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Tower of Babel

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Aug. 19th, 2003 | 01:39 am

I dusted off and started reading a book I bought some time ago the Tower of Babel: The Evidence against the New Creationism, by Robert T. Pennock.

It's a discussion by a philosopher of science how science differs from religion, and why some Christian's are so vociferous in their attacks on evolution.

Though I am still curious as to why the decay of moral character brought on by learning about evolution supposedly promotes homosexuality.

I guess as a member of the gay conspiracy I'll need to sneak into protestant Sunday schools to teach evolution to help "corrupt" young impressionable minds with the gay agenda.

I only need to sneak into certain protestant groups as the catholics have accepted that evolution doesn't contradict theism since the 1950's. (It's a sad day when one can get a better science education at a catholic school than a "secular" public school).

The other thing interesting observation is this book gave me a hint why some 7th day adventists decided to be vegetarian. In their creation myth, it was the sin caused by Adam and Eve eating the apple that caused death to enter into the world. Prior to that in the "perfect" newly created world all the animals must have been vegetarian, as eating another animal would have killed it. (Apparently plants don't die when eaten).

My reasons (to contrast with the hypothesized theistic reason) for being vegetarian are resource efficiency and being unclear on where the bounds of sapience and self-awareness live. When we have crows making simple tools and the possibility of other animals also experiencing emotions it becomes less clear to me where the boundaries between "murder" and "killing" lie.

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Comments {13}

Clare T. Rampling

Murder/killing?

from: rampling
date: Aug. 19th, 2003 02:28 am (UTC)
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I've heard the ethics argument about sapience and self-awareness of animals, thus killing animals for food is bad. But I've never understood why some people don't examine the contradiction that it's apparently OK for carnivorous animals to eat other animals, but we shouldn't[*]. A great cat would kill and eat just about any sort of meat that I eat (and much more), and they exist primarily on meat. Should I place myself on some higher moral ground than a great cat, saying the cat's killing is right but killing for my food is wrong? Are we not part of nature, naturally (looking at our teeth) participating in both herbivorous and carnivorous behaviors?

[*] If it's not OK for carnivorous animals to eat other animals, we have a completely ridiculous and impractical amount of animal policing to do. I also believe that it's cat-abuse to feed vegetarian food to a cat who's clearly evolved to concentrate on meat.

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T e s s

Re: Murder/killing?

from: soulsong
date: Aug. 19th, 2003 03:37 am (UTC)
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I do find myself rather convinced by this argument, hence my reasons for my vegetarianism have always been the aforementioned "resource efficiency", 'factory farming cruelty' and unsustainable practices (eg overfishing).

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Clare T. Rampling

Re: Murder/killing?

from: rampling
date: Aug. 19th, 2003 04:01 am (UTC)
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I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds my line of reasoning convincing.

I must say that I can't nearly as easily dismiss these other reasons you mention. Yet I'm still an omnivore. Many things in society are quite less than perfect, yet I still participate. I have to choose my battles where I want to expend my energy, and this one is not one of mine. Plus I'm not convinced a personal meat boycott is terribly effective. It clearly hasn't been so far (many poor practices still continue), over many years of vegetarianism and vegetarian activism. Yet a few signs of progress, such as free range chickens have become available. Perhaps the battle is long and slow (as most activist battles are). Yet I still don't think total meatlessness will ultimately be the answer. That's my choice.

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T e s s

Re: Murder/killing?

from: soulsong
date: Aug. 19th, 2003 04:29 am (UTC)
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Total 'meatlessness' is not the goal for me either, even though I am vegetarian. My goal is to end factory farming, reduce environmentally destructive crop monocultures (especially where assisted by genetic modification - though i am not against the latter per se, just our apparently ignorant profit-driven approach to it), end unsustainable farming (& fishing) practices, end hormone injections that artificially increase meat bulk, etc etc, you get the idea.

I think all these things are eminently achievable. Free-range chickens are ubiquitous, Organic dairy milk is available, GM food is still largely ignored in EUrope much to the annoyance of the US/WTO. Fishing quotas are in place. And so on.

I see no reason to want to end meat eating completely, but certainly making it cruelty-free, less hazardous to human health and less damaging to the environment are worthwhile and achievable goals.

I wonder what the reaction would be if meat could be grown artificially in factory farms with no brain or nervous system attached.

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Clare T. Rampling

Re: Murder/killing?

from: rampling
date: Aug. 19th, 2003 09:02 am (UTC)
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I like your goals.

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Freya

Re: Murder/killing?

from: moonglade
date: Aug. 19th, 2003 06:13 am (UTC)
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Many things in society are quite less than perfect, yet I still participate. I have to choose my battles where I want to expend my energy, and this one is not one of mine.

Exactly, there are many bad things in the world. I just wish the whole world could make a really pathetic and half hearted effort! Now that would make a real difference! Most people don't make an effort to do anything. Their "battle" is for the tv remote control.

Having said that it's really wonderful to make a full on effort at something. As you say it won't make any difference really, in meat or in any other subject, or at least the results will be tiny and insignificant, but you can feel positive that you are really trying to do something.

Sometimes it isn't about winning and sometimes impossible things do happen.

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Clare T. Rampling

Re: Murder/killing?

from: rampling
date: Aug. 19th, 2003 08:46 am (UTC)
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I think you misunderstood. I do not choose this particular battle about meat, but that doesn't mean I'm against choosing battles and pursuing them. Far from that!

I choose other battles, battles more personal to my own beliefs (and non-beliefs) which I do make large efforts at. And I know it's not about winning; I try to be a small part of a (hopefully) larger push forward.

My wish is that for everyone to pick at least *some* battle that matters to them, and work for it. It'd be a great improvement over the sea of apathy and self-centeredness that seems to govern so much of so many people's lives.

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Freya

My thoughts on vegetarianism

from: moonglade
date: Aug. 19th, 2003 05:57 am (UTC)
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I probably like to believe that people should place themselves on a higher moral plane than animals because of the higher intellectual capacity of humans. That they should strive to be better.

I also feel humans have long since ceased to be a part of nature in the scheme of things which is much evidenced by the mess they are making of the planet.

Lastly, a carnivourous animal has no choice but to eat meat. I'm quite happy to let the spiders catch and eat flies, but I don't like to kill the flies myself.

As far as being vegetarian goes, my attitudes towards it are often hard for people to grasp. I'm not a very hardcore vegetarian (unlike other subjects where I have tradionally been a hardcore left wing nazi) It's interesting. I have shoes with leather in, quite obviously so sometimes, but the people who wish to get into vegetarian arguments with me never seem to notice this. My desire is to reduce the suffering in the world, to have a low impact in terms of pain and bad things. My dad tries to pick arguments with me about vegetarianism, (because he likes a good argument) but always starts from some sort of stereotypical view of what a vegetarian is, and I'm not that stereotype, so theres never any kind of argument and it becomes annoying and frustrating in his attempt to start one. He often says a bunch of stuff I agree with, and I'm just like "yeah I guess so" and he is like "oh!" and tries to move onto some other similar question.

One of the things people can never grasp, is my belief that once you have killed the animal you really *ought* to eat it. I think this is because people are so divorced from the process. When you go and buy meat, you are effectively paying someone to kill an animal for you. It doesn't seem that way because the animal is already dead and on the shelf, but by buying that meat you are paying for the death of it's replacement. I believe it's really awful to then just take that meat and throw it away. You literally murdered an animal for nothing. You are morally obliged to eat that meat or see it is consumed, otherwise the animal was murdered for nothing. It wasn't even to supply calorific value. Pointless and literally careless murder. It's like they say about mushrooms, if you pick it, you gotta eat it.

Anti-abortionists who aren't vegetarian drive me nuts, and it's my suspicion that most of them aren't. Any moral argument they may have against abortion is void if they eat meat. It's just completely hypocritical, and if they value life so much, why aren't they trying to stop people entering the butchers.

My wish is for more people to make even a half hearted effort. Heres a big question. Is it better to have 4 people become vegetarian, or for half the worlds population to eat half as much meat.

Theres an awful lot of suffering in the world of many kinds. People should try and minimise it. That would be a good start.

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Freya

Re: Murder/killing?

from: moonglade
date: Aug. 19th, 2003 06:03 am (UTC)
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I get worried about the cat food thing too. Hopefully the meat replacement that some people feed cats aren't bad for them but I don't really know. Cats are carnivores as you say!

OTOH, I suspect that in a lot of cases they don't hurt the cat too much because little pussy also gets fed by marjorie thorpes at no 23 and the students in the house at no 54. Thats the way cats are! ;)

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Clare T. Rampling

Cat Vegetarianism

from: rampling
date: Aug. 19th, 2003 08:59 am (UTC)
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My understanding is that it's quite difficult to get a cat to really put up with an all-veggy diet. They just don't go for it too easily.

As for the idea of kitties getting their food elsewhere (from a neighbor or from killing it themselves), many cats are indoor cats. Especially many cats belonging to owners who are so controlling as to attempt to force veggy food onto their cats (and who want to prevent their cats from killing birds or mice).

From my experience with cats, and from the obvious evidence of their superbly evolved hunting and carnivorous characteristics, I can't help but feel strongly that forced vegetarianism for cats is cruelty. Regardless of what lofty ideas people want to take for their own ethics for meat, cats are clearly part of nature, extremely well evolved to fill their high-in-the-food-chain predatory niche. I say let cats be cats.

I used to give my cat (the beautiful polydactyl tabby Mira in my icons) a few kernels of corn as a treat occasionally while I was preparing a dinner (and she'd eat 'em). I also would occasionally give bits of tuna or chicken if I was using those ingredients. Mira did quite fine with the tuna and chicken, but she would end up throwing up the few kernels of corn! She'll still eat them, but I won't give her even one any more; she can't handle it. Since she's an indoor cat, at least I don't have to worry about neighbors sneaking her any corn.... ;)

=^..^=

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Diane Trout

Re: Murder/killing?

from: alienghic
date: Aug. 19th, 2003 01:34 pm (UTC)
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I guess I would start to counter the argument about is it ok for a cat to eat meat by asking when is it ok for a human to eat another human? Other than health issues involving the exchange of prions, is this wrong, if so why?

I would say it's ok for cannibalism when there is a compelling need for such a behavior. (The donner party for instance). The cat being limited in its dietary choices has little choice but to eat meat. Also the cat finds it easiest to catch the least fit animal of which it only bothers to take what it needs.

Humans on the other hand have developed a system where we can eat far more meat than is actually healthy for us and have done it in an especially cruel manner.

The more compelling argument to me is the resource efficiency issues. Unlike cats humans are quite good at temporarily exceeding the carrying capacity of an environment allowing us to continue with our exponential population growth.

One easy example is how we are currently depleting aquifers far faster than they're being replenished. At some point we'll run out off water reserves and will be forced to live on the renewable portion of the water supply. (Which is noticeably less than what we're currently using).

At some point we'll run out of excess and need to massively reduce our consumption, either by eating more efficiently or letting other humans die.

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Bolowolf

(no subject)

from: bolowolf
date: Aug. 19th, 2003 06:34 am (UTC)
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Heh. Kind of reminds me of something one of my psychology profs once told me. Apparently potatoes scream when they are picked. I guess some scientist hooked up an ultra sensitive recording device to potatoes and discovered that when they are picked they emit a high frequency noise that the scientist labeled a scream. I'm not sure about that...but it does make one wonder.

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secretslip

(no subject)

from: secretslip
date: Aug. 19th, 2003 10:21 am (UTC)
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On another thread, why do you think it's a sad day when one can get a better science education at a Catholic school than a "secular" public school? Generally when kids are in Catholic schools, it's because their parents are very involved in their education. The parents scrimp and save in order to send their children to said Catholic school and they sure aren't going to let their kids get away with not doing their homework. Plus, you know, if you don't study for a test and get an F you're going to hell. :)

In public schools, you've got a wide variety of kids, many of whose parents don't care or aren't involved. Public schools are also a lot larger so there isn't individualized attention as there is in Catholic schools.

So, for science or anything else, I'd go with sending my kids to a Catholic school, if there's one nearby, regardless of my religion.

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