October 18, 2007

Pickin' On the Bible (Pt. 1)

In my opinion, two of the most destructive passages in the Holy Bible are Genesis 1:26 and 1:28.

1:26... "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."

1:28... "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."

These are two of the biggest "Bible Boogers". They have directly or indirectly contributed to some of Humankind's worst attitudes.

Worst of all is the attitude that we humans are somehow above and beyond the rest of nature.

I believe this assumption to be very false. It is true that we have the most advanced brains of all the Earth's beings, with the possible exception of Cetaceans. Humans also possess superlative dexterity and mobility. Beyond this, all the tangible evidence points to Homo Sapiens being nothing more than an advanced mammal.

We are conceived as all mammals are, through the union of egg & sperm (except for J.C.!) We develop as all mammals do, in our Mother's wombs. I could go on & on... but the point is, one of the most simple forms of life on Earth, the bacterium, can kill us all! The mere fact that we humans have to poo & pee is enough to prove that we, too, are what we'd call 'animals'.

Genesis 1:26 and 1:28 have made it easy to justify despicable human behavior- they're ONLY animals, right? I have heard these words far too often; "God put the animals here to use as we see fit." How vain.

We all know about things like loss of habitat due to Humankind's "progress"... and the deplorable treatment of animals on our "factory" farms... or the raising of birds & mammals for the sole purpose of being shot by some "mighty outdoorsman" on a "canned" hunting reserve... or the millions of dogs & cats that have to be destroyed each year, because the animal shelters cannot shelter them all... not to mention the despicable fur trade, Canada being a huge offender with their baby seal slaughter (they allow up to 300,000 pelts to be "harvested"). Sad to say, these are all a given. For the most part, they are accepted by mainstream society.

There has been some good news in recent years- like the re-emergence of the Bald Eagle in the lower 48. Organizations such as The Nature Conservancy are doing their share by helping to preserve "wild" land for habitat. Local animal organizations such as P.A.W.S. are trying their best to help stray & abandoned dogs & cats. And the number of people who are Vegetarians and Vegans has been steadily increasing.

Many conservation efforts are too little, too late. A particularly sad example is the plight of the Bengal Tiger. Just 5 years ago, they numbered about 3,500- in 2007 there are estimated to be only 1,500 individuals left, despite the luke-warm efforts of the Indian government to save them. The primary cause has been (of course) habitat loss. Damned "progress"...

I have been accused, several times in my life, of caring more about animals than people. I'm sure my "accusers" never took it into account that people ARE animals- no matter what the "good" book says!



Michael said...

Great essay! (The bobcats certainly helped...) I too have had the charge of caring more about animals than people levied at me, to which I respond in kind;

Humans are animals. And we are the most powerful, destructive force this world has ever seen. Weapons capable of annihilating entire continents wait patiently to be deployed by some trigger happy megalomaniacal bible thumper to lose his cool and bring about Armageddon. Just look at the magnitude of ways in which we harm ourselves and each other; look at the millions of women mutilated by their families in the interest of religious "chastity"; the people who have been stoned, drowned, burned, tortured, mutilated, raped, and robbed of their dignity and lives all with the blessing of the worlds "great" religions.

How can we expect ourselves to treat each other with kindness, respect, and dignity, if we cannot even do so to the most powerless, innocent, beneficial, and lovable members of our society? If you cannot bring yourself to treat a dog, a cat, a cow, a pig, a seal, a whale, a tiger, or a turtle with respect, how can I trust you not to do the same to man? If you revel in the suffering of non-humans, how can humans be that far away?


MarkT said...


cloudberry said...

Well said. To look these other animals in the eye and realize what our kind has done, and is still doing, that is a sobering thing. Which is why, when choosing to limit meat in my diet in the early 90s, my first step was to stop eating mammals. Later I added fowl and fish. Then I caved in and added them back in the past year on rare occasions. But I feel a bit guilty about it, because it goes against my own convictions. Since our brains are bigger and better, we ought to think a bit more about the consequences of our acts, and behave in a more responsible way, not a less responsible way, than our fellow animals on the planet. Thanks for pointing me to this post.

Josh said...

That was a good post, but I have to disagree slightly (this may be off topic a little, but we are free thinkers ;) ). I know I don't speak only for myself when I say that I've had the feeling there is something more to humanity than the physical realm. Maybe that's the essence of where religion comes from, trying to understand that feeling that seems to separate us from the world we are so much a part of. So what is it? I'm of the school of thought that while we are still animals, and part of the Earth as whole, we, as humans, carry something else with us unique from all other life. That something is collective knowledge. It's ideas and thoughts that have been passed down through thousands of generations of humans, and have uniquely evolved separately from our physical selves. I really think our collective consciousness (or unconscious as Carl Jung would say) does make us drastically different from all other life on Earth. It's not something that was 'bestowed' to us, it just happened, and it is a big responsibility. Different or not though, we are still a part of this Earth, and we should still treat it and its other inhabitants with respect, just as we should treat each other with respect. Just as we have said that we don't need a god to give us morals to be moral, similarly I don't feel the need to deny my humanism in order to act morally toward animals and the Earth. This of course is all just my own opinion, but it's interesting to think about.