’s funny you mentioned that because when you said that or heard the question, the first thing I was thinking about was in the Book of Revelation, which talks about that there would be like the souls, a third of the souls in the sea died or were destroyed. And it’s not just talking about people like you’re saying, it’s talking about all the living creatures that were in the sea. And so, yeah, there’s definitely something more to animals having a state of consciousness. I don’t believe that Jesus died for their salvation, but I think they are part of God’s creation and they are a living creature. And so we do have to show them a certain kindness and respect as part of God’s special creation. And yeah, God forbids any kind of interaction other than anything intimate with an animal that’s inappropriate. We’re not supposed to do that. And we’re definitely having dominion over them, we’re supposed to take care of them. But again, it’s we’re supposed to be demonstrate like I believe animals are basically God’s way of demonstrating to us, like how we’re to care for and watch over and love beings that are dependent on us and are almost helpless.

Speaker 3

And so we’re supposed to be demonstrating there are a way for us to demonstrate God’s character of love to his creation. I think they’re a teaching tool for us. And so I think while they might not understand everything, they do understand enough to have loyalty, to show affection, to show care, and we do need to respect them in that way.

Speaker 1

And they have feelings that can be hurt. And they are complex beings, much like we are.

Speaker 2

Yeah. And I think that gets to the root of what is an affish, a living soul, living being, an entity. They are an affish. So they do have consciousness, they do have feelings, they do engage and live in this world very similarly to us. Do they have the level of knowledge and thinking capacity we do know? Can they make moral decisions to the same degree? We can, but no, but they’re there. So I found this interesting verse I mentioned earlier, ecclesiastes Three, starting at verse 18. And I have here the NIV version. It says I said to myself, as for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Surely the fate of the human being is like that of the animals. The same fate awaits them both. As one dies, so does the other. All have the same breath. That where there’s ruach. Humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place. All come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the human spirit ruach rises upward and if the spirit ruch of the animal goes downward into the earth.

Speaker 2

So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy the work, because it is their lot for who can bring them to see what will happen to them after. So there we see very much. He’s saying, we’re pretty much like them, right? We probably die the same. They do. We have pretty much the same breath. The life, basically life, breath, consciousness works very much the same for them as it does for us. It’s just so interesting, really. I could go deeper. There are so many verses in the Bible on this that really just to me, when I saw these things, learned these things, just opened my eyes about how precious animal life is. Also, it’s not a sin to eat meat, but I really became even more convicted after this, that, wow, every animal slaughter for us to eat. That’s still a big deal. We should not just take it for granted and just crave the meat and just think nothing of it. It’s still death. It’s a loss of life, and even it’s death of God for sure.

Speaker 3

Like you’re saying in that verse in Ecclesiastes, it’s saying that our fate is the same. Like, yeah, animals die and humans die. But also it says in Isaiah that in heaven there will be animals there too. I’ve gotten a lot of questions, will my pet be in heaven? And all I know is that there’s definitely going to be animals there. And I can’t imagine god withholding from us beautiful animals that he’s given to us as a precious gift.

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BibleAsk Team

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