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Animal suffering and God's nature

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by 1137, May 23, 2012.

  1. 1137

    1137 Thelemite
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    As we all know, suffering is a large argument against God's existence. All together it is the problem of evil. Many solve this by pointing out original sin and free will, we bring the evil upon us. Well, what about animals? They are programmed and conditioned so do not freely choose anything the way we do. It seems likely they cannot even truly understand their own suffering. So where is God's love for these animals? Sure, pawn it off on humans for harming the enviornment, but it doesn't solve everything. Honestly it seems more malevolent to let an animal suffer than a human from God's percieved perspective.

    Thoughts?
     
    #1 1137, May 23, 2012
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  2. Heathen Hammer

    Heathen Hammer Nope, you're still wrong

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    In forum terms, I am in another thread confronting a few believers about Noah's Flood; on several occasions I have specifically pointed out the incredible number of deaths [caused directly by God] of the animal and other life-populations in that gesture, a gesture specifically performed to eliminate human evil; and they are uniformly silent on the issue.
     
  3. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    I wouldn't necessarily agree with you that "suffering" in and of itself is a "large argument against God's existence"... When you came into this world your mother suffered... She may have had some pain killers but everybody will acknowledge your mother suffered. Without suffering ...feeling pain.. of one kind or another.. and by our fellow human beings...we would not seek to alleviate it.

    You could also ask Why does God allow human beings to abuse and afflict pain on animals?.. Well there are laws against inflicting pain on animals and societies that are dedicated to reduce the suffering of animals..God allows this also.

    "Then, O ye friends of God! Ye must not only have kind and merciful feelings for mankind, but ye should also exercise the utmost kindness towards every living creature. The physical sensibilities and instincts are common to animal and man. Man is, however, negligent of this reality and imagines that sensibility is peculiar to mankind, therefore he practices cruelty to the animal....Man is generally sinful and the animal is innocent; unquestionably one must be more kind and merciful to the innocent."

    ~ Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith, p. 373
     
    #3 arthra, May 23, 2012
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  4. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Noah's flood was an allegory borrowed from the earlier Sumerian story.. If you compare the two stories you will acknowledge how similar they are.. The Biblical story is simply a version of this with the particular slant offered.

    My view of the message of the story:

    Only the believers in the Prophet Noah were spiritually alive, safely preserved in the "ark" of His Faith, and the other people on the earth were spiritually dead.
     
  5. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    No. It's a large argument against the existence of your God construct. (It's always easier to pummel a straw man of your own construction.)
     
  6. Jainarayan

    Jainarayan ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय
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  7. idav

    idav Being
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    Sentience is when the problem of suffering becomes apparent especially for animals with long memories. Thing is the earth is full of energy using and reusing in cycles so it isn't about life or death. It is about the fact that things on this oasis are becoming increasingly aware of the patterns. We suffer because we are too close to the illusion. When looking at it on a grand scale does the earth seem good, is it evil that animals have to eat to survive in order to keep suffering to a minimum?
     
  8. Super Universe

    Super Universe Defender of God

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    You're thinking that God is separate from everything. God is in these animals just as He is in everything. He experiences what every living thing experiences.

    The universe is not the way you would have done it because it's just not about you. It never was, it never will be.
     
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  9. Breathe

    Breathe Hostis humani generis

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    As a panentheist, I'm going to have to agree with you on this one.
     
  10. Levite

    Levite Higher and Higher

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    Well, first of all, as a Jew, I don't believe in Original Sin. I do think a considerable amount of human (and some animal) suffering is brought about by human free will, though.

    As for the rest...Isaiah 45:7 attributes to God the authorship of both good and evil. And yet, in the context of the verse, the word we generally translate as "evil" makes more sense if rendered "chaos" (as opposed to rendering shalom, which is usually translated as "peace" here as "order").

    What I think this is pointing at is that the universe lives in the nexus of three forces: the divine plan (or whatever terminology one wishes to employ to convey the idea that God intends for certain things to happen sooner or later in the universe); the free will of sentient, self-aware, reasoning beings (i.e., humans and any other equivalent creatures that may exist elsewhere in the universe); and the natural processes of the universe itself, which include chaos, entropy, and evolutionary processes like natural selection (and it is these processes I think are responsible for most animal suffering).

    While I don't think that the divine plan includes the suffering of specific individuals (human or animal) as acts of commission, I think that by prioritizing human free will and by creating the universe to function as it does, a case can be made that God is responsible for everyone's suffering by acts of omission (that is to say, He didn't create the universe differently, and didn't deprive us of free will even though He knew we would often abuse it).

    So what I am left with is either being unable to accept that God is not omnibenevolent and being unwilling to let go of the question of why didn't He create the universe differently, or taking a leap of faith that, if this is the universe He did create, as opposed to any other imaginable scenario, He must have had reasons for doing so-- quite possibly, reasons that we, as finite beings within that finite universe, are unable to perceive and comprehend.

    I choose the latter, although I can also understand why some might choose the former.
     
  11. 1137

    1137 Thelemite
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    You've never heard of the problem of evil? That's quite interesting.
     
  12. Orias

    Orias Left Hand Path

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    I think the best conclusion is that God himself is an animal, and is suffering from a loss of sorts.
     
  13. CynthiaCypher

    CynthiaCypher Well-Known Member

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    Maybe there are two sides to God and they are in tension with each other and that's why there is suffering.
     
  14. CynthiaCypher

    CynthiaCypher Well-Known Member

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    The problem of evil isn't good argument against the existence of God. It a good argument that God might be evil or indifferent though
     
  15. Orias

    Orias Left Hand Path

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    The problem with evil is that good says its evil.

    You don't see evil saying that good is good, because its bad to evil.

    The problem with evil, is that people think they have actually witnessed evil.
     
  16. 1137

    1137 Thelemite
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    How could one validate there being a malevolent God? To destroy the idea that God is loving should destroy the idea of God. Sadly, that does not seem to work, and people seem more than happy to follow a sadistic God for selfish happiness.
     
  17. Orias

    Orias Left Hand Path

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    How does one validate anything?

    Aside from that, how does one achieve "happiness" without being self centered?

    The answer is simple, for people to be happy there has to be unhappy people.
     
  18. 1137

    1137 Thelemite
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    How about experiments, research, logic... what would apply most directly here is most likely logic.

    You don't. We are all naturally self centered and there is nothing wrong with that in general. It is only when we go overboard with our egoism and selfishness that people start getting hurt. If you do something good for selfish reason, really what is the difference?

    No, for happiness to be recognized there has to be unhappiness. For there to be happy people there simply must be recognized unhappiness.
     
  19. Penumbra

    Penumbra Veteran Member
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    Seems to me there are a handful of fairly simple solutions. Some of them, for instance:

    -One potential solution is that there aren't any gods.
    -Another is that, there are gods, but they're not aware of animal suffering.
    -One is that, there are gods, but they aren't anthropomorphized beings that can love something, such as an animal, in any way, or in any way we'd be familiar with.
    -A person, even a fairly nice person, generally doesn't get too upset about the death of an individual cell in her body. Partly related to the second option, where she's simply not aware of it. Cells are such tiny components of a much larger whole, so while a person cares what happens to a huge amount of cells, she generally doesn't concern herself with the countless cells being formed and dying each day. If god is some pantheistic universe or some panentheistic platform of existence, it may not concern itself with an individual life form any more than a person does for a cell in their body.
     
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  20. Levite

    Levite Higher and Higher

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    There is a difference, I think, between a malevolent/sadistic God and one who is simply not omnibenevolent. A truly omnibenevolent God would be unable to cause or even permit any kind or degree of pain or suffering to His creatures, ever. He would be unable to allow Himself to create this universe. That God did create this universe-- where some pain is unavoidable, and some is even useful or necessary-- clearly indicates that God is not truly omnibenevolent.

    But I don't see why that has to mean that God is therefore a maleficent or sadistic being, and doesn't love or care for us.

    Any parent knows, as they raise their child, that it is ultimately not good parenting to try to shield your child from every possible hurt or disappointment: doing so will stifle their maturity and personal growth. We learn from our mistakes, we become experienced and wiser from minor hurts and injuries, and sometimes we even become enriched for having suffered some more major trauma-- if we do the work and grapple with it. Our immune systems function best with frequent very minor exposures to pathogenic stimuli, and function worst if we are never exposed to anything that generates an immune response: the physical, in this regard, is a good analogy to the psychospiritual.

    A good parent lets their child make their own mistakes after they reach a certain level, and will offer them sympathy and comfort, but will not necessarily intervene in their lives to try and fix things for them.

    I think God is analogous in this regard.
     
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