Ecclesiastes 3:19-21: A View of the Souls and Spirits of Humans and Animals


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Ecclesiastes 3:19-21: A View of the Souls and Spirits of Humans and Animals
By Robert - 11 Mar 2005

I'm afraid I don't have any articles written up as yet, but will let you have a copy if and when I do so.

I've always seen the vegan position as a totally logical one, but the difficulty for Jews and the Christians alike, I imagine, are those statements of the Bible (e.g. Genesis 9:3) which allow us to eat animals.

One argument perhaps worth exploring is that these statements are purely permissive and were not commands or exhortations to eat animals. The statement to Noah and his sons, for example, was given at a time when the whole world was decimated and there was little or no vegetation to eat. As we are no longer in that position, eating animals is no longer morally defensible.

Such arguments appear to be limited, however, as one could always ask why God did not miraculously provide some vegetarian 'manna' from heaven while Noah sowed his crops. Eating animals also seems to have been anticipated by the fact that Noah was commanded to take different numbers of unclear and clean animals onto the ark, although clearly many of these were to sustain the carnivores Noah rescued.

What one can say is that the eating of animals is a result of the Fall. Before it, all animals and man were vegetarian (Genesis 1:30). After it, they were not. So I think there is a powerful argument for saying that vegetarianism is the perfect state to which we should aspire; meat eating is an imperfect compromise to avoid human suffering, from which we should now seek to escape.

Some further niggling problems, however, remain. If it is wrong for us to eat animals, should it not also be wrong for animals to do the same? (Many vegetarians, I imagine, feel at least faintly uneasy about spooning dead animals remains onto the plates of their pet cats.) If so, does this mean that we should slowly cause pure carnivore species, such as the big cats, sharks and birds of prey, to die out, perhaps by using contraceptives? After all, we want to stop animals being killed and eaten; does it matter then who does the killing?

For many this would be a very extreme step to take and a unbiblical one. After all God must have commanded carnivores to be taken onto the ark for them still to be with us today. And if He preserved them, on what grounds could we justify exterminating them?

It seems that the present balance of nature, then, is a distorted one caused by the Fall of man. It is not an ideal state. But there are also clear limits to which we and animals can return to that original state of bliss. The best argument against eating animals now is that we have a choice. The biggest question this raises is why in later Old testament and in New testament times believers were not required to avoid eating meat.

Any thoughts would be really appreciated.

God bless,