COMMENTS AND DISCUSSIONS
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
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By people of compassion
- The Church is Chasing People Away -
Response By Nathan Braun
11 May 2001
As a Christian vegetarian, as well as a skeptic, who values animals as important, I have to ask: how do you KNOW that animals have souls (per se)?? How do you KNOW humans do? You seem so certain. Why? How?
(By the way, 'Soul' seems to me to be a Greekish concept without much basis is the empirical world. 'The breath of life' is more biblical, strictly speaking, but even then it seems rather vague. Richard Alan Young does interesting work on this in Is God a Vegetarian? discussing the meaning of "nefesh chaya" (living soul-being), which animals possess and plants do not, and which therefore is the proper Jewish Biblical basis for concern for animals' wellbeing. See also Richard Schwartz's revised Judaism and Vegetarianism, just published by Lantern.)
ps/ I think sympathy with animals is (more than) justified, but I think it has to be balanced with concern for (the suffering of) our own species, fellow humans (much of which is of course caused by our treatment of nonhumans). Concern for animals without overriding sympathy with humans makes one suspect by fellow members of the human community, in my view.
AGAIN: Compassion for animals is excellent, but I think it is properly secondary--- at least in most humans' fallible perceptive and conceptive apparatus. It is certainly viewed that way (by the majority), and while that may be part of the problem, I think we are going to be most successful in alleviating animal suffering by showing:
HOW OUR INDIFFERENCE TO ANIMALS HAS EVEN INDUCED SUFFERING UPON HUMANKIND. That is the terrible evil that has shown how evil we have (some of us) become, and how poor our stewardship neglects not only others -- but even ourselves! How terrible! How ironic! How, fittingly, ultimately appropriate!!
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