Into the Tar Pit of Religion

Well, I touched the hot button of overpopulation without getting burned, so perhaps it’s safe to wade into the tar pit of religion without going too far under…

First, a fair warning to lurking hunter trolls:  your comments and feeble rationalizations (and we’ve heard them all before) will not be posted on this blog, but will get filed as such and may be used against you anytime they help prove a point. For example, here’s part of a comment I received from a hunter the other day: “I love animals, but fully understand that all living things have their place in God’s plan and on His Earth. He gave us domain over animals. Read Genisis [sic] and wake up!”

How convenient. But do people really still believe that kind of crap?

Sadly, the answer appears to be yes.

A staggering 46% of Americans believe that god created humans in their present form within the past 10,000 years, according to a USA Today/Gallup survey conducted this year from May 10th to the 13th. Not only has that number not changed much in the past 30 years since Gallup first asked the question on Creationism vs Evolution, it’s actually gone up 2%, from 44% in 1982 to 46% in 2012!

Gallup’s Frank Newport told CNN, “Despite the many changes that have taken place in American society and culture over the past 30 years, including new discoveries in biological and social science, there has been virtually no sustained change in Americans’ views of the origins of the human species since 1982. All in all, there’s no evidence in this trend of a substantial movement toward a secular viewpoint on human origins.”

So, why do I care what people believe? Why won’t I just let them have their fun?

Because such dogma can directly affect how non-humans are treated.

The literal belief that humans have some kind of god-given authority over every other species of animal bestows undeserved power into unreliable hands. Creationist claptrap that favors one species over another perpetuates speciesist doctrine devised to demean and control our fellow animals in the same way that notions of racial superiority were used against our fellow humans.

The second most common view of those polled—held by 32% of respondents–is that humans evolved with god’s guidance. Again, a very convenient conviction that can be used to put humans on top.

Newport goes on to say, “It would be hard to dispute that most scientists who study humans agree that the species evolved over millions of years, and that relatively few scientists believe that humans began in their current form only 10,000 years ago without the benefit of evolution. Thus, almost half of Americans hold a belief [in creationism] that is at odds with the preponderance of scientific literature.”

To their benefit, and to the detriment of every other living thing on the planet, I might add.

Wildlife Photography Copyright Jim Robertson

29 thoughts on “Into the Tar Pit of Religion

  1. Reblogged this on Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic-Vote Our Wildlife and commented:
    Jim, I think that you have read my mind with this posting. My wife and I were just talking about this poll a few minutes before I read this. The same message that Jim has for the hunter/trapper trolls and their comments applies here as well. If you want your killing “logic” ridiculed, keep attempting to post comments on pro-wildlife blogs.

  2. My only complaint is the lumping of all religions with Christianity. Not all religions shard the “God gave us dominion” idea, by any means, and many religions, in fact, urge co-existing with all life forms. I’m not a Christian, but I do have a religion, and the title caused me to bristle when it shouldn’t have. I enjoyed reading your thoughts and agree whole-heartedly.

  3. The only part of your statement on religion that I disagree with is the last sentence – that humans benefit from any of this in real terms. Our chosen estrangement from the rest of life’s wondrous creatures does not benefit us at all. Perhaps if thinking human life is “superior” in some way is a benefit?

    But the cost is so great – and we all know cost is not factored into hunting, trapping, slaughterhouses, and the general holocaust we are causing. We who care must message clearly that we are losing too much.

    The cost: ~
    ~human health destruction of animal based diets – obesity, heart disease, kidney failure, excess protein diseases and on and on
    ~spiritual and actual isolationism, losing the myriad relationships with the other in healthy ways
    ~animal slaughterhouse production as an estimated 18% – 51% cause of global climate chaos
    ~disruption and destruction of the water systems, oceans, and biosystems that support human and the rest of intact life
    ~35% crash in wildlife populations overall worldwide in 35 years and accelerating

    No other species chooses to isolate themselves from other species, and parade around like kings while devastating landscapes into ugly cities, roads, rural monocultures. Massive mountaintop removal, digging into the ground, under the oceans, and across countries for choosing unsustainable earth shattering choices of energy.

    Humans seem willing to trade the religious self-contrived “certainty” of their own salvation in some invented “heaven”, destroying all that is real and beautiful and now.


    • Amen to all that. Not all my satire is meant to be taken literally, by the way. Speaking of that, didn’t anyone get a laugh out of the photo of the wolf pooping, right after the line “,,,do people really still believe that kind of crap?”

  4. I love you, I love you, I love you!!!!!!!!!! REBLOGGED! I fight hunters, including my fundamentalist family, on this issue soooooo often. It’s an excuse to not look at themselves so they never have to change, because “god says so”.

    • Right, I just can’t fathom a god who would imbue on all his millions of diverse creations the ability to experience sensations like pleasure and pain, or feel emotions like fear and anxiety, only to serve the wants and desires of one chosen species who happens to look like him…

  5. Dinosaurs had dominion over the earth for about 160 million years – whilst humans (what can be considered species Homo) about 1.6 million years ago and is on the verge of destroying themselves due to overpopulation and exploitation of the planet which is basically a toxic wasteland now. Humans will go extinct just like any other animal, because humans are animals too – and made of meat.

    • Yes, the mindset relates to both issues. Justifications for notions of superiority have been the results of misinterpretations of the bible throughout history. We’re living in an age when such misinterpretations justifying the exploitation of animals is commonplace.Thanks for passing it on.

  6. As far as I’m concerned (and I speak only for myself here, not for VINE Sanctuary, with whom I work), religion is responsible for pretty much all of the evils in the world — all religions. I see no redeeming qualities in any of them, to be honest, because to me the horrors far outweigh all the pretty little “be nice to your neighbor” crap. Any time you make a deity of any kind, you remove yourself, and everyone else who’s human, from the rest of creation (because of course the deity must be followed/obeyed/modeled). That separation — that alienation — has had dire consequences for everyone else, and will continue to do so. Thanks for having the courage to speak about the evils of religion.

  7. I could write an essay in response to this post, but for the sake of brevity I’ll confine myself to the following:

    I find it scary that there are that many people in the U.S. who still believe the human race was created directly by God in its present form within the past 10,000 years. No wonder the U.S. is going to hell in a handbasket right now.

  8. While not a Christian, I was raised that way and I would add that it really isn’t in the religion that humans can destroy, simplify, modify and degrade all of nature. In the Judeo part of Judeo-Christian philosophy, almost all the rules about keeping kosher have to do with meat and animals. Animals have to be killed a certain way (which is often abused today). There are strict limits on which animals can be killed. (furbearers are considered unclean and even touch is forbidden) Hunted animals generally cannot be considered Kosher for this reason. The dietary laws imbue a mindfulness about the taking of a life that is completely absent today. Many of today’s Christians find an excuse in their religion that pretty much allows anything as long as you “believe”. That was not the original intent. This perversity extends beyond the way some people treat animals to other areas of questionable ethics.

  9. Animals were also sacrificed in the Bible. Cults love black cats. That’s why the humane societies will not allow black cats to be adopted over Halloween. Read Ecclesiastes 3: 18-22. “There is no superiority of man over the beast, for everything is vanity”. I use this quite a bit.

  10. Ahem. I’m one of those silly evangelical Christians who takes the first chapter of Genesis more or less literally. I’m also a vegetarian animal advocate who organized a protest rally to oppose wolf hunting in Montana. So let’s take a closer look at all of this, shall we?

    1. The Biblical concept of “dominion” has nothing to do with consumption. Mankind was originally commanded to have dominion over the earth in the Garden of Eden. If you take the WHOLE THING literally, you will see that in Eden, 1) there was no death, and 2) people and animals alike ate plants. So dominion hardly implies hunting. Though man was permitted to eat meat later, the situation obviously does not represent an ideal we should strive for; it’s more of an emergency concession that we should be happy to dispose of when possible, in favor of more Edannic conditions.

    Furthermore, the Biblical ideal of a leader or ruler actually serves his underlings! See Matthew 20:25-26, in which Jesus says: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you [My followers], but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Given this, it seems likely that God’s original plan for the dominion of man was a position of as much responsibility as privilege. The concept has since been twisted by misguided individuals who treat it as an unlimited, irrevocable license to kill. It isn’t that at all.

    2. There’s no question that the Bible considers human beings to have unique qualities that the animals don’t have. However, it by no means implies that other species are worthless, that their lives and deaths are without meaning, or that the most trivial human desire is worth making an animal suffer and die for. (Even the oft-repeated contention that animals have no souls doesn’t actually stand up that well under Biblical scrutiny.) There are a number of verses which deal with God’s personal concern for animals, as well as this one which relates more directly to human behavior: “A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, But even the compassion of the wicked is cruel.” (Proverbs 12:10)

    3. Historically, a number of Christians (whether creationist or non) have been involved in animal causes. A couple of examples that spring to mind quickly include C.S. Lewis, who wrote an anti-vivisection pamphlet, and William Wilberforce, who, though most famous for fighting the slave trade in Britain, also opposed blood sports such as bull-baiting. Blaming Christiantiy or religion generally for abusive institutions discounts the efforts religious folks have put in to overthrow those institutions.

    4. Evolution-based arguments in favor of hunting (and other forms of animal exploitation) abound. Here are some examples, all of which I’ve actually seen invoked in one form or another:

    * If our pre-human ancestors hadn’t learned how to hunt, they never would have obtained the protein necessary to develop the superior brains we enjoy today.

    * Predatory animals hunt, and since we’re just another kind of animal, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t hunt too. (The special status that Christianity places on humans actually provides a basis for holding our species to a higher standard of moral responsibility than the others. Atheistic evolution, not so much.)

    * Survival of the fittest, brought about by ruthless self-interest, is responsible for the current success of every extant species. If the animals fall before our superior technology, tough luck, it just means they aren’t as fit as we are. To show compassion would be to defy evolution itself.

    To conclude: blaming Christians for our mess of an animal-abusing culture doesn’t ultimately help the animals. It just has the effect of dividing the animal welfare movement and driving away potential converts. Christians like me who are already animal advocates are made to feel unwelcome and unappreciated; Christians who are on the fence are made to feel suspicious and defensive, and come to associate a concern for animals with anti-Christian philosophies. The real problem underlying animal exploitation is a pervasive selfishness that will grasp at anything, whether it be religious doctrine or evolutionary theory, and twist it into a defense of whatever the selfish person wants to do.

    • Thanks for you’re comments. Any vegetarian animal advocate is welcome here, no matter what your beliefs. I didn’t mean to single out religion as the cause of all animal exploitation. You’re right, those who want to act selfishly will twist the words of either religion or science (whichever’s most convenient at the time) to try to justify it. When they try to use evolution as a justification, they usually don’t understand what they’re talking about (hence the notion that meat is brain food). The only real beef I have against anyone accepting the bible literally is when they use it to justify putting humans above the rest of the animal species here on Earth.

  11. I am Christian, and do not support the abuse or torture of animals. My interpretation of the Genesis verse you mentioned about us being superior, means only that we have the ability to think, rationalize, and reason, not that it is our right to destroy God’s creatures. Don’t group us all into one box or blame Christians for what’s happening to animals.

    • True, there are many good Christians who do not support animal abuse, and there are lots of good folks who are atheist scientists who feel the same as you. But don’t group all animals into the unthinking, unrational and unreasonable box. We have a lot more in common with our fellow animals than differences, and the ability to think and reason is not our’s alone. All I said in my post was that a literal interpretation of the bible can and often is used against animals by putting them down on a lower level of importance than us human animals.

  12. Looks like that wolf is giving his opinion of religion and hunters:)

    Sometimes I think people who adhere to the Bible haven’t moved beyond their reptilian brain. On the other hand, dominionism justifies what they want to believe and supports all the animal abuse on this earth and the pleasure and profits people gain from them.

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