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Discovery Magazine 3/1/2006

Are Humans and Animals are Different?

 Most people have had a pet at one time or another. Maybe even now, you have a dog, cat, or parakeet that you enjoy playing with and being around. We can become very close to our pets and have warm feelings of affection and even a type of friendship. In fact, for many people, a beloved pet can be like “part of the family.”

How does God feel about our animal friends? During the Creation week, God made the animals, and then He created the first human beings. But unlike the animals, God made humans in His own image (Genesis 1:27). So humans have a soul, or spirit, that lives on after the death of the body (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Luke 16:22-31). Animals do not share this spiritual feature in common with humans. While they do have a life force that makes them alive, when they die, they cease to exist. They do not have an immortal soul that lives forever. No part of their being continues to exist beyond physical death.

Animals do not commit sin; and they are not subject to God’s plan of salvation. Animals are not responsible for their behavior and choices like humans are. God has not given them the Bible to direct their conduct. They do not have a spiritual relationship with God like humans do. Animals do not have a sense of moral responsibility in which they realize they are accountable for their own actions. God wants humans to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Humans and animals are different in many important ways. Humans have the ability to speak and communicate in a way that animals cannot. Humans can write, advance through education, and be creative in ways that animals cannot. Humans have reasoning powers that animals do not have. Humans have a free will and can make choices. They can recognize and choose between right and wrong. They have a conscience and a sense of guilt that animals do not have. They can experience emotions in ways animals cannot. Humans have religious interests and desires that animals do not have.

While God does not want us to be mean or cruel to animals, always remember that animals are not humans. We must be very careful that we do not begin to think of our animals as humans, or treat our animals better than humans. We must always have a higher affection and regard for people than we do for animals.

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