The Fellowship of Life
Sir, - I should like to endorse Joanne Bower's plea for an increase in compassion towards the animals whom we maltreat in farms, laboratories, circuses and the wild (October 10).
But I would dispute her suggestion that "the coming of Christianity seemed somehow to cut man off from the rest of the creation." Pagan thought and practice was no more friendly toward the animal creation, and such Christian thinkers as St. Augustine were doing no more than repeat a Stoic commonplace when they denied that we could have any duties toward brute beasts.
The Bible, though it awards men "dominion" over all living things, does not thereby warrant our exploitation of them, and makes it clear that those peoples who do not treat the land and their fellow-creatures with proper respect can expect to be evicted: "Then your land shall enjoy its sabbaths to the full" (Leviticus, 26, 34; see 2 Chronicles 36, 21).
Their lives do not belong to us, but to God, and this fact, quite apart from contemporary debates about human and animal "rights," is enough to require far more concern for our kindred and fellow-creatures than most of us have yet managed.
(Dr.) Stephen R. L. Clark,
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