Alan's monthly letter for February 2015
“EAT MOR CHIKIN,” urge the Chick-fil-A cows on highway billboards. After all, they don’t want to be eaten. Maybe it is wrong to eat animals. Granted, they still advocate eating other animals (chickens) so maybe they’re not entirely consistent. But consistency might be too much to expect from cows.
Some advocates of veganism (not vegans who avoid meat for health reasons), however, are more extreme than our bovine friends. Not only do they claim eating animals is wrong, but they believe it’s a form of unjust discrimination known as speciesism. That is, according to veganism.com, “The devaluation of the interests of those who don’t belong to the human species.” These people believe sentient animals – those capable of emotion, pain, and pleasure – are deserving of the same right to not be eaten as humans. Chick-fil-A cows would agree.
I agree on one point. By eating meat we are discriminating – we are saying that eating animals is permissible. That’s because our culture has been influenced by Judeo-Christian values. This worldview teaches that God made humans in His image, making them more valuable than animals.
That’s not all it says, though. We are also stewards of creation, the environment, and animals. While using animals for food is permissible, abusing them is not.
Advocates of veganism that argue in the same vein as veganism.com sound neither Christian nor theist. Therein lies their problem. If there’s no God, there’s no way to justify caring about animals. Where would animal rights come from if God doesn’t exist? A right is a just claim to something. It doesn’t appear out of thin air. Without a transcendent rights giver, you can’t ground the claim that animals deserve to not be eaten.
The problem for veganists is even worse. Because they’re atheists, they also believe in naturalistic evolution. Evolution, however, teaches three things that are inconsistent with the claims of veganism. One, if evolution is true, there is no creator and animal life is accidental. Nothing endows animals with value. The same blind and random evolutionary process that led to the emergence of cows also led to ants, mosquitos, and cockroaches. Evolutionists can’t say that sentient animals are valuable just because they are sentient.
Two, evolution teaches that natural selection operates on all living things. That means the strong survive and the weak are eliminated (selected out). When weaker sentient animals are eaten by stronger humans, that’s not a problem. It’s just evolution doing its thing. That’s not consistent with the message of veganism, though, which says we should help weaker species survive even when they are not fit.
Three, according to evolutionists, morality is an illusion. That means there is no “should” or “ought” to justify the claims of veganism that humans should not eat animals and we ought not to discriminate against them.
According to atheism and evolution, then, you can’t justify the idea that it’s wrong to eat sentient animals. There are just some vegans out there saying you shouldn’t eat them.
It’s also worth noting the double standard. On the one hand, advocates of veganism claim that eating sentient animals is discriminatory. Their view, however, also discriminates against non-sentient animals like ants, mosquitos, and cockroaches. Why only protect sentient animals from consumption? Making sentience the determining quality is arbitrary.
Advocates of veganism, in the context of an atheistic worldview, are impotent to complain about carnivores. Their worldview is unable to instill value in sentient animals. Moreover, they can’t object on moral grounds because, on the atheistic/evolutionary worldview, morality is arbitrary at best and an illusion at worst.
The Christian worldview, however, puts humans and animals in right relation. Humans are more valuable than animals and so eating meat is permissible. We should still protect animals from unnecessary abuse, though, because humans are given the responsibility to be good stewards of creation. This belief, however, can only be justified biblically.