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Our subjects cover: animals, religion (Christian, Jewish and others); diet and lifestyle (vegan and vegetarian); and other miscellaneous subjects.
I mostly concur with Dana's Biblical perspective on the created order. The major part that I think is subject to anyone's interpretation is the "created in God's image" part. Dana's perspective posits that that "image" is something very positive. I don't find that the text explicitly supports anything about our image being one of beauty or goodness to others. I tend to think that we are some kind of facsimile of God but whereas God might have infinite dimensions in all colours we are more like 2-dimensional copies in black and white. In fact, I think that that very text (we are created in God's image) has gone a long way to reinforce in people's minds that we are superior beings who should obviously be pulled out of the burning building well before any non-human. Personally, I think that the "created in God's image" is really an allusion to the fact that on Earth we have God-like powers. We can create, we can make a new order, and we can destroy - in
fact we can almost destroy the entire planet.
It is true that the Creation account explicitly lays out an order for things. However, that order was specified before human beings willfully sinned and essentially trashed the order. Does that mean that there is now a new order? It seems like Genesis 3 spells out a new order - post-Fall and Genesis 9 is yet another new order which is even more damning for non-humans.
Laurie envisioned a planet without humans and how peaceful it would be. I concur. Peace will return when humans no longer exist (whether it will stay peaceful in the long run is another question). However, to even suggest the possibility that the non-existence of humans might be something positive is anathema to the vast majority of people. The non-existence of humans is simply unthinkable to this majority. I would posit that the example of Jesus is that God was willing to die - to not exist. As a thought experiment, will we humans ever consider and come to terms with the possibility of non-existence?
The example of the Bonobo was not at all placing any expectations on any other creature. In the realm of evolution (outside the Scriptures now) I was just thinking aloud that given enough time and space another species could evolve to match our cognition, language, and tool making abilities and that that species might even be peaceful. Scientifically we are newcomers on the scene - Homo sapiens sapiens having only shown up around 200,000 years ago. The Bonobo (pygmy chimpanzee) social and cultural makeup is significantly different from that of the common chimpanzee. Bonobos are almost completely vegan, they tend towards an egalitarian culture and if there is a hierarchy it has matriarchal leanings, and they are very peaceful. Common chimpanzees on the other hand are more like us humans - violent, meat-eaters (whenever they can get it), and strongly hierarchical (male dominant). The difference here is a few genes. Remove humans, give Bonobos lots of
opportunity and a million years and you *might* have something approximating truly peaceful humans.
I found the discussion on music quite interesting. I have always hoped that artists and musicians would, of all people, see how incompatible the killing and eating of sentient life is with the their art. Music tends towards the highest expression of our creativity and willfully participating in the suffering of other sentient life (when unnecessary) tends towards barbarism. A while ago we watched a DVD of the violinist Vanessa Mae performing in concert. She introduced one of her pieces as a composition of hope that "after a major global catastrophe, such as a nuclear war, at least we humans would survive and have a chance to start anew". (This message of hope from a musician who wanted to become a multimillionaire so that she could "eat caviar every day".) I couldn't help but wonder that if humans are responsible for an all out nuclear war then we (of all the species on the planet) are the last ones who deserve to survive.
Now having said all this, I remain convinced that no matter all these big questions and issues our best expression of hope and faith is to try and affect local change - no matter how small. I ardently promote the Genesis ideal to everyone who calls themselves Christian and who ask me why I promote vegetarianism. As the CVA bumper sticker says - "Eden Was Vegan".
Go on to: Comments by Bernie - 8 Jul 2009
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Watercolor painting by Mary T. Hoffman - God's Creation in Art
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