Atheist, Agnostic and Animal Rights.
Posted by Quasi Vegetarian at 09/24/2008
Atheist, Agnostic and Animal Rights.
I have got to address a dilemma that seems to be presenting itself to me here on the HappyCow. And I am not quite certain how to bring it up because it is sure to cause a stink no matter how tactfully I introduce it. It may be something that has been chatted about before and I am just not aware of it. None the less I am vaulting into the fray waiting to be pummeled and bludgeoned, hoping otherwise, but in need of some enlightenment on the subject.
How can anyone clam to be Atheist or even Agnostic and be worried about animal rights? If there is no "God", by what ever name one calls Him or Her, then what is the premiss for animal rights? It seems to me that if there is not higher power, no afterlife, nothing to look forward to after the grave then animal rights is meaningless. Right and wrong do not exist if there is no religion.
Yes we may make cultural laws and statues, but the are of no moral value, just social value. And if there is not a higher goal involved then integrity and honesty and loyalty and the like are only empty values made up by one class to keep the other class in line. Honesty only exists "if you don't get caught".
I see no reason to worry about animal or human rights if there is no God or higher power or purpose to life. If there is no goal to attain, no purpose to my being here other than a freak accident of nature, then as long as I get what I want. As long as I am satisfied. Why the bloody hell would I give a ruddy red twopence about what happens to anyone or anything else? Love would become just another four letter word. Any kind of love. Emotions would be an attribute of the weak. Lack of emotion and duplicitousness would attributes of the strong.
Please tell me what I am missing here. Please do not get defencive. I am not trying to disrespect or berate anyone here. I am just looking for some reasoning. Some explanation for the perplexity that seems to be peering fixatedly in my direction.
Thank you for your thoughtful replies.
kindlizard at 09/24/2008 21:02:27
A concert analogy: why would you not rush up front if your tix were in the balcony if not for fear of being tossed out if you were caught? Simple, it is not cool, let's all chill do what we think is right. I never have fear of being caught of doing anything at shows, but I believe in being cool to my fellow concert-goers, and even to (most of the time) the workers at the venue and the band. People could get hurt if the maxim of rush the front was enforced. So for the sake of the animals, let's all be cool with them and love and live from our hearts as the center, from the inside, rather than the outside "Else" or "Other". Though I am not "atheist" I do get the point, but i' am not super gung ho religious either. Whatever works for you though, right?
treehugger at 09/25/2008 09:39:11
I am not Atheist or Agnostic so I'm not speaking from that corner. I do believe animal rights stem from a belief in what is right and wrong on this earth, right here, right now - from a moralistic point of view and not from a divine/religious concept.
We know that killing pigs to eat is wrong, we know that killing anything/anyone is wrong - regardless of what our spiritual practices are.
I'll let someone else explain probably better than I could.
Quasi Vegetarian at 09/25/2008 13:49:37
I am really scratching my head on this. I really want answers. Well thought out answers. Not "Just Because" or "That's Just the Way It Is" answers. The general coed of Right and Wrong, Morality, Good and Evil, Naughty and Nice, it all has it's roots somewhere. But where? And Why? How do we separate moralistic form divine or religious concept? It seems that all of the moralistic conceptions of the world are derived from some sort of divine or religious concept.
This really is an animal rights question. It may be a wee of center line, but it is real just the same.
Tatiana at 09/25/2008 14:43:53
Quasi Vegetarian at 09/25/2008 16:18:07
I know I am kind of shotgunning my thoughts out here, but perhaps if I do this someone else will pickup on something I have over looked and find a wee more light than I to shed.
Please, I am looking for your thoughts and feeling. Your reasonings.
Please dig deep and share you innermost on this with the rest of us.
Tatiana at 09/26/2008 10:49:02
kindlizard at 09/26/2008 13:43:44
eric at 09/26/2008 16:21:57
Here's my take...
I feel I might describe myself as an atheist since I don't believe in a God as a great being who is separate from us.
Like you described in your last response, I feel that the terms 'right' & 'wrong' are just man created concepts, opposite sides of the same coin.
For me, compassion is often the result of discontinuing to divide, whether it be right & wrong, human & animal, or me & you. When one stops seeing divisions, compassion flows, one begins to see everyone else as an extension of oneself. In this way of seeing, there is no possibility that I would want to intentionally harm another being. This is the main reason I became 'vegan' 20 years ago. This is not a lofty way of thinking, rather a more natural, spontaneous way of living where no labels are needed. So for me, while 'vegan' is a convenient word to describe the way I eat/live, my choice in how I live happens each moment, without rules of 'right' and 'wrong' as preconceived concepts.
Yet most people will never come to this understanding as their trance is deep as is the greed which feeds it. Greed is the reason the consumption of dead flesh is so popular for most people, and until one develops a sensitivity to the reality of all life, overcoming this greediness is nearly impossible.
ElaineVigneault at 09/26/2008 22:42:21
Quasi Vegetarian at 09/27/2008 03:19:10
OK. Here is what I am looking for, at least I will try to reword it so it comes out correct this time.
It seems that the "Moral" and "Social" values of our world have been established by "Higher Power". The whole Do Not Kill, Do Not Mess Around with Your Neighbors Wife,Do Not Take Something that is Not Yours, I think you know what I am talking about here.The rules of social engagement seem to be taken from the so to speak "Gods" of the world's cultures. This seems to give them some sort of "Power" or "credibility" with the people. The whole "Right and Wrong" thing seems to be the given to the world again by the "Gods" of these cultures. And it seems to me that is why they seem to have "power" over the people of our societies. Can you see where I am coming from? It gives these "Laws" power and authority over the people because "God" said it. So if God is taken out of the equation where is the power that binds one to these rules or laws?
Let me try it this way. If I say to someone "Do not kill because God forbids it". I have a higher authority backing my play. I did not say it, God said it and I am just telling them what God said.
Now let me take God out of the equation. "Do not kill because I say it is wrong". This now just a matter of my opinion. I have no higher power backing my hand. The next person could just as easily tell me to go pound sand because they have a different opinion and they can not see why my opinion is any more valued than theirs.
Can you see where I am coming form.
Before I start getting hate letters and and death threats, ( just a joke because I know that is not going to happen here on HappyCow and that is why I choose this forum to talk about this subject ) I am very much an advocate to humane treatment of animals. I serve the purpose every day. This subject has come up in the local community chatting and as I noticed there are a lot of atheists here at the HappyCow I thought this may be a great place to talk about it. That and I wanted to get some additional feedback from a group that I knew would have deep feelings about it and would give me some straight answer without trash talking me. I want to hear how others look at this. I am sure that there will not be a concise answer here. I am sure that there will be varied opinions. This is wonderful. This is what I want to hear. I want your ( all of you that are will to talk about this ) take on this.
Does that come across any better? I hope so. PLEASE..... I am not out to make anyone upset. I just want to talk about this. I really am interested in this and I am hoping others will be also. After all that is part of what we are here for is it not?
Aly at 09/27/2008 09:59:25
I'm an atheist and a firm believer in animal rights. First, I think this is an interesting topic and I think you are brave for bringing it up. Kudos. Let me attempt to answer the question and give my two cents on the discussion.
I'm sure we could all agree that different people think in different ways. A Christian (or any religious person) does not think in the same way an atheist does. A vegetarian does not think in the same way a meat-eater does.
For example, a Christian wins the lottery, and they thank God. An atheist wins the lottery, and they are glad. A vegetarian goes shopping, and they check the ingredients for meat. A non-veg goes shopping, and they get what is cheap and looks good.
In this way, different groups of people think differently. I do not ever look at an animal and think anything about God or Heaven or 'the afterlife' or the bible or a soul, because I don't believe in those things.
I do not look at an animal and think in terms of right and wrong. (Is it right to allow this animal to be killed and chopped up for my eating pleasure?) Rather, I think in terms of perception. (Does this animal have a perception? Do I percieve this animal to be a living being? If so, is it not just as alive as I am? And, in that case, does it not deserve to live happily just as much as I do?)
As a counter discussion, I would say - if Christians believe that HUMANS go to Heaven and animals don't, then what is the point in being nice to an animal? If your "God" damns anyone who doesn't believe the same thing you do to eternal suffering and damnation (those who don't accept Jesus as their savior, to put it less bluntly), then surely these animals are going to suffer eternally in the pits of Hell anyway, so what is the point at all, for a Christian? Especially if, and correct me if I'm wrong, Christians believe that I, a human being, am going to suffer for all of eternity for not believing in the same thing they do. So if I and billions of other humans get that fate, why should animals fare any better? They wouldn't.
As an atheist, I do not believe that this life is a test or a practice round or simply a waiting room to get into the castle in the sky. I believe we get one shot. We die and, boom, that's it. So I believe in making the most of this life. I believe since this life is all an animal has, they should be allowed to live it fully, just as you or I or anyone or anything else in the world.
If you don't understand where I'm coming from, I could be glad to explain further. It just seems very simple to me why you don't understand - you are not an atheist and do not think like an atheist, therefore you do not know how an atheist thinks. For YOU, everything may relate to or come from God, and many things may be based off of your religion. Because this is not so for an atheist, the thought process between the two groups is entirely different.
veggiebear at 09/28/2008 16:44:12
I don't believe there is a "higher power", whether or not there is an afterlife is something I am unsure on, but consider irrelevant to this life.
Perhaps you need the threat of going to Hell hanging over your head in order to consider others, human or otherwise, but other people do not.
Regardless of what made me, the end result is that I am a living thing capable of feeling physical and emotional pain, as is every other living creature. Animals should not have to suffer so that we can enjoy the taste of meat. There's also the fact of all the unhealthy things going into meat, although I didn't find out about them until after I became a vegetarian.
HM at 09/28/2008 19:09:16
If you need to subscribe to theism in order to justify what you are doing, or aren't doing, as some sort of right or wrong doctrine, fine by me.
As the leader of my own life, the one responsible for my downfalls AND accomplishments, I also take responsibility for my choice to be vegan as well as what I do along that path.
It didn't take a god or set of rules written on a stone somewhere and talked about in a very old book to help me make that decision.
Quasi Vegetarian at 09/29/2008 06:40:40
I must and do respect you all, each and everyone of you. I again thank you for being here and sharing with one another. And thank you for making a difference in the world.
I knew starting on this posting that it would be a wee touchy. And it is with pound of trepidation and an ounce precaution that I broach the question ( line of thought ) once again.
Where does this desire, this drive for compassion come from? What is it that is deep inside each and everyone of us that compels us to drive for a more compassionate world?
Why do we champion this cause?
I am not discounting the statements and answers previously given. Many of you have stated how and what you feel. That is information well shared and I thank you all. But I would like to know why you feel. Why we feel. How was this deep felt passion infused into our being? And I will also ask, wincing a wee and bracing for a bit of a gale, if it is just our opinion what makes our opinion any more valued than the opposite opinion and all of the opinions in between?
Thank you all.
Aly at 09/29/2008 15:31:52
I think brave is quite a fitting word, whether you believe so or not. :)
In any case, I think the question goes past religion (or lack thereof) at this point, because is there really anything to personally gain from believing in animal rights? Why does anyone feel compassion for others or for animals? I suppose that's up to each individual.
Compassion is not racist, sexist, or speciesist. It does not see height, weight, sexuality, hair color, clothing choice, or RELIGION.
HM at 09/29/2008 16:18:51
WHY do I feel the way I feel?
I cannot blame any god or lack of god for my inner feelings towards animals.
It's called awareness of what we are doing to them, and the earth, and our bodies, that I firmly feel is NOT justifiable.
Has nothing to do with someone's god. It has to do with how I feel. Why do I feel? Because I have the ability to reason and make a choice. I don't see where you are not getting your answer unless there is something specific you are asking for.
I think the answers have already been given, but possibly as someone who subscribes to theism you are unable to see them.
can't expect you to understand. Maybe it's not for you to understand someone else but to work on your own understanding on why YOU are vegan... or whatever it is that you are.
Quasi Vegetarian at 09/29/2008 21:24:57
Aly, thank you for not getting all judgemental on me. I know I am pushing, but I am not trying to push out of spite or disrespect. I am pushing because I really do want to dig a wee into this intriguing subject.
I guess it only fair to tell how I feel about this. I feel that there is a seed of compassion that grows inside of each and every one of us. It knows no social, or cultural bounds. It is no respecter of race, religion or gender. It is blind to our bank statements, the house we live in and the car we drive. The only thing this seed needs to grow is for us to cultivate it. Some of us cultivate it sooner the others, some more deeply and sadly some never at all. I believe this seed sends out a radiant aura, unseen, but felt by others who have been tending to the seed growing inside themselves. This aura is can be felt by any and all living creatures regardless of the genes or species. Humans, dogs, cats, birds, fish, flowers and trees, any and all living thing upon the earth. It is the one seed, the one common bond that ties us all together. This is what I believe, and how I believe, but it is not why I am involved in human and animal rights. It is not why I try to build a better world. I am involved because someone set the example and taught me kindness, gentleness and respect for all about me. I was taught compassion and caring and right and wrong by my parents. They set an example for me. They shared the aura of their seed of compassion with me and helped me learn to be a teacher. They taught me that goodness was where I find it. To look beyond religion and race and culture and any other boundaries we may find around us. They taught me to respect even when I did not understand. And with that respect understanding would follow. Sooner or later it would follow. Somewhere in there I found an unquenchable desire to learn. To gain empathy and acumen. And so it is that I put questions such as this out and eagerly anticipate the catch, the knowledge that others are willing to share.
I do hope this subject will be mulled over yet more and in further detail. I am ( and I do hope others are as well ) open and receptive to the knowledge, truth and feelings shared by each and every one of you.
Thank you all again.
lynvan at 09/30/2008 10:58:04
I think you want to upset people. Isn't that why you keep talking about ruffling feathers? Its like your looking for it.
Why are you a vegan? Why do you believe in animal rights if you are so against emotion and "doing the right thing". Aren't those choices based on being good to the earth. And where does that come from? It may not be a belief in a "higher power". Its the yin and yang...how the universe works. "good and bad", ebb and flow.
So ya....I want to know why YOU are a animal rights avocate?
Quasi Vegetarian at 09/30/2008 15:20:32
And speaking of being misunderstood it seems that is just what has happened again. I have never said I was against emotion. Never said I was against doing the right thing. I have never said I was a vegan. I have however said I am a fruitarian. I have also said I am all for humane and kind treatment of all living things. Much of my life is dedicated to helping animals and humans and plant life and the world in which we live. In my posting just above your posting I did also talk a wee about how and why I feel the way I do.
About what draws me to a compassionate life choice.
It does sound as if I have angered you just a wee. For that I do apologize as that is not my intent. I am happy thought that you have entered the conversation. I have never heard from you before in the threads that I have been a part of. I thank you for being here and please feel free to say what is on your mind. If it pleases you, I know I would enjoy your thoughts and I believe others would enjoy then as well.
It seems to me that is one of the reasons we have joined the HappyCow family. To talk and share ideas and thoughts.
I am wondering why jonny and gr8 are AWOL. I always so enjoy their input.
Quasi Vegetarian at 09/30/2008 15:57:15
webmaster at 09/30/2008 16:39:37
HM at 09/30/2008 17:20:33
I think that he asks a question, gets answered, and if he isn't satisfied he digs even more.
To me, what does it matter. Are you doing a report of some sort?
I focus on myself. If I want insight from other people to help me become more aware of a certain issue that is conducive to my personal life or the life of an animal in my care or to strengthen a strategy in my work to do just so, I will ask for it.
If I ask questions about people's personal reasoning, I need to take what they give me as that and stop prodding along in a way that can come across as intrusive or judgmental or as if to say they don't know what they are talking about. Personal experience and understanding of why they operate is just that.
As a mental health professional, I can say that one a question is asked such as on this topic, you need to set your own belief system aside so as not to appear biased or no it all when you seem to be dissatisfied with the answers that come forward.
Quasi, try to just take what you get and stop arguing on a topic you live one sided.
oh... and I don't think there was as much misunderstanding as is said.
LONG THESIS ENTRIES one cannot possibly have the patience to read with defensiveness and judgment practically begging for acceptance even if it is from a known bully is pretty obvious.
Not trying to start something, just jogging the memory a bit.
Quasi Vegetarian at 09/30/2008 18:42:43
I have gone over this entire thread and I can not find a single incident that I have argued. Nor have I mentioned that I am dissatisfied with the answers I have received. On the contrary I believe I have said thank you for the response I have gotten from all of you. This is an interesting subject for me. And I see no reason to talk about it.
I am really not sure where the mental health thing pops in here, but it would seem we have a wee more in common. But that is for another time perhaps.
As to my belief system. Well I understand my belief system. It is the belief system of others that I would like to have some insight into. Hence the questions. I believe it helps all of us to better understand ourselves and be successful in our endeavors to better understand others. Understanding breeds respect. When we better understand others we better understand ourselves and we grow in our respect for others. I put my belief system out there because I also placed the question on the table. It only seemed considerate and correct for me to put my answers to the same questions out for all to see.
That you perceive me as a bully is beyond me. None the less I respect your right to your opinion.
webmaster: Thank you for your comment. And please if you think I am out of line let me know.
HM at 09/30/2008 19:32:54
Didn't say you were arguing.
Just saying what it looks like and why some people might be stating what they say, which you have gotten on the defense about. Just shedding a little light.
Personally I don't have a problem with you. You are an interesting poster.
I didn't say you were a bully. You sought out approval from someone who is. He has not even posted on this thread. But from the old one. You were ever so thankful to him for catching your side, even though everyone was offended by his judgmental status and bullying demeanor.
kindlizard at 09/30/2008 21:22:56
On an empty street at 2am, the red hand is lit telling you to wait. It is an exceptionally cold wind that blows through your bones. The light has not changed. Do you cross the street, even though the higher power of the red hand tells you not to? You know it is "wrong" to do so, but no one is around, no cars etc. How do you know its "right"?
[Myself, I ignore the red hand and the white man both, look both ways (or one on one ways) and walk on brother, walk on.] I think when you look externally all the time, you might forget to look both ways...
gr8vegan at 10/19/2008 12:29:50
I find it even more horrifying that some practicing religions don't give animals a place in the afterlife... that makes not being vegan especially cruel.
Quasi Vegetarian at 10/19/2008 18:53:59
I think you are so spot on. Religion or no, I believe you are basically correct.
It is my belief that all living things do have a spirit or a soul and that even though we have only one go-around at this life, there are others stages of life, past and future.
Thanks for showing up here gr8vegan. I respect your thoughts. I am always willing to hear more.
I think I should say here that my very best friend in the world is an atheist. We have been mates for about 30 years now. We have many grand conversations about what makes the world go 'round. In fact it was his suggestion that I breach this subject here in the forum.
He finds it interesting that I include plant life in my image of creatures with a spirit. I understand your distaste for preaching "eternal life" but not for all.
I really do appreciate your thoughts. One of the most interesting things in life for me is to hear others feelings and reasons for their convictions. Even if it is contrary to mine, I learn and grow from listening to others. I respect others beliefs and I encourage them to look inside themselves to better understand their own feelings, their own pathway through this frail life. This seems to be the source of my inquisitiveness. I believe the more I understand about others the more I understand about myself and the more useful, helpful I may be to the world. Like the ripple in the pond. If I make a positive ripple and it is positively felt by just one other being then my live is not in vain.
Very seriously, Thank you all for your thoughts.
Yoshi at 10/21/2008 06:57:50
HM at 10/21/2008 18:41:46
Aside from the fact that there is no proof that any god exists being my first reason for not believing in one (and no, I'm not looking for a bunch of miraculous examples of why you think one does, for there is a counter argument for each one you can give) the other reason I could never subscribe to theism is right on to what you said Gr8. Even the respect of a cow while drinking her milk... a complete contradictory.
isbelle at 03/20/2009 20:19:41
Morals do not come from religion... otherwise we'd be stoning witches, selling our daughters, having slaves, EATING MEAT etc. etc. I mean, if you knew you'd never get caught would you honestly not kill someone who did something bad to you for the SOLE reason that you thought God would punish you?
I don't eat meat because I know animals can feel pain, because they get frightened, because they form bonds with other animals and their children, etc...not because I'm afraid god will put me in an eternity of fire and burning and misery forever and ever (yet somehow he loves me!!!)
Quasi Vegetarian at 03/21/2009 20:19:23
That has nothing to do with religion. It is just a simple fact of nature.
What makes one persons opinion of right and wrong any more valued or correct that the other?
It is a valid question is it not?
JohnnySensible at 03/21/2009 22:06:36
Seeing this note today by Quasi made me smile! - it was probably from a period when I was effectively suspended for my "edgewalking"!
Last summer I spent most of my time down holes & in rivers in West Africa - helping friends to find gold - mostly in areas where there were "0" veggie eating places - but lots of financially poor people who could not afford to eat meat regularly.
Moving "on topic" - this thread is a little too deep for me!
I know what I like - veggies.
I know what I don't like - human & animal suffering.
I know that ingesting animal parts is not at all good for my body / mind / spirit (whatever that it).
After many years involved in varying degrees of "religious nuttism" I am taking a little time off from organized religion.
I have just discovered Joseph Campbell's writings (courtesy of my friend James Baquet) & I am thoroughly enjoying reading them.
A quote -
+ Now, I came to this idea of bliss because in Sanskrit, which is the great spiritual language of the world, there are three terms that represent the brink, the jumping-off place to the ocean of transcendence: sat-chit-ananda. The word "Sat" means being. "Chit" means consciousness. "Ananda" means bliss or rapture. I thought, "I don't know whether my consciousness is proper consciousness or not; I don't know whether what I know of my being is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hang on to rapture, and that will bring me both my consciousness and my being." I think it worked. +
vegabear at 03/29/2009 23:06:34
Here is an article-
Saralanae at 04/01/2009 06:34:55
Quasi Vegetarian at 04/01/2009 20:49:31
Let me quote from the original post and ask again.
"How can anyone clam to be Atheist or even Agnostic and be worried about animal rights? If there is no "God", by what ever name one calls Him or Her, then what is the premises for animal rights? It seems to me that if there is not higher power, no afterlife, nothing to look forward to after the grave then animal rights is meaningless. Right and wrong do not exist if there is no religion."
With right and wrong just a matter of opinion what makes our opinion of animal rights, IE not killing, misusing, eating, simply using (wool, butter, eggs, honey, milk etc)
animal byproducts any more valid, right or wrong that the ones who imbibe in the things listed above?
Short of teaching and converting others to our cause what gives us the right to demand others to these values?
sehansen_92 at 04/11/2009 22:46:43
It's funny that you write this because I am always hearing religious people making the argument that "God put animals on the earth for humans to eat" which is completely untrue! One must realize that all animals have the right to live, and want to live! As me and you do. I think your blog raises many important issues, but I think the main point you are missing is that human beings since the beginning of time have worshiped various gods, and all that has lead to is wars and division and confusion. It may be hard for you to see, but a world without religion, just acceptance of the universe, would make for a peaceful and open minded world.
Quasi Vegetarian at 04/12/2009 22:23:49
Let me expound a wee on what you have just said.
"I realize how precious and sacred life is..."
I have to ask this question. Scared to what?
"...human beings since the beginning of time have worshiped various gods...
"Have human beings been around since the beginning of time?What happened to evolution?
If we the Human Animal is just another species of the animal world why would we live by any other rules than the rest of the animal kingdom?
"...all that has lead to is wars and division and confusion."
Humans are not the only animals that fight wars. Look at the animal world and you will see territorial wars everywhere in the animal kingdom. Cute little bunny rabbits are fierce territorial warriors.
And don't other animals kill and eat other animals?
If we Human Animals are just a link in the world of evolution I can easily see how someone may justify killing and eating another animal. Even another human animal. I mean lets face it meat is meat.
So back to my bottom line question.
What makes one opinion, to eat or not to eat meat, any more valued or correct that the other?