Why did God create animals?

A question that sooner or later seems to play a role in the life of every Christian is the question of the meaning of life and the meaning of all creation. For some, this also raises the question of why there are animals and how we should relate to animals. The answer to these questions is multifaceted, mainly due to the Fall, the Flood and the expected restoration of creation.

  • The creation story
  • The Fall
  • Sacrifices
  • The Flood
  • The expected restoration of creation
  • Why God created the animals


The creation story

Genesis 2:18-20 is the only text in the Bible that directly describes why God created the animals: “ And the LORD God said, It is not good for the man to be alone: I will make him a helper to be with him And the LORD God formed out of the ground every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air: and he brought it unto the man, to see what he would call it: and as a man would call every living creature, so it would be called. And the man gave names to every livestock, to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field, but for himself he found no help. , (NBG 1951).

Based on this text, one can say two things about the reasons why animals were created. The first is that it was not good for Adam to be alone. The second is that God made the animals because Adam needed help, probably in his assignment to tend the garden (Gen. 2:15). However, creating the animals did not solve the problems. Adam found no help for himself and in that sense was still alone.

Although Adam found no help among animals, people have found many ways in which animals can be of help. Examples of this are:

  1. Dogs (sniffing dogs, guard dogs, guide dogs, therapy dogs)
  2. Horses and donkeys (for carriage and transportation)
  3. Oxen (in agriculture)
  4. Dolphins (in dolphin therapy for people with different types of disabilities)
  5. Pets for companionship, especially for lonely people

About the above matters it must be said that the things with which animals help us all have to do with the consequences of the Fall. For example, it is because of the fall that people have to cultivate land (Gen. 3:17-19) and work. The Fall is also the reason that there are diseases and disabilities and that people can feel lonely. For this reason, one could say that animals were not created for the above things. On the other hand, one could argue that God foresaw the Fall and also foresaw that man would need animals to help with many things.

The Fall

After Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit they realized they were naked. Therefore, they decided to make clothes from fig leaves stitched together (Gen. 3:7). However, God decided to make them other clothing, made of animal skins, and clothe them with it (Gen. 3:21).

This gave animals a completely new function. Their skins could be used as clothing. This may sound obvious, but when reading this story it is good to reflect on the fact that Adam and Eve never had to kill an animal. The animals were previously their partners. The conversation they had with the snake is even a reason to suspect that they also sometimes talked to other animals. However, the Fall distorted the relationship between humans and animals. Animals were no longer partners, but were given functions that required them to die to care for humans.


Another new feature is seen in the story of Cain and Abel, found in Genesis 4. There it is said that both brothers decided to offer sacrifices to God. The story does not tell why they did that, but it does tell what they sacrificed. Cain, who was a farmer, sacrificed from the fruits of the earth. Abel, who was a shepherd, offered the fat of (one of) the firstlings of his sheep. God paid attention to Abel’s offering, but not to Cain’s.

It is not clear how it happened, but very soon animals were given the function of sacrifice. Here too, animals had to die, not to keep people warm, but to maintain the relationship between man and God. Later, this function would be codified into Israeli law, with the Israeli people receiving instructions on which animals should be sacrificed and in which ways in which situations.

The Flood

After the flood, God said a number of things to Noah. One of those things is that everything that moved (birds, fish and land animals) would serve as food for Noah, as the green herb did before (Gen. 9:2-3). This gave animals yet another new function. In addition to the fact that their skins could serve as clothing, animals would serve as food for humans. Here too, the animals had to die in their function of caring for humans.

The expected restoration of creation

We encounter a function of a completely different nature in Isaiah’s prophecies about the millennium. According to the prophet, all animals will live together peacefully at that time. Also the animals that were previously each other’s enemies. In addition, they also live in peace with people at that time (Isa. 11:1-10). Isaiah gives an example of this: , And a suckling child shall play at the den of an asp, and a weaned child shall stretch out his hand at the nest of a poisonous serpent , (Isa. 11:8). The snake (which made man fall into sin and was therefore man’s greatest enemy) will no longer harm anyone and man will no longer fear the snake.

This example says little about why there are animals, or what function they will have in the Millennium. However, it is the only text about animals that tells how humans and animals relate in a creation in which the Fall no longer plays a role and Christ is king. In that situation the infant plays near the viper’s den. This may mean that people will see animals as playmates and as companions.

Why God created the animals

Based on the above, it can be assumed that there are several reasons why God created animals. In the situation before the Fall, animals were a help to humans, although it is not clear how this took shape. This is the only reason the Bible literally states that animals were created for this. However, throughout Biblical history it can be seen that animals were given several new functions, for example animal skins served as clothing and animals served as food and as sacrifices. If one assumes that God provided these functions, then one can assume that these were also reasons for creating the animals. In the millennium (and perhaps also in eternity), animals seem to be (play)mates of humans, although here too it is not exactly clear how this will take shape.

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