After a discussion on the FAIR mailing list about evolution and creationism, I find myself wondering about animals and the gospel. I'm also reminded of a debate I had with my husband several months ago about whether or not animals had laws to obey, whether they could be good or evil, whether they were created or always existed as we have, and so on.
The first thing that came to my mind was that animals must definitely be resurrected because they are present in the afterlife. There are numerous accounts of God sitting on a throne surrounded by animals. D&C 77 also has Joseph Smith mentioning resurrected animals during a Q&A about Revelations.
In Revelation 5:13, it says "[a]nd every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever," which leads me to believe that every creature will be resurrected.
What I wonder is where animal spirits come from, what their purpose is here on Earth, and what is the purpose of their interaction with us. Mostly, I wonder if animals have laws that they are able to obey and disobey as we do.
I found an Ensign article that had a Q&A about animals. It says that according to Joseph Fielding Smith, animals do not have a law, and that they are innocent and are not able to disobey.
However, everything I read pertaining to the Gospel and animals suggests that animals are meant to be resurrected and experience joy, just like we are. Also, 2 Nephi 2:10,11,15 says that there must be opposition in all things, and that there can be no happiness unless there is righteousness and there can be no righteousness unless a law is given. Perhaps animals are given laws, but they simply never disobey. This was certainly the case in Numbers 22:21-33 when Balaam's ass refused to disobey the angel, despite being beaten by her rider. Brigham Young says “that the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms—the earth and its fulness—will all, except the children of man, abide their creation—the law by which they were made, and will receive their exaltation.” Also, Helaman 12:7 says that man are even less than the dust of the earth, because it always obeys (unlike us).
Well, either way, I know that we absolutely must be respectful and kind to animals. Thoughtless treatment of the Earth and its creatures that we have been given stewardship over is in contrast to all of the teachings we have been given. Rather than get any more long-winded about it, I'll post one last quote and links to some really good articles on Mankind and Nature.
“In pitching my tent we found three massasaugas or prairie rattlesnakes, which the brethren were about to kill, but I said, ‘Let them alone—don’t hurt them! How will the serpent ever lose his venom, while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to make war upon it? Men must become harmless, before the brute creation; and when men lose their vicious dispositions and cease to destroy the animal race, the lion and the lamb can dwell together, and the sucking child can play with the serpent in safety.’ The brethren took the serpents carefully on sticks and carried them across the creek. I exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent, bird, or an animal of any kind during our journey unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger.” Joseph Smith, (Documentary History of the Church, vol. 2, pp. 71–72.)
The Gospel and Animals
Stewardship of Creation