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Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Linzey’

George MacDonald on animals and God

September 9th, 2010 No comments

George MacDonald was a minister and theologian in the mid-late 1800’s.  His wiki entry claims influenced C.S. Lewis and perhaps even Mark Twain.  That’s quite a combination.  I have my share of Twain’s, Letters from the Earth days.  I definitely have a lot of C.S. Lewis, “Problem of Pain” days.  If you’re interested in C.S. Lewis I recommend the article, in which Andrew Linzey does an excellent exposition of Lewis’ theology of animals, available online here.

Lately though, I find myself resonating with much of what MacDonald has written in The Hope of the Universe.  It looks like he could have been speaking into the vivisection debate at that time, though I’m not sure from this text.  I’ve been reading this for awhile now and have had a difficult time deciding which part to excerpt.  It’s all good. But here are my favorites pieces of his interaction with Romans 8.

To believe that God made many of the lower creatures merely for prey, or to be the slaves of a slave, and writhe under the tyrannies of a cruel master who will not serve his own master; that he created and is creating an endless succession of them to reap little or no good of life but its cessation–a doctrine held by some, and practically accepted by multitudes–is to believe in a God who, so far as one portion at least of his creation is concerned, is a demon. But a creative demon is an absurdity; and were such a creator possible, he would not be God, but must one day be found and destroyed by the real God. Not the less the fact remains, that miserable suffering abounds among them, and that, even supposing God did not foresee how creation would turn out for them, the thing lies at his door. He has besides made them so far dumb that they cannot move the hearts of the oppressors into whose hands he has given them, telling how hard they find the world, how sore their life in it. The apostle takes up their case, and gives us material for an answer to such as blame God for their sad condition.

MacDonald, like both Twain and Lewis, recognizes predation and animal suffering to be a serious theological issue. He takes Paul to have actually already provided the answer.   I’ve read quite a bit of natural evil/animal suffering theodicy.  It seems odd that we would read the bible in a way that requires post-hoc animal suffering theodicies.  If we weren’t reading it with selfishly anthropocentric lenses to begin with we wouldn’t have to defend it from the God-diminishing conclusions of reading it anthropocentrically.  On the other hand, if we weren’t reading it anthropocentrically, it would make claims on our behavior to non-human animals.  And we certainly can’t have the bible making claims on us that we don’t like.

What many men call their beliefs, are but the prejudices they happen to have picked up: why should such believers waste a thought as to how their paltry fellow-inhabitants of the planet fare? Many indeed have all their lives been too busy making their human fellows groan and sweat for their own fancied well-being, to spare a thought for the fate of the yet more helpless. But there are not a few, who would be indignant at having their belief in God questioned, who yet seem greatly to fear imagining him better than he is: whether is it he or themselves they dread injuring by expecting too much of him?

Believing that God cares about animals is certainly an insult the human ego.  Not only do we want confirmation of our own special-ness, we tend to want that to entail an added dimension of therefore-more-special-than (fill in the blank) because of (fill in the justification).

Do you believe in immortality for yourself? I would ask any reader who is not in sympathy with my hope for the animals. If not, I have no argument with you. But if you do, why not believe in it for them? Verily, were immortality no greater a thing for the animals than it seems for men to some who yet profess to expect it, I should scarce care to insist upon their share in it. But if the thought be anywise precious to you, is it essential to your enjoyment in it, that nothing less than yourself should share its realization? Are you the lowest kind of creature that could be permitted to live? Had God been of like heart with you, would he have given life and immortality to creatures so much less than himself as we?  … If his presence be no good to the sparrow, are you very sure what good it will be to you when your hour comes? Believe it is not by a little only that the heart of the universe is tenderer, more loving, more just and fair, than yours or mine.

This.  This.  This.

Had the Lord cared no more for what of his father’s was lower than himself, than you do for what of your father’s is lower than you, you would not now be looking for any sort of redemption.

And this.  Isn’t this the point of “not one sparrow?”  MacDonald gets to that here …

If the Lord said very little about animals, could he have done more for them than tell men that his father cared for them? He has thereby wakened and is wakening in the hearts of men a seed his father planted. It grows but slowly, yet has already borne a little precious fruit. His loving friend St Francis has helped him, and many others have tried, and are now trying to help him: whoever sows the seed of that seed the Father planted is helping the Son. Our behaviour to the animals, our words concerning them, are seed, either good or bad, in the hearts of our children. No one can tell to what the animals might not grow, even here on the old earth under the old heaven, if they were but dealt with according to their true position in regard to us. They are, in sense very real and divine, our kindred. If I call them our poor relations, it is to suggest that poor relations are often ill used. Relatives, poor or rich, may be such ill behaved, self-assertive, disagreeable persons, that we cannot treat them as we gladly would; but our endeavour should be to develop every true relation. He who is prejudiced against a relative because he is poor, is himself an ill-bred relative …

Moving into his discussion of vivisection … I wonder what he would have thought about modern day slaughterhouses and factory farms?   Compare this to contemporary apologists who claim it’s ok to “work on” animals.

Torture can be inflicted only by the superior. The divine idea of a superior, is one who requires duty, and protects, helps, delivers: our relation to the animals is that of their superiors in the family, who require labour, it may be, but are just, helpful, protective. Can they know anything of the Father who neither love nor rule their inferiors, but use them as a child his insensate toys, pulling them to pieces to know what is inside them? Such men, so-called of science–let them have the dignity to the fullness of its worth–lust to know as if a man’s life lay in knowing, as if it were a vile thing to be ignorant–so vile that, for the sake of his secret hoard of facts, they do right in breaking with torture into the house of the innocent! Surely they shall not thus find the way of understanding! Surely there is a maniac thirst for knowledge, as a maniac thirst for wine or for blood! He who loves knowledge the most genuinely, will with the most patience wait for it until it can be had righteously.  … Force thy violent way, and gain knowledge, to miss truth. Thou mayest wound the heart of God, but thou canst not rend it asunder to find the Truth that sits there enthroned.

He ends with

To those who expect a world to come, I say then, Let us take heed how we carry ourselves to the creation which is to occupy with us the world to come.

Amen.

Thoughts on Instrumentalist Theodicies

July 14th, 2010 No comments

Here’s a blurb from Michael Lloyd, addressing some issues he sees with theodicies in which natural evil (including animal pain and suffering, predation – both inter and intra-species, etc. ) is addressed from an instrumentalist position, i.e. it’s bad but necessary.

Thirdly, the instrumental answers diminish the praise-worthiness of God.  It is one of the privileges of the church that ‘you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light’ (1Peter 2.9).  It detracts from those praises if it was God who put us in that darkness in the first place.  Could we muster wholehearted praise for a God who rescues us from a situation God had deliberately created from the outset?  The prophetic promise that the wolf will lie down with the lamb (Isa. 11:6-9) is seen as one of the grounds and causes of universal proclamation and praise (Isa. 12.1, 4-6).  But if it were God who set up the structures of predation and violence originally, how genuine would be the gratitude of creation?  Austin Farrer speaks of God as ‘our rescuer from that whirlpool, in which all things, whether good or evil, senseless or sentient, are sucked down’.  Yet if God created that whirlpool and placed us within it, how fulsome will be our praise?   T.F. Torrance can speak similarly of how ‘The purpose of the Incarnation … was to penetrate into the innermost center of our contingent existence, in its finite, fragile and disrupted condition, in order to deliver it from the evil to which it had become subjected, healing and re-ordering it from its ontological roots and entirely renewing its relation to the Creator,’ because he believes that we should not ‘regard evil and disorder in the universe as in any way intended or as given a direct function by God in the development of God’s creation’. What the instrumentalists have in common, however, is a belief that natural evil does have a direct function in the development of God’s creation.  They cannot therefore speak in the same way of God rescuing God’s creatures, and our praise of God the Redeemer must correspondingly be weaker.

I think the statement “Could we muster wholehearted praise for a God who rescues us from a situation God had deliberately created from the outset?” gets at my biggest problem with instrumentalist approaches.  That’s Stockholm Syndrome.  I can see evolution by itself leading to the psychology behind empathy and morality but evolution is a thing that you can’t put a tri-Omni God in front of as a literal first cause.  So far, it looks to me like this is the one place where you actually destroy the tri-Omni concept of God when you insert him as a causality.  When you add a conscious causality to evolution, when you say there was a choice to use evolution, that causality becomes a monster.  On that model, a conscious being, something we refer to as a person, uses not just some people but the whole of creation as mere means.   That’s selfish and I’ll give you that that’s how people can be.   In fact, we consider people who embody that fully and completely to be monsters and we call them psychopaths and sociopaths.  The people who most fully  “manifest instrumentalism” if you will, are monsters.  We can’t say that people, much less anything about the rest of the world, are inherently valuable and deserve to be treated as ends and then at the same time say we get that from God.  By definition instrumentalist positions posit God as a being who uses everything as mere means.  If we treat other people, other creatures as ends in and of themselves, and if we value that as a good, then it seems that we don’t get that from an instrumentalist God, we get that in spite of an instrumentalist God.

Fourthly, the instrumental answers drive a wedge between creation and redemption.  Either predation and pain were, and remain, God’s eternal purpose for creation, in which case redemption is unnecessary, undesirable, and impossible; or they were part of God’s temporary purpose for creation, in which case creation and redemption seem to point in worryingly different directions.  C.W. Formby draws out the problem with this latter position: it implies, he says, that ‘God, having continued the organic process as a purely constructive method for countless ages, upon the self-centered principles of ruthless competition and instinct-control, sought in later stages to unmake what He had made, by spiritual influences, by recourse to the moral teaching of the Bible, and by the power of the Incarnation’. ‘Thus,’ he concludes, ‘the method attributed [by this position] to God amounts virtually to self-contradiction.’

Michael Lloyd, “Are Animals Fallen?,” in Animals on the Agenda: Questions About Animals for Theology and Ethics, eds. Linzey and Yamamoto (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1998), 152-153.

How to Kill and the Denigration of Difference

November 17th, 2009 No comments

Richard Beck, in a series on Christians and Torture, recently posted some thoughts about the cognitive conditions necessary for or at least correlated with killing and or torturing other human beings.  In it, he noted that “Violence requires dehumanization.”   I agree completely.  However, I suggest that with a broader focus we begin to see that there is a larger mechanism at work and that mechanism can be seen to control not only our violent behavior towards other humans but our behavior towards other species as well.  “It is not difference per se, but rather the denigration of difference” is the significant point that Andrew Linzey makes at the beginning of this article, ‘The Powers That Be’: Mechanisms that Prevent us Recognising Animal Sentience“.  Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

Read more…

They Pity, and Eat the Objects of Their Compassion

September 18th, 2009 No comments

This is the second installment from the book “Ethical Vegetarianism“.   The editors have given a section to Oliver Goldsmith, British poet and essayist, drawing from his work “The Citizen of the World”.  In it Goldsmith “satirically scrutinized the norms of eighteenth-century England through the eyes of Lien Chi Altangi, a fictional Chinese visitor to the West who regales his Pekin correspondents with sometimes bewildered accounts of British customs.” (61)  This content epitomizes what my contemporaries generally refer to as the schizophrenia we exhibit towards the rest of the animal kingdom, the fundamental irrationality with which we relate to other creatures.  Our hearts rejoice when we see a creature washed clean after an oil spill, or in any other way really, saved from the injustice of our recklessness … while at the same time refusing to see the face of that same creature on our plates.   I really believe, deep down, we know something is wrong.  We don’t want to see precisely because of the pointedness with which it reminds us of our fundamental error.  They have faces too. Read more…

Darwin, Jesus, Nietzsche, and the Pope

August 1st, 2009 No comments

What does not kill me makes me stronger.  ~ Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

What is good? All that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself. What is bad? All that is born of weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome.  ~ Nietzsche, The Antichrist

Nietzsche.   I can’t believe it took me so long to put my finger on what’s been bugging me but that’s it.   As someone who came to church with evolution already installed, I’m particularly interested in how Darwin and evolution get discussed in that context.  Before I go any further let me admit that I’m open to being totally wrong, I’m open to the fact that Genesis absolutely can be read in a way that precludes the evolutionary process completely.   I also admit that pre-Fall animal pain and suffering is a problem for theists.   On the other hand, post-Fall animal pain and suffering is also a problem for theists who bother to examine it closely.   When addressed fully, that’s a huge topic that I’m not yet comfortable tackling here.  This post, then, is about one aspect of the church meets evolution relationship, and basically it comes down to telos, or ultimate aim. Read more…

Books: Why Animal Suffering Matters

July 16th, 2009 No comments

I’ve just finished reading Andrew Linzey‘s latest book “Why Animal Suffering Matters: Philosophy, Theology, and Practical Ethics”.

General impressions first.  Christians who believe “the earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it” (Psa. 24) will wrestle with how to rightly represent Him as image bearers; how, as new creations in Christ, we reflect Christ’s lordship over us in our lordship over that which we’ve been given dominion.  Thinking Christians will want reasoned arguments and will find them here.   If you’re a Christian and you are new to the topic theologically, if you’re reading this and thinking something like, “God put them here for our use”, then I’d start with any of the books on the Resources page.  If you want to investigate the philosophical and ethical standpoints too then this book will serve you well.

I am particularly grateful for the format of the book.  Rational arguments laid out in clear style.  Counter-points addressed at every turn.  Not since Matthew Scully’s Dominion have I felt like such a reasoned and precise case has been made for the serious, thoughtful consideration of animals and against the positions of the powers allied against them.  Linzey’s latest book furthers that project and condenses the case.  He notes in the introduction that the text is aimed at students in high school and undergraduate classes that consider such topics as animal welfare, animal rights, human-animal studies, animal ethics, animals and philosophy, animals an religion, animal law, and even animal theology at the university level (6).   It’s laid out like a textbook with summary points at the end of the sections and generous notes for digging deeper.  For anyone interested in these topics at this level it is an easy and satisfying read.  You know what to do.

I especially enjoyed the way in which the author lays out six of the most common arguments against the moral relevancy of animal suffering and shows that these arguments actually imply precisely the opposite conclusion; they make a stronger case for the moral relevance of animal suffering rather than weaker.  (40-42)

The six most common premises and basics (my own interpretation unless otherwise noted) of the alternative stance:

1) animals are naturally slaves (via Aristotle and Aquinas) … since when does power provide its own self-justification, especially for Christians?  might makes right?  that’s  Nietzsche not Jesus.

2) animals are non-rational beings … this only matters if lack of rationality can be proven to decrease suffering, and it is completely plausible that non-comprehension of pain and anxiety and stress and the situations that cause them lead to increased suffering in animals, as well as humans.  take babies for example … they don’t yet understand what’s causing their pains and fears, do they therefore suffer less or more than an adult who can?  the first step to managing your stress, anxiety, and pain is understanding what’s causing it … if animals don’t have that they’re short  the most important tool we use to lessen our own suffering.

3) animals are linguistically deficient … so what?  pain occurs at a pre-verbal level in humans … if I put a hot iron to your face you don’t experience that moment in language, you just experience pain and horror … even if they don’t have semantics like we do that doesn’t mean that they don’t suffer in their own ways.  how about this study that shows one way in which we use language to lessen the experience of pain.  if we use it to lessen pain and animals don’t have that ability then what?

4) animals are not moral agents … that is the most twisted argument that I ever see being made … we are moral agents and it isn’t about the victim it’s about us and how we behave, surely our morality isn’t limited to those beings who can be expected to reciprocate?  That seems a lot like the notion of do ut des … giving to get ... that whole notion strikes me as selfish (cf. Luke 12-13, not to mention the ways God gives to us and yet we can’t really “give” anything in return)  If we are the morally superior beings we claim to be then it would seem that we should act towards lesser creatures (whether we consider them to be of ‘our own family/tribe/race/kind’ or not) from that morality, as Christ did and does for us,  … to suspend it is to deny the principle we begin with.

5) animals are soulless … (if you assume this to be true, scholars differ) “beings that will not be recompensed in another world for their suffering in this one logically deserve more, not less, moral solicitude”.  See also:

But the Torah does more than acknowledge physical life, briefly describing also its inception. As a result of God’s creative activity, both animals and people are “living creatures.” In this sense, all of animate nature is on similar standing. While most translations imply that Gen 2:7 is in some way different from 1:20, 24, the Heb. is the same in each instance (chayya nephesh). What separates human beings from the animal world is not that they are living souls rather than living creatures, but that they have been created “in the image of God.” ~New International Dictionary Of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, “chayya”

6) animals are devoid of the divine image … “if a Christological understanding of power is engaged, human power over animals means responsibility, even service”.   So it seems a good bit rests on agreeing to what “image of God” means.  Linzey addresses this specifically as well elsewhere in this book.

Sadism Is As Sadism Does

March 7th, 2009 No comments

I’m reading the book “What Was God Doing on the Cross” by Alister McGrath,  which is essentially a short discussion of the major atonement theories.   Anyway.  The first chapter begins in a conversational tone, getting into the cultural location of the execution of Jesus.  The author is setting the scene, gearing up to tell the reader about how the Romans are oppressive, about how cruel they are, etc.  Here are some of the highlights from his description of the scene at Calvary from pages 12-13 …

(The Romans) call the preferred way of execution ‘crucifixion’.  The word, which sounds neat and clinical in its precision, refers to nothing other than legalized sadism.  It is probably one of the most depraved forms of execution ever devised. … they begin by … whipping him … it tears the victim’s backs to shreds … usually they nail them through the wrists; if you nail them through the hands, they fall off, and you have to start again … it is a horrifying and pitiful scene … there have to be limits to the length of time it takes to crucify … they devised a neat way of speeding up the process … and, as we watch, such a pathetic scene seems to be happening in front of our eyes … victims are stumbling past … one of them seems to be in a really bad way (and) just collapsed, it’s a sickening sight.

Legalized Sadism.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.   Read more…

God’s World

February 9th, 2009 No comments

Andrew Linzey, at a British conference for animal rights.   Better yet, read some of his work and then argue with him.

Most of our theology comes from people who assumed you had to eat meat to live.   I suspect that might have had something to do with the current state of things.  It’s an interesting picture when you get out from under “normal” enough to see both sides.   For further reading, check the listings on the resource page.

Fun with etymology:

cattle Look up cattle at Dictionary.com

c.1250, from Anglo-Fr. catel “property,” from M.L. capitale “property, stock,” neut. of L. capitalis“principal, chief,” from caput “head” (see head). Orig. sense was of moveable property, especially livestock; not limited to “cows” until 1555.
pecuniary Look up pecuniary at Dictionary.com
1502, from L. pecuniarius “pertaining to money,” from pecunia “money, property, wealth,” from pecu“cattle, flock,” from PIE base *peku- (cf. Skt. pasu- “cattle,” Goth. faihu “money, fortune,” O.E. feoh “cattle, money”). Livestock was the measure of wealth in the ancient world. For a related sense development in O.E., see fee. Cf. also Welsh tlws “jewel,” cognate with Ir. tlus “cattle,” connected via notion of “valuable thing.”
golden-calf1
I agree that this conversation is just as much about the idea of animals as ‘property’, i.e. generators of human wealth as it is about anything else.  Humans have been (and still are) considered ‘property’ too, it’s the wrong paradigm in both cases.   Interestingly, the idea of women (or any class of supposedly inferior human) and animals as chattel property arose at the same time in human culture.  Property, private ownership of  life, is a societal and cultural construct, not a theological one.   Of course there is property in the Bible – but it’s not like there was an 11th commandment that says “Thou shalt invent currency and own property”.  When we see ourselves as the ultimate ‘owner’ of life, other life as well as our own, it is a de-facto denial that God has primary rights to everything.  You must first objectify something, deny that it has any inherent worth, before you can treat it as a commodity.  See how the concepts are born from the same seed?

Yes,  even with the animal kingdom.  In the Genesis 2 account the animals are presented as helpers, just as Eve was.    Adam named all the animals, just as he named Eve.  Of course, this has been viewed by some as support for the fact that men can treat animals and women the same, with the assumption that animals as property is a given (it wasn’t always so).   Do we really believe that today, that the second creation account means to say animals are property therefore women are property?  I think most of us know that when you name an animal it’s a sign of relationship.  In fact, denying a creature its individual identity is exactly how we put something in the category of  “that which can be exploited, that which has no self- interests”.

Biblical covenants are about relationships of commitment.  God makes covenants with with animals too, not just humans Gen. 9:8-17.   Of course we’re not the same as them (we can’t fly, or smell cancer, or navigate by the earths magnetic field, or breathe underwater, or see at night, or communicate using thermal inversion – animals can do these things naturally) but the covenant is based on relationship (responsibility to and for) and not ownership the way we think of it today (predation, exploitation).
Matt. 6:24 No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t serve both God and Mammon.
Mammon . This word occurs in the Bible only in Mt. 6:24 and Lk. 16:9, 11, 13, …. It means simply wealth or profit, but Christ sees in it an egocentric covetousness which claims man’s heart and thereby estranges him from God (Mt. 6:19ff.): when a man ‘owns’ anything, in reality it owns him. (Cf. the view that mammon derives from Bab. mimma, ‘anything at all’.)  ~ IVP New Bible Dictionary
But if animals are not here for us to exploit, i.e. own, then what will we eat?  What will we wear?
Matt. 6:31 Therefore don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘With what will we be clothed?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore don’t be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day’s own evil is sufficient.
I can see every loss of human dignity in our continuing to feed this infernal machine, and none in our disengagement.   Profit, however, will tell another tale entirely.

And All Made for Us?

November 6th, 2008 No comments

Andrew Linzey addressing the Evangelical position on Creation Care …

It is an old tradition that the earth and everything that lives on it are made for human beings. The idea certainly predates Christianity. Aristotle held that everything was made to some purpose and so it followed, according to nature, that plants and animals were made for humankind. But, although the doctrine was taken up by Augustine, Aquinas and later Christian thinkers, its claim to be biblical is very tenuous indeed. Certainly there are instrumentalist tendencies within scripture, but the view that all creation was made just for us is not stated unambiguously in either the Old Testament or the New.

The time is long overdue for a reappraisal of this heritage. And it might be hoped that evangelicals, who so often sit loose to church tradition, might be the people to lead the way. Indeed, in ‘The Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation,’ which forms the cornerstone of IVP’s book The Care of Creation (2000), there are welcome signs of a fundamental rethink.1 It affirms that ‘the Creator’s concern is for all creatures’ and ‘he delights in creatures which have no … apparent usefulness [to humans]’.

Continue the article after the jump.  

Christian Predation – Que Sera, Sera?

September 5th, 2008 No comments

I watched some of the RNC last night.  The “meet Sarah Palin” video was interesting.    She’s a go-getter, she’s devoted to her family, her church, and her country, she can slash budgets with a baby on her hip.  I love all that about her.  I really do.  However, the other thing I saw in the video was a repetition of the themes of Hunting, Oil, and Military – the holy trinity of earthly power.  I’d like to take this opportunity to talk a little bit about the idea of predation being sanctioned by Christian theology, focusing specifically on sport-hunting.

Christian predation is generally defended with arguments from nature.  The similarity between the ‘we can therefore it must be what God wants’ argument and the evolutionary concept of adaptation and ‘survival of the fittest’ is to me, bizarre, to say the least;  even more so considering the force with which creationism is currently being promoted in order to counter the so called heresy of evolution.   You can’t have it both ways.  Let me show you what I’m talking about.  This is typical of content in support of creationism, this specifically was offered as a defense against the idea of Progressive Creationism (Darwinian evolution as a tool of God):

If Christ, the Creator (John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:16, I Corinthians 8:6, Hebrews 1:2), used millions of years of suffering and death to make the animals, how can He be all-loving and all-good?

Under the Progressive Creation scenario, Christ designed the animals to devour each other, ripping with claws and teeth. He then further allowed these innocent creatures (with no connection whatsoever to man or sin) to die by the trillions for millions of years due to every catastrophe conceivable. God allowed (or possibly even sent) a multitude of afflictions down on these animals, including diseases of all sorts, plagues, volcanoes, earthquakes, bombardments from outer space, floods, etc. As a result, animals of many types were killed to extinction.

Thus, the Progressive Creation scenario involves a process of elimination, death by fang and claw—cold and unmerciful to the weak. Could even a sadist think of a more cruel and ugly way to produce the animals over which Adam was to rule?

What a horrible thing to accuse Jesus Christ of doing! It is shocking that Progressive Creationism defends this as the process that Jesus set up and ruled till the creation of man.

Our Creator’s true nature is incompatible with this plan. God is love! He sees even the sparrow fall. Animal death came because of man. He said, “Blessed are the meek”—not blessed are the strongest and most aggressive.1

This is typical of content in support of Christian hunting:

… not only do you love hunting, you also love the Lord.  You know God loves you and blesses you.  You are assured that if you can ‘hunt with Jesus, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says or believes’.  ‘I hunt with God as my companion,’ you say to yourself, ‘knowing he will direct me and keep me safe.’  As you get dressed, you spiritually prepare yourself.  Nothing can be done right, you think to yourself, ‘unless I include God in it and that applies to hunting too’.  … While as a Christian hunter you love hunting, you also admit to an element of ‘sadness’ in being responsible for the death of another creature.  You comfort yourself with the thought that death is not an ‘end’ for the animal but a ‘glorious beginning’. 2

Besides the fact that this excerpt could just as easily be written by any so called ‘terrorist’ in preparation for any killing in the name of his or her God, let’s step back and focus on an underlying assumption justifying the idea of ‘hunting with Jesus’.

The primary fallacy is mistaking God’s love of people with approval of their actions.  This is like using the story of the Centurion’s Servant (Matt. 8:5:13, Luke 7:1-10) to show that Jesus loves warriors therefore he supports war, killing, etc.  God also loves prostitutes but nobody would argue that he therefore loves prostitution.  One of the first lessons we learn about God in the story of the flood is that he was so disappointed in humans and animals both for becoming violent that he decided to wipe us all out and start again. God was sorry he made us because we were violent  (Gen 6:6).  “God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before me, for the earth is filled with violence through them.” (Gen. 6:13)  Noah was considered righteous because he trusted God, not because God loved everything Noah did … “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” Gen 8:21.   The fact that our relationship now with animals is described as one of ‘fear and dread’ isn’t something we should be proud of, it’s all a result of our sin.  Embracing,  and more specifically propagating conditions based on sin, especially ones which are so obviously optional, is to embrace sin itself.

In short, the gospel of ‘hunting with Jesus’ is a gospel of Predation.  Life eating life is not some unfortunate aspect of the natural world to be tolerated in the meantime between creation and consummation.  Rather, God actually wills and blesses a self-murdering system of survival.  God’s will is death. 3

Clearly Jesus the Predator4 is incompatible with Jesus of creationism, if not the entirety of the gospel we actually have.  Jesus the predator is however, fully compatible with the idea of a godless evolution.  It can, of course be said that the need to defend ourselves from deadly threats is a result of living in a fallen world, and sometimes that might justify deadly force against animals or humans.  There is much sincere, reasoned debate over what to do about that.  However, killing for sport and pleasure is not about need, it’s about greed.  Sport hunting, unnecessary meat eating, killing animals to wear or decorate with their skins – none of this has anything to do with the tragic necessities of living in a fallen world, it has everything to do with the tragedy of embracing it.

1 http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-c026.html

2 “The Christian Hunter’s Survival Guide”, Pastor William H. Ammon as quoted in “Animal Theology”, p 114  See also http://www.sportsmenforchrist.com/.

3 Linzey, Andrew.  “Animal Theology”. 1994 p. 119

4 Ibid., p. 114