Friday, January 22, 2010

So what's this dumb cow's life for anyway?

Jon asks:
1.) Is it ethical to eat animals? And if so, what kind of guidelines do we need to follow when hunting / farming animals?
2.) Is it ethical to "own" animals?
(See the link for a Petey Singer video; that guy is a trip)

Jon says his mind isn't made up yet, and he asked for opinions, so I thought I'd oblige him (it's tit-for-tat, people, figure it out).

Now, everybody knows God is pretty weird, but one of the weirder things he does is give human beings the task of cultivating creation. So, God made us farmers. Adam trimmed the hedges, birthed the goats, and apparently he was having a hard time of it, so God gave him Eve to help him out.

For those of us with any farm/ranch experience (however limited), the idea of cultivation is simple. Each thing has a natural capacity; it is the duty of the caretaker to nurture each thing until it reaches that end. So, in the vineyard, the caretaker does whatever is required to maximize the fruitfulness of the vine, to produce the tastiest, ripest grapes each season.

With animals, the same principle applies. Different species and even different breeds within species have different capacities--our job is to help them reach their ends. Retrievers are an easy example. It is in their nature to bond loyally to a few other beings and to go get things. So, in our human vocation as creation's caretakers, it is our job to help retrievers achieve this inborn capacity for fluffy love and catching frisbees (or perhaps dead ducks).

When we have done our part, animals with whom humans interact fulfill their role or maximize their potential. Most non-human animals do not possess the brain architecture to "fear death" (in the existential sense) and, so long as they do not suffer, experience no loss when they die (assuming that we have done our job cultivating them).

Genesis indicates Adam and Eve were vegetarians. It's not until long after they're gone that humans get in the business of raising animals as meat bags. Maybe the renewal of all things will mean we can finally stop slaying our furry little friends and feasting on their flesh, I don't know.

For now, it is enough to support humane treatment. Stuffing meatbirds in pens is not good. Cooping up hogs until we grind them into sausage sucks (that movie Babe actually kind of gets pigs right). At the same time, cows aren't particularly interested in much beyond eating and walking about 10 steps a day. It is criminal to prevent dogs from enjoying the servile freedom of a trained relationship with a human being.

Cultivation not hedonism; animals are not instruments in your pursuit of happiness.
Fiddle on.

(Thanks Whit; keep it up!)

On the echo's lonesome sounding


I write about sex, I am crushed by an avalanche of opinion. I beg for comments, the deafening silence is broken only by the former Ms. Skoog. Thank you, Missy, for your thoughtful response; I am considering it and thinking about what changes will benefit the Saints of Doubt series.

To everybody else: suck it.
Fiddle on.

(Via Dan)

No. Seriously. Let me go back to sleep.

The story of humanity told by atheists is one of “awakening.” As in, humans were more or less drifting along in a drunken slumber of silly superstition until the dawn of the Modern Age and the introduction of the scientific method. Science pulled up the shades and bathed us in light, shook us from sleep, and is now explaining all that can be explained.

Apres moi, le hangover.

(Atheism story via Jon in the comments)
Fiddle on.