Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Not Chomping Through Animals

Those of us who worry about what we eat might like to worry more with a new book coming soon, though this has emphasis criticising hunting with dogs, fur farming and commercial sealing. The differences between humans and animals is the basis for many for discrimination against animals for their exploitation, but this book will show that such is the basis for not discriminating. Apparently this will have a Chomsky style edge to it, which presumably means something on libertarian socialist lines that we don't have an elevated position unless it can be demonstrated with therefore a strong equalitarian and accountable outlook to all. We'll see. The book is Why Animal Suffering Matters: Philosophy, Theology, and Practical Ethics by Rev. Professor Andrew Linzey and is published by Oxford University Press on July 16, said to be available July 23 in the US and September 17 in the UK.

I want to highlight this only because I want to point to examples around of theology that promotes a radical liberty and an inclusive approach to ourselves and our environment.

I argued on this blog fairly recently that I was unconvinced by Jesus centred arguments towards a vegetarian position:

But surely we have a right to expect that the trinitarian God the Son shows a vision of that Kingdom in his very being, that the paradise to be is walking around and on personal matters eats his greens. In other words, if he was sinless, he was sinless.

It is said that he was tempted, thus human, but was sinless. I'm sorry, but the equivalent of this is that meat is put on his plate but he doesn't eat it. To say he was just a man of his time on this issue is such a cop out it either destroys a trinitarian dogma or it is all right to go on eating the flesh including in paradise.

This has to be so, I think, and indeed during my theology MA 1996-1998 I wrote some material precisely in this direction even though I did not eat meat. Though Andrew Linzey would disagree about that Christology (indeed my rejection of such meat affirming Christology - he'd say Christology points away from animal consumption), I still like his previous theos-rights approach that the blog entry also highlights, once there is some universality added. The analogy can be made with infants, but my observations are made with dementia recently, that whatever may be the limited and even bizarre outlook of the dementia ridden person, it is still a full world inside that consciousness, and we ought to value it and even uphold it in all its strangeness. The consciousness of animals also ought to be valued and upheld in a similar way: it is a full life for the animal, and should be lived to the full: stimulated and consistent with ordinary feeding, behaviour and life itself. Life life, we might say (Cupitt style).

My argument seems to be going in this direction in a number of areas, recently. That was what my John Robinson entry also highlighted, and my sympathy towards the position in Essays and Reviews and, of course, James Martineau at that time and afterwards.


Brad Evans said...

The Nonconformist Conscience is such a ridiculous thing! It's like trainspotting for metaphysicians.

john said...

These are interesting and difficult matters, especially because evolution has proved that any absolute distinction between animals and humans is untenable. Precisely because of that, however, arguments against eating animals have to take account of the fact that animals eat each other and some of them have to (for example, dogs do OK as vegetarians, cats do not). The conclusion for me is that it is OK to eat animals, provided they are humanely (humanly!) reared and humanely killed.