Monday, June 06, 2016

The Bible Argument

The Bible Argument:

"The Bible says we shall have dominion over the animals and I take that to mean that we can eat meat and use animals however we want.  Therefore, we can eat meat."

Objection 1:    If one wants to take what the Bible says to support one's position, one will have to believe that a wife must submit to her husband, homosexuals are immoral, one must not eat cloven-hoofed animals, rebellious sons must be taken to the center of town and stoned to death, etc.  One cannot pick and choose between points in the Bible without being unfair and arbitrary. If there are any points or even one point in the Bible with which one does not agree, one has to be able to justify why that one point should not be accepted but that every other point should.  What that justification will amount to is to be some other argument for eating meat that is not in the Bible (see the other arguments below, e.g.).  Because people do tend to pick and choose what parts of the Bible they like and dislike, it may show that people have their own ideas of right and wrong regardless of what the Bible says.  It also might show that most people think that the Bible is fallible.

Objection 2:    What is intended by "Man shall have dominion over the animals" (paraphrased from Genesis 1:26) is subject to interpretation.  Maybe what is intended is not, "Do whatever you want to the animals, like torturing, eating, bestiality," etc., but, "Since I made humans with more reason than the rest of the animals on earth, it will be up to you to see that they are well cared for - do not harm (or kill) them unless it is necessary."; So someone who likes this argument needs to tell me why we should interpret the argument in the former way rather than the latter. (See Objection 4 below.)  It would seem that parents would have dominion over their children; but this does not imply that we can torture and kill them in order to eat them, right?

Objection 3:    For anyone who does not believe that every word of the Bible is true, it is not convincing.  Why are all of the other Holy Books such as the Qur'an, Rig-Veda, Dhammapada, Taoist texts, Book of Mormon, etc., wrong?

Objection 4:    First, it would seem that God wants us to eat only vegetables:  In Genesis 1:29, God says to Adam and Eve, "I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which [sic] is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat."; It says that man shall have dominion over the animals, but it does not say there that we shall have them for food, as it does of fruits and vegetables. (It is true that the Old Testament does have laws for meat-eating after this Genesis passage, but then we have an inconsistency to address.)  Second, there are Biblical passages which actually say that we should care for animals:  For example, we should help an ass get up if it falls down (Exodus 23:5), you must rest on the seventh day so that your ox and ass can rest too (Exodus 23:12 and Deuteronomy 5:14), you must leave a mother bird and her eggs alone - you may take her brood, but you must leave the mother bird alone (Deuteronomy 22:6-7) the just man takes care of his beast (Proverbs 12:10), if you have livestock, look after them, if they are dependable, keep them (Sirach 7)  Therefore, it is very unclear just what a defender of eating meat can glean from the Bible.  Also, in the LDS Doctrine and Covenants, it says, "Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine" (Sect. 89.12-13). This text suggests that meat be eaten sparingly, but ONLY in winter, cold, or famine.  This was written when there were no other options available, and certainly does not seem to apply to warm climates such as Arizona, California, etc.  But even in Vermont, non-meat alternatives are available aplenty, so would this text not pretty much ban meat-eating in about 99% of North America?