When I was growing up, the consensus of religious scholars was that animals have no soul, and therefore, there’s no place for them in heaven.
Indeed, that was the philosophy of Descartes, who wrote in Meditations that animals are automatons with no souls, mind, or reason.
But as I have grown older, I have watched more people develop close relationships with animals, as close as any other family member. Many of us even refer to our companion animals as “children.”
As scientists show us that animals have feelings, and share community, the religious scholars began to debate that premise. Surely animals have a greater worth than just to be here for our pleasure.
Now we have priests and pastors crawling out of the woodwork to bless animals as a part of the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, celebrated on October 4th.
And there are numerous web sites grappling with the question of whether animals go to heaven.
Sadly, many still subscribe to the thinking of Descartes, yet that way of thinking is slowly, but surely, going by the wayside.
The question now becomes, how will we see animals? Are they sentient beings with rights the same as humans? Or are they lesser creatures that are here to serve us at our pleasure?
What role do you see animals playing on this planet? And what’s the next stop for your beloved companion animal after this life?