I was, at one time, a vegetarian, but I found it was really just impossible to step out of the circle of life.
In a sense, we have (at least most of us) removed ourselves from the food chain by hiring surrogates to do our killing for us, and replacing hunting with factory farming. I don't know how a calf being pulled away from it's mom, thrown into a crate, never allowed to move, then likely being improperly stunned and killed in a graphic and unsanitary way relates to the traditional understanding of the food chain or the circle of life.
If there is an entity (or god) that created the animal kingdom, that entity should be as ashamed of it as of "his" highly flawed creation of, and 'plan' for mankind.
Any god that would create animals that can think; feel, both physically and emotionally; and make decisions that aren't always based on instinct (argument against any of these things is simply absurd), and not afford them the same relief from suffering as he gives man (such as the supposed power of prayer) is cruel, and a supremacist. This would explain why so many of us are supremacists, and cruel to animals, since we were biblically 'created in His image'.
The mindset of those who defend such an entity's 'loving creation' of the system of life on this planet is as deluded as those who died at Jonestown.
Who is to say that animals don't have those "outs"? Who is to say they don't communicate with God? Who is to say they have no purpose here? Really I am not understanding why it has to be either animals are the same exact as us or they are just the victims of human and Godly supremacy. I think that is a pretty narrow view coming from both sides of it. Just because we aren't privy to animal spirituality doesn't mean it isn't there. There are some pretty big assumptions being made.
Further maybe the reason we aren't privy to it is because it is their business and not our own. Let me clarify- we are here to focus on our own salvation (which, IMO, includes our treatment of others, animals, the Earth etc etc) not to stick our noses in other's business. Why should that be different for the animals?
Orthodox Christians would agree that animal suffering is a horrible thing; animals are valuable to God, too. Most people look at nature and see that, quite apart from the evils besetting humanity, it's brutal and there's something not quite right. We eat animals, we watch them devour each other, but we know there's got to be something better than this.
Suffering and evil originate with the enemy of mankind, not God. However, now that things have been set in motion, God allows certain things that may cause suffering, because He wishes His mercy to be manifest (in a world with no suffering, there is no room for someone to give their life for someone else or otherwise make sacrifices). This is because He will redeem all of creation, whose destiny is perfection and communion with Him. He will bring good out of evil, which is a much greater miracle than just waving a magic wand and erasing it from the earth. Suffering has meaning in other words.
Orthodox as far as I know are agnostic on the question of animal souls, but have always espoused the idea that man must care for and tend God's creation until He comes back.
For me the question is, why does God allow suffering (at all)? Even with the commonly perceived idea that humans are above animals in the importance of life, can we really say that suffering is ever GOOD? That it is ever justified? I have yet to see any answer as to why God would PLAN for someone (or some animal) to suffer that serves a great purpose to their, or others, lives. The ONLY exception would be the story of Jesus, and similar self-sacrificial acts. Again though, it can be said that those examples of suffering (which were for good purpose) were choices that the individuals made. They were not defenseless. They chose to suffer for the good of those they love.
As to the question of whether or not animals have souls... I think anyone who has a had a pet or much interaction with animals would agree that they have the same types of responses to things that humans do - just in different ways. Animals have emotions, physical sensation, they make decisions, etc. I don't see anything telling me that they *don't* have a soul. I am of the personal belief these days that we are all connected through our spirits/souls and that it does include everything from plants to animals to humans, to even the earth and stones we walk on. I don't think that means that everything is "alive" in the sense that it breathes and lives and can die (i'm not crazy i swear). I just think that everything has a history and a purpose for existing in the "circle of life," and that as such is connected through the spirit world as well.
I am leaning more toward the belief system of reincarnation these days, so the idea of a reward at the end of life for good deeds or bad, is not necessarily where I'm at. I am more of the mindset that you will receive back what you give out in one way or another, eventually.
I find that I usually wind up with more questions than answers, but at the least it spurs on thought that helps me to slowly define what it is that I believe these days. I used to be a devout conservative Christian, and it is subjects like this that made me take a second look at what I was putting faith into, and whether or not I could *really* match up what I see in real life around me, to the God that is all loving, all powerful, and all knowing.
I respect others rights to believe as they wish. All I can do is question what it is that *I* know and believe... and this is where I'm at, I suppose.
Re: animals as food vs. cruelty. I think if we are okay with other animals being carnivores and eating meat, then we have to understand that humans are naturally carnivores as well. I think each person can make a conscious decision as to whether or not to eat meat based on what they feel they want to do / what they feel is right. I can absolutely see the merit in vegetarianism, and I also do not support bad farming practicies and cruelty in any way. I do support ethical farming (usually small farmers), and fast/painless deaths. I have a dear friend who is a farmer, and raises all of her livestock free range (and no, her chickens do not lose their beaks, etc - she's not "big business"). She does sell her animals to market, but gives them a good, happy healthy life and ensures that their death is quick and painless. In those cases, I really feel like farming is okay and that it is alright to be a carnivore. I feel that we should look to animals as examples. Wolves don't have massive bunny farms where they don't care for them, and kill thousands at a time to throw in the freezer. They kill only what they need, and no more. They make the most of their kill and leave the rest (the carcass) to the other animals / the earth where it helps sustain life in nature.
I also feel that its important to honor the life that was lost in some way, by a way of a thankful prayer, or by way of giving back to the cycle of nature in some way. Turn scraps into compost, for example. I think we should make the most out of what we have. As silly as it sounds, I was really inspired when I watched an episode of Top Chef. The host took the contestants to a farm so that they could see where the food comes from, meet the animals and get connected with them, etc. Then he had them cook food fresh from the farm. He gave them plenty of time to cook in and gave them the task of making a meal worthy of the lives that were given for them to be able to cook. His theory was that by recognizing the sacrifice given for human nourishment, they would be more careful to do a good job with cooking and honor the animal by cooking something beautiful. I think it was a good lesson to not be wasteful, and to always be mindful that our nourishment (and that of any being that eats both plant or animal) comes with a sacrifice, and that it should not be taken lightly, and be honored in some way.
If you look at ancient Native American lifestyles - that is a common belief among them as well, and one could argue that they were/are as a group, very conscious of animals, and honor them as important aspects of their spiritual world.
As I said, I don't have the answers, but this is just one more reason why I don't believe anymore. I just can't understand how God can let innocent, defenseless beings (human and non human) suffer. There is no sense in it, when he has the power to change it, and when he is 100% good.
A good person/entity/being would step in and stop it if they could. If God *cant* stop the suffering, then why not? What is it about his relationship with the world today that makes things different than when he stepped in and saved the Hebrews from the oppression in Egypt? When he saved Daniel from the Lions in the lions den? When he sent Jonah to save a sinful Ninnevah for no reason beyond his own grace?
If God is so gracious, and if he CAN change it, should the innocent and defenseless be made to suffer?
These are valid questions for those who want to understand why injustices happen and what it really means for what we know, or think we know, spiritually.
-:¦:-♥Sarah Lynne♥-:¦:-Wife to Michael and Mommy to Austin(5), Steven(3), Tristyn(1), and Laurelyn (6/3/2011)
H ave you ever read "Animal Vegeable Miracle"? SO GOOD! and it really explains harvesting animals in a good way and being thankful for the animal that gave its life for you. Everyone should read that book!
Please know that I'm not trying to be contrary. Splitting away from my faith in the Christian God was painful, and there is always a part of me that wants to believe again, and wants to know that all of my trust in that faith was true... but I just can't marry those ideas in a way that makes me okay with worshipping a God that only saves some, and not others, or a GOd that is good, and all-powerful but refuses to act to save those who can't defend themselves.
Again - I respect others' rights to believe what they want, but this is definitely a big part of my personal answer as to my thoughts on God allowing animals to suffer.
|It all starts with the original sin. We aren't innocent because of that sin. It severed our tie with God. We suffer now because of that original sin. Through belief in Jesus Christ as our Savior we'll be able to see an end to the suffering when he comes back. Jesus was God's way of getting us back to him. When the book of Revelation is fulfilled is when we'll see the end of suffering.|
There's just so much that doesn't make sense.
I guess all of this leads to my personal belief, which at the moment is simply that things happen - good and bad. There's no cosmic justification for cruelty. There's no redeeming reason that children and babies suffer. It just is. It is our response and our personal actions that matter. We have to try to do the best we can to honor life and love and spirit and each other.
I believe that if God were to take away our free will and make us all perfect automatons, our communion with Him would be a side effect of our nature that we couldn't control. Nothing and no one would suffer, but there would be no true love and communion because we wouldn't be free. Men choose evil and innocent victims suffer, but Christ suffers along with them.
I'm sorry you feel tormented about this issue, I have my faith issues I wrestle with as well. You can always pray to God, even if you feel the distance between Him and yourself...I've heard it said He can stand your anger and accusations, but not when you turn your back on Him.
(edited to add: I also think that God could intervene to help stop suffering, without impacting personal free will. Its a long discussion for probably another thread, but since it was brought up, I'll share a quick theory. The small gist of it is that if we're looking at the parent/child abuse situation for example -or owner/pet as the case may be- then there are agencies that could step in and take the child/pet and put it in a more loving/safe environment. That doesn't impact free will of the parents/owners, but it stops the abuse. I don't think we have to become automatons for God to work "miracles" if/when he does. If thats the case, then does God EVER work miracles on this earth? If so, would something as simple as guiding a doctor's hand during surgery be considered interfering with free will? - long long topic... don't want to get off track here, but had to chime in. )
When you said that you thought maybe we were speaking different languages, I feel you were right on because even though we have the same information, we're interpreting it different ways.
That's the way of life though, and I think is definitely something that is impacted by each person's individual lifestyle, experiences, and emotions. We all come to faith a little differently. I really appreciate you sharing yours with me/us as well
Just thought I would add here a beautiful quote from Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, spoken by the Elder Zosima:
"Love the animals. God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled. Do not trouble their joy, do not harass them, do not deprive them of their happiness, do not work against God’s intent. Man, do not pride yourself on superiority to animals; they are without sin, and you, with your greatness, defile the earth by your appearance on it, and leave the traces of your foulness after you ‑‑ alas, it is true of almost everyone of us!"
So, how does everyone incorporate their feelings about animal suffering and Christianity into their daily lives? Do you think about incorporatng a veg*n diet, working to end animal cruelty, buy from small local ranchers or ???
But animals are given no such coping mechanisms, nor are they ( to our knowledge) offered compensation in an afterlife. I firmly believe in an all-loving and merciful God, whose justice may not always look the way we exoect, but who is still just.
Therefore, I have come to a few decisions. Humans will have to answer before God for their treatment of animals, just as we are told we will have to answer for our trearment of any of our neighbors. But secondly, and more relevantly, that we just do not know what way God compensates for, rewards, soothes or eases animal suffering, in this life or any other. The bible is there to tell the story of humanity's relationship with God, and to teach us what we need to know about God, ourselves, and our relationship with God. It isnt there to tell us everything that God thinks, does, sees, or plans for anything other than ourselves.
We aren't told how morality is governed on other planets that are populated, or in fact if there are any. Because it doesn't, shouldn't matter to us. The bible isnt the history of the universe, nor should/ could it be.
I have to ( or else I would collapse in grief) believe that God, who loves His creation, makes good on the suffering of the truly innocent, i.e., animals without the ability to sin. We just aren't given to know what that is, what it looks like, etc.
What we do know and are told, is what we should be doing to imitate God's love here and now, in this life and on this planet. If you find yourself asking, about any injustice or sorrow, " why isnt God doing anything?", look around for the helpers, the people whom God is using to be His hands and heart on this earth. Whether they know it or not, whether they believe in Him or not. And know that God, in his way, is doing so ething. And so, too, should you. Be a helper. Be the hands and hheart of God and alleviate suffering and injustuce.
(apologies for typos, my keyboard is horrendous)
Religion is only an interpretation of humans. If an animal is being abuse, mistreated in any shape, way or form, the answer is obvious: "respect to all living beings" Treat others the same way you want to be treated, period. Equality for all living beings. No exception. Love is the answer.
RELIGION IS NO OTHER BUT MEN'S INTERPRETATION TO ITS OWN CONVENIENCE, WHETHER IS WRONG OR RIGHT, ethical or unethical. Unbelievable!
And that is the truth.
With the development of factory farms, I would say this statement is no longer true. Billions of animals are raised on factory farms every year, and most of them suffer.
I have an acquaintance who is a Jehovah's Witness, and she is a vegan. She has a pretty literal interpretation of the Bible, and believes it is OK for humans to eat animals, but that it wasn't OK until after the flood when God told Noah that every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I think the idea is, though, after Christ's Kingdom comes on Earth, things will be like they were in the Garden of Eden, and no one following God ate meat then. So not all followers of God and Christ believe that you are ordered to eat meat by God.
Wow, I haven't been here for awhile, and it looks like Maxdog was a flash in the pan, but just for the record: God's decreed will is that we should not be cruel to animals, but responsible stewards of creation, so it doesn't follow at all that believing God has the right to allow animal suffering means that we have the right to be cruel.
If decomposition persists please see your necromancer.