Why does God allow animal suffering? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-19-2009, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Bluegoat View Post
I was, at one time, a vegetarian, but I found it was really just impossible to step out of the circle of life.
I hear this a lot, along with others saying that they don't want to remove themselves from the food chain, and I don't understand this viewpoint.
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.

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Old 07-19-2009, 05:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by genifer View Post
After reading the first post only... I personally wonder if its something to do with human responsibility. A lot of suffering of animals is down to human mistreatment and abuse. We have a responsibility to be good stewards of the earth and God's creation.
Haven't read all of the replies but this is what first popped into my head as well.

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Old 07-19-2009, 05:22 PM
 
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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.
There was no need to bash other's beliefs. I found your post interesting before your own supremacist views surfaced so I will reply to that....

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?

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Old 07-19-2009, 05:36 PM
 
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God's creation is all good; but those of us who believe in the Fall know that after this original disobedience and pride, all of creation, including nature was affected. It's not just humans who suffered the effects of this self-imposed alienation, it's animals, plants, tides, rocks, the whole cosmos. Any question about suffering, which is NOT what God intended for us, has to start with a discussion of His gift of free will to us. And how we misused that free will to distort the whole world.

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.

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Old 07-19-2009, 05:59 PM
 
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I'm going to try to make this as short as possible....

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.
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Old 07-19-2009, 06:26 PM
 
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Again, without discussing the freedom of the will and the power of self-sacrifice, the question of why God allows suffering will be meaningless. Yes, Christ willingly gave His life for us, and countless known and unknown saints have done the same for their brothers and sisters. But unless you believe that man's place is as the steward of creation because he alone was made in God's image, the tragic suffering of animals (who do not have man's free will and do not choose to suffer) will not make any sense. Well, it doesn't make sense, that's the point, but you won't understand the origin of their suffering. When a parent makes a bad choice, say, to drink or use drugs or gamble away the family's money- the children suffer. This is a simplistic way of explaining how man's choice in the beginning continues to affect animals and all of creation.

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Old 07-19-2009, 06:34 PM
 
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All due respect, I do feel its a valid question, because God still ALLOWS it. If we're using the example of the parent making a bad decision and the children suffering from it, then the "government" would be a good example as to an entity that would see the injustice of that and step in. For example, if a parent does drugs in the house, abuses a child, or doesn't provide for them, agencies such as Child Protective Services (who have the power and the will to protect children) will step in and do something about it. Why doesn't God, if he is all powerful, all loving, and all knowing? This does apply to animal cruelty and suffering as well.

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.
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Old 07-19-2009, 06:45 PM
 
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I didn't say it was an invalid question, I said it was meaningless in the sense that we are speaking different languages.

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Old 07-19-2009, 06:49 PM
 
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Originally Posted by greenmamato2 View Post

If God is so gracious, and if he CAN change it, should the innocent and defenseless be made 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.

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Old 07-19-2009, 07:03 PM
 
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i think that animals suffer because of what humans do to them. our sinful nature. God didn't make animals to grow in big barns eating mush side by side other animals stepping in eachothers poo and getting fattened up for the slaughter. animals are meant to graze and be free, even if we are going to eat them. You can tell this because grazed animals have much better omega fatty acids etc. than feed-lot animals.

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!
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Old 07-19-2009, 07:39 PM
 
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zuzunel09 - At this point, maybe we are speaking different languages, but realize that I'm not coming from an uneducated background in regards to the Christian viewpoint. I was a devout Christian for 25 years and even taught sunday school and led youth group. My problem is that EVEN KNOWING all that you guys have said here regarding that, I still don't see how if God CAN do miracles, can intervene and does in some instances, how he can allow people and animals to suffer in unjust ways? What makes one person more deserving of a miracle than another? Why would God act sometimes and not others? The only way to explain THAT part of things is to say that he has a reason, or a plan that includes allowing suffering to occur. But - if God allows the defenseless to suffer at the hands of another, even if he CAN change it, what does that say about God's character? If God is good, and love, then God wouldn't want his children to suffer. If God COULD change it, being all-powerful, and could do miracles, then why does he pick some and not others? Again, this does apply to animals as well, because according to the Christian world view he is also responsible for them.

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.

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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.
I understand that this is the Christian view, truly, even though I don't agree with the idea that we are all evil just for existing. I could elaborate on this a lot, but in an effort to try to stay on topic, I wont. I just still wonder - does all of this mean that God is completely absent during this time? He is only available through prayer on more of an emotional/spiritual level and never acts on earth as he did in the bible? There are no miracles? None? If there are, then what does that say about God? Can he act now on earth to perform miracles to help those who need it? Isn't that partially what we pray for when we ask for God to protect our loved ones, or to heal someone who is sick? And if he can do miracles... and if they do happen... then why some, and not others? What determines whether someone is worthy to be saved from suffering or not? Certainly not faith. I know many faithful people who suffer more than not. Job anyone?

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.
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Old 07-21-2009, 05:35 PM
 
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Greenmamato2- I didn't mean to offend you. I'm agreeing with you that suffering is tragic, whether one must choose to suffer or whether it's the unchosen suffering of people or animals...the quest for an answer to "why is there evil?" is what leads many to Christianity. It led me specifically to Orthodox Christianity, which I believe is the True Church, and has always affirmed the value of animal life. I tried to answer your question "if God is good, why doesn't He end suffering now?"- by saying that in His wisdom He allows suffering for now because it brings about mercy and self-sacrifice in his creatures. Suffering in a fellow creature, human or animal, is an invitation for us to love one another; but I'm not a wise Christian and at a certain point I just have to say that I have faith that He suffers with all of us even though His ways are mysterious sometimes.

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.

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Old 07-21-2009, 06:21 PM
 
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I think I owe you an apology, because I absolutely wasn't offended at all - I was just trying to give more information on my background. Tone is really hard to read sometimes in text online! I really do appreciate your view point, and I can see a lot of sense in what your saying. I guess what I was trying to get across (and was not very effective at - sorry!) is that even though I have the experience and knowledge that comes with many years of devoted Christian faith and education, I still don't feel *for me* that it is enough of an answer to help me marry the idea of the suffering of the defenseless with a God that is merciful, powerful, good, loving, and active.

(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
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Old 07-22-2009, 05:20 PM
 
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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!"

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Old 07-22-2009, 10:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That's a great quote!
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 ???

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Old 07-01-2012, 06:07 PM
 
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As I have grown in my belief in God, I have grappled painfully with this issue. Human suffering has been given what I would call potential compensations, such as rationalization, escapism justufication, potential for revenge or forgiveness, prayer, and even the ability to explain to yourself why someone is hurting you (that doesn't lessen pain but any analysis or rationalizing can help ease suffering, IMO). in other words, we have been given ways to cope with both pain and suffering that animals have been denied. Failing all those, for example in the case of infant suffering, we are promised a reward in an afterlife of some sort.

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)
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Old 09-10-2012, 12:32 PM
 
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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.

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Old 09-11-2012, 01:18 AM
 
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or if perhaps our treatment of animals is almost a test of our compassion, one which we are failing miserably.
Most animal's suffering, at least in the grand scope of the world, has had little or nothing to do with mankind at all, though, and very much to do with just the realities of life. I'll agree completely about the test-of-compassion issue ... but I just don't see that it reflects very much on the original question. Factory farms and whatnot aside -- nature itself is rough.

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.

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Old 02-20-2013, 06:54 PM
 
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Smokering, I'm sure you have good intentions and your writing reflects above average intelligence, but regarding your statement, "In any case I don't personally believe God owes anything to His creation, so to me a question just as relevant is: Why did God create animals with the ability to do anything other than suffer?", I have to say, Really? So, because God doesn't owe us anything, you think it's ok to send animals here to suffer? In that case, you should start being cruel to animals. Shock them, cut their ears off, kill them by anal electrocution like factory farmers do, etc. That way you'll fulfill God's will in an excellent manner.
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Old 05-24-2013, 06:56 PM
 
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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.


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