Will animals go to heaven

I spent the early years of my childhood in Edam. If you went from where we lived to the center of town, you passed a little street called Dog Heaven. Why it was called that, I really don’t know. I think the dog heaven is on the couch at our house. There, a whole new meaning is invented for the word relax. But with some regularity, I come across the question of whether animals go to heaven. I think they do, but that’s subjective. The somewhat regular reader of my pieces know that I have a soft spot for animals. Whether it’s flies dipped in beer, stray ducks or (especially) little dogs, their antics are dear to me. But why are there animals and why do they make it so difficult for each other here on earth like this? After the news or the headlines in the newspaper, I sometimes hear people say that humans are so cruel. That they can’t seem to get enough of senseless violence and then firmly state that animals do not. “Animals kill just to survive” one sometimes says. That is the question, animals also gross in senseless violence, as far as I can judge. The morality of a mole is really no more noble than that of humans. Animals really have little respect for each other’s lives and would use much more senseless violence if they were not so lazy or if their prey did not run away so fast.

Well-known are the violent examples where the daddy-bear-lion or baboon bites or even eats the children of the ex of his newly shaken lover to death without mercy. Monkeys have never heard of welfare mothers or loitering youths. You do not easily forget a slap in the ear from papa-bear as an adolescent bear and certainly not the rotten smell from his mouth when he is screaming in front of you with his grubby mouth from which the cod bones are still hanging. They really are careful of that.

But what is the point of all this life? Are the cats and owls necessary to prevent a plague of mice? In Leiden and the surrounding polders the owl density is definitely insufficient for the job and the average Dutch cat won’t take it if you deprive it of its canned salmon. He only hunts on the weekends, for an hour, when it is dry. They can never keep up with the cell division-like speed of reproduction of those hot mice. Elephants don’t trample all over Africa for lack of natural enemies, do they?

I would like to defend the thesis that animals are there for our enjoyment and that there are other ways to keep their numbers in check than death. Without animals it would be much too bare, empty and austere without them and there would be much too little to pet, cuddle and let out, if they were not there. That is why animals are so valuable. But everything that is valuable is vulnerable and animals are very vulnerable in our hands I realized again this afternoon when Bella stood looking at me expectantly as we walked through the park and she wanted to go home because it was so hot. Strange perhaps, but animals deserve better than this, also for them, dangerous world.

Think how beautiful the earth would be if animals in the wild no longer had to be afraid all day long. Imagine if a wolf and the lamb moved in together and the panther put its head down against that of the goat and if a calf and a lion cub played with each other in the meadow and they were watched a little bit little boy. That the cow and the bearess would pull up together and the lion would eat hay like the cow. Wouldn’t it be reassuring if we didn’t have to worry if an infant played near the den of a viper or his little brother put out his hand to a passing cobra? Is this a scene from Junglebook? No, this expectation and prophecy is from the ancient prophet Isaiah. The text is one of the foundations of the hope of the gospel!