There must be animals in heaven. Correction. There must be animals in the new heaven and new earth. If you read Revelation, we are not just swept up to heaven and float around in the clouds or whatever plane of existence heaven is in. Heaven actually comes down and is made new, along with the earth. Earth will still exist. It will just be redeemed.
Revelation 21: 1
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
I don’t know what the whole sea thing is about, since if there is not an ocean involved in this new earth thing, I’m gonna have to have a word with the Big Guy. Regardless, there is clearly going to be a new earth. My favorite analogy of this comes from C.S. Lewis in the last Narnia book, “The Last Battle,” where Aslan explains that everything the children knew about Narnia was just a shadow of the real Narnia. Everything on earth, now, that is good and beautiful and awesome, is just a shadow of what the new earth will be like. Animals are part of this earth now. They will be part of the new earth. The only difference will be that there will be no death or pain, so animals will not need to kill one another for food, and humans and animals won’t be afraid or hurt each other.
What about pets? Or any animal that dies while this old earth is chugging along? I would say that most people who have owned pets would like to believe that they will see their furry or feathered friends again. I know I do. But do animals have souls? Souls is a loaded word, so let’s step back from that for a minute and think about this from a different angle.
Think about the nature of God. He is a Creator God, He is a God from whom all life sprung with a single word. He could have created a whole bunch of the same kind of animal and been done, but no, He created birds of the air and fish of the sea and creatures of the land. He created gorgeous animals like horses and really goofy ones like the blobfish.
God loves animals. He made each species unique, and if you have ever owned or interacted with any animal for any period of time, you know that each individual animal is also unique. Knowing this about God, I cannot believe that the end goal He had in mind for any creature was complete non-existence. The annihilation of being. It just does not line up with what I know about God.
I’m not going to say that animals have souls. Because, frankly, I do not know. But I know they have something. Some kind of spirit that separates them from rocks or even plants. Where does that spirit go when the animal dies? My thinking is it continues living in one form or another with God. Animals do not sin, they don’t have a sense of right or wrong. In Genesis, it talks about how the whole earth suffered after the Fall, but I think this is referring to the fact that things decay and get old and die, not that animals might go to hell or anything like that. So if animals do not sin, their spirits/souls/what have you should be with God because why else would they have been created if not to eventually spend eternity with their Creator? Just being themselves. Just chickens being chickens, and horses being horses, and dogs being dogs.
This is why humane treatment of animals is so important. And not just the cute ones. I’m not going to say that in order to be a good Christian, you can’t eat animals, because that isn’t Biblical. However, there is a big difference between raising a cow (that you plan on eating) in a pasture, with high-quality food, and then raising another cow in a cramped, disgusting stall with bad food, where diseases spread. The animal is unnecessarily suffering and I believe people who promote and support that kind of behavior will have to stand judgement for that. Just like people who ignore global warming and encourage the kind of activities that make it worse will have to stand judgement for both the destruction of the earth and degrading of human lives as a result of that destruction. The reason people abuse animals and the earth on a grand scale tends to be rooted in greed, which is a sin. For people who abuse animals just for the hell of it, they’ve got something else going on, something evil, and they will definitely pay for that, too.